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fulfillment warehouse
Beginner's handbook

Fulfillment Warehouse Handbook: Deep Dive into Printful’s World of Warehousing

By Reading Time: 10 minutes

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:

  1. What exactly am I committing to?
  2. How will my life change after it?
  3. 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:

  1. You send your inventory to a fulfillment warehouse
  2. The warehouse specialists stock in your inventory
  3. You sell the stocked products on your storefront
  4. Once a customer buys from you, the fulfillment warehouse fulfills and ships out the ordered products
how warehousing 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?

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 warehouse panoramic view

Having a whale of a time reading about warehousing? Check out our blog about 3PL warehouses!

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 fulfillment warehouse locations

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.
  • Packagingcustom branded packaging that you want us to pack your orders in
    Poly mailers, bubble envelopes
items to store in 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.

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. (EET)

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/EET)
  • 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 25 or more 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.
Print product warehousing

Are you nodding your head that this is for you? Here’s how you order:

  1. When you’re logged in to your Printful Dashboard, click the red New order button at the top right corner and choose Basic order.
  2. Pick the products you want, and in the Shipping step, tick the box under Stock these products with Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment services.
  3. 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, 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.

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:

  1. Log into your Printful account or create one.
  2. Click on the Warehouse section in the Dashboard menu, and then click the red New item button.
Adding a new warehouse item
  1. Choose your item type—Product, Pack-in, Packaging.
    Since I want to sell my shell-shaped combs, I choose Product.
  2. Fill in details about the item. If your item comes in multiple variants like colors or sizes, add those under Variants.
  3. Once you fill everything in, click Add and sit tight until we approve your items for storage.

Double-check the item dimensions you add! Those will be used to calculate your storage fees and shipping costs when someone orders that product.

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:

  1. In your Dashboard, click on the Warehouse section, then Shipments, and finally, the red New shipment button on the top right.
  2. Choose the items and their quantities you’ll be mailing us.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Inventory shipment label
  1. Fill in the rest of the details in the submission form and click Submit shipment once you’re done. That’s it!

You can ship different kinds of items in one shipment—you don’t have to mail each item type separately.

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:

  1. In your Printful Dashboard, go to Stores and click Add product next to the store you want your item listed in
  2. Select the Warehouse items tab and choose your product
  3. Add your product details and continue by clicking Proceed to pricing
  4. Fill in your pricing information and click Submit to store

All done!

2. Through your ecommerce platform

If you sell on an ecommerce platform I didn’t mention above, then:

  1. Go to your ecommerce platform and add your product there
  2. 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
  3. From the upper tabs, select Not synced, and click the Edit button next to the product you want to sync
  4. Click Choose product, then from the upper tabs, select Warehouse items and find your product
  5. Add your product details and continue by clicking Proceed to pricing
  6. Fill in your pricing information and click Submit to store

Success!

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.

Warehouse product shipping rate calculator

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.

Selling premium products on your storefront? Learn top tricks on how to market expensive products!

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.

If you have bigger fish to fry, use our storage cost calculator to figure out your inventory costs!

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.

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, packaging, 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.
  • $0.50 picking fee per pack-in
    So if you include 5 pack-ins in your order, you’ll pay $2.50 for them.
promo packaging inserts

Orders packed in custom packaging

If the order is packed in custom packaging from your warehouse stock:

  • $0 fulfillment fee per order
    Printful doesn’t charge fulfillment fees for packaging.
  • $0.50 picking fee per packaging
    You’ll pay $0.50 to pack an order in custom packaging.

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 our white-label packaging is under $0.50 with some exceptions for large boxes and card envelopes.

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).

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, packaging, 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 [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.

Comments

  1. Tiffany Luong

    We need shipment : 20 packages each month size 64x54x40, we need relabel, packing, send to our customers from France, Germany, Switzerland. The time Average storage time is 1 month. With our need you can provide which service ?
    In the first stage, we will send small orders like 20 packaged per month, can you do it? We will send our goods to your company and you will conduct next step for our products to provide for our customers

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Tiffany, unfortunately, we don’t accept products with dimensions larger than 15 × 15 × 10 in. (38 × 38 × 25 cm). In this case, we wouldn’t be able to store the products you’ve described.

  2. Alfred

    Thanks for sharing! I think Printful opens a new chapter for e-commerce marketers. Warehousing and fulfillment are the next step for businesses especially in the US. This article is among the best and most clearly explain what, why and how fulfillment service work. I hope my business can use this service soon.

  3. divotEND Ltd

    All of my products are sold via one WordPress (soon Shopify) web shop. Soon these will be augmented by Printful POD products. Many of my own existing products, call them A + B + C, will certainly be able to be stored and shipped by Printful however there is 1 product that is too large – Call it product X. This must be fulfilled by my existing fulfilment contractor. How can Printful help me automate the separation of that fulfilment process? Say a client orders products A+B+C+X. The Printful App will tell Printful to fulfil A+B+C however how can my existing fulfilment contractor ‘AUTOMATICALLY’ be advised that they must fulfil that order for product X?

    1. Katherine Karklina

      Thank you for your question! If product X is not stored in our warehouses, the other existing fulfillment contractor or you would be responsible for fulfilling this item and sending it out to the customer. If it’s not fulfilled by us but shows up in your Printful profile, you can set it as “Ignored”. If you want product X to be automatically fulfilled by the other fulfillment contractor, you would have to check the integration/collaboration with them to find out how can this be achieved.

  4. Kait

    Hi! Are you able to choose which warehouse & fulfillment centre you are sending your inventory to? For example if I live in California could I request use of the LA location?

    1. Katherine Karklina

      Hi, Kait! Sure, you can choose the warehouse which suits your needs the best 😊 It’s not possible to choose where your orders are fulfilled, but it’s possible to choose where to store your inventory.

  5. Kee

    This is perfectly becoming a solution for my contributors.

    I would send all of our creations to the warehouse BUT could I also send “like” items to warehouse that are donated to sell?

    Do items NEED to be sent in bulk or can it be individual items shipped to the warehouse at any time, even daily?

    Could we ship to both US warehouses? We’re literally collecting gifts in San Francisco, LA, NY and Charlotte but shipping out is all over the place.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Katherine Karklina

      Hey, Kee, you can send your items to our warehouses as frequently as you like — but it’s cheaper to ship them all at once and in bulk. You can choose to ship to both our US warehouses as well, it’s entirely up to you. And you can send us whatever you like, but it’s important that these items do not exceed 18″ × 18″ × 17″ (46 × 46 × 43 cm) in size, they aren’t worth more than $750 (700€) a piece, aren’t perishable, and comply with our Acceptable Content Guidelines and the Warehousing & Fulfillment Terms of Service. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to our support team 😊

  6. Anthony

    I’m confused about the sizes and dimensions of the shirts that I want to send out. How do I figure out the width and the weight of my sweatshirts and shirts when I don’t even have them on me personally? Is there a way to figure that out?

    1. Katherine Karklina

      Hey, Anthony! We include size guides for each product. They can be found near the product price. If you need some help or if you have some additional questions, feel free to send us a message at [email protected].

  7. sanjiv

    the courier that you use are extremly slow it take 10 days for arrive the parcel from spain to italy i usually take 2/3days maximum my customer can’t wait that much.

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