Based on your preference, you may either automate the process or choose to handle things manually. You may want to consider the order quantity, order frequency, the amount of time you have to/can spend on each order, your technical capacity, etc. while making your decision.
If you decide to go with automation, you’ve got several options:
- You can ask the supplier if they can ship things by themselves. If yes, they are most likely to keep track of their shipments through an app like ShipStation, which you can hook up with your website. Then what happens is:
- Someone orders from your dropshipping website
- Order get synced to a fulfillment software like ShipStation
- Fulfillment team (supplier) logs in and prints the shipping labels (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.)
- Fulfillment software sends the tracking and fulfillment information back to your website
- If you own a store in Shopify, you can use the service called Oberlo to place the orders automatically from your dropshipping store to the Aliexpress supplier.
- Use a service such as Inventory Source. Inventory Source is a dropshipping inventory & order management software that allows you to automate your inventory & ordering process with dropship suppliers to virtually any online store, marketplace, or e-commerce platform. With Inventory Source, you can be as involved or automated as you want.
While the above options will help you to automate your business, there will be some amount of bucks per month for the service. If you are looking for a cheap way to get things done, it would be just importing all orders to Google sheets via some 3rd party integration services such as Integromat or Zapier. Each time when an order is made, it will get sent to a Google Sheet. Then you can just share that sheet with your supplier and have them mark the ones that have been shipped.
A potential downside with automated processing/fulfillment
With automation, only the in-stock products get shipped. The out-of-stock items do not. That becomes a problem where a customer places a multi-item order, and some of those ordered items are not available in stock. In that case, only a partial order will be fulfilled. Then you’ll have to reship the rest of the order when the stock comes in and pay for the shipping and drop ship fee on the second shipment too. For example, imagine if a customer orders three items, each valued at $20, $17, $3, with $8 shipping and $2.50 drop ship fee. Only the $3 item is in stock. With automation, the $3 item ships. And the two more profitable items do not. Or you have to set up rules like, for example, ‘do not ship partial orders.