Order picking is one of the most crucial steps in the order fulfillment process and accounts for a large portion of labor costs. Following pick lists as outlined can reduce errors that may otherwise result in delayed shipments and unsatisfied customers, while designing an efficient order picking process using a set pick list can streamline order fulfillment and minimize these costs.
So what are picking lists and how do you create one that’s best suited for your business?
What is a pick list or picking list?
A pick list is a document that outlines the specific items required to fulfill an order and is either manually created by a warehouse or shipping manager or electronically generated via a warehouse management software (WMS).
Below are some or all of the components of a pick list:
- Product description or product title
- SKU number or UPC codes
- Images of each item
- Quantity of each item
- Order number
- Order date
- Order (customer) name
Warehouse location (typically in medium- to large-scale warehouses)
In most eCommerce fulfillment warehouses today, pick lists are often digitized for ease of use, improved accuracy, and increased efficiency. Unlike printed pick lists, digital ones offer the ability to integrate with a WMS to provide optimal picking routes.
Picks lists are like grocery lists. You list the items you need to buy, then map out which areas of the grocery store to shop first to maximize your time. Similarly, pick lists allow you to create an organized and efficient pick route to help speed up the picking process.
How to create a pick list
eCommerce warehouses design their pick list depending on various factors, including their warehouse picking method, the volume of orders shipped on average, and the number of different SKUs.
Pick list components
If your warehouse does not use a WMS, then you may want to consider designing a template for your pick lists.
When creating a pick list, you should generally include the following components:
- Customer information Including customer information may not seem relevant to the picking process. However, because pick lists can be referenced by packers and shippers, having the customer information on the pick list can help with validating the order details every step of the way.
- Order date/time A significant driver of the order fulfillment process is the processing time. Organizing your pick list based on order date/time will help you prioritize which orders to pick first, especially if your business implements time-sensitive shipping options such as same-day or next-day shipping for orders placed before a certain cutoff time.
- Order number The order number is especially useful for order tracking and reverse logistics (returns). Including it in the pick list serves as a measure of quality assurance and allows for transparency in each step of the order fulfillment process.
- Warehouse location of the product For medium- to large-scale warehouses, including the exact location of the product within the warehouse is necessary to prevent pickers from wasting time going back and forth between aisles. Warehouse location should be as detailed as possible, specifying everything from aisle location to shelf or bin number, if applicable. Implementing signage in the warehouse will also help speed up the picking process.
- Product SKUs Each pick list should not only include the product SKU (stock keeping unit) but also the quantity of each SKU. It’s necessary to pick the right product and the right amount of each product.
- Product description Product descriptions can help prevent unintentional errors. Pickers can check the product descriptions—be it text or an image of the item—to make sure they are picking the correct item. This is beneficial for instances where the items may look the same or where the product SKU is correct but the product itself does not match the product description.
Creating pick lists not only help improve warehouse efficiency but also accuracy. By implementing digital pick lists, your business can streamline the order fulfillment process while maintaining transparency and control over each step to ensure there is no room for error.
Determining your picking method
There are a variety of picking methods that businesses incorporate into their order fulfillment process, all of which aim to optimize warehouse efficiency. The best picking method for your warehouse may depend on the warehouse size, number of staff, and volume of orders. The most commonly used methods are piece picking, batch picking, and zone picking.
- Piece picking Piece picking, also known as pick-to order, is the most straightforward method to picking. It involves picking each order one by one, and is used mainly for businesses with low order volume.
- Batch picking In batch picking, a single picker picks several orders at once using a given route determined by an order management system (OMS). The main goal of batch picking is to prevent multiple repeated trips to the same bin to fulfill an order.
- Zone picking Zone picking may involve multiple pickers picking for the same order. In large warehouses, pickers may be designated to specific zones and pick products only in those zones. If an order comes in with 30 products in one zone and 40 products in another, there would be 2 pickers assigned to fulfill this order.
Let ShipBots pick and pack for you!
ShipBots is a third party logistics 3PL fulfillment center that will store, ship, pick and pack your products on your behalf. At ShipBots, we utilize our comprehensive order fulfillment and warehouse management software to maximize picking productivity and minimize errors. We integrate with most eCommerce platforms to accurately pick, pack, and fulfill your orders so that you can focus on scaling your business. With ShipBots as your 3PL provider, you will get the following features:
- Receive, pick, pack and ship using personalized software that integrates with your sales channel
- Validate and verify receiving, picking, packing, and shipping transactions
- Track SKUs and update product quantities in real-time
- Advanced warehouse management software (WMS) that can batch orders, print product and bin barcodes, and track inventory
- Manage any volume of orders efficiently using workflows and triggers
- Detailed reports including lot recall, shipping & tracking, and cycle counts
Request a pricing quote today to see if we’d be a good fit for your business.