If you want to go grow your WooCommerce store globally it makes sense to dispatch from a warehouse close to where the customer needs the item sent. If a customer wants to have the product delivered to Australia then dispatch the product from your Australian warehouse. Otherwise shipping is cost prohibitive.
We need a tool that supports multi-warehouses and the ability to take orders in different countries. Our final step is then to automate as much as possible, so orders received are sent to their corresponding warehouse.
The single warehouse method
Most eCommerce shops operate within a single country and therefore have a single warehouse. Let’s take a look at this first.
If you dispatch from a single warehouse you could use the WooThemes Advanced Notifications. This will fire off emails to multiple recipients, one of which will be your warehouse.
Warehouses might want something more sophisticated than an email and often integrate directly to the store using the WooCommerce RESTful API.
But the problems occur when you have multiple warehouses. There isn’t the ability to filter orders by destination/warehouse. The USA orders need to goto the USA warehouse. The USA warehouse should not see UK orders.
Multi-warehouse is currently not a feature of any WooCommerce extension/plugin – so what are the options?
WooCommerce Multiple Warehouse Integration
We want to dispatch from multiple warehouses in multiple locations.
There are a number of inventory management solutions that integrate with WooCommerce. Many of them allow for multi-warehousing. But we need to automate the process.
I put together an example scenario for the top companies offering multi-warehouse solutions:
We have 3 warehouses: UK, USA and AUS. We have a single WooCommerce site with a single product.
I want the user to select their location / currency and see the different price per location / currency. We can do this already using a WooCommerce extension.
We will have one product with 3 prices (in GBP, American Dollars, Australian Dollars). When an order is placed it will be assigned to either UK, USA or AUS warehouse (depending on what customer chooses).
The warehouse will be notified of orders assigned to them and will ship the item.
Multi Currency and Multi Location
In my example setup we have already taken care of the multi-currency. For this we have used a fantastic plugin: Aelia Currency Switcher.
It’s the only plugin for WooCommerce that let’s you set a unique price for each currency. It also let’s you use exchange rates, and let’s you use a mix of both.
Great work. Just what is required. Now the problem is to integrate this with the third party inventory/warehousing platforms.
Third Party Multi-Warehouse Inventory Service
I’ve listed the platforms that offer multi-warehousing and whether they can filter orders into specific warehouses:
TradeGecko – Filter by SKU only
Ordoro – Filter by SKU only
StitchLabs – Filter by SKU only
Spark Shipping – Can filter!
ShipWire – Can filter!
HubLogix – Does not support WooCommerce
Unleashed – No reply
As an aside, out of all the companies Spark Shipping and TradeGecko stood out with their great support – Well done.
Filter by SKU only options and using Multisite
You can have multiple WordPress installations linked together. This is called Multisite. This let’s you have a store for each country. We can have a dropdown in the nav which let’s you move between stores.
So, in our scenario, we would have our single product existing in 3 stores as 3 SKUs. One for the UK, one for USA and one for AUS.
The problems with this are:
- Duplicate content
- Additional resource to curate/manage multiple sites
- More development to integrate multisite WooCommerce
The benefits are it’s more flexible with warehouse choice.
Most of the above options are Multisite only. They can only filter an order to a warehouse based on SKU. So having multiple SKUs for the same item is ideal for them.
Multisite is a good option as it is better supported at the moment, but you will have to make up for this with more work.
Ideally we want to have a single SKU with multiple prices. We don’t want to have a multisite which has the same inventory except for the price difference. There are two options that can work with WooCommerce as we want.
Ideally the tool can look at the delivery country or currency used in the order and assign that order to the respective warehouse.
Spark Shipping – WooCommerce Warehouse Automation
A quick phone call and we got things moving with Spark. They said they could take the order, look at details sent and assign it to the corresponding warehouse. Perfect. They were not limited by only being able to assign a SKU to warehouse (unlike the others).
They are more expensive at around $150 per month but offered top level support and can manage the multi-warehouse option with a single SKU.
ShipWire – A good alternative
This company works differently than the rest but is definitely worth looking at. They have a unique business model. Rather than being an integrator to your warehouses abroad, they actually manage the warehouse. So this is a one-size-fits-all package.
ShipWire store your product, integrate with your WooCommerce store and take orders from abroad. They can then dispatch from the warehouse in the same country.
This is much more than the original brief but definitely a great option. Unfortunately they have a self-service approach to setting up with their product. They offer a webinar walkthrough but there is no one-to-one sales agent to talk through requirements nor do they reply to sales emails, which surprised me.
This is a real shame as otherwise this option looks perfect.
The Manual option
The tools above do offer multi-warehousing, they just don’t automate the process.
This means you can receive your orders into their tool and then manually lookup the delivery country. Once you have this you can then push it to the corresponding warehouse.
Sometimes the best option is not to automate until there is a financial requirement to. If you only receive a handful of orders that are shipped from your overseas warehouses then you might want to invest in automation in a separate phase of development.
It’s definitely an undernourished area of WooCommerce and as larger eCommerce operations move to WooCommerce this will need to be provisioned for more widely.
Drop a note in the comments below about your preferred setup and how you might approach this.
One to watch
There is the more advanced WooCommerce Dropship ManagerPro plugin. I exchanged a few emails with Daniel who built it and he is going to integrate some functionality for multiple suppliers in Version 3 which is coming out before Summer. So one to watch – but not built yet.