Blog / Beginner's handbook / The Ultimate Fulfillment Warehouse Handbook
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:
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
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:
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?
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.
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:
Speaking of inventory . . . you can store two types of items in our fulfillment warehouses:
We don’t store perishable goods, live plants, products with dimensions larger than 18″ × 18″ × 17″ (46 × 46 × 43 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). The maximum dimensions we accept packaging in: 35 × 22 × 18 in. (89 × 56 × 46 cm).
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.
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:
Keep in mind—your order doesn’t qualify for same-day fulfillment if:
If the order with a warehouse product doesn’t qualify for same-day fulfillment, we’ll fulfill it in our standard average time of 2–5 business days.
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:
Are you nodding your head that this is for you? Here’s how you order:
Read more about stocking print products.
The first thing you need to start your fulfillment warehouse journey is your inventory.
You can make your own products, pack-ins, and packaging, 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.
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:
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:
My shell combs were approved for storage, so I can now ship them to Printful.
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:
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!
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:
If you sell on Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, Wix, BigCartel, BigCommerce, Ecwid, Weebly, Storenvy, Wish, PrestaShop, Launch Cart, Webflow, then:
If you sell on an ecommerce platform I didn’t mention above, then:
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.
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. International shipping is available for all warehouse locations except our UK facility due to expensive shipping rates.
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 the guidelines to configure shipping on your store.
Note that, if your warehoused products are made on-demand by Printful, then we apply a flat rate shipping for these items. Rate varies depending on your shipping region. This means that if you decide to stock up on your print-on-demand bestsellers or if you reship the returned items stored in our warehouses, you’ll pay the same shipping price as you would for any other print-on-demand product.
When shipping’s done, it’s smooth sailing from there—sell your products and focus on marketing them.
Printful’s fulfillment warehouse solution consists of two costs:
Let’s take a look at what these costs are made up of and when Printful charges them.
Your inventory storage costs depend on the space your items take up in Printful’s warehouses. The more products you store, the higher your inventory storage costs.
The storage rates are based on the space your stock occupies in the warehouses. If it takes up:
This fee is calculated per month, not per day.
Note that the storage price for the first 25 cu. ft. that you use will always stay the same ($1.60 per cu. ft.) even if you use more space in total. For example, if you use 26 cu. ft. of the storage space, you’ll pay $1.60 per cubic foot for the first 25 cu. ft., and then pay $1.25 for the 1 cu. ft. that falls into the second tier.
The minimum storage cost is $150/month. So, if the items you store don’t add up to taking up $150 worth of storage space, you will still have to pay the minimum cost of $150/month.
However, we’ll apply a smaller minimum storage fee of $25/month if you’ll use our warehouses to stock only print-on-demand items made by Printful, your branding items (custom packaging and pack-ins), and/or your returns.
To access the storage cost calculator, sign in or register at printful.com, then, once you land on your Printful Dashboard, click Warehouse > Pricing > Storage cost calculator.
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.
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, packaging, or a product.
If the order contains an item from the warehouse which is a pack-in:
Orders packed in custom packaging
If the order is packed in custom packaging from your warehouse stock:
The pricing below applies if the order contains an item from the warehouse which is a product.
If an order contains pack-ins, packaging, 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, 2 pack-ins—a sticker and a business card—, and custom packaging. 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) + $0.50 (picking fee for custom packaging).
We calculated shipping costs according to your product’s size, weight, and shipment destination. You’ll get charged each time an order comes in for a standard or express shipping method.
Express shipping is calculated in real-time, while standard rates stay constant. We use the standard shipping method by default, but for some integrations, you can enable live rates to have both shipping options.
To find out what you’ll be paying for your products head to our shipping calculator. You’ll need to measure your product while it’s packed for shipment to get the most accurate rate. Then you can add the costs to your storefront.
Note that if your warehoused products are made on-demand by Printful, we’ll apply a flat rate shipping for these items. Know that flat rate is different than the rate determined by the size and weight of the parcel.
To recap, your fulfillment warehouse fees will consist of:
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 [email protected], and we’ll help you out. Or, you can leave us your questions in the comments below.
Una specializes in third-party logistics and knows Printful's Warehousing & Fulfillment services from A to Z. She enjoys digging deep into marketing psychology and developing her creative writing skills.