Pick Methods and Totes | Warehouse Operations

Pick methods and totes are essential when considering how best to approach warehouse management. The size, layout, and overall condition of a warehouse all play critical roles in determining which strategies can work optimally for enhanced picking accuracy and efficiency. In this blog post, we’ll explore the pick methods we use at ShipHero, tips to optimize your picking, and best practices for tote organization.

Pick Methods

As a warehouse manager, you know that pickers are the backbone of your operation. They are the ones who spend the majority of their time on the warehouse floor, selecting and passing off goods to packers. It’s no surprise that the picking process can account for up to 55% of your operation costs. To minimize these costs, streamline the picking process as much as possible. With the right tools, your pickers can work more efficiently, making the process a breeze.

Multi-Item Batches

ShipHero’s pick methods are designed to maximize efficiency and productivity. Utilizing the multi-item batch function, we pick multiple orders with different quantities of products into unique totes. This process streamlines the picking and packing process, saving you time and increasing your output, eliminating the need to revisit the same product location multiple times in a single shift. 

As a result, pick rates are faster, and your business can scale more efficiently. Improved employee morale is another benefit, as workers are empowered to work smarter, not harder. 

How ShipHero Does It

Picking accuracy and speed are critical for a 3PL, and while we may be biased, we suggest using ShipHero WMS for a smooth and precise picking process. The mobile app prompts you to choose a number of totes, and visual clues such as color coding make it easy to pick items for different orders. Scanners confirm that the right item is placed in the correct tote for each order. You can find an entire video walk-through on how we use multi-item batch picking right here!

Single-Item Batches

When it comes to batch picking, single-item batches require a slightly different approach. Despite picking multiple orders, each order only contains one item. What sets it apart is that these items can vary in size and shape. 

So how do you efficiently pick these orders? A cart with a bin and a tote barcode can come in handy. You can sort the smaller items into the bin, while the rest can go onto the cart. With this method, you can maximize your picking efficiency and ensure that the correct items get to their destinations. 

How ShipHero Does It

When it comes to single-item batch picking, it’s important to have a specific process to ensure orders are picked efficiently and quickly. While it may seem straightforward, there are nuances to consider. Our app is designed to guide users to the correct location and helps them scan barcodes to select the required items quickly. This method can help complete a high volume of orders in just a few minutes. Watch our video to see precisely how single-item batches work.

Tips for Optimizing Your Picking Process

The location of your inventory storage, the type of shelving you use, and the location of your picking stations all affect accuracy and efficiency. Here are some simple tips for optimizing your picking process

  • Keep unique SKUs separate in storage.
  • Ensure easy access to products for pickers.
  • Assign specific zones for different products. (e.g., hot sellers, seasonal items)
  • Efficiently minimize travel time by batching orders and optimizing your pick paths.
  • Continuously adjust and improve your picking process as your business and inventory evolve.

Tote Organization

Efficient tote organization in the warehouse is crucial for companies to maximize their productivity. Totes are an excellent solution for transporting and storing items that vary in size and weight. They can also help streamline the picking and packing process with the pick-to-tote method. However, it’s not just about having totes on hand. To truly master the organization of totes in the warehouse, you must also focus on effectively labeling and categorizing the items within each tote according to their bin location to minimize the risk of errors and optimize the workflow.

Why Use Totes?

At ShipHero, we prefer plastic totes for their durability, stackability, and space-saving features. We also find them to be an excellent choice for these additional reasons. 

  1. Easier to clean
  2. Low cost
  3. Durable
  4. Maintenance-free
  5. Efficient
  6. Recyclable

Mastering Bin Location

If you’re serious about warehouse organization, mastering bin location is crucial. The two most common methods of bin labeling are standard and serpentine rack labeling. With standard labeling, each rack, shelf, and bin gets a unique ID with numbers and letters reflecting aisle, rack, level, and bin. This method works well for straightforward warehouse layouts. However, if your warehouse is more dynamic, you might prefer serpentine rack labeling. It differs in that labeling follows a zigzag path up and down each aisle. Mastering bin location will help boost warehouse efficiency and accuracy regardless of your chosen strategy.

It’s a good idea to follow industry standards when organizing your shelves. This will help things run smoothly and avoid problems. It can also prevent the need to constantly rename things and make it easier for people who pick items from the shelves.


  • Start numbering shelves from the ground up to avoid relabeling shelves as you add height. For example, if you have a four-shelf rack, label the bottom shelf as number one and the top as number four. If you add shelves, the new location will be added on top of shelf four without changing labels. 
  • To ensure the system accurately reads alphanumeric locations, it’s best practice to use zero for all numbers under ten. For example, use 01, 02, and 03 instead of 1, 2, and 3. 
  • Consistency is key. Using an inconsistent labeling method can cause chaos in your system and with your employees. Stick to a consistent approach to avoid confusion and maintain efficiency.


A tote-picking system offers numerous benefits. One advantage is dedicating a picking function to a specific area. With totes that can easily accommodate a range of items, pickers can focus solely on getting the pick right without worrying about sorting or organizing their items in multiple boxes. 

This reduces operator travel and the required movements, allowing employees to complete more orders quickly and efficiently. Using well-labeled totes, dividers, and bins to subdivide inventory makes picking and sorting through large quantities of small items easy, further increasing productivity. With a tote-picking system, operators can concentrate on what matters: picking.

Make 2023 the Year You Upgrade Your 3PL

Take a look at how your warehouse processes are performing, and continually strive for improvement. Quite often, utilizing pick methods such as batching multi-items or single-items, together with the proper tote organization, is what makes the most significant difference. 

With ShipHero, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands; our expertise ensures that your picking process is optimized for maximum efficiency and profitability. We understand that this is a big undertaking for any business owner–that’s why we provide many resources to make this transformation as seamless as possible. So, is your warehouse as efficient as it can be? If not, reach out to the ShipHero experts – we’ll be more than happy to assist you!

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