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When your online store is scaling up, you're going to be strapped for time. Even when you use an eCommerce platform like Shopify to manage that online marketplace, you still have to deal with delivering the orders to your customers. All of the time you could be spending building your business is spent on the tedious tasks of packing and shipping.
In this tutorial, I'm going to walk you through connecting your Shopify store to ShipBob, a fulfillment service that can help you turn over the hard work of delivering products to customers.
Meet ShipBob: Professional eCommerce Order Management & Fulfillment
I firmly believe that when you're bootstrapping or growing your business, you have to focus on what you're best at. Your advantage is what you know best, like product development, manufacturing, and marketing. Any time you spend away from what you do best feels like a distraction.
When you keep order fulfillment in-house, you're responsible for the entire process. Here are just some of the steps required to take a customer's order form initial order through to final shipment:
- Receive orders through your store.
- Go and find the inventory in your warehouse or storage area.
- Put together the contents of each package.
- Print a shipping label for the name and address of the recipient.
- Purchase postage.
- Send each package, updating order details and tracking numbers.
At each of these steps, you're spending time doing something that takes away from running your business, falling behind on adding the next strategic initiative that will grow your store. In the age of Amazon Prime, your customers expect two-day shipping, so you can't afford to take a day off.
That's why you outsource your order fulfillment to a professional third-party provider, and ShipBob is one of the leading choices for outsourcing that process.
When you outsource your fulfillment to ShipBob, you simply send them your inventory (or have it delivered directly from your manufacturer) and let them handle the rest of the process.
With ShipBob, you can eliminate all of those order fulfillment steps. Those are the steps that they take over as you outsource your Shopify store shipping to ShipBob.
Better Together: Shopify and ShipBob
In this tutorial, we're going to connect a Shopify store to the ShipBob dashboard. With these two online eCommerce systems working together, your order details automatically flow from your Shopify store to ShipBob.
Once you've talked to a fulfillment expert at ShipBob and have received your pricing quote, these are the steps you take to get started. Your Shopify store will feed order data to your ShipBob account, and ShipBob’s fulfillment centers will handle shipping out the products to the customers. As long as you've sent enough inventory to ShipBob, they'll handle it from that point forward.
There are two key steps to setting your Shopify store up with ShipBob:
- Quickly create a ShipBob account and connect your Shopify store in 30 seconds.
- Ship your inventory to ShipBob’s fulfillment center(s) so they can begin shipping your orders to your customers.
Once you have this set up, you can put your shipping on autopilot. Let's walk through those steps to get these two services integrated together:
1. Quickly Connect Your Shopify Store to ShipBob
For this tutorial, I'm going to start off with a Shopify store that's already setup and walk through how to integrate it with ShipBob. I started off by creating a ShipBob account (their software is free to use), and the Quick Setup made it super easy. Let's look at those steps:
Step 1. Launch Quick Setup to Link ShipBob to Shopify
The first time that you jump into your ShipBob account, you'll see the option to launch the Quick Setup. First up, let's start by clicking on the Store Integration to link up the two accounts. You'll simply need to enter your Shopify store name to start linking things up.
Step 2. Authorize Your ShipBob and Shopify Connection
ShipBob will send you over to your Shopify admin panel, where you need to authorize that you can connect the two accounts. This is simply a security check step to ensure that you authorize the two services to "talk" to one another. It's a necessary step to ensure that Shopify is always sending order data over to ShipBob for fulfillment.
Step 3. Sync Your eCommerce Inventory
Now, you need to sync the inventory that you've been tracking in your Shopify account. Shopify provides robust options for monitoring and setting inventory levels, and migrating your inventory levels to ShipBob will create continuity as you start using ShipBob for your order fulfillment needs.
Simply leave the Sync Inventory box check, and press Sync to proceed to the next step.
Step 4. Customize Your Preferences in ShipBob
Now, let's set up ShipBob's preferences to grab orders from your shop. First of all, make sure that you tick the "Fetch Orders Every 2 Hours" option so that ShipBob keeps a watchful eye on anything that comes through your Shopify account.
You can also set a "Look Days Back" option if you want ShipBob to start handling shipping for orders from the past. For example, you could set it 30 days in the past to handle orders from up to a month ago.
Step 5. Enter Your Payment Details
Last up, you'll just enter your payment details to ensure that your payments to ShipBob for their shipping services are easily handled.
That's it! In just a few steps, we've hooked up our Shopify account to our ShipBob account to begin outsourcing our order fulfillment. Now, let's start sending our inventory to ShipBob, so they can take the lead on fulfillment.
2. Make Your Initial Inventory Shipment
When you start using ShipBob, you'll need to send them your initial inventory to let them start fulfilling your eCommerce orders. Again, the idea is that you send the inventory to them, and they handle the work from there.
By clicking on Inventory Settings option on the Quick Setup wizard, you'll launch the initial shipment for your inventory. Let's walk through that process.
Step 1. Select Your Shipping Location
First up, let's select a location to consign our inventory to. ShipBob has a variety of warehouses that you can send your inventory to so that you can be close to your customers. They also help recommend the best fit location(s) for you to be able to deliver orders to your customers in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
Once your store reaches a certain size, you may want to send inventory to each of their warehouses for fully distributed inventory. But when getting started, I recommend sending inventory to a single location. Make sure to note the shipping address at this stage and complete the warehouse receiving order correctly.
Step 2. Mark the Inventory Items Going to ShipBob
Now, let's indicate which inventory items will be sent to ShipBob. When you connected your Shopify store to ShipBob, it synced your list of SKUs from your store as well. You can search products from your Shopify lineup from within the ShipBob dashboard and add the SKUs and quantity that you'll send with this shipment of inventory.
Simply find the SKU names and indicate the quantity for each that you want to send to ShipBob.
Step 3. Select Your Shipping & Packing Options
Next, make sure to check the Shipping Options. The key options here are to determine if you want to set up the delivery yourself (going to a carrier like USPS or UPS to purchase postage and ship inventory to them) or let ShipBob generate the labels for you.
Also, make sure to select how your shipment is packaged. You can set up one SKU (item) per box or include multiple SKUs in one box. Finally, provide a delivery estimate.
Step 4. Finalize Your Options
The final steps are for you to set up the options for packing your inventory into boxes and printing the labels that you'll include on the boxes that you send to ShipBob.
That's it! Just send the inventory to ShipBob, and you're good to go. They'll take it from here.
ShipBob Handles the Rest
Now that you've connected your Shopify store to ShipBob and have sent your first round of inventory, the process is pretty automated from here! Shopify will feed order data to ShipBob through the integration between the two systems. Simply continue to send inventory over to ShipBob when it’s time to replenish, and they'll handle the rest of the eCommerce order fulfillment process for you.