I sat down with Patrick Coddou of Supply, to talk about his experience being one of the first merchants to use and get access to Shopify Fulfilment on the Ecomm Swipe File.
If you're listening to the podcast, this is in the last third, with the first bit talking about his experience on Shark Tank.
If you're an existing merchant, skip ahead past the bullets, but if you're a merchant just starting out, remember that how your customers get your products has a huge impact on their experience. Get it right, and you're on your way to happy, repeat customers. Get it wrong, and you're in for a customer support nightmare. The beginning may seem okay if you're fulfilling your orders yourself, you'll quickly need a plan to get out of your garage or office as those numbers keep growing.
When that happens, as an ecommerce business you want to be ready and typically you have a few options to choose from:
- Working with a dropshipping company to fulfill your orders
- Fulfill orders on your own
- Work with a company that handles both your warehousing and shipments
As much as it sounds like it’s an easy decision, it’s not, and there’s quite a bit to consider. With Shopify being a trusted favourite amongst countless entrepreneurs, the company is beginning to support their partners even further, this time through the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
The Launch of Shopify Fulfilment Network
Shopify wants to make sure that fulfillment isn’t complicated for their partners, and since they know it can be a pain point they’re taking matters into their own hands. So, the Shopify Fulfillment Network was born and aims to streamline this process and give ecommerce businesses an option that makes sense for them.
Last year (June 2019) Shopify announced that the AI-powered Fulfillment Network would be open to US-based merchants that qualify to get early access. At this time, Shopify let its community know that their technology will take care of everything, ensuring timely deliveries, low shipping costs along with the best customer experience possible.
This sounds like a dream for all Shopify merchants, since using the same ecommerce partner for fulfillment as well, it’s bound to be the most seamless option. So, for the past year merchants have started testing it out and as of May 2020, the Shopify Fulfillment Network is also open to Canadian ecommerce businesses who qualify.
One of the people in the USA who was an early adopter is Patrick Coddou, co-founder and CEO of Supply, a company focused on only the best when it comes to shaving and grooming essentials.
We wanted to know what the experience was like, which led us to sitting down with Patrick after speaking to him about his Shark Tank experience on Ecommerce Swipe File to hear about it.
How Supply Was Chosen to be in the Shopify Fulfilment Network
From what Patrick remembers, Shopify reached out to him about Supply being one of the early adopters of the Fulfillment Network. Since he has been a long supporter of Shopify, and openly acknowledges that it allowed him to accomplish his dreams, he was excited to say the least. He sees this as another way Shopify will continue to change people’s lives for the better, and he wanted to be a part of it. Plus, he was already interested after staying on top of the updates and news on it.
So, he said yes (obviously).
He told us that right now it’s still a small program, almost the equivalent of a beta project, and they have strategically dispersed warehouses that are whitelabelled for their merchants. We’re here for it, and so far Patrick is too since after months of experiencing it first hand, he’s been loving it.
The Shopify Fulfillment centre that Supply is linked to is in Austin, Texas and across the USA there’s about three in total with approximately 10 or less merchants (this is Patrick’s best guess on numbers) while testing and perfecting the system.
One of the biggest value-adds from the Shopify Fulfillment Network is that the software actually lives in your online store. There’s a fulfillment app, which is how Patrick and the Supply team review their inventory levels, along with other settings that really come in handy. Though it’s not a very robust software right now and there’s some features missing while working through the kinks, there’s a very clear and strong potential here that could help countless ecommerce businesses.
Is it worth it? Yes!
The kinks aren’t bothering Patrick though. He let us know that Shopify has been very transparent with him about the Fulfillment Network and that since it’s a brand new program he expected this. At the end of the day, Shopify is treating itself and their merchant partners as one team to make this successful. Since they started to use the Shopify Fulfillment Network, Patrick and the rest of Supply have been able to take a look at what that process looks like in comparison to others. In the past, Patrick has done everything from fulfilling orders in his laundry room all the way to professional fulfillment centres (which actually didn’t go too well for Supply).
When it comes to the Shopify Fulfillment Network, Patrick said it’s similar to a typical process many merchants might be used to, making it easy to transition into for your ecommerce business. So what does it involve?
- Ship the Shopify Fulfillment Network your inventory
- They will charge a warehousing fee that is completely dependent on the number of cubic feet your product uses up
- You keep marketing and making sales (and celebrate them all)
- Then, your orders are fulfilled by Shopify and a pick and pack fee will also be charged
This might sound like a lot of fees, but the good news is that the Shopify Fulfillment Network seems like it’s not taking advantage of its merchants, instead it’s doing what the brand has always done; support its partners. The pricing for these fees, Patrick said, is actually quite good, if not better than other options you may be considering. So, it sounds like this will be something promising for merchants as it becomes more widespread.
When comparing what was done in the past with Supply, Patrick told us that the Shopify Fulfillment Network has allowed them to grow in new ways. Beforehand, they had their own ship station, printed their own labels, shipped from their own warehouses and everything in between. Doing it this way allowed Supply to do somewhere in between 100 and 200 shipments per day, but nothing more.
Fortunately, with the Shopify Fulfillment Centre they are able to ship our 800 to 1,000 orders for Supply on their biggest days. Talk about a jump in capacity to ship products! What is great about this, is that it grants Supply the ability to focus on other areas of the business, and leave it to a company they already trust, Shopify, to fulfill their orders.
Overall, there’s a few clear benefits that merchants can already see with the Shopify Fulfillment Network:
- The integration of the Fulfillment App making it easy to track
- Everything sitting under one “roof” of the Shopify home that many know, trust and love
- Fair pricing to ensure merchant success
- Strategically distributed warehouses across North America
It’s been nearly one year since Shopify made the big announcement, and with it expanding into Canada this is a great sign that things are going in a positive direction. In the years to come we expect that it will continue expanding and that it will continue to make not only the lives of ecommerce business owners easier, but also our customers.
Have you been one of the companies to be a part of the Shopify Fulfillment Network? We’d love to hear how your experience was! Or, do you have any information or thoughts on it? Let us know in a comment below.
Fulfilment and logistics is one of the biggest challenges all ecommerce merchants face. When you aren't dropshipping or doing POD, there are pretty much two methods. Fulfil in house, or go to a 3PL. Both have their advantages and costs, and both are critically important to your customer's experience. 3PLs can scale you much faster, and provide greater technology than you can get in house, but also come at a cost. This makes picking one, a very hard challenge.