What Is Pick, Pack, and Ship?

Exactly as the term implies, pick, pack, and ship involve:

  • Collecting the right items for an order(s);
  • Packaging the orders;
  • Shipping the orders to the customers.

Sometimes, picking, packing, and shipping are done per order or in bulk.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

How Does Pick, Pack, and Ship Work?

A thoroughly efficient warehouse and fulfillment center are crucial for effectively carrying out business logistics operations. The basics of logistics operations for any e-commerce business include picking, packing, and shipping. More importantly, picking, packing, and shipping begins after a customer has placed an order at your online store or marketplace.

Here, we will answer your most common question: how do picking, packing, and shipping work? Each step of the pick, pack, and shipping process is equally essential for the overall logistics operations. When you streamline the process of picking, packing, and shipping, you eliminate the chances of missing orders or sending the wrong items to your customers. Additionally, it helps your business maintain the quality of service your customers expect with every order.

Pick

At this stage, pickers are responsible for collecting or sourcing the right products from the warehouse shelves to complete a batch of orders. Depending on the scale of your e-commerce firm and the warehouse size, you might only have one picker monitoring and tracking all inventory items. Or, you might have multiple pickers assigned to different picking stations in particular zones for refining and streamlining the order fulfillment process.

Online retailers might require kitting fulfillment services to complete the process. Kitting implies combining multiple individual items into a single unit for sale. Eventually, kitting is used for subscription boxes of several items, including books and beauty products. While some e-commerce companies regularly employ this model, other businesses use it to incorporate special sales promotions and offer and streamline order fulfillment during the holiday season.

Pack

After the picker has gathered the products to be shipped, the products are then moved to the packing station. This step involves separating items into their individual packaging for shipment and labeling. More importantly, the person responsible for the packing process also ensures that all items are included in the shipment for timely and accurate order fulfillment.

Once the staff has conformed to all essential requirements, the package is sealed with the packing details. You can fix a personalized shipping label and send the package to the shipping port where the box sits until your chosen carrier picks it up.

The label affixed to each package is one of the most critical steps of the picking, packing, and shipping process. It contains all vital information for tracking a product should a package be delayed or lost in transit.

Ship

Once you have completed the pick and pack steps, your package is ready to ship to customers. You can mark the package ready to be shipped as “out for delivery” once the carrier has picked the package. Though the process seems simple, the planning, executing, and streamlining require quality assurance and consistency.

The shipping process must be handled with great care to prevent missed orders, backflows, delayed shipping, and other inventory management issues that can reduce the chances of repeat purchases.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

Common Picking Strategies Used in Pick, Pack, and Ship

Your business can adopt any strategy for picking, packing, and shipping; or even a combination of techniques. Here are some common strategies your business can incorporate for effective order fulfillment.

Piece picking

Piece picking involves handpicking each item for an entire order as they are placed by the selector. Eventually, the picker must finish picking their current order before they can take up another order. As you must have figured, it is one of the slowest picking strategies, even though it leaves the least room for error. This picking method is only suitable for small firms with a small set of SKUs and a low volume of orders.

Batch picking

While batch picking can be identical to piece picking except that orders are processed in batches. In batch picking, you process all orders at once instead of individually. This picking method is easy to carry out. Furthermore, the plan is most suitable when you receive consistent orders from the same set of SKUs. It saves your employees time going back and forth.

Zone picking

When you assign employees to a particular warehouse area, and they only pick one order at a time within a given area, it is referred to as zone order picking. Furthermore, conveyor belts are usually used for handing off products needed from more than one zone.

You will have to split your warehouse into specific zones to assign a particular zone to your employees. One zone picking method involves picking and passing products from one zone to another. The process is carried out until the picker has picked the complete order and placed it on the cart ready for packing.

Or, you can use an alternate method. You can collect selected products from each zone and sort them in their respective order.

Zone picking is suitable for enterprise-level businesses with large spaces and resources necessary to install, run, and manage zones. You can also use zone picking in combination with batch picking.

Wave picking

Lastly, the combination of batch and zone picking is called wave picking. In wave picking, employees remain in a zone but pick more than one order simultaneously. Wake picking involves grouping orders based on shared attributes, including the same shipping destination, shared shipping carrier, etc.

The ‘wave’ in wave picking implies timely sessions in which employees or pickers select orders that are grouped together. If you can execute wave picking effectively, you can increase the rate at which your orders are picked compared to other picking approaches, including piece picking and batch picking.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

How to Choose the Ideal Picking Strategy for Your Business?

If you are confused about choosing the most suitable picking approach for your business, try answering the following questions to reach a solution:

  • What is the order volume you have received?
  • Do you have considerable variations in SKUs?
  • When is your order volume the highest in a day, and when is it the lowest?
  • Considering all warehouse space and other constraints, what picking strategy can you implement?
  • Do you have enough resources to invest in a bigger area to enable a more effective picking strategy?
  • Do you have enough resources to employ new workers, and upgrade equipment to assist with a more advanced picking approach?
Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

Pick, Pack, and Ship: Advantages for Businesses

Often, business owners neglect the in-house fulfillment process and shift their focus toward other business activities. Even though it might seem counterproductive to spend time improving your pick-pack-ship process, you may reap more incredible benefits than expected.

Faster order fulfillment

You can reduce delays in your products’ movement throughout the warehouse by improving your pick, pack, and ship strategy. Even minor improvements, like re-arranging products or shelves in your warehouse and employing handheld barcode scanners, can significantly reduce your fulfillment time.

Fewer chances of returned orders

The majority of products are returned when they are damaged or broken. When you ensure secure packaging of your products, you reduce the chance of your customers receiving damaged products. Eventually, you wouldn’t have to deal with returned orders and their inevitable costs.

Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

The system requires minimal onboard computing power. AGVs are primarily helpful for simple, large warehouses. Furthermore, AGVs are not viable for complex warehouses with space constraints and high human numbers.

Happier and satisfied customers

When your customers receive their orders intact, and on estimated delivery dates, it creates an enhanced shopping experience. Furthermore, they would be more likely to return to you for repeat purchases.

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What Is in a Picking List?

A picking list is a crucial internal document for your business, informing pickers which products are needed and how much quantity they must pick for each product. Despite varying formats for each company, the standard information you can find on a picking list includes:

Picklist documentation number and generation date

The generation date will tell you when the pick list of orders was created. While the picklist documentation number is unique, allowing you to differentiate one pick list from another.

Warehouse details

It indicates the warehouse to which a picklist is assigned. It proves exceptionally useful when your business owns multiple warehouses, pinpointing which warehouse you should be picking your orders from.

Picker details

Some businesses keep track of which picker is assigned to which products. It helps in quality assurance.

Invoices included in the current picking list

It informs the picker which invoice they are picking for when they have to pick up multiple orders at a given time.

Ship by date

It indicates the latest date by which you should ship the order for it to timely reach your customer.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and product descriptions

SKUs serve as a unique identification of each product. Pickers with handheld barcode scanners can use the SKU displayed in barcode scanners to update the quantity they have picked for each product. Product descriptions are an alternative identifier for pickers, simply describing the products.

Location of the product in the warehouse

When you list the exact location of each product, it ensures pickers pick the right products when you have multiple products with similar traits.

Quantity of each product to be picked

It informs how much quantity of product to pick to fulfill an order.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

What Is in a Packing Shipping Slip?

The packing slip can include the following information:

Packing slip documentation number

It is a unique number used for differentiating each packing slip. It is quite effective in tracking the packing slips you have created.

Invoice details

It includes the invoice date and invoice number, informing customers which order has been delivered.

Contact details of the seller and company details

It enables your customers to promptly contact you in case of any discrepancies related to the order.

Shipping addresses of the seller and customers

Senders and recipients of parcels are determined by their shipping addresses.

Description of products shipped

Descriptions of goods serve as internal documents that outline which products to pack for orders. Customers also use it to verify that all the listed items have been packed for their order.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

What Is in a Shipping Label?

The following elements are present on a shipping label:

Postage stamp (physical or digital)

The postage stamps have now been upgraded to digital stamps that appear as 2D barcodes. It includes details such as the type of delivery service that has been rendered and the postage paid.

Name of the carrier and shipping service

It displays the carrier and shipping service that has been purchased.

Address of the seller

The address is usually your warehouse or business address. It informs the delivery service of the return address if the delivery is unsuccessful.

Shipping address of the customer

Needless to say, the shipping address of the recipient or the customer is crucial for fulfilling the order.

Parcel tracking number

To identify a parcel’s shipping status. As long as you have the tracking number, you can also check the shipping status on the website of most shipping carriers. The tracking information is usually presented as a 1D barcode and number.

Shipment date

It indicates the date when the carrier should pick up the package.

Weight and parcel number of the total shipment or weight of the individual parcel

It shows the count of parcels involved in the shipment. You must get the exact weight of your parcels since it impacts the cost of shipping the package. Furthermore, it also helps in determining the viable route for the carrier.

Pick, Pack, and Ship in E-commerce Fulfillment

How Does Pick, Pack, and Ship Impact Accounting Practices?

The accounting method is comparatively straightforward when you are employing the pick-pack-ship method. Once you have shipped the products, you must update the inventory accordingly.

  • Account receivable indicates the amount your customers owe your company.
  • The sale account includes all information on sales transactions processed by your business.

Once you have processed the invoice, send the order details to your warehouse. Your warehouse will pick, pack, and ship the order to your customers.

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FAQs

As the term suggests, the pick and pack fee is the fee your business associates with picking an item of inventory from a warehouse and packing it for shipment.

Warehouses that have inventory stored in them to be picked and packed after an order is placed are referred to as pick and pack warehouses.

Pick packers are responsible for carrying out pick packing. The pick packer moves through a fulfillment center or warehouse to pick up an inventory item and complete their picking list.

The pick and pack process involves collecting and packing ordered items from inventory. To maintain a perfect order rate, your company must perform this process with high efficiency as one of the first activities in the order fulfillment process.

The pick-to-carton method involves choosing a shipping container based on the dimensions and/or weights of the items, then picking and packing them directly into the container.

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