In today’s fast-paced world of e-commerce, the pick and pack fulfillment method plays a vital role in ensuring that customers receive their orders accurately and promptly.
As soon as an order is placed by a customer, this process kicks into gear, encompassing the careful selection and packaging of individual items before they are shipped out. It is a fundamental operation employed by businesses of all sizes, from small online retailers to large-scale enterprises.
Pick and pack is a warehouse fulfillment method of selecting and packaging an order before it gets shipped to the customer.
Picking and packing can help to increase fulfillment efficiency and increase customer satisfaction.
There are 4 types of pick and pack methods: Piece picking, batch picking, zone picking, and wave picking.
With efficient order picking and packing techniques, warehousing fulfillment centers can handle a higher volume of orders in a shorter amount of time.
Increase customer satisfaction
With faster order processing and accurate order fulfillment, customers are able to receive their products promptly and in the correct quantities. This leads to higher customer satisfaction levels, positive reviews, and increased customer loyalty.
Using pick and pack software can help minimize the human error of picking the wrong items and reduce the cost of returns. The streamlined process of pick and pack fulfillment also means that less time and money is spent on manual labor.
The Pick and Pack Process
Step 1: Receiving an order
The warehouse receives an order from a customer.
Step 2: Order processing
Once an order is received, it needs to be processed. This involves verifying the order details, checking inventory levels, and ensuring that payment has been received.
Then, a packing slip will be generated for the order. The packing slip will usually be placed in the parcel together with the items from the order once they have been picked.
Step 3: Picking products
Next, a picking list will be generated. The picking list contains multiple customer orders and the items needed for each order.
The picking list is sorted in a way that will be efficient for the picker to get all the necessary items in the warehouse. Each business will use a different pick and pack method that is suitable for their operations.
Step 4: Sorting and packing products
Once the items are picked, they will be sorted and separated based on the different orders.
The packers will package the orders and ensure that the necessary packing materials like bubble wrap and packing peanuts are added.
Step 5: Shipping
Finally, a shipping label is added to each package and it is shipped to the customer using a shipping carrier.
Pick and Pack Methods
There are several methods of pick and pack, and the most appropriate method depends on the size and complexity of the warehouse, the type of products being picked and packed, and the volume of orders being processed. Here are some of the most common methods that are used by businesses:
Piece picking involves selecting individual products from the warehouse’s inventory to fulfill one order at a time.
This method is suitable for small businesses with low order volumes.
Batch picking entails picking multiple orders at once by grouping the same items into batches. Many warehouses make use of pick and pack software that can help to batch orders.
Batches are usually organized by their location in the warehouse to give pickers the most efficient path through the warehouse. Once the items are picked, they will be separated into their respective orders.
This method is appropriate for warehouses with higher order volumes and can improve efficiency by reducing the number of trips required to pick products.
For larger fulfillment warehouses with high order volumes, zone picking is usually the method that is chosen. The warehouse is split into zones and each picker is responsible for one zone.
The picker will pick the required products in their zone before handing off orders to the next zone’s picker for them to pick products in their zone. Once all the necessary products are in order, they will be moved to the packing station.
As coordination is vital in this method, warehouse management software is essential to ensure everything moves smoothly.
Wave picking is a combination of batch and zone picking used for businesses with high order volumes. Workers will pick items within a zone for a batch of orders rather than a single order. Then, they will pass the batch of orders on to the next zone for picking.
Best Practices for Picking and Packing
Implementing these best practices ensures that products are selected, packed, and shipped in a streamlined manner, minimizing errors and maximizing operational effectiveness.
Implement a real-time order management system
By using a real-time system, you will be able to track the progress of orders as they are picked and packed. The data generated will also allow you to identify any bottlenecks in the process and make the necessary changes.
Keep the warehouse organized
Storage spaces should be kept neat and organized, with areas clearly labeled. Signages and maps will help orient workers and allow them to move more efficiently.
Warehouse lanes should be clutter-free and wide enough to move around in so that workers will be able to get to products quickly and safely.
A good area flow will also ensure that pickers will not need to backtrack or pass through a later process to get to an earlier one. Doing so will help to avoid any bottlenecks from surfacing.
Choose the appropriate pick and pack method
Implementing a method that is too advanced can limit efficiency during slower periods and expend capital unnecessarily.
Likewise, deploying a method that does not address the needs of the business can induce congestion during busy periods and cause future stunted growth.
Many bodily stresses are placed on pick and pack workers. They do heavy lifting, bending, pulling, stooping, and many other repetitive strenuous activities daily.
As the cost of compensating injured workers can be high, it is often more cost-effective to promote proper ergonomics instead. Some improvements to consider include:
Adding cushioned floor mats at locations where employees will be stationed on their feet for long periods of time
Training workers on how to lift and handle loads
Placing frequently picked items in the “Golden Zone,” or waist-high region, to reduce the risk of injuries
Regularly assessing workstations and processes to identify ergonomic risks and areas for improvement. Involve workers in this assessment process to gather their feedback and insights.