Dropshipping Order Fulfilment Process Briefly Explained

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Tips to Improve Order Fulfilment

Dropshipping can be challenging, especially if the order fulfillment process is not automated. Without a steady stream of products to sell, it can cause problems for your business. Drop shippers often import products from outside the country.

  • Locate the right supplier
  • Get a quote at an affordable price
  • Manually enter the information to your suppliers and customers

This can be time-consuming, but you can spend your time marketing and providing excellent customer service.

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shopify dropshipping store set up

There is a solution for every problem, so you don’t have to go it alone when fulfilling orders. Oberlo is an app that automates some of the processes for you. However, it doesn’t make it easy to do the job quickly. We’ll discuss how to simplify drop shipping fulfillment orders without ripping out your hair.

How streamlining your order fulfillment process is essential for your business

You want to ensure that the products reach your customers quickly. Your customers will be dissatisfied if your order fulfillment process doesn’t work. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, this is not a problem because customers can easily buy the items they need and then take them home.

Dropshipping is a different process.

To ensure that customers have easy access to their favorite products, it is important to ensure that orders are delivered on time. If you don’t streamline the process it can lead to unintentional sales losses and decreased sales.

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How Can You Improve Your order fulfillment process?

Small businesses need to ensure that your suppliers can deliver your products to their customers. This is an important step to ensure your customers are satisfied. Online shop owners may not have the resources or time to maintain a list with suppliers in order to ensure that the products are always available. These nine steps will help you make sure you have a steady stream of products that are drop-shipped to you store.

Use an Integration

The integration of the whole process can save you time and allow you to ship products directly to your customers. An ordering management system can be used to streamline the entire process and allow you to communicate with your suppliers, allowing for faster shipping times.

Facilitate End-to-End Order Visibility

Once you have chosen the right OMS, you will want it to allow you and your suppliers to access the same catalogs, order fulfillment process, and inventory. This will ensure that you always have the products you require. It’s important to be able to clearly see what products are available, how many are in stock, and for customers to easily find this information while shopping online.

Connect with the Right Shippers

Once you have access to the product catalogs and your integration, it is time to identify the best shippers to deliver the products to your customers. Regular audits of your shipping company are a must to verify that tracking information is correct and to check for any changes in order handling. If you notice any significant changes, it is time to find a partner to fulfill your fulfillment needs.

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Find a Way to Manage the Exceptions

The norm is: you ship a package and the package is delivered in the correct time to the final customer, but not always this happens.

For this reason, we advise you to activate a software that can help you manage your shipments and deals with exceptions.

There are many software like for example Aftership, that can notificate you if your order didn’t arrive in the correct time, if the package is held by customs or if the package is been delivered but the customer was not home.

In this way, you can use your customer service to deal with this problem in advance and avoid customer complains.

Be Strategic With Your Shippings

When someone places an order, they expect their shipment to arrive on time, for this reason, it is important to have a fast and stable shipping service, this will:

  • Reduce returns.

Make sure you remember to add smart shipping algorithms to ensure that you choose the best shipping method every time, so your products arrive on-time to the customer, without paying a bunch of money.

Keep Good Communication with Your Suppliers

Communication with suppliers is one of the most important things any business can do. They should be able to guide you through each step so that you are fully informed about what’s happening with your order, and when the product will arrive at your customers. Customers are more impressed if they get their products on-time.

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Work with Suppliers That Accept Returns

Bad batches of products can sometimes happen. If a customer receives a defective product, you want to ensure that they are able to return it without having to pay a restocking fee. It is not something you want to happen.

Optimize your inventory

Dropshipping businesses may require products to be in stock. It is crucial to have some stock in your warehouse for your most sought-after products. This will help you avoid stock shortages and keep your business running smoothly during busy times like Black Friday and Christmas. It is crucial to keep your inventory under control and to be notified when the stock of your most popular products runs out so you have enough time to purchase another batch.

Make Improvements to Your Flexibility

Sometimes life is unpredictable and you may not be able to control it. It’s important that you have several options when you partner up with suppliers who offer your products. You have more options, and if one supplier doesn’t stock what you need, there are other options. This ensures that you are always covered.

How do I manage Dropshipping Orders?

Dropshipping involves three key data integrations between the supplier and retailer: inventory, product catalog, and orders. If you’re new to dropshipping, read my 4-part series on the basics, for ecommerce.

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My article in December, “Drop Shipping: How to Manage Product Catalog Data,” started with the premise that drop shipping requires that the seller-retailer have a virtual representation — i.e., data — of a physical thing that the retailer will never see, touch, or control. The product catalog is the collection and description of the physical thing. It includes title, brand, category attributes, images, and other data.

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shopify dropshipping store set up

In “Drop Shipping: How To Manage Inventory Visibility”, I explained last month that inventory is data that shows you where an item is located, how many there is and what it costs you, the reseller.

The order marks the beginning of the journey. The consumer has bought a product from a retailer that was selling virtually. Now, the order and fulfillment information must be sent by the retailer to the supplier. This will allow the supplier to physically ship the product to the consumer.

Order Exchange

Dropshipping is a two-way process that involves a back and forth exchange of data between a supplier and a retailer. Cataloginventory are based on information published by a supplier that a retailer uses. The retailer creates orders for the supplier to consume. After that, there is a secondary fulfillment process from the supplier back towards the retailer. An order can be acknowledged and shipped or canceled. In my next article, I will address fulfillment.

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Place an Order

Dropshipping is unique because of the order exchange between the supplier and retailer. You will have two distinct order processes in a traditional supply chain.

  • A consumer order is the order between a customer and a retailer at a point-of-sale (virtual storefront or physical).
  • An order between a retailer or its vendors centered on a purchase order.

If a retailer purchases wholesale inventory, the purchase order is first. When a retailer sells product directly to end consumers, the order takes place second.

Drop shipping reverses the process. The retailer receives and generates a consumer order. This order is then transferred upstream to the supplier. It becomes a purchase order. This is difficult because many back-office, point-of-sale, virtual storefront technologies, and systems can handle either type of order. It is important to understand the changes in sequence and the hybrid nature orders shipped via drop shipping. This will allow systems or manual processes to handle these connections.

Is automation Necessary?

In that order exchanges are often automated, it is similar to the product catalog. However, unlike inventory and product catalog, where automation can hopefully produce revenue and transactions, the order exchange is a time when both the supplier and the retailer make money.

Companies will go to great lengths to get an order, once they have the money. Don’t forget to consider the potential benefits of a manual order process for small volumes or starting with small orders.

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There are other factors to be aware of if you decide to invest in automation. You should also consider how to handle partial orders (where a supplier receives multiple-item orders but can only fulfill a portion), backorders and cancellations. All of these issues are handled automatically in a manual ordering process.

However, even with automation, they have to be handled manually due to the complexity of drop shipping and trading partners. Automating orders only when everything is correct and the fulfillment process goes according to plan would be a good idea. You can then manually deal with any order exceptions as they occur.


A retailer can feel like heaven when it is able to sell products that it doesn’t have to buy or handle. Suppliers can also enjoy having their products put in front of customers, but less restricted by resellers.

All of this happens on the order exchange. Dropshipping and marketplace transactions account for 25 to 33 percent of all ecommerce. Exchanging orders within a virtual supply chain can present challenges.

If you manage product visibility and product catalog in a smart manner, these problems are largely avoidable. The majority of the time, things will go smoothly and orderly. This is because the trading partnership between suppliers and retailers creates a positive match between supply-demand that would not have happened otherwise.

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DropShipping Fulfillment Process

Dropshipping can seem complicated if you have never dealt with one. TrollingMotors.net is my dropshipping site. I will be sharing the inside scoop to help you understand it. I will also discuss the various suppliers we use and how their quality impacts our fulfillment processes.

Acceptance of the Order

TrollingMotors.net automatically captures a customer’s payment and generates a new order email.

Payment Capture: TrollingMotors.net uses Magento to capture payments. The funds will be automatically transferred to my bank account if they have paid by credit card. This usually takes 2-3 business days. When an order has been placed, all this approval and transfer takes place automatically.

Email generated: The order generates an email that is sent to my team. To maximize efficiency, I have had previously generated new order emails for other businesses. These were automatically forwarded to a preferred supplier to ensure drop shipping fulfillment. TrollingMotors.net’s stock levels are low in the off-season so it is important to route an order to a supplier who has stock. Although I am currently working on automating this process, it is still something we do manually.

Routing the Order

TrollingMotors.net uses a variety of suppliers, but one dropshipping wholesaler is our preferred. They are our preferred choice due to their low shipping costs, excellent selection, and great service. We will usually place an order with them if they have all the items ordered in stock. It’s as easy as sending the confirmation email generated from the shopping cart to your supplier. This confirmation will include all model numbers as well as important order information. We can then fulfill your entire order by forwarding one email.

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Once the drop shipping company receives our order, they’ll enter it into their system and automatically charge our credit card on file. They’ll email you back if they don’t have the item or items they need. We will need to contact our backup suppliers at this point. Dropshipping is difficult. It’s difficult to maintain real-time inventory across multiple warehouses. Back-up suppliers are crucial. To increase the likelihood of fulfilling an order, we ensure that we have multiple sources for products.

TrollingMotors.net’s second-tier dropshipper isn’t as reliable as our primary supplier. Email orders are not possible so we must manually enter the order into their website. Their customer service is terrible. We don’t have a dedicated sales representative like at our primary supplier. Instead, we are constantly being passed from one department to another when an issue arises. They are only used when the item is not available from our preferred vendor.

Sometimes we will need to use multiple suppliers to fulfill a single order. This is because none of the ordered items are in stock. We will place partial orders with each supplier in these cases. We’ll be paying multiple shipping fees and might even lose money on the order, but it’s one of the costs of operating a drop shipping business.

Fulfillment & Notification

Suppliers vary in the time it takes to ship orders from order placement. Another reason why they are our preferred supplier is so reliable is that orders can be shipped the next day if received by 2 p.m. Our back-up supplier will not ship an order if they don’t see it before noon. Instead of using and creating our own UPS account, we always use the wholesalers’ UPS account. They get significant discounts on shipping rates due to their volume. It also simplifies our accounting.

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If our preferred supplier has filled the order, they will immediately send us an email confirmation with a tracking number. One of my team members will immediately send the tracking numbers to our customers via our TrollingMotors.net control panel. This will then email the customer a shipping bill with our company branding. To access the tracking number for orders fulfilled by our back-up supplier we will need to log into their system. This is a more tedious process. Although I am working to automate the sending of tracking numbers in the near future it is still done manually at the end each day.

The drop ship process is complete once the customer has been notified about their shipment, and they have received the funds. Within a week, a customer will receive an email to confirm that everything was received safely. A second email will be sent to the customer a month later to request a product review.

Sometimes orders slip through the cracks. My team reviews all pending orders manually every morning. An order that has been unshipped for more than a business day will be flagged for review. Even the most reliable suppliers sometimes miss orders. Sometimes we make mistakes and forget to route an ordered. No matter what reason, it is important to check the order every day to make sure orders are shipped on time.