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How to Fulfill Dropshipping Orders on Shopify in 2024

15 Minutes Read
Koala branded image with the text how to fulfill dropshipping orders on Shopify
Ana Gelevska

Dropshipping is a business model that requires a lot of effort and commitment. If you want to be a successful dropshipper, you need to manage multiple aspects of your e-commerce business.

When dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about inventory and shipping. However, you do need to rely on suppliers to take care of your order fulfillment prcoess. This process may not go as smoothly as it should if you haven’t found a reliable supplier.

One of the trickier aspects is ensuring the manufacturer or supplier you are working with will promptly ship the products to your customers. 

The future of your e-commerce business depends on the effectiveness of the order fulfillment process. If your customers receive their orders promptly, they will be satisfied and much more likely to visit your store to make a purchase again. 

So, knowing how to fulfill orders on Shopify dropshipping is crucial when your reputation is on the line. 

Learning how to fulfill orders can be stressful, especially for those new to dropshipping, but we are here to offer a comprehensive guide on how to do it efficiently on Shopify.

So, how do you fulfill orders on Shopify and worry about growing your business simultaneously despite the vast competition? Let’s walk through it step by step.

What is Dropshipping Fulfillment on Shopify?

The Shopify dropshipping order fulfillment procedure begins with a customer placing their order and purchasing products from your store. The following step involves the store owner sending the order to the supplier or manufacturer. Then, they handle the shipment process, ensuring the customer gets their order when expected.

The above-mentioned steps appear very straightforward, but despite that, there are a lot of concealed but vital details one must consider when learning how to fulfill dropship orders on Shopify. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secret of easy, profitable, and smart dropshipping approaches.

Shopify Dropshipping Fulfillment Benefits

dropshipping fulfillment benefits listing the key benefits

For those looking to get started with dropshipping, you are starting in the right place. Shopify is the leading platform for dropshipping businesses. Recent statistics show over 1 million Shopify stores in the United States, but many people worldwide also profited by selling Shopify products. For reference, the UK, Canada, and Australia each have more than 100,000 online stores.

Some of the benefits of order fulfillment on Shopify include no high upfront costs, huge investments, or handling deliveries alone. Instead, it comes with many benefits for dropshippers, making an e-commerce business money-spinning and easy to manage. 

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these benefits.

No Inventory Storage or Management

A Shopify dropshipping business doesn’t have to store the products physically. Instead, a shipping carrier provides inventory storage and directly manages the order-fulfilling process. This way, you don’t have to worry about holding items in stock because someone else is working on your behalf.


It’s easy to scale with Shopify. An automated or third party order fulfillment is beneficial for online store owners because it helps avoid the tardy process of handling multiple tasks. All you need is a small but trusted and productive team to enhance the scalability of your business and take it to the next level.

Wider Product Selection

There are no inventory constraints, coupled with the low cost of Shopify dropshipping fulfillment, you have the freedom to offer a wide selection of diverse goods to your customers.

What is Reverse Order Fulfillment

what is reverse order fulfillment graphic image

Handling returns and exchanges is another problem online businesses face. This is because orders often travel long distances, and store owners must deal with disgruntled customers. Luckily, there is an easy way out of this mess.

Reverse order fulfillment involves processing the return of one or more products. But, instead of the e-commerce business owner dealing with this issue, a third-force fulfillment service handles the process from start to finish. 

Different Methods of Fulfilling Orders on Shopify Dropshipping

different methods of fulfilling orders on Shopify, listing manual automatic and third party as the 3 methods

You can easily determine the order fulfillment process on Shopify by analyzing different available options. The Shopify fulfillment network offers a fast solution for managing your e-commerce business. But take a look at the following methods of order fulfillment and decide which one is right for you.

Manual Fulfillment

You don’t necessarily need a fulfillment service to carry out your orders. Instead, you can do it manually by opening the orders and fulfilling the line items. If this sounds complex and lengthy, you can manually fulfill multiple orders simultaneously and sort them by date.

First, review your unfulfilled orders and click on the order numbers. Select the location from which you are fulfilling orders from, the particular orders and decide whether you will use Shopify shipping and buy order labels or a shipping carrier providing tracking numbers for each order.

Notify your customer of the shipping details by sending them an e-mail so they can track the progress of their order.

Automatic Fulfillment

If you want the fulfillment process of your dropshipping business to go faster, choose the automatic approach. The Shopify platform requires the store owner to activate this method before allowing access to it.

With automatic fulfillment in place, orders will be processed much easier

The order is automatically marked as fulfilled once a customer pays for the product on your Shopify store. 

This option is perfect for business owners selling digital products because the links to download their orders are automatically sent to the customers.

Third-party Fulfillment

Working with a third-party fulfillment service means you don’t have to do much of the physical work. Instead, you can focus on discovering new marketing strategies to grow your online business.

With this method, the warehouse you choose to work with will prepare and ship the orders in the name of your store. This is an excellent option for fast-growing businesses that receive many orders and struggle to process them all manually.

Add the fulfillment supplier of choice in your Shopify store’s Shipping and Delivery section. Then, fill out the information of the fulfillment provider and send them an email confirmation that an order needs to be fulfilled.

The Pros and Cons of Each Fulfillment Method: Manual vs Automatic

manual vs automatic fulfillment pros and cons

Deciding which option to select for your order fulfillment strategy is based on your preferences, time availability, and expectations. You have the control to determine which method will work best for the needs of your business and whether it will help improve it.

Each fulfillment approach has its pros and cons. To help give you a clear understanding of each, we created a table outlining the pros and cons of manual and automatic fulfillment in dropshipping when using Shopify:

Manual Fulfillment Method Automatic Fulfillment Method
Pros Cons Pros Cons
  • Clear category organization
  • Multiple actions, such as test orders and payment captures, can be done in one section
  • Time-consuming
  • Order status change requirements
  • Purchasing return labels directly from suppliers
  • Automatic order processing
  • Easy workflow streamline
  • Avoiding manual interventions
  • Faster customer order fulfillment
  • Higher cost
  • Absence of personal approach


How Dropshipping Fulfillment Works in Shopify: Step-By-Step Guide

how dropshipping fulfillment works on Shopify

Customer loyalty is key when trying to grow your online business. And, delivering their orders on time is key to keeping customers happy. 

So, how exactly is the order fulfillment process carried out, and is it easy to master it? 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to fulfill dropshipping orders in Shopify:

Order Placement

For a dropshipping fulfillment procedure to begin, a customer first places their order. The Shopify store owner is then notified of the order and has to decide what fulfillment approach they will take to deliver the product to their customer.

Fulfilling or Automating

If you decide to do the fulfillment process manually, you log in to the supplier’s website. Then, place the order, providing all the necessary customer information details.

If you want to use automatic fulfillment, you install an app we spoke about earlier that instantly forwards the order and payment details to the supplier. Alternatively, you can hire third-party fulfillment services to package and ship the order directly to the customer.

Update Customer

After the customer places the order and you decide how to deliver it, you might want to track the progress. For this reason, you can send them a message containing important information like shipping confirmation.

Handle Returns 

The reliability of your Shopify store depends heavily on your return policy. Ensure you strictly follow all the rules and regulations regarding returns and exchanges by coordinating with your fulfillment supplier or shipping carrier.

Popular Dropshipping Fulfillment Apps and Services

Koala branded popular dropshipping fulfillment apps and services

Increasing the efficiency of your fulfillment process is vital to streamline your online business. And one of the many benefits of having your e-commerce platform on Shopify is, you can use some of the dropshipping apps it offers.

We listed and explained the top five apps that are currently used on Shopify stores for dropshipping services.


Spocket is an excellent dropshipping app for targeting US and EU markets. This digital service allows users to search for trending products and easily provide updates on the shipping process to their customers.

Around 200,000 entrepreneurs and store owners installed Spocket on their Shopify stores. The good reviews from satisfied users resulted in this app receiving a rating of 4.7 out of 5.


Dropshippers who have just recently entered the world of e-commerce will likely benefit from this user-friendly app. Modalyst is a dropshipping app integrated with Shopify. It offers many fulfillment suppliers, automatic tracking features, and a simplified hunt for quality products.

In addition to offering approximately 10 million products, Modalyst has also served 600,000 e-commerce stores and reached over 50 million online shoppers. As of 2023, the US Shopify store owners make up 38.29% of Modalyst users, followed by India with 18.9%. 


As opposed to some of the mentioned dropshipping apps and services on this list, Printful offers the most unique features. It allows business owners to add custom products to their Shopify stores and sell them to clients.

Before you order custom items in bulk, this app provides samples to represent the final project visually. Their approach is known as print-on-demand. This market is worth around $6.3 billion and is expected to reach approximately $45.6 billion by 2031.


If you need help connecting with a reliable supplier for your dropshipping business you can try Zendrop, a Shopify app that finds suitable matches between online sellers and fulfillment providers.

The price for this app is a bit more pricey than other options on this list. But the investment is worth it due to the ease of use, availability, fast shipping options, and attentive customer service. 

Also, you can combine Zendrop with a dropship spy tool like Koala Inspector, which has helped more than 80,000 e-commerce store owners improve their businesses.

Choosing the Right Fulfillment Method for Your Business

choosing the right Shopify fulfillment method

Although many different fulfillment methods are available for Shopify dropshipping businesses, to choose the right fulfillment method for your business here are 5 things to keep in mind.


One of the main differences between certain fulfillment methods is the cost. Consider upfront expenses, shipping rates, and discounts to calculate how much money you will invest. Then, choose the one that suits your budget the best while offering the quality you need.


Your fulfillment method of choice must adapt to the ever-changing customer demands. Ensure the efficiency of your business is not compromised by the limited flexibility a fulfillment method offers to achieve constant customer satisfaction.


Modern fulfillment methods offer advanced and automatic features for the needs of your business. This way, you can minimize potential mistakes, accurately manage order statuses, and guarantee smooth-running operations.

But, if you feel that such features won’t immensely benefit your business, stick to using the most familiar fulfillment method.


Before choosing a suitable fulfillment method for your e-commerce ventures, determine how much control you want over the operations. Do you want to process orders manually or automatically? Or would you instead rely on a third-party fulfillment source to save time?

Customer Needs

When choosing a fulfillment approach, don’t forget to account for the expectations of your regular customers. Determine if they want to track their order and what their speed delivery requirements are. Then, you will be able to choose a method for Shopify order fulfillment that aligns with the needs of your customers.

How to Update Customers About Shipping?

how to update customers about shipping from Shopify store

We already spoke about one of the most effective ways of updating customers about shipping is by emailing all the necessary details. But, despite this approach, you can also use different ways to communicate with your clients.

If they have provided their contact information, including phone number, while ordering their items, you can send them an SMS confirmation of the shipping status of their order.

Whatever option you choose, don’t forget that including additional information, such as the expected delivery date, tracking guidelines, and a link to the supplier’s website is always helpful. This way, they will be able to check the shipping progress of their order at their convenience.

Handling Dropshipping Returns

how to handle dropshipping returns

Purchasing goods online and delivering them straight to your door has become very appealing to consumers worldwide. However, many of the items people buy online end up getting returned for various reasons.

Handling returns as a dropshipping store owner is one of the trickiest parts of getting involved in the e-commerce process. In 2023, the US reached $1.3 trillion in online sales. But, 16.5 % of those orders eventually resulted in returns.

Regardless of how you handle the fulfillment process and focus on delivering exceptional customer service, your clients may still dislike the product they receive. In such cases, they first think of returning the item, hoping to get a refund..

Best Practices for Handling Dropshipping Returns

When you set up your Shopify store, remember to make your returns policy accessible for each customer and easy to find. Clearly state whether you offer a free-of-charge returns policy or not to avoid severe future client complaints.

The reasons customers may return the ordered items include sending a completely wrong item by accident or damage to the product. But, they might also return the order if the items inside are in the wrong color, design, or size from what they originally wanted.

In case of a dropshipping return, inspecting what is wrong with the product is best. Then, you can decide whether replacement or refund is the best solution for such a problem. Also, ensure you present the issue to the fulfillment supplier to avoid this type of hassle in the future.

When operating a dropshipping business, it’s imperative to prioritize customer satisfaction. This is to minimize the number of potential returns due to their significant impact on your business’s profit margins.

Best Way to Fulfill Large Order Volumes

Automation can be an efficient solution for fulfilling large order volumes. Technologically advanced tools like dropshipping apps and services can help you process orders automatically and quickly, providing time efficiency and easy handling of incoming orders.

If you receive many orders every month, you may need help with inventory management. Thus, find a respectable fulfillment provider, join your distinctive forces, and scale your business with intensity and speed.

What’s the Difference Between “Ship From” and “Fulfill From” on Shopify?

The number one platform for dropshipping, Shopify, provides opportunities for customers to gain more control over the shipping process. It allows them to select the inventory location on Shopify by exploring the “ship from” variants. However, the store owner must enable this product option before it becomes accessible to customers.

Shopify’s “fulfill from” option is more tailored to the business owners. It enables them to choose the fulfillment method for each order and set it up either manually, automatically, or with the help of a fulfillment service.

What Are the Timeframes for Dropshipping Fulfillment?

After a customer places an order on Shopify, the store might need a few, usually 1-3, business days to process it before it’s ready for shipping. Delays in order fulfillment are also very common due to wrong order processing, poor inventory management, and unreliable suppliers.

These hold-ups may slow down the fulfillment time frame. However, the length of the process completion may also depend on the country the order is sent to and can take up to 60 days.

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Ana Gelevska
Ana Gelevska
Ana is a creative and customer-oriented freelance writer with over 5 years of experience working with eCommerce global clients. Ana enjoys breaking down the latest eCommerce trends and diving into the needs of today’s merchants.

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