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Warehousing & Fulfillment

Understanding Picking Methods & Key Differences

Order picking is vital for your warehousing strategy. Learn more here and see if it works for your eCommerce business.
Understanding Picking Methods & Key Differences
Jules

By Jules

 

March 16, 2022

Key Points:

  • Order picking or warehousing order picking is when specific orders are taken or recovered from the warehousing to fulfill an order that a customer has requested
  • Easyship can provide you with the expertise needed to improve your warehouse picking processes with 24/7 care and global fulfillment
  • The process of order picking can impart the level of your customers' satisfaction

The eCommerce business has many components, and each of these components is important to the success of your business. For example, your business thrives on how efficiently you can fulfill your customers' orders and fulfill their orders, and you have to understand the various picking methods. As an essential aspect, it is estimated that over half of warehouse operating costs are attributed to order picking.

Developing effective picking methods will improve the quality of the services you render to your customers and help your business thrive in the supply chain.

This article will go over everything you need to know about the various picking methods and how to apply the best practices to make the process easy for you.

Table of Contents

What is Order Picking?

Order picking or warehousing is when specific orders are taken or recovered from the warehousing to fulfill an order requested by a customer.

An optimal warehouse management system requires technological equipment and labor-based procedures to maintain high order accuracy rates across all the orders leaving the warehouse.

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Advantages of Order Picking in Warehousing

Correct order picking warehouse will help you become more efficient with order delivery, which will improve customer satisfaction and help your business grow.

1. Reduces warehouse costs

Due to the labor requiring nature of the warehousing picking process, order picking comes in handy. On the other hand, warehouse management systems can help you keep records of your customers' orders and generate automated picking lists. This way, you don't have to go through the rigorous tasks of picking your orders.

Also, with a warehouse order picking system, you can group similar orders into a single picker. This factor is cost-effective and will make your work easier, accurate, and efficient for your inventory management system.

2. Improves customer satisfaction

One benefit of order picking is how much it impacts customer satisfaction. Strategic order picking systems help reduce the possibility of sending the wrong items or even having missing items during shipment. It also affects the delivery times, all of which determine your customer's satisfaction level.

Customers will not be pleased if your items are mixed up or if their goods are delayed. The adverse effect of not satisfying your customers is terrible reviews and a high rate of returns. However, with an order picking system in place, you can give your customers a good experience that will make them satisfied.

3. Improves labor productivity

Having the correct order picking system helps make the job of your pickers easy and efficient. Good order picking systems are enabled with automated rules that make it easy for your pickers to spot orders. With this in place, your staff can work effectively and speedily.

Common Types of Order Picking Methods

The available picking methods have been designed to suit various picking needs. Therefore, knowing the right one to use is as important as knowing how they work. Also, the size of the warehouse you use and the size of your business will determine the picking method you use for your business.

Below is a list of the most common order picker methods and strategies to inform eCommerce merchants of implementing the best approach of order picking processes.

Discrete picking

The discrete picking method has been considered the most simple picking strategy. It entails picking orders once as soon as they are placed. Therefore, a single picker can handle all orders within the same facility for this picking strategy.

This method is considered a better option for small businesses and warehouses with inadequate storage facilities than the others. As the company expands, companies can look into other picking methods.

Batch picking

Just like the name implies, batch picking requires picking a batch of orders at the same time. However, the picker does not need to travel between warehouses to pick orders in this case. Instead, they can stay in the same facility and pick all the orders at a go.

The batch picking strategy helps to enhance productivity and reduces the possibility of going over the same processes. Batch picking is also relatively fast and efficient.

Cluster picking

With cluster picking, your picker can pick several orders into containers at a time. Cluster picking strategy imparts the following picking systems:

  • Pick-to-cart operations: This is when you load a cart with certain shippers, and the pickers make one a single pass through the picking area to sort the containers
  • Vertical Lift Modules (VLM): The picker sets up the batch of containers by activating the mechanized picking modules. Afterward, the orders are sorted into the proper containers

Wave picking

Working with multiple inventory and high orders might require consideration of the wave picking method. Using this strategy majorly involves one picker preparing orders categorically. This method also allows for initial evaluation of all orders rather than compiling the order in the number placed. By implementing this, picking operations are optimized.

Combination of picking methods

Based on the nature of your business, combining all picking methods can be the best option for you. Then, all you have to do is implement any of the methods mentioned above for specific picking operations.

Order Picking Best Practices

Knowing the best picking method to implement is very important. However, what is more, important is knowing how to optimize picking strategies for easy accessibility of orders and efficient operations.

1. Use correct warehousing equipment

For picking to be effective, the warehouse management must ensure that the right equipment is available. Improvement can also be geared towards the overall maintenance of warehouse tools like barcodes and inventory scanners, conveyor systems, stack pallets, forklifts, and many others. When equipment is available and functions well, the picking process becomes easy, time-saving, and efficient.

2. Optimize your warehouse strategy

Optimizing your warehouse strategy from time to time will positively impact your picking operations. Optimizing requires you to improve the layout of your warehouse, like upgrading the picking routes, storage locations, and others. You can introduce new tools to improve the quality and service you render.

3. Utilize warehouse management software

The WMS (Warehouse Management Software) helps to generate automated picklists. With a WMS, you can develop automated picklists, display product availability, provide insights to order status, plan staff labor, forecast order replenishment, among others. WMS  can help you improve picking operations for your staff and your warehouse in general.

4. Outsource order fulfillment to a 3PL

3PLs can provide you with the expertise to improve your warehouse picking processes. Sometimes, picking orders can be strenuous and time-consuming. However, outsourcing this aspect of your business guarantees that you don't have to manage the operations yourself. With a team of experts and available technology, third-party logistics will adequately help you with your fulfillment processes.

5. Follow your warehouse productivity

It’s essential to keep up with the level of your warehouse productivity and know the best methods to adopt so that you can increase productivity for your business. From time to time, you can devise means to improve every area of warehouse operations like shipping time, warehouse capacity, picking accuracy, or storage units. This factor will help you keep every place of business in check.

Warehouse Picking Optimization with Easyship

Regardless if you're using batch, discrete, or a combination of the four picking methods, implementing the right picking strategy is vital in optimizing your picking optimization strategy. In addition, applying the best practices to your warehouse order picking method is also expedient to help you scale your business.

With a warehousing & fulfillment network, order picking is essential to the smooth running of the fulfillment process. As a result, Easyship helps reduce the possibility of picking the wrong order or shipping to the wrong location.

Plus, Easyship also has other premium services that will help you optimize your order picking strategies, including features such as:

  • Easyship Shipping Rates Calculator: Access high-volume discounts from major couriers. Plus, get instant access to real-time delivery estimates from premium shipping couriers
  • Warehousing & Fulfillment Network: Easyship has warehouse partners on four continents so that you can reach your customers all across the world. Plus, Easyship helps scale up fulfillment capabilities without increasing overhead costs
  • 24-Hour Support: Our team of shipping experts is here to help you with any questions you may have about your warehousing strategy. With 24/7 support, there's nothing we can't answer

Ready to ship? Sign up for a FREE Easyship account and create your world-class warehousing strategy

Picking Methods FAQ

What does picking mean in delivery?

Picking in delivery occurs when you collect specific items in a given quantity before shipping to satisfy customers' orders.

What is the difference between single order picking and batch picking?

Single order picking requires you to pick each item from a warehouse manually. While batch picking is an order picking method in which pickers collect items for multiple orders.


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