Have you ever bought an angelfish just because you kinda wanted it?
Yeah, me neither.
I could never buy an angelfish on a whim because I need to know I’m making the right decision. What am I going to do with that angelfish if I don’t even know what type of water it needs? What if our personalities don’t match? What if I lose my savings taking care of it?
Buying fancy aquarium fish is the same as signing up to fulfillment warehouse solutions for your business. You need crystal clear answers before you make a decision:
- What exactly am I committing to?
- How will my life change after it?
- Will I have the stream of income to pay for it?
Let’s dip our toes in the water and learn all about fulfillment centers, pick and pack services, setting up shipping for warehouse products, costs of warehousing, and other wonderful things.
Fulfillment Warehouse Handbook: Deep Dive into Printful’s World of Warehousing
What is warehousing and fulfillment?
Warehousing and fulfillment is the act of storing inventory to be then fulfilled in incoming orders. Simple as that.
Here’s how warehousing and fulfillment works:
- You send your inventory to a fulfillment warehouse
- The warehouse specialists stock in your inventory
- You sell the stocked products on your storefront
- Once a customer buys from you, the fulfillment warehouse fulfills and ships out the ordered products
Using a warehousing and fulfillment solution means you won’t have to deal with order fulfillment, shipping, and stock management. All you have to do is send the warehouse more products when you’re about to run out of inventory.
So what type of warehouse can do this heavy lifting for you?
Warehouse vs. fulfillment center vs. fulfillment warehouse
There’s one massive thing in common for warehouses, fulfillment centers, and fulfillment warehouses, and that’s the space they take up. But when it comes to differences, it’s about the inventory.
Warehouse—a large building for storing and handling raw materials or manufactured goods before they’re sold, used to assemble new goods, or sent out to stores.
These warehouses are often used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, and wholesalers.
Fulfillment center—a third-party logistics (3PL) warehouse for receiving incoming orders, processing, and fulfilling them. Usually, these orders come from ecommerce store customers.
After a customer submits their order to an ecommerce store, the order’s data is passed on to the fulfillment center. Warehouse specialists pick the ordered products, pack them, and then label the package for shipping.
Fulfillment warehouse—a synonym for fulfillment center—a 3PL warehouse that receives incoming orders, processes, and fulfills them.
To wrap up, warehouses are just for storing inventory, and fulfillment centers a.k.a. fulfillment warehouses are for fulfilling inventory from incoming orders.
Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment services
At its core, Printful is an on-demand printing company that fulfills and ships custom clothing, accessories, and home & living items for online businesses.
Our Warehousing & Fulfillment services are a way for you to use Printful for everything—selling print-on-demand products as well as your own items.
You can stock the products you sell on your ecommerce store in our fulfillment warehouses, and we’ll fulfill your orders and ship the products to your customers under your brand.
Our storage spaces are located on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. We have fulfillment warehouses in Canada, the USA, and Europe.
Printful’s warehousing solutions are a lifesaver if you:
- Have an expanding product line and don’t want to deal with order fulfillment, packing, and shipping
- Want to ship out orders as fast as in one day
- Are fed up with your living space turning into a warehouse and just want it inventory-free
Speaking of inventory . . . you can store two types of items in our fulfillment warehouses:
- Products—items you want to sell on your storefront
Books, hats, accessories, clothing, magnets, shoes, pins, etc.
- Pack-ins—promotional freebies a.k.a. branded packaging inserts you want to include in your orders
Stickers, postcards, flyers, business cards, etc.
We don’t store perishable goods, live plants, products with dimensions larger than 15 × 15 × 10 in. (38 × 38 × 25 cm), and items worth more than $750 (700€) apiece. As for pack-ins, a single unit’s size can’t exceed 6″ × 8″ × 1″ (15.5 × 20 × 2.5 cm), and the pack-in shouldn’t weigh more than 2 oz. (55 g).
Read more in our Acceptable Content Guidelines and the Warehousing & Fulfillment Terms of Service.
I already spoiler alerted you about the quick fulfillment—yes, your warehouse products can be fulfilled and shipped out on the same day. Let’s talk more about that.
Same-day order fulfillment
Fast delivery is ecommerce’s biggest fish. Customers expect speedy dispatch, so fulfillment times are everything this year.
One of the coolest features of our warehousing solutions is same-day order fulfillment! Orders with warehoused products submitted before 12 p.m. are fulfilled and shipped out the same day.
Here’s the cut-off time for each warehouse according to its timezone:
- Charlotte, NC and Canada—12 p.m. (EST)
- Barcelona, Spain—12 p.m. (CET)
- Riga, Latvia—12 p.m. (EEST)
Keep in mind—your order doesn’t qualify for same-day fulfillment if:
- The order with warehoused products is submitted after 12 p.m. (EST/CET/EEST)
- The order contained Printful’s print-on-demand products
- The order contains an out-of-stock product that Printful recently stocked in with your inventory shipment, a returned or previously reserved product
If the order with a warehouse product doesn’t qualify for same-day fulfillment, we’ll fulfill it in our standard average time of 2–7 business days.
Print product warehousing
If you have any print-on-demand bestsellers flying off the shelves, you can pre-order them in bulk (26 item minimum) and store them in our warehouses for speedy fulfillment!
By bulk ordering and storing your print products you get:
- Same-day fulfillment. Customers won’t have to wait 2–7 days until we personalize your products—they’ll be ready for fulfillment right away.
- Bulk order discounts. Order at least 26 of the same product and get discounts up to 30% of the product price.
- Free shipping to Printful’s warehouses. We won’t charge you for moving your bulk-ordered on-demand Printful products to our warehouse.
Are you nodding your head that this is for you? Here’s how you order:
- When you’re logged in to your Printful Dashboard, click the red New order button at the top right corner and choose Basic order.
- Pick the products you want, and in the Shipping step, tick the box under Stock these products with Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment services.
- Follow the order flow and that’s it! We’ll let you know once your products are made and stocked in your chosen warehouse.
Read more about stocking print products.
How do I get started with warehouse fulfillment?
The first thing you need to start your fulfillment warehouse journey is your inventory.
You can make your own products and pack-ins, or you can have them manufactured by a third-party supplier. If you go the outsourcing route, you can arrange your freshly made inventory to be sent straight from your manufacturer to Printful’s warehouses.
No matter which stream you’re on—you’ll have to start by getting approval to store your inventory with us.
Submit inventory for approval
First, Printful’s fulfillment warehouse specialists need to make sure we can store your items and that they follow our terms of service.
As an example, say I want to submit shell-shaped combs I plan to order from AliExpress and then sell on my store. Here’s how it’s done:
- Log into your Printful account or create one.
- Click on the Warehouse section in the Dashboard menu, and then click the red New item button.
- Choose your item type—Product (something you’ll sell) or Pack-in (promotional freebie).
Since I want to sell my shell-shaped combs, I choose Product.
- Fill in details about the item. If your item comes in multiple variants like colors or sizes, add those under Variants.
- Once you fill everything in, click Add and sit tight until we approve your items for storage.
It’ll take about 2 business days for our warehouse specialists to review your submission. We’ll let you know the outcome via email or a notification on your Dashboard:
- Approved—you can continue onto the next step—sending us your inventory.
- Declined—we can’t store your items and we’ll tell you why.
My shell combs were approved for storage, so I can now ship them to Printful.
Send inventory to warehouses
Before I go to the post office to mail my combs to the warehouse I need, I first have to submit the shipment details to Printful. Without this info, Printful’s warehouse specialists can’t identify my comb shipment and stock it.
To submit a shipment:
- In your Dashboard, click on the Warehouse section, then Shipments, and finally, the red New shipment button on the top right.
- Choose the items and their quantities you’ll be mailing us.
- Select the warehouse and let Printful know how you’ll pack the items so we can sort your inventory once it arrives at the warehouse.
- In the Shipping step, you’ll see an option to download the packaging label. Print and stick the label to the outside of the packaging so Printful can identify your shipment once it reaches us.
- Fill in the rest of the details in the submission form and click Submit shipment once you’re done. That’s it!
You’ll receive a confirmation email or a notification on your Dashboard which means now you can mail your inventory.
All international inventory shipments must arrive free and clear of customs, duties, and taxes. When you submit the shipment to your carrier, mark it as Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) and list yourself as the Importer of Record to cover customs fees. List Printful only as the delivery location. Read more about international shipment customs fees in Europe and the USA.
Once your shipment arrives at Printful’s fulfillment warehouses, you’ll be notified via email or a notification. It’s time to list the inventory on your storefront and start selling!
List products on your storefront
Adding warehoused products to your storefront works the same way as adding new on-demand products. Depending on the ecommerce platform you use, there are two ways to add products to your shop:
1. Through Printful
If you sell on Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, Wix, BigCartel, BigCommerce, Ecwid, Weebly, Storenvy, Wish, PrestaShop, Launch Cart, Webflow, then:
- In your Printful Dashboard, go to Stores and click Add product next to the store you want your item listed in
- Select the Warehouse items tab and choose your product
- Add your product details and continue by clicking Proceed to pricing
- Fill in your pricing information and click Submit to store
2. Through your ecommerce platform
If you sell on an ecommerce platform I didn’t mention above, then:
- Go to your ecommerce platform and add your product there
- To sync the listing on your storefront with the warehoused product you have on Printful, go back to your Printful account and, in your Dashboard, go to Stores and click View store next to your store
- From the upper tabs, select Not synced, and click the Edit button next to the product you want to sync
- Click Choose product, then from the upper tabs, select Warehouse items and find your product
- Add your product details and continue by clicking Proceed to pricing
- Fill in your pricing information and click Submit to store
Once the warehoused products are synced with your storefront, you can start selling. Then, when a customer orders a product you’ve synced, Printful will receive the order, pick the items from the warehouse, pack them, and ship them to your customer. You’ll see the order in the Orders section in your Dashboard.
Set up warehouse product shipping
With our shipping rate calculator in the Warehouse section of your Dashboard, figuring out shipping rates for warehoused products is easy. Just input your product dimensions or choose an existing product from your inventory, and then select the warehouse you’re shipping the product from.
You’ll get fixed Standard shipping rates for various shipping destinations. To set up your shipping rates, head to our shipping page and you’ll land on our integrations block, click on the one you’ll sell your products on. Then follow along the guidelines to configure shipping on your store.
When shipping’s done, it’s smooth sailing from there—sell your products and focus on marketing them.
How much does Warehousing & Fulfillment cost?
Printful’s fulfillment warehouse solution consists of two costs:
- Inventory storage
- Order fulfillment
Let’s take a look at what these costs are made up of and when Prinful charges them.
Inventory storage costs
Your inventory storage costs depend on the number of items and the space they take up in Printful’s fulfillment warehouses. The more and/or bulkier items you store, the higher your inventory storage costs.
The storage rates are based on the number of items you keep in warehouses. If you store:
- 1–200 items, then you pay $1.65 per cu. ft. of storage
- 201–1,000 items, then you pay $1.30 per cu. ft. of storage
- 1,001–10,000 items, then you pay $1.00 per cu. ft. of storage
- 10,000+ items, then you pay $0.75 per cu. ft. of storage
The minimum storage cost is $25/month. So, if the items you store don’t add up to taking up $25 worth of storage space, you still have to pay the minimum cost of $25/month.
This is what the calculator looks like. For reference, I calculated how much I’d have to pay to store 100 copies of Moby Dick for 1 month.
Every day, our warehouse specialists check how much space your inventory takes up and calculates the fee according to the above rates. Printful charges you the total fee at the beginning of each month.
So, if all your products are sold out before the calculation at the beginning of the next month, you’ll only be charged for the product storage space when they were in stock. However, the minimum storage cost of $25 will apply either way, even if you send in inventory on the last day of the month.
Order fulfillment costs
Fulfillment costs cover the pick and pack services for each order. Fulfillment costs include the work to process an order, pick the ordered item from warehouse shelves, and pack the order for shipping.
The order fulfillment costs are charged each time a Printful order includes an item from the warehouse—be it a pack-in or a product.
Orders with pack-ins
If the order contains an item from the warehouse which is a pack-in:
- $0 fulfillment fee per order
Printful doesn’t charge fulfillment fees for pack-ins.
- $0.50picking fee per pack-in
So if you include 5 pack-ins in your order, you’ll pay $2.50 for them.
Orders with products
The pricing below applies if the order contains an item from the warehouse which is a product.
- $2.00 fulfillment fee per order
The fee is charged per order, so if your order contains 10 products, you’ll still pay $2.00 for it.
- $0.95 picking fee per product
If your order contains 10 products from the warehouse, you’ll pay a $9.50 picking fee.
- $0.10–2.50 packaging material fee per order
The fee varies depending on the product dimensions and their fragility. Most of the packaging is under $0.50 with some exceptions for large boxes and card envelopes.
If an order contains both pack-ins and products from the warehouse, then all the above fees apply. For example, let’s say there’s an order with 2 shell-shaped combs and 2 pack-ins—a sticker and a business card. The fulfillment fees for that order will be $2.00 + $0.95 × 2 (order fulfillment + picking fee for products) + $0.50 × 2 (picking fee for pack-ins).
Warehousing cost summary
To recap, your fulfillment warehouse fees will consist of:
- storage costs that are charged once per month
- fulfillment costs that are charged per order containing a warehoused item (product or pack-in)
Should I use a fulfillment company?
Using a fulfillment warehouse can open up a whole new chapter in your ecommerce.
Warehousing solutions might be exactly the thing you need to make your business even more efficient. If your store’s currently based on print-on-demand products, why not expand your product range? The world is your oyster!
We’re already hard at work on developing new features for our fulfillment warehouse services (like storing returned Printful products for reselling), so stay tuned!
If you have any questions or recommendations, hit us up at support@Printful.com, and we’ll help you out. Or, you can leave us your questions in the comments below.
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