How to Practice Effective Order Picking?

The order fulfillment process is a lengthy one. From being manufactured to being delivered, a product goes through many stages of the supply chain and order fulfillment process. The whole system is integral to customer relations and satisfaction. Any complication in the supply chain process can cause issues like delay in delivery, delivery of the wrong item, damage en route, and other predicaments that can ruin a company’s reputation. Order picking is one of the primary and most important stages of that process.

Let us look into the order fulfillment operation’s details and know how we can take the best from it.

Order picking in e-commerce

What is Order Picking?

The delivery process of a product from the manufacturer is a multi-step process. After being manufactured, the products are sent to primary warehouses, shelved, and stored for delivery. Upon being ordered, the first step of the delivery process starts: picking.

Order picking is vital and one of the essential parts of any delivery chain. Efficient order picking personnel are responsible for going through product shelves, locating the appropriate product in a warehouse, and sorting them for packing.

Order picking in e-commerce

Why is Order Picking Important?

Customer order fulfillment is an integral part of the business operations of a lot of companies. Any company or brand that involves warehouses and delivery has a basic need for efficient order picking. The order fulfillment process starts with the picking of the appropriate product after an extensive sweep of the product shelves, as needed.

A customer who receives the wrong product experiences unpleasantness with the company and has to go through different hassles of exchange or return of the product, refund amounts, and updating stock levels. This profoundly affects customer relations and customer satisfaction. An efficient order picking process ensures that the right product is picked for every order.

Although it seems to be a basic and elemental process, it is assuredly a costly process in the system. Studies show order picking can take up to 63% of the warehouse operation costs and accounts for the highest portion of the process.

Order picking in e-commerce

Order Picking Goals

The end goal of order picking is to improve service level and its management in the whole supply chain process. Maximizing service and efficiency at its peak ensure more products’ availability and faster deliveries, thus maximizing service range within the constraints of numerous factors such as average and variation of delivery time, order integrity, and accuracy.

The effect of an efficient order picking method or system is seen in faster order delivery and availability to the customer. And in the case of late changes in orders, flexibility and shorter order retrieval time are crucial parts of order picking.

The ultimate objective is to develop better customer relations and ensure long-standing company growth and customer satisfaction. An efficient order picking system goes a long way in ensuring that a company does not face backlash from issues regarding late order delivery and an inefficient inventory management system.
Elements of Order Picking

Order picking in e-commerce

Elements of Order Picking

Although it does not seem to be that complex, order picking is an extensive process that requires patience and efficiency along with operating costs. An efficient operating system is constituted by many steps that try to reduce the predicaments caused by labor hassle and cost reduction efforts. The crucial few steps are listed below.

Inventory classification

The process of order picking tends to be a lengthy one. One of the most conventional and efficient ways to streamline it is to keep an adequately stacked inventory with classified segments for different types of products.

Ascertaining the exact position of the product in a warehouse is easy if the inventory classification is listed or appropriately remembered. What takes more than necessary time to pick by sweeping through the warehouse in its entirety can be picked by just pinpointing its exact position in the warehouse.


Once a product shelf is chosen with the appropriate product, they are checked for damaged pieces or expired products with good products in stock. After it is done, the product is properly sorted, and individual withdrawal updates are sent to the inventory for tab keeping.

Inventory update

After scrutiny, the inventory management is notified, and the inventory is duly updated. This keeps a record of what is being shipped and what needs to be credited to stock to avoid stock-outs.


The ordered product is debited from the shelf and is sent for proper packaging and labeling to be ready to be shipped.
Although conventional, companies adapt to new integrations and are optimized to new conditions to achieve shorter throughput times.
Order picking in e-commerce

Understanding Order-picking Systems

With more than a thousand orders at a time, warehouses need a proper system of picking orders to maintain management and efficiency. Automation is one of the ways to go about working on the system. Modern industries have adapted to the new automated software-based order handling methods, including digitization of data and automated real-time inventory management. Automated picking systems act not only as a playlist but also as a map to the shortest route possible to get to the required product.

Pick-to-light is another modern order fulfillment technology that uses a barcode scanner and pick-to-light LEDs throughout the warehouse product shelves. An order picker is assigned to scan the barcode on a shipping carton that holds the items temporarily from a single order. Once registered with the system, the appropriate LEDs light up by the respective product shelves, and all the selector has to do is follow the light and pick the correct item. This reduces time consumption and labor costs.

Voice picking is an efficient system of order picking where the selector is directed by the order management system through a headset they wear, as to where they need to go to collect their order.

Mobile scanner picking is one of the most accurate systems of order picking. The picker uses a portable scanner to scan individual unique barcodes on each product, which displays the picklist of all the orders and their locations in the warehouse. If any product is not listed on the picklist, errors are notified, and the product is immediately removed. Thus, increasing efficiency.

Order picking in e-commerce

Types of Order Picking

Piece Picking

Piece picking is one of the most basic order picking processes. It includes detecting and picking the right items from the shelves and placing them in containers and cartons before getting them shipped to the customers.

Piece picking allocates the right product, and since it is manual but labor-intensive, the error margin is meager. Appropriate picking is necessary to successfully and methodically deliver the correct orders. It is one of the costliest warehouse operations and requires a lot of warehouse personnel labor and hard work. Piece picking maintains the individuality of the order irrespective of the quantity present.

Although extensive, it ensures that order pickers are focused on one customer at a time, even if they have to sweep the entire warehouse for the right products. As the method is so time-consuming, it suits smaller businesses and warehouses best. But the firms that use this method are subject to the high accuracy of orders and great customer satisfaction.

Pallet Picking

In warehouse management, a pallet is a large wooden platform that holds many items or one large item at once. Sometimes when small or medium-sized goods are brought into the warehouse, they are not necessarily stored on large shelves designed primarily for storage. They are mostly stored in pallets and are picked and packed directly from the pallet itself.

While picking from the pallet, for low-level picking, trolleys, pallet racking units, pallet jacks, or low-level pickers are mostly put to use. Higher picking or combi type VNA trucks are used for selectors with mid-high reach, where the cabin housing the operator rises along with the load. In pallet picking, these are the most appropriate options and solutions when each pallet contains one single SKU.

Although in the scope of large operations, pallet racking does have its limitations. Picking orders directly from the pallet is limited to vacancy, so emptied pallets must be addressed and replaced by products stored in reserve. In case of frequent consumption of products, warehouses are advised to place two pallets of the same SKU at picking levels to avoid stock replenishment delays. This ensures that as soon as a product is credited from the shelf, it is debited from stock to avoid stock-outs.

To facilitate picking, shelf levels are often retrofitted with racking along the bottom of the pallet racking units so that high rotation products can be stored on pallets directly on the ground.

Case Picking

Although not as much in itself, case picking is more like an aftermath of pallet picking. The product is picked and packed in cases or cartons in large quantities from numerous storage areas such as shelves, pallets, and racks. Among them, most fast-moving products are picked from the pallet positions.

Medium to slow-moving products is usually picked from carton flow and fixed shelves. While selecting the orders for the pallet, cart, or conveyor, the picker goes around the warehouse where orders are grouped, sequenced, and prepared for shipping. Case picking is a standard method used in distribution centers, third-party logistics, big-box store suppliers, liquor distributors, and many other businesses.

Single Order Picking

Typically, in small warehouses with low traffic, single order picking is used to pack one order at a time before moving on to the next. It’s an integrated technique that may be used with any of the methods listed above. This is an inexpensive and straightforward technique for budding businesses to implement and execute.

Here order fulfillment is done in simple ways that do not require bleeding-edge technology or expensive order picking gears, which allows small warehouses to implement this technique while starting while having space to grow. It is a good fit for warehouses with higher SKUs but lower pick amounts per unit SKU. Even in cases of more picks per order than the number of orders, it is a better method to apply

Batch Picking

For warehouses with multiple orders at a time with a small number of items per order, batch picking is almost an ideal method. Used with piece picking and sometimes with case picking, it allows the picking personnel to multitask with orders simultaneously.

Multiple orders are given to the selector in one go and instructed to take the bunch to the packing station. It is a responsive method that reduces time consumption and is generally faster than other standard picking methods. Reports by pickers have shown that they have to walk almost 10 miles a day to pick a product. Batch picking eliminates that predicament as they do not have to go to the same place twice to pick a product.

Zone Picking

Zone picking is a viable option in many warehouses with a prominent worker capital. Workers are assigned to different zones of the warehouse with particular product ranges. Doing this makes the work split between workers and easier for individual sections. It is an appropriate option for warehouses subject to high order volumes with a large number of orders and can be used for all 3 basic methods.

Pick and Pass

Almost like an extended version of the zone picking method, pick and pass utilizes the passing of order down each zone. After being sectioned into different zones, the method pickers pick the necessary from their zone and pass the bunch to the next one on the list to include products from that respective zone.

This method is utilized best when one order comprises products from different ranges and warehouses’ respective zones. The bunch is passed down the warehouse until all the products have been collected, and the bunch is passed to the packaging station to prepare for shipping.

Wave Picking

Instead of passing it down to the other zone, wave picking is a modified and better version of pick and pass that is less time-consuming. The component products of the order are picked from different zones of the warehouse and are sent individually to a consolidator to be gathered and assembled into one place. This reduces the time consumed by the distance the product has to travel between zones and induces better communication.

Also called order consolidation and cluster picking, this process is often used by warehouses that need to ship multiple orders of high volume. This improves working efficiency, and the flow of orders ensures better service management and fluency in the supply chain due to less delay in-order delivery. Alongside the customer part of the system, wave picking also benefits warehouse systems. It reduces or eliminates picker idle time and improves efficiency in all system folds. Although not ideal, wave picking is a definitive method in the customer order fulfillment process as it covers the significant flaws a system might have in the whole course of an order.

Order picking in e-commerce

Warehouse Picking Best Practices

Irrespective of the industry, warehouse practices play a significant role in improving overall order fulfillment and improving the supply chain process. Proper warehouse management is necessary and integral to every part of the process. Implementation of order process refinement ensures higher accuracy, better productivity, greater throughput, and faster cycle times in order picking. Some of the most efficient and effective practices to improve warehouse efficiency are:

Better warehouse organization

A better-organized warehouse is a necessity that goes a long way in improving the overall efficiency of order picking. An organized warehouse, especially one in the order of the inventory flow, makes sure that the associates at the warehouse are aware of where every product is, thus reducing the time taken to pick and sort orders and preventing congestion in an overall situation. Hanging signs and giving new associates time to familiarize themselves with the warehouse map are some ways to organize and implement.

An established receiving process

A good receiving process means that every order arrives through an overview and inspection, providing better visibility into shipments and their respective details. Checking the contents for damages and arrival schedules ensures that the customers get what they want in proper condition and time. This also ensures that the inventory remains updated, avoiding stock-outs and other predicaments that come along with it.

Creating an ergonomic working environment

Other than the customers, a company must look after its employees, especially the workers in the field. Placing necessary items frequently throughout the warehouse reduces walking time. Facilities like cushioned floor mats to reduce back pain from long hours of being stationed on feet, frequent washrooms, food stations, and first-aid kits are essential to keep the employees in a comfortable workspace. It is a significant factor that is sometimes overlooked.

Choosing the correct picking strategy

As important as picking the order, selecting the correct system is necessary and varies from warehouse to warehouse and business to business, depending on the type.

Better inventory management

A better inventory of what’s in the warehouse, what’s arriving, and what is being shipped is important in every aspect. It prevents a lot of different predicaments like stock-outs and delays. An inventory provides the products’ exact details and locations in the warehouse. And it is always better to use software integrated real-time inventory management systems that update as soon a product goes through warehouse progressions.

E-commerce warehouse executive checklist | Locad

Best Order Picking Method for Businesses

An order picking method is not always very definitive and ideal. It usually depends on the company type, the warehouse size, and the storage system. For instance, a thriving e-commerce company, such as Amazon or Walmart, has billions of products in their warehouses that are larger than football fields. A facility like that needs and uses extravagant amounts of automation and warehouse management systems that are as modern and costly as it gets to improve efficiency, and they are successful in doing so.

These warehouses are tangible enough to use any kind of order picking technique per their need. But on the other hand, budding businesses cannot always afford a costly infrastructure or an enormous worker capital. So they use what they have at their disposal and use the more cost-saving methods like single-piece picking until they grow gradually as a company and implement different techniques at different stages based on their position and stature now. So, the best order-picking method for a business is not always definitive. It just depends on the company that’s doing it.

Order picking in e-commerce

Who is an Order Picker?

An order picker is a trained professional, efficient machine or equipment used to pick and deliver products from the storage racks in the warehouses to appropriate stations for further processing.

Benefits of an Order Picker

  • A necessity to pick orders from storage.
  • They fetch products from high-level storage.
  • They improve warehouse and inventory management.
  • They ensure that a product is
    processed and delivered in time.
  • They improve the overall company and warehouse efficiency.


Irrespective of the order picking method, it is the process of locating and retrieving the right products from the shelves in warehouses and sending them for further processing. This is important for a company’s overall growth and better warehouse management. It reduces complications in the process and ensures customer satisfaction. ​

Sign up today and leave the logistics to us

Sign up and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss what services would be best for your business needs. Or speak with us now and tell us what you need.


Order picking is the primary step in the order fulfillment process where the right product is picked from the storage shelves in a warehouse. management, and faster delivery.

Order picking can be improved by better organization of the warehouse receiving processes, better inventory management, and choosing the correct order picking strategy.

Yes, a better warehouse management system helps keep track of products, improving overall order picking.

A trained professional, or a piece of equipment used to retrieve the appropriate products from warehouse shelves is called an order picker.

To pack easier and faster in a warehouse, you need to organize all areas in your warehouse neatly. Ensure to keep the floors clean and free from clutter to prevent accidents. Also, ensure the supplies your packers require are properly structured near the workstation.

Exclusive benefits to ace your e-commerce game this 2023 with Locad’s desk calendar!