How To Fulfill Dropship Orders

As a dropshipper, your supply chain influences everything you do. But it’s also hard to manage because there are so many different parties involved.

Order fulfillment involves managing manufacturers, multiple suppliers and customer expectations all at once.

The secret to successful dropshipping is to streamline your order fulfillment by getting your manufacturers or suppliers to send products directly to the customer, while you focus on your marketing and sales channels.

This article explains how the order fulfillment process works and provides five steps to doing it efficiently.

How does an online store fulfill orders?

The order fulfillment process happens after you take a customer’s payment. It’s how, from start to finish, you take products from a manufacturer and get them to the customer.

how to fulfill dropship orders in a large warehouse

Dropshipping is a type of order fulfillment. A dropshipper sells products on their online store. When a customer purchases a product, the dropshipper buys it from the supplier. The supplier will ship products to the customer directly. A dropshipper facilitates the transaction but doesn’t touch the products. Instead, they act as a middleman and focus on marketing and selling the product.


Done right, dropship order fulfillment will automatically send orders from your website to the supplier’s system. The supplier then manages order fulfillment by sending the product to the customer.

The order fulfillment process is holistic and involves disciplines like: 

  • Inventory management
  • Packing and shipping
  • Customer communications
  • Customer experience

If that sounds like too much of a hassle, don’t worry. As a dropshipper, your supplier will streamline most of the order fulfillment process for you. 

Your focus should be on maintaining customer loyalty. For example, you need to make sure that your order fulfillment is efficient, profitable, and carried out to the customer’s satisfaction. 

Efficient order fulfillment processes free you up to deal with issues like defective items and managing your eCommerce store.

What is the order fulfillment process?

Every dropship order goes through these five fulfillment steps.

Step 1: Integrate with your supply chain

To kick things off, you need to decide what product you’re going to sell and find dropshipping suppliers. The supplier will guide you on pricing, minimum orders, and other fees. They’ll also provide you with product photos and descriptions, so you can sell without even touching the products.

This order fulfillment process might sound pretty easy from your perspective, but some of it still involves manual work. You can use a solution like Spark Shipping to automate a lot of the inventory management process.

Step 2: Your customer places an order

After listing the supplier’s products on your website, you get to work marketing and making sales. When a customer places an order from your online store, it sets off a chain of fulfillment actions.

Both you and your dropshipping supplier then get an email about the order, which automatically comes from your online store. The customer’s payment will hit your bank account too.

how to fulfill dropship orders as a merchant or retailer

Step 3: You communicate the order to your supplier

After processing the customer’s order, your systems will place an order with the dropshipping supplier for the product.

However, most systems don’t automatically forward orders to your supplier.

An automated system like Spark Shipping allows you to directly integrate with your supplier’s order processing system.

This saves you from having to send hundreds of emails to your supplier every day.

Once the supplier receives your order they will charge you the wholesale price, shipping, and any other fees.

Step 4: The supplier picks, packs, and ships the order

The supplier takes care of order fulfillment once they have received your payment. They pick, pack, and ship the order directly to the customer, but your name, address, and logo will be on the packing invoice.

After they prepare the product for shipping, the supplier will send you an invoice and tracking number. You’ll either need to manually receive each tracking number (and enter it manually into your marketplace) or use an automated system like Spark Shipping to directly integrate with the supplier’s tracking system.

From here you’re responsible for passing the tracking information to the customer, so it’s important to know information like shipping times.

how to fulfill dropship orders in a warehouse with a forklift

Step 5: You pay the supplier

Depending on your supplier, you might be billed for each order via a credit card that you keep on file or the supplier will invoice you every 30, 60, or 90 days. 

This is something you need to negotiate with your supplier ahead of time. At first, the supplier might only offer you pre-order billing. But you can likely agree on credit terms after building a solid relationship with them.

Buying on credit is essential for improving your cash flow, so don’t overlook the power of a good supplier relationship!

After you pay your supplier, the transaction is officially completed. As a dropshipper, you get to pocket the difference between what your supplier charges and what the customer pays. The industry average for dropshippers is 20%.

Improve your order fulfillment and grow your eCommerce business

As a dropshipper you act as a middleman between a supplier and the customer.

This means that finding a trustworthy supplier is critical. With the right supplier, you’ll experience lower risk and will be able to grow your online store quicker.

You don’t have to grow your dropshipping business. But it is a great place to start if you want to start an eCommerce business empire. Some dropshippers even go on to do their own order fulfillment, cutting out the supplier entirely.

No matter where you want to take your eCommerce business, automation is the key. Free up more of your time, maximize profit margins, and reduce errors with a smart automation system like Spark Shipping. Find out how we help dropshippers ruthlessly eliminate any inefficiencies in order fulfillment.

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