You need a birthday gift for your friend, and you want to get them something bespoke, handmade, or vintage. Where do you go?
You could try a thrift store — but if you don’t have the time or want more options, you’ll probably head to Etsy.
Etsy is the ecommerce platform of choice for consumers in search of unique creations and wares, as it’s home to a range of creative items such as handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, and collectibles.
It also serves as a valuable online marketplace for sellers who offer these types of products, allowing them to tap into a highly relevant customer base that’s already in search of niche items.
However, if you’re planning on selling through Etsy, you’ll have to develop your own fulfillment strategy — one that not only gets orders on customers’ doorsteps efficiently, but that seamlessly works alongside your other channels.
In this article, we’ll cover how Etsy fulfillment works, its pros and cons, and how outsourcing Etsy fulfillment to a 3PL can simplify your multichannel ecommerce logistics.
How does Etsy fulfillment work?
While Etsy does not currently offer order fulfillment services such as inventory storage, order picking and packing, or shipping, it does offer a number of useful tools and services to help sellers with fulfillment.
These services include:
- Shipping profiles for similar product listings
- Free shipping guarantee option to improve search result rankings
- A smart pricing tool
- USPS, FedEx, and Canada Post shipping labels purchasable through Etsy
These services are designed to simplify the shipping process while simultaneously providing cost savings to Etsy sellers.
Pros of Etsy fulfillment
Even though Etsy does not offer inventory storage or pick and pack fulfillment services, it does provide some shipping services and perks. Here are some of the main advantages of Etsy fulfillment.
Shipping profiles and delivery policies
Through shipping profiles, Etsy sellers can automatically add the same shipping details and cost to multiple items.
This way, you can streamline the process of adding shipping information to different types of items or items that cost the same amount of money to ship.
When you make an update to a saved shipping profile, all the listings under that profile get automatically updated.
Etsy also lets you set up delivery policies that clearly communicate the available delivery options, the carriers you use, and the rules for return.
You can purchase postage labels directly on Etsy if you ship through one of the approved carriers (including Australia Post, Canada Post, FedEx, Global Postal Delivery, Royal Mail, and USPS).
Purchasing shipping labels from Etsy not only saves a seller time, but also provides shipping discounts and simplifies the process of requesting refunds if labels go unused.
Free delivery guarantee
Etsy sellers in the U.S and Canada have the option to offer a free delivery guarantee for orders that amount to $35 or more.
This makes your listings more attractive to buyers, and may even convince them to finalize their purchase. Etsy even prioritizes listings from sellers that offer a free delivery guarantee.
Easy shipping cost calculation
If you decide that you want to offer free shipping, Etsy’s smart pricing tool allows you to adjust your listing prices to offset shipping costs, which can help you meet the growing expectation of free shipping without hurting your bottom line.
Additionally, sellers can use calculated shipping for items shipped with USPS, Canada Post, or Global Postal Shipping, which automatically calculates shipping costs based on details such as dispatch location and delivery location, as well as an item’s size and dimensional weight.
Cons of Etsy fulfillment
While Etsy offers sellers advantages with regards to shipping, it does not currently offer other services involved in fulfillment. Here are some of the aspects of fulfillment that Etsy sellers will need to plan for on their own.
No customer service
Etsy’s customer service is limited, especially when it comes to selling and order fulfillment. Sellers will need to have a customer service solution in place, and be prepared to handle trouble-shooting themselves.
Your own resources
Because Etsy does not have a full suite of fulfillment services, sellers must use their own time, money, and resources to manage and store inventory, process orders, pick and pack boxes, transport packages to the post office, and ship orders to customers.
This means that sellers must spend their own time on fulfillment, and their own money on warehousing costs such as rent, labor, insurance, and other hidden fulfillment costs. Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses don’t have the resources or staff needed to support these operations.
“When I first started Craft Club Co., I was picking, packing, and shipping orders on my own — but since the order volume was reasonable, fulfilling orders myself was still manageable while I was stuck at home during the pandemic.
But as soon as I expanded product categories and released the first rug kits in the summer of 2021, business really picked up. All of a sudden, I went from the size of an Etsy shop to a growing ecommerce brand, with the order volume to match. I was staying up until midnight for weeks on end, just packing boxes and shipping them out.”
Nakisah Williams, founder of Craft Club Co.
Outsourcing your Etsy fulfillment to a 3PL
One of the easiest ways to optimize your Etsy fulfillment operations is by outsourcing it to a third-party logistics provider, or 3PL. Here are just some of the benefits of placing all of your fulfillment and shipping logistics in the hands of an expert fulfillment company.
Logistics providers usually have a network of facilities that their merchant partners can use to store their inventory, which enables merchants to avoid pouring money into renting, maintaining, and staffing a warehouse on their own.
Small businesses find this storage and distribution solution particularly beneficial, as smaller merchants typically have smaller budgets and fewer resources to work with.
Pick and pack
When you outsource to a 3PL, you’ll be able to both outsource and streamline the picking and packing process. Once orders are placed on your Etsy store, the 3PL’s warehouse workers will pick the items, pack them in boxes, and get them ready for shipping.
By leveraging the most efficient picking and packing strategies, 3PLs enable you to maintain picking accuracy while ensuring that orders are ready to get out the door faster.
With the right logistics partner, you can also enjoy optimized ecommerce shipping operations by leveraging powerful shipping software and established carrier relationships. You’ll be able to provide expedited shipping at discounted rates, along with the ability to track shipping status in real-time.
“For us, changing from a 3 week lead time to 3 days through ShipBob is what drove our sales. Even now, one of the primary reviews we get on Etsy is, ‘My order arrived really quickly!’ Having the stock locally in the US means that lead times and shipping times are minimal, and that you’ll get higher conversion rates because you’re offering better lead times.”
John Greenhalgh, Co-Founder of A Year of Dates
ShipBob can help you with Etsy fulfillment
ShipBob offers Etsy merchants an omnichannel fulfillment and shipping solution to help you get your Etsy order to customers more efficiently and with less stress.
Using software such as OrderDesk or ShipStation, ShipBob can connect to your Etsy shop as well as dozens of other ecommerce marketplaces and platforms (including eBay, BigCommerce, Wix, Shopify, and more). This provides both Etsy-exclusive and multichannel merchants an all-in-one ecommerce fulfillment solution that will work for all sales channels you sell through.
Once connected, ShipBob automatically fulfills orders on your behalf, which you can monitor through your ShipBob dashboard.
ShipBob’s suite of fulfillment services also provides Etsy merchants with cost-savings when it comes to shipping.
First, you can leverage a distributed network of fulfillment centers to strategically store your inventory and ship from the location closest to each order’s destination, reducing both inventory storage and order shipping costs.
Moreover, ShipBob’s established relationship with leading carriers lets sellers enjoy discounted shipping rates, helping you bring down the cost of fulfillment so you can focus on resources in areas that matter the most.
Interested in simplifying Etsy order fulfillment? Click below to receive a quote and optimize your Etsy shop’s logistics.
Etsy fulfillment FAQs
Below are answers to common questions about Etsy fulfillment.
How does Etsy fulfillment work?
Etsy provides several useful fulfillment tools for sellers, but it doesn’t fulfill orders for them. Sellers have to manage their own fulfillment process by leveraging the tools provided, or outsourcing inventory management, storage, picking, packing, and shipping to a logistics provider.
Does Etsy have a fulfillment center?
Currently, Etsy does not have a fulfillment center.
Does Etsy do fulfillment?
While Etsy does not perform fulfillment activities such as picking or packing for sellers, it does offer perks such as shipping profiles, free shipping guarantees, postage labels, and a pricing tool to help with fulfillment.
How do I fulfill an Etsy order?
You can fulfill an Etsy order by picking, packing, and shipping the order yourself, or by outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL or other logistics provider.
What is the difference between FBA and Etsy fulfillment?
With FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon handles the entire fulfillment process on behalf of sellers. With Etsy fulfillment, sellers can only take advantage of select fulfillment tools while fulfilling orders in-house using their own time and resources.