Fulfillment Messaging App

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Apr 29, 2011

When running a Shopify store, sometimes you want to treat your orders a little different than the normal flow allows. It can really depend on your shipping alliances, your inventory and what your customers expect for communications.

When an order is booked, the customer and shop keeper receive an email that serves as a first communication. There are quite a few other email templates that can be fired off once the initial order is dealt with. Fulfillment seems to present some issues that I have dealt with recently using custom Applications.

One scenario is that when a shop is receiving a lot of orders, it is painful to fulfill them one by one. I created an App that accepts up to 250 orders at once from the Shopify Admin, and fulfills them automatically. Although that relieves the shopkeeper from clicking on 250 separate orders, it revealed some other problems. Sometimes it is important to fulfill those orders and NOT send an email. Sometimes it is important to fulfill those orders and send a CUSTOM message. My recent App allows for that by letting the Shopkeeper create custom email messages. When they select orders for special fulfillment, each order’s customer gets the custom email. One super thing about Heroku is the easy integration with Delayed Job. Tobi from Shopify wrote this code to take on the running of background tasks. In my Apps, I now delegate all potentially long running tasks to background jobs. It is quite neat to see this in action. I watch the job queue as it fills and empties itself during normal operations of the App. The Delayed Jobs spin up their own worker force too and this helps them to work fast. Once all the work is done, they kill themselves off too.

Another scenario that cropped up was the fact that sometimes an order will need to be fulfilled more than once. That occurs when a shopkeeper accepts payment for a quantity of more than one item, while at the same time recording future delivery dates. At each delivery date, an already fulfilled order needs to be fulfilled again. Luckily one of my Apps is able to present the shopkeeper with future delivery dates so that these future fulfillments happen in an orderly and proper fashion. Along with multiple fulfillments, the shopkeeper can rely on the built-in shipping update letter to go out, or use the custom messages they store in the App.

These custom Fulfillment Apps are a great way to eliminate clicks in the day to day administration of Shopify stores that deal with fulfillments in ways just slightly different than the usual pattern.

My Fulfillment Apps are well tested at this point with many thousands of orders booked. If you have a twist on fulfillment you have to address with your Shopify store, drop me a line.