Warehousing & Fulfillment

The Ultimate Guide to Pick and Pack Fulfillment Services for eCommerce

Warehousing & Fulfillment
May 2, 2022
8 min read

Pick and pack fulfillment services are an essential part of the ecommerce supply chain. Learn the hallmarks of efficient pick and pack fulfillment and how to find the right partner.

What Is Pick and Pack Fulfillment?

Pick and pack fulfillment is the process of picking products off of warehouse shelves and packing them into boxes to be shipped. This process happens after an order has been placed and routed to the warehouse, and it could be considered the very first step in the order fulfillment process. The video below shows orders being picked in an ecommerce warehouse.

Picking is the process of pulling the appropriate products in the appropriate quantities. The picker usually knows where to find the product based off of a location assigned to the product. Packing is the process of putting the products in an appropriately sized box, along with any protective packaging (otherwise known as dunnage), such as packing peanuts, sealed air, or corrugated paper.

In short, proper picking ensures order accuracy, and proper packing ensures that the product is not damaged in transit. Together, they provide the best unboxing experience possible for the end customer.

How to Pick and Pack

There are four standard methods of picking orders in a warehouse. They can all be effective methods depending on the size of the warehouse and the volume of orders being picked.

  1. Piece picking is the simplest method and involves taking a single order at a time, moving around the warehouse, and picking all of the products for the single order before packing it out and shipping. This may be the method that smaller merchants use when they only fulfill a few orders a day.
  2. Batch picking works better for a higher volume of orders and involves picking multiple orders at one time. This creates an economy of movement because if the same product is being picked for multiple orders, the picker can go to that location once and pick enough for all of the orders in the batch rather than returning to the same location multiple times.
  3. Zone picking is best for large warehouses. Pickers are assigned a certain zone, and an order is passed off to them to pick the items in their zone before they pass the order off to the picker in the next zone.
  4. Wave picking is the most advanced and works best for large volumes of orders being picked from large warehouses. The wave method combines the batch and zone methods. Pickers are assigned a warehouse zone and pick multiple orders at once before passing them off to the next zone.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Whether picking and packing are done by human labor, warehouse automation like robots, or some combination of the two, technology plays a major role in modern warehouses. An effective Warehouse Management System (WMS) is crucial to ensuring order accuracy and efficiency in the picking and packing process.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems here. 

Warehouse Slotting

Another important component of efficient and accurate pick and pack fulfillment is warehouse slotting. Slotting is the process of finding the best location within a warehouse to store inventory. 

The best method of warehouse slotting is to use data about not only a product’s size, weight, and storage requirements, but also consider the sku’s velocity compared to other products in the warehouse. This allows pickers to take the most efficient path to get to the item.

When a warehouse is well-slotted, picking is much more efficient, errors are decreased, and inventory shrinkage is less likely.

Scheduling Labor

The warehouse labor market is very competitive right now, and warehouses do not want to over-schedule for the volume of orders they have. It’s important to strike the right balance between having enough labor on-hand to meet on-time fulfillment Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and keeping labor costs down.

The best solution for small to midsize businesses (SBMs) or merchants with highly seasonal demand is to partner with an on-demand warehousing partner. On-demand warehousing allows merchants to pay only for the warehouse space and labor they need when they need it, rather than agreeing to an upfront average daily volume (ADV) that they may not be able to maintain.

In order to help set their warehousing partners up for success, it’s important to always communicate potential changes in labor needs. For example, a large promotion coming up, or a feature on Deals and Steals. The more advance notice the warehouse has of a potential influx in order volume, the better they can prepare to make the promotion a success.

The Importance of Packout Procedures

Efficient picking procedures ensure order accuracy and on-time fulfillment, while proper packout procedures ensure the safety of the product in transit. Both are highly important for an excellent customer experience.

HyVIDA Eliminates Damage in Transit

HyVIDA, a hydrogenated water brand, found that their customers loved their product, giving them a reorder rate twice the industry average. However, their 3PL partner did not have packout procedures in place to protect their products in transit. Their customers complained that on average, at least one can per shipment arrived dented, which eventually resulted in negative customer reviews.

They switched to a provider that took full responsibility for packout procedures, finding the right size boxes and perfect dunnage materials to eliminate the damages in transit. In time, their loyal customers noticed the difference and even left positive reviews about the new packout procedures.

YBell Fitness Finds a Big and Bulky Provider

YBell Fitness had very different pick and pack fulfillment needs. Their versatile free weights can be used as dumbbells, kettlebells, push up stands, and more. They saw explosive growth in their direct to consumer (D2C) sales while gyms were shut down in 2020, and they needed a pick and pack fulfillment provider that was specifically equipped to handle their heavy products.

Often, ecommerce fulfillment centers are optimized for small products like electronics and beauty. Big and bulky products have specific needs for picking and packing like forklifts, conveyor belts, safety equipment, and trained laborers.

Ultimately, they chose to partner with an on-demand warehousing partner that had a wide variety of capabilities within their warehouse network. This enabled them to grow their D2C sales channels at their pace without having to invest in equipment and resources needed to manage their own pick and pack fulfillment.

Outsourced Pick and Pack Fulfillment

Pick and pack fulfillment is complicated to manage at scale. That’s why many merchants choose to outsource order fulfillment to a dedicated fulfillment partner. According to a recent merchant survey, merchants who chose to outsource their fulfillment saw:

  • Simplified day-to-day operations
  • Reduced warehousing and fulfillment costs
  • Faster shipping guarantees that drove higher revenue.

Ware2Go is a UPS-owned warehousing and fulfillment provider that simplifies pick and pack fulfillment for merchants of all sizes with a nationwide network of warehouses and a state of the art warehouse management system. To learn more about Ware2Go’s outsourced fulfillment services, reach out to one of our in-house experts.

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