Partial orders may occur if you allow customers to back order some or all of your products. When you enable back orders, customers can place orders containing a product that is currently out of stock, with the understanding that you will ship that portion of their order once the product's stock is replenished.

Allowing back ordering for products gives you the flexibility to take orders for popular merchandise without having to turn customers away when those items are out of stock – provided that your customers don't mind waiting.

How to Process Partial Orders

If you receive an order for a product you think is out of stock, you can check the product's back order status in the order's Details section. Any product with Y listed in the Backordered column is currently out of stock and on back order.

You can view the exact back order quantity for a product listed in the Details section by clicking Edit next to Products.

You should note that you cannot fully process an order that contains any products on back order. Attempting to complete an order with back ordered products will display a notification at the top of the order details page stating which products are currently at zero or negative stock.

How to Partially Ship an Order

If an order contains products that are on back order as well as products that are ready to ship, you can still ship part of the order.

If the order has been authorized for a credit card payment, you can elect to capture only a portion of the total order amount – enough to cover the cost of the products that are ready to ship, plus any shipping charges.

  1. Go to the order details page for the order you want to partially ship.
  2. In Payments & Credits, type the partial amount you want to collect for the order.
  3. Click Receive.
  4. In the Details section, next to Products, click Edit to load the contents of the order in edit mode.
  5. In the Packing Slip Qty field of each row, enter the quantity being shipped for each product you intend to ship immediately. Note that you should enter a zero (0) for any items you are not shipping immediately, so that they don't also appear on the packing slip.
  6. In the Status menu at the top of the page, select Partially Shipped.
  7. Click Save.

The order is now marked as Partially Shipped. You can visit the order’s details page again to print packing slips or invoices you need for shipping. Note that after editing the Packing Slip Qty in the steps outlined above, only the products you are shipping immediately will be visible on the order’s packing slip.

You can also use the shipping label options to print shipping materials for the order and assign tracking numbers as needed.

To notify a customer that part of their order is being shipped, select Partially Shipped from the Email menu on the order’s details page and click Send.

Notes on Collecting Payment for Partially Shipped Orders 

If you decide to capture the full amount before fulfilling the full order, we strongly recommend advising your customer beforehand. Most card issuers allow cardholders to dispute charges within 180 days of capture / debit. Confusion over partial fulfillment may lead the cardholder to dispute at least part of the charge, which can lead to extra expenses and paperwork processing on your part.

If you decide not to capture any of the funds until all products have been shipped, note that card issuers set deadlines for capturing authorized payments. If you attempt to capture after the issuer's deadline has passed, you may receive a chargeback for late presentment, regardless of whether or not you shipped all or part of the order.

If you decide to capture only enough funds to cover product price and shipping costs for shipped items, note that you won't be able to capture the remainder at a later date through the same method. You'll have to contact your customer and have them re-enter the payment card details (be sure the order is unlocked), or re-enter them yourself over the phone, to obtain a new authorization. This may seem inconvenient, but it is actually a simpler and safer process than the charge dispute procedure.

How to Complete a Partially Shipped Order

Once an order has been partially shipped, you have to wait until the back ordered product stock is replenished. You can replenish stock though a purchase order, manually updating stock values within the Admin Area, or importing stock updates via the Import/Export page.

After a back ordered product’s stock has been updated, all back-ordered products within exiting orders will be automatically updated based on the newly available product stock – there’s nothing more for you to do.

You can process the rest of a partial order once the back ordered products are off back order (be sure to verify the Backorder status column in the Details portion of the order). Follow the partial shipping instructions above to complete the order.

How to Manage Stock Priority

Occasionally, you may find that you don’t have enough of a product to meet back-order demand, even after you've replenished the product. The Stock Priority menu – located at the top right of the Details section on order details pages – helps you manage the allocation of back ordered products. Priorities can range from 1 (Very Low priority) to 5 (Urgent priority). Select a priority setting for an order and click Save.

By default, all orders have a stock priority setting of 3 (normal). Whenever products on back order have their stock values updated, stock will automatically be distributed based on a first-come, first-served basis; older orders will generally have preference.

The Stock Priority menu allows you to manually throttle the distribution of back ordered products so you can choose which orders will be filled first, regardless of when they were placed.

If you change the Stock Priority setting within a customer's order to 5, for example, back ordered stock will be allocated to that order first, and the remainder will be distributed to orders based on the date each order was placed.

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