What Is a Pick and Pack Fulfillment?
Pick and pack fulfillment is what you do after you receive a customer order from the online storefront. It consists of two elements: picking and packing.
Picking entails retrieving products from the warehouse. You usually use a picking list to define the quantity, stock-keeping unit (SKU) and location of the items needed for the order.
Packing follows right after picking. In the packing process, you place the picked items into their proper packages. This process also includes applying shipping labels before passing them to the carrier.
Guide to 3 Major Phases of Order Fulfillment
There are three big phases in your order fulfillment process. These three phases mostly take place in your warehouse after receiving goods from your vendor or supplier.
Here’s a rundown of each phase:
The picking process starts when you receive an order from the online storefront. From there, you create a pick list that details the following:
- Item name: Item location on warehouse shelves.
- Item quantity: Pick lists are generated from the online order. From there, your warehouse staff will retrieve the items and prepare them for the next step.
In the packing phase, your packing staff will place the items in the appropriate shipping boxes. They also prepare the packages for shipping by filling them with packing peanuts, wrapping them with bubble wrap or any other measure to prevent damage.
Your warehouse team also labels the packages for the shipping carrier. Once everything is done, all the items are passed on for delivery.
3. 3PL Management
Third-party logistics (3PL) management isn’t a standalone phase like picking or packing. It’s more of an outsourcing effort. As the name implies, 3PL management companies manage logistics for clients.
You hire a fulfillment company to deal with picking and packing, so you have more time and energy to do other business activities. 3PL companies also provide fulfillment centers to store your items.
Best Pick Strategies for eCommerce
Different businesses benefit from different picking strategies. There’s really no one “best” picking strategy, just ones that work great for your company.
What are the differences? Here’s a look at the four kinds of picking strategies:
In piece picking, your warehouse worker picks everything in each order before moving on to the next. This picking method is perfectly fine if you have a small warehouse space or don’t have a lot of orders. But piece picking can be inefficient when you have a larger fulfillment center and high order volume.
In batch picking, a warehouse crew member can pick items for multiple orders at a time. Orders are usually batched together if they have many similar items. This minimizes warehouse travel time and increases efficiency.
As the name implies, zone picking divides your inventory storage into different zones, each containing different items. Staff members work in different zones and can’t pick items outside their assigned areas. If an order only needs items from a single zone, the workers pick items as usual.
What happens if an order needs items from multiple zones? In that case, the container with items for the order is passed between zones or placed in a centralized packing station.
One of zone picking’s primary benefits is limiting traffic in the warehouse. Workers are confined to each zone, so there aren’t many people walking up and down the warehouse. By extension, fewer people carrying goods around the warehouse also means a smaller chance of accidents.
Wave picking combines batch and zone picking. Warehouse employees in each zone pick items by batch, then pass them to the next zone if needed. This combines the benefits of zone and batch picking to reduce foot traffic and increase efficiency.
Best Pack Strategies for eCommerce
Packing also needs strategies to ensure you save money on each package. There are three strategies to optimize for eCommerce packing, which are:
Cartonization is the process of defining the best packaging configuration for your items. The configuration includes box sizes, packaging materials and shipping costs. It also takes product quantity and type into consideration.
Why is cartonization important? Optimizing your packaging minimizes packing and shipping costs, improving your profit margin.
First impressions matter. For most customers, your packaging is the first impression of your physical products. That’s why great branded packaging is essential to create a memorable brand. Having attractive packaging also helps you stand out from your competitors.
Custom, tailor-made branded packaging that tells the story of your brand is a surefire way to make your products memorable. But that doesn’t mean you have to use elaborate packing methods for everything. Even custom stickers or branded packing tape can spruce up a plain cardboard box and make it stand out.
Customers love package deals. They can get more products at a lower price. That’s why you should consider kitting your products together. Kitting means bundling multiple products into one package with its own SKU, usually at a lower price.
To increase efficiency, you should put SKUs that are part of a kit closer together in the eCommerce fulfillment warehouse. This way, pickers will have an easier time grabbing the parts whenever somebody orders a kit.
You can also use kits to move less-popular products. Bundling them with popular items will increase the likelihood of your unpopular products being sold.
5 Tips for Pick and Pack Fulfillment for Business Owners
As a business owner, you want to minimize picking and packing costs to save money. Here are five great tips to increase your picking and packing fulfillment efficiency:
- Invest in inventory management systems and warehouse management software solutions.
- Monitor warehouse performance insight for inefficiencies.
- Consider using lighter and more sustainable packaging.
- Work with reliable 3PL providers.
- Kit your products together.
5 Tips for Pick and Pack Fulfillment for Warehouses
There are also many things you can do on warehouse floors to improve efficiency. Here are five of them:
- Implement the right picking strategy to minimize warehouse travel time.
- Reduce accident risk by minimizing warehouse traffic.
- Use affordable packing materials.
- Create an efficient warehouse layout.
- Assign someone to perform quality control checks on each package.
Picking and packing are important because it’s how you prepare products for delivery. Improving pick and pack efficiency means you can get more orders delivered more accurately, increasing customer satisfaction.
One of the best ways to improve your picking and packing process is by working with a reliable 3PL provider. ShipHero is a 3PL partner that can help you do just that. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Pick and Pack FAQs
What is Pick and Pack?
Pick and pack is the process of retrieving customer orders from the warehouse and preparing them for shipping.
Which Pick and Pack methods are Best for your eCommerce Business?
There’s no one “best” pick-and-pack method for eCommerce businesses. Find one that works for you and stick with it.
Where Can you Find Pick and Pack Work?
You can find pick and pack work at warehouses and 3PL providers.