Fulfilling orders where only some of the items are on hand

You may run into situations where it is not possible to fulfill an entire order immediately - some items may be on hand, while others are out of stock.

In those cases, there are a variety of options to consider when determining how to process the order.

Option 1: Keep the whole order on hold until it can be fulfilled at once

With this option, you will ship all the goods out at once when they are all ready. This means your customer will have to wait until all of the items are ready to be dispatched.

  1. Allocate any in-stock inventory to the order so it's not sold to anyone else
  2. Put the whole order on hold, awaiting inventory
  3. Receive the inventory into stock
  4. Ship all items at once when all the inventory has been received


  • Simplest workflow
  • Reduces shipping costs


  • The customer will have to wait for all of the items to arrive
  • You may not be able to invoice the order until all items have been shipped
  • Warehouse space may be used up by items which have sold but cannot yet be shipped

Option 2: Use partial fulfillment to fulfill items as they're available

This option means the order will end up having multiple goods out notes. Items will be fulfilled as they become available.

  1. Ship the items you have in stock, keeping out-of-stock items on the same order, using partial fulfillment.
  2. Put the order on hold, awaiting inventory
  3. Ship remaining items using partial fulfillment as inventory is received in


  • Customers receive items more quickly
  • Warehouse space is maximized 


  • Can add complexity to the shipping workflow
  • May increase shipping costs

Learn more about partial fulfillment here.

Option 3: Split the order to back order

With this option, you will split all items that cannot be fulfilled to a back order, and fulfill the original order as normal.

  1. Ship the items you have in stock, and use the back order functionality to split the out-of-stock items to a separate order
  2. Complete and invoice the first order
  3. The back order is put on hold, awaiting inventory


  • You are able to invoice the customer for items as they are shipped
  • Simple workflow
  • Warehouse space is maximized


  • May increase shipping costs
  • Can end up skewing reports (customers may look as though they have placed more orders than they actually have)

Read more about back orders here.


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