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What is pick, pack and ship in fulfillment?

What is actually meant by "pick, pack and ship" when we talk about the fulfillment process? Pick, pack and ship are the three most important steps in the order fulfillment process. These operations start as soon as a buyer checks out in an online shop. The orders can be handled very effectively by applying the latest ecommerce pick and pack fulfillment methods. First, let's look at the definitions.

1. Definition of the pick, pack and ship process

1.1. Picking:

In this phase, goods are removed from the shelves of a warehouse according to the printed or digital customer receipt. Fast and error-free picking is important for every company, because efficient picking means excellent customer service. And satisfied customers are usually the decisive factor for competitiveness and thus for sales. The price of inaccurate fulfillment is high: for example, if the wrong components are brought to a production line, the entire fulfillment process comes to a standstill until the right parts can finally be properly provided.

1.2. Packing:

After all the goods have been collected, they are taken to the packaging line. Here, a packer selects the appropriate packaging material, packs, secures and labels the package, and makes it ready for transport.

1.3. Shipping:

After that, the packages are sorted and taken to the loading area. Here they are finally taken over by carriers and shipped to the buyers.

2. Pick and pack methods in fulfillment

There are a diverse ecommerce pick and pack methods utilized by fulfillment centers that could be right for you, depending on the size and nature of your business.

2.1. Piece picking

This technique is the most popular and undoubtedly the simplest - one order at a time is picked up by one employee. Although this technique is undemanding, it is quite time consuming and therefore more suitable for small warehouses.

2.2. Batch picking

As the term implies, an employee gathers multiple orders at the same time. Employees still need to gather goods for a single order, but this technique is more time efficient than piece picking because it shortens the average walking distance, especially when orders require the same or similar goods.

This strategy is often used in warehouses with extensive e-commerce activities. However, for bulky items, this technique is unproductive unless the employee can use automated services, such as a conveyor belt or forklift.

2.3. Zone picking

In this technique, the warehouse is divided into individual sectors, for which employees are then explicitly designated. The employees are responsible for collecting and packing the goods within these sectors. In the case of orders with many items, the employees of one sector take the packages to the next until all goods have been collected.

This strategy is more productive than the two above, but requires proper scheduling of shifts. In other words: When an employee finishes his or her shift and no one comes in after that, the job is queued until the next shift.

2.4. Wave picking

This strategy is a mixture of batch picking and zone picking. First, the employee collects the goods in one sector for a series of orders. Then the batch moves to the next sector.

3. How to organize the goods in a warehouse for efficient pick, pack and ship?

When talking about arranging goods in a warehouse, the first thought that comes to mind is to do it logically - the way you would organize a closet - by sizes, colors and categories. However, this strategy does not lend itself well to a warehouse. It's easy to make a mistake by accidentally taking an item off the shelf in the wrong color or size. A successful warehouse strategy requires a slightly chaotic and intuitive approach.

3.1. Chaotic method

In chaotic or dynamic warehousing, the item is not assigned a fixed storage location, but moves around the warehouse during storage. The items are digitally recorded and marked in the warehouse management system. It is evaluated in which storage location the product can be stored. The warehouse management system then recognizes in which bin the product is located. It is crucial that the system can work automatically.

This method significantly reduces the likelihood of selecting the wrong item, as products are not sorted by product type or category. It also helps to avoid empty spaces in the warehouse and use the space more efficiently. The chaotic storage strategy is suitable for almost all non-perishable goods or commodities.

3.2. Volume-based method

With this strategy, high-turnover goods are stored near the packing station, while low-turnover goods are stored near the father of the warehouse. In this way, employees have to move less during the day and can pick up goods faster. This method is adaptable to the chaotic method.

3.3. Class-based method

This method classifies goods based on common characteristics. Sales and packaging type can be used to classify items. For example, goods can be grouped by the type of material needed to pack the item.
This approach can also be adapted to the chaotic strategy.

4. Recommendations for packing

Here are some practical tips to avoid mistakes when packing goods:

  • Use enough filling material in the packing carton to protect the goods during transportation.
  • Use the smallest possible packaging to keep DIM charges low.
  • All items must be rescanned to pack the correct items.
  • Use inventory management software to determine appropriate carton sizes.
  • In an effort to improve your pick and pack fulfillment methods, filling instructions should be included with all orders. This will help employees find the right packing material.

5. Why outsource pick, pack and ship operations to Fulfillment-Box?

If your business has grown so much that you can't keep up with order fulfillment yourself, it may be time to outsource pick, pack and ship, or even the entire fulfillment process to an outside provider like Fulfillment Box.

Our advantages are:

  • Software that records every update of the order processing. This information is available to our customers at any time.
  • We use barcode identification, which minimizes the possibility of errors during picking.
  • Our customers can leave instructions for packaging each item or bring their own packaging.
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Julia Gordon

AuthorJulia Gordon

Head of the Fulfillment-Box Prep Centers network

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