As a growing brand, it’s common to store and ship products at more than one warehouse. Maybe you have one fulfillment center in New Jersey and another in California.
But without the right tools in place, it’s almost impossible to get full visibility into all the inventory you have scattered across these locations.
Luckily, if you’re a direct-to-consumer brand (DTC) and a Shopify merchant, you can lean on a handy feature to build out your multi-location strategy and streamline order fulfillment in the process.
Sound too good to be true? We’re here to help you set up this tool, leverage its power, and supercharge how you manage inventory with it.
A Shopify location is a physical space or mobile app where Shopify retailers sell merchandise, store inventory, and fulfill customer orders (among other things).
These locations can look pretty different, depending on your business. Some of the most common examples are warehouses, brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops, and dropshippers.
In other words, almost anywhere brands manage and ship their products can be a Shopify location.
By fulfilling orders from multiple locations, retailers can ensure all orders are accurate and go out on time.
For example, if a SKU is out of stock at one warehouse but available at another, Shopify can split the order so it’s fulfilled from multiple facilities.
This adaptability can prevent fulfillment delays and help your brand meet (or even exceed) customer expectations.
These days, plenty of retailers have adopted multi-location strategies to stay on top of customer demand and ahead of the competition.
That’s where Shopify’s multi-location features can save the day.
With Shopify locations, sellers also get the added bonuses of simpler inventory management, effective order fulfillment, and local, in-store pickup.
Using Shopify locations, retailers can track inventory across their entire business from one central place.
You can ditch complicated spreadsheets, error-prone manual processes, and toggling back and forth between tools just to get a holistic view of your inventory.
In your Shopify account, you can add, update, or get an overview of your stock at every location. You can even update inventory at all locations in bulk (using Shopify’s bulk editor tool) or make changes product by product (using an inventory list or CSV file).
Having this level of control over your stock makes inventory management a whole lot simpler. In turn, your brand has a better chance of avoiding costly stockouts and overstocks.
As we mentioned above, Shopify can split orders between different locations if needed. And that flexibility means you can keep pace with customer demand even if one of your warehouses is out of your hottest SKU.
Shopify prioritizes locations to fulfill orders using a simple algorithm. The algorithm automatically selects the location based on the shipping address, your priority list, and the available inventory (don’t worry, we’ll discuss priority lists a little later).
But if you don’t have all the SKUs you need to fulfill an order at one fulfillment center, Shopify can split the order into multiple shipments (with each shipment coming from a different place).
Sourcing products from several locations means you can keep shipping orders as scheduled.
This translates to more effective order fulfillment since you’re not stuck waiting on replenishment to fulfill customer orders. And on-time orders keep your customers happy and prevent supply chain bottlenecks.
If you have plenty of local customers, you can give them the option to save a little cash (and time) on shipping.
Because Shopify provides a clear view of multi-location inventory data, it’s easier to route orders between online and offline retail stores. Meaning, customers can buy online and pick up in-store (pending stock availability, of course).
This retail phenomenon (dubbed BOPIS) has gained popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the global BOPIS market is expected to reach a whopping $703 billion by 2027.
BOPIS is a popular option, especially for customers who want products same day.
With in-store pickup, your customers don’t have to deal with often-hefty shipping costs and long delivery times. And they don’t have to figure out return shipping for products they don’t love.
In short, BOPIS bridges the gap between traditional brick-and-mortar stores and a more modern online shopping experience.
Lastly, retailers can use Shopify locations to set up additional supplier catalogs and explore new dropshipping opportunities that can costs in the long run.
With dropshipping, your supplier or manufacturer handles every step of order fulfillment. That’s right—your vendor is entirely responsible for shipping and handling. This obviously simplifies your supply chain in some big ways.
For example, you don’t have to transport goods from your manufacturer to an interim location (like a warehouse or fulfillment center). Instead, every order goes straight from the manufacturer to your customers without any stops along the way.
What’s more, you’re not responsible for any upfront inventory costs or shipping logistics with dropshipping.
Because your manufacturer handles that for you, there’s no need to spend much cash on buying inventory and the square footage to store it. Instead, you can focus your time and attention on growing your business.
And Shopify locations give you visibility into all your inventory—even product details from your dropshipping vendors.
🧠 Keep in mind: Dropshipping has its drawbacks, too. This approach gives you very little control over order fulfillment (since product quality is left to your suppliers). So, if things go wrong with your shipments, you’re stuck on the outside looking in.
The key is finding suppliers and manufacturers you can trust to carry out fulfillment. If there’s no supplier you trust completely, it’s better to tackle fulfillment yourself.
Interested in setting up Shopify locations for your own business? We’ve compiled a how-to guide to get you started, including tips for managing inventory across multiple locations.
Getting up and running doesn’t just mean adding new warehouses. It also includes setting up your fulfillment priorities and updating specific product locations.
Shopify limits the number of locations you can have, depending on your subscription plan.
For instance, if you are on a Shopify Starter plan, you can only have two locations. However, all other Shopify and Shopify Plus accounts are allowed up to 1,000 locations.
Adding a location in Shopify is as easy as 1-2-3:
📝 Note: Once you create a new location, it’ll appear at the bottom of your fulfillment priority list.
When you get an online order and only have one warehouse, you don’t need to think about where the order will be fulfilled. But you’ll need to set up a priority list when you have multiple fulfillment hubs.
In other words, you’ll need to assign which location should take care of specific orders first.
For example, when a customer buys a product through your online store, they’re assigned to a fulfillment location based on:
If a single location can complete the entire order, that location alone will fulfill it.
But say no location has enough stock to fulfill the entire order. Then the location with the highest priority will oversell the product (meaning, fulfillment is split between two locations).
📝 Note: Overselling is when you sell more of a product than the quantity you have in stock at that location.
Yeah, we know that can be a little confusing. So, let’s walk through an example.
Say Location A (top priority on your fulfillment list) has 10 shirts, and Location B (second priority) has 12 shirts. If you receive an order for 12 shirts, Location B will fulfill that order.
But if a customer buys 15 shirts, Location A will oversell on the shirt and finish with an inventory of -5. Location B will then fulfill those last 5 units (bringing Location A’s inventory level to 0).
You can edit fulfillment priorities for each location pretty easily from your Shopify admin page:
Now, just lather, rinse and repeat any time you want to reprioritize your fulfillment locations.
From here, you’ll want to update the list of locations where you stock specific products. This will make monitoring inventory levels across different locations a whole lot easier.
With an up-to-date list of products at each location, you can quickly make changes as needed (like shifting fulfillment to another warehouse).
And if you enable Track Quantity for a product, you can stay on top of the number of units at each location where that product is stocked.
📝 Note: When you remove an entry from the list of locations that stock a product, you’ll also delete the inventory quantity at that location.
To update the list of locations that stock a product, just follow these steps:
Whenever you create a new shipping profile, it’ll automatically add all the locations that can fulfill Shopify orders to the profile in the same group.
Any locations that can fulfill online orders become possible fulfillment hubs for the products in your profile. And they’ll all share the same shipping rates and zones.
📝 Note: Locations that don’t fulfill online orders won’t appear in your shipping profiles.
To fulfill orders with multiple locations, follow these four steps:
🔥 Tip: Purchase your own shipping labels rather than having a fulfillment service print labels on your behalf. This’ll give you more liability protection if your shipment is lost or damaged in transit.
If you’re in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, or France, you can buy shipping labels in your Shopify admin account using Shopify Shipping.
While managing multiple Shopify locations certainly has its perks, it also comes with a few obstacles. But with a little foresight, you can overcome these roadblocks (or even sidestep them altogether).
Although BOPIS is a popular option, some retailers struggle to keep up with it. Unless you maintain optimal inventory levels at all your store locations, fulfilling big spikes in in-store pickup requests will be tough.
That’s why accurate inventory tracking is essential to an in-store pickup program.
Real-time tracking gives you a bird’s-eye view across your entire supply chain, so you’ll know what (and how much) inventory is stocked at every location.
With this data at your fingertips, you’ll know immediately if you have the right products in stock for all those in-store pickups.
Real-time tracking also minimizes the risk of stockouts and other fulfillment nightmares that harm your credibility, frustrate your customers, and cost you precious revenue.
That’s where the right tracking tool comes in. Cogsy is a comprehensive platform that monitors your inventory 24/7.
Whenever you start running low at any of your different locations, Cogsy will send you an automatic replenishment alert.
Replenish alerts arrive at the ideal time to refill your stock at any location. No need to babysit your stock levels to make this happen.
Plus, each alert comes with clear restock recommendations. So, your brand knows exactly what and when to reorder stock for each location.
This speeds up the purchase order process. And it radically reduces your risk of stockout, so you can easily stay on top of your BOPIS requests.
Managing inventory across multiple warehouses gets complicated quickly, even for veteran retailers. After all, the more warehouses your brand oversees, the more logistics you have to juggle.
And keeping up with all the different parts of inventory management at each warehouse—from forecasting to purchasing to replenishment to product flow—is exponentially more painful if you’re still using manual processes.
That’s because manually managing your inventory is time-consuming (and error-prone) at best. But it becomes next to impossible when you’re working with multiple locations.
Again, this is where the right inventory management software comes to the rescue.
And while Cogsy technically isn’t an IMS (it’s an end-to-end purchasing platform), it’s the best solution for managing inventory movements.
For instance, Cogsy’s multi-location support tracks where your inventory is in real-time. This includes any in-motion shipments.
Meaning, you can check which milestone your incoming purchase order is at or see when transferred inventory will arrive at its new location. (That way, you don’t accidentally end up with phantom inventory as units move around.)
Cogsy will even recommend how many units to transfer from one location to another (if placing another PO doesn’t make sense or won’t arrive in time to avoid a stockout).
This makes maintaining optimal inventory levels seamless—even when your products are spread out across multiple locations and sales channels.
Keeping up with stock levels at all your warehouses is tricky. The same goes for staying on top of orders.
When customers place orders for products housed in different locations, it leaves room for confusion, delays, and fulfillment errors.
That’s because it’s tough to accurately track order fulfillment across all your locations, which makes it easy for orders to fall through the cracks.
Processing and fulfilling orders is much easier when every location is optimally stocked. But this is easier said than done.
Fortunately, this is something else Cogsy helps with.
Cogsy’s planning feature automatically forecasts your inventory needs for the next 12 months (using your historical sales and real-time inventory trends).
You can then play with different growth levers inside the app. That way, plan for the best-case, worst-case, and most probable scenarios.
As events unfold, Cogsy will compare your actual inventory performance against these plans, eliminating unlikely scenarios.
This not only improves your forecasting accuracy but ensures you’re prepared to meet customer demand.
Want to outperform your competitors? Shopify integrations are the way to go.
Here’s our proof: Shopify merchants generate 40% more revenue and save 20+ hours a week on average when they use Cogsy compared to when they don’t.
How exactly? Well, by syncing your Shopify data to Cogsy, you get deeper insights into your product trends, inventory movement, and replenishment needs.
The best part? All this data helps you hit optimal stock levels across all your locations.
For example, Shopify tracks your inventory levels and sales history. Cogsy then translates this data into accurate demand plans—complete with actionable restock recommendations. (You don’t have to touch a spreadsheet to make this happen.)
That way, you can stock up to fulfill all the demand that comes your way. And you can do this without subjecting your locations to stockouts or dead stock.
Ready to manage your inventory locations a whole lot smarter? Try Cogsy free for 14 days!
👉 Sell with Amazon, too? Cogsy is one of the few platforms centralizing your FBA, FBM, and Shopify data. That way, you can manage all your inventory locations, altogether. Learn more.
Shopify enforces a location limit, depending on your subscription plan. If you are on the Shopify Starter plan, you can have two locations. All other Shopify and Shopify Plus accounts can have 1,000 locations. Any deactivated locations will not count toward your limit.
Shopify sellers can temporarily (or permanently) deactivate a location if they no longer want to sell, fulfill, or stock inventory there. To deactivate a location, log in to your Shopify admin and go to Settings > Locations. Then, click Deactivate Location. If any inventory or orders are assigned to this location, be sure to select another location for those orders.
Yes, you can add multiple shipping locations on Shopify. To add a shipping location, log into your Shopify admin and go to Settings > Locations. Click Add Location and enter a unique name and address. If you want the inventory at a location to be available for online purchases, select Fulfill Online Orders and click Save.
To fulfill orders with multiple locations enabled, log in to your Shopify admin and select Orders. Click on the specific order number for the unfulfilled order, and choose Create Shipping Label from the options bar. Lastly, click Mark as Fulfilled to finalize this process.