Warehousing & Fulfillment

The Ultimate Guide to Pick Pack and Ship Services for eCommerce

Warehousing & Fulfillment
April 8, 2023
10 min read

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

What Is Pick Pack and Ship?

Pick pack and ship 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.

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. Shipping is the process of delivering a packaged product to a customer within the promised timeframe.

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. When it comes to shipping, small to midsize businesses (SMBs) have options, and many are turning to distributed warehousing to ensure they can stay competitive with 2-day shipping.

How to Pick Pack and Ship

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.

Choose a Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) for eCommerce pick and pack

Pick and pack for ecommerce needs the right technology in order to stay organized and scale. An effective Warehouse Management System (WMS) is crucial to ensuring order accuracy and efficiency in the pick pack and ship process.

A recent study on the future of warehousing and fulfillment found that 36% of SMB decision makers agree that improved technology – like a WMS – would alleviated time and effort in the pick pack and ship process. However, over the last 1 -2 years, 39% of respondents in the same survey reported having reevaluated their warehouse technology providers and costs.

The right Warehouse Management System should simplify and optimize ecommerce pick and pack by providing:

  • Real-time inventory visibility
  • Inventory re-allocation between warehouses and sales channels
  • Delivery insights into the order fulfillment status
  • Predictive analytics to assist with forecasting and procurement
  • Insights on customers’ locations and buying behaviors

Learn more about how Warehouse Management Systems can provide holistic pick and pack warehouse services or view the full report on the future of fulfillment strategy based responses from 1,000 SMB decision makers.

Optimize Warehouse Slotting

Another important component of efficient and accurate pick pack and ship fulfillment is warehouse slotting. Warehouse 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, pick and pack is much more efficient, errors are decreased, and inventory shrinkage is less likely.

Labor Management & Labor Scheduling Best Practices

The warehouse labor market is changing. According to SMB decision makers, 36% report that labor management has become more time-consuming over the past 1-2 years. At the same time, warehouse laborers are becoming more active, with a 25% increase in unionizing activity and a 38% increase in work stoppages from 2021 to 2022.

To ensure amiable working conditions and optimal pick and pack, warehouses do not want to over- or under-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 in the Pick Pack and Ship Process

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 by Shifting Pick and Pack Warehouse Services

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 pick and pack warehouse service 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 pack and ship 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 an ecommerce pick and pack 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 pick and pack warehouse service 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 Pack and Ship Fulfillment

Pick pack and ship fulfillment is complicated to manage at scale- nearly 1 in 3 merchants cite the ability to scale and automate as one of their top warehousing concerns. That’s why many merchants choose to outsource order fulfillment to a dedicated fulfillment partner. According to a recent survey on competitive shipping, 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 pack and ship 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 pick and pack warehouse services, reach out to one of our in-house experts.

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