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Pick Pack Ship: E-commerce Fulfillment 101

In today’s fast-paced world, efficiency is key, and any delays or errors in the pick, pack, and ship process can lead to unhappy customers and lost business opportunities. Nevertheless, many businesses struggle with finding the right strategies and tools to streamline this crucial step.

Fortunately, advances in technology have made the pick, pack, and ship process much more efficient. Automated systems such as barcode scanning have improved accuracy and speed, while inventory management software can provide up-to-date information on stock levels and order progress. Additionally, robots and other automated solutions can help manage the physical picking and packing of goods.                                              

In this guide, we’re going over everything to know about what the pick, pack, and ship process entails, and why partnering with a fulfillment center may be just the thing your business needs to boost efficiency.

Understanding the E-commerce Order Fulfillment Process

There are about 165 billion packages shipped in the US each year. As the eCommerce industry booms, retailers are increasingly looking for ways to optimize their fulfillment processes. This could entail implementing different order management systems or trying out various best practices to enhance your overall ordering process.

If you’re fulfilling in-house, it could mean you’re having to pick, pack, and ship, all by yourself. The pick, pack, and ship process is what eCommerce fulfillment essentially is. Simply put, eCommerce fulfillment is the process of delivering products to customers after they have been purchased online.

Having a successful order fulfillment strategy is vital for online retailers to stay competitive; it can even build customer loyalty and expectations. When it comes to effective order fulfillment, many sellers find that, instead of taking it all yourself by hiring a warehouse manager and overseeing the delivery service, it can be much more efficient to outsource to a fulfillment expert. 

By working with a fulfillment company or sourcing to a third-party logistics (3PL) company, you may be able to save critical time and resources for your business. By working with an order fulfillment expert, you may also improve your overall fulfillment process and secure even greater levels of customer satisfaction. 

What is Pick, Pack, Ship?

Pick, pack, and ship refers to the numerous steps involved in fulfilling customer orders and ensuring their timely delivery. This process involves three key stages – pick, pack, and ship – each with its own significance in the overall order fulfillment process.

Stage 1: Pick

The picking stage is largely the first step in eCommerce fulfillment. It occurs after an order has been placed and received. The order picking involves selecting the items or products from the warehouse shelves that are required to fulfill a customer’s order. During the pick stage, the main aim is to pick the correct products for each customer order.

This is typically done by warehouse staff, or pickers, who use picking lists or handheld devices to locate and retrieve the items from their designated storage locations. This stage becomes even more efficient when warehouses have the right tech to help map out routes for pickers. For example, warehouses might see the use of handheld barcode scanners that minimize mistakes and can even show the exact location of each product within the warehouse.

A great way to make the pick, pack, and ship process more efficient is by integrating your eCommerce sales channels with your warehouse systems. You can do this by partnering with Print Bind Ship.

Once a customer places an order, our fulfillment warehouse receives a packing slip that our warehouse management software will generate. We integrate with all the major eCommerce platforms like Shopify, wooCommerce, Etsy, and more!

Common Picking Strategies

While there are many picking strategies here are a few common ones:

  • Piece Picking: The most common form of picking is piece picking; which is also known as a single-order, individual, or discrete picking. In this method, a picker goes through one order at a time while grabbing an item line by line before moving on to the next order.
  • Batch Picking: Also known as cluster picking, batch picking works best when fulfilling many identical orders that use the same SKUs. By utilizing batch picking, a picker can stay in the same area, rather than travel throughout the warehouse to end up circling back to where they were. Batch picking aims to improve productivity as it reduces repeated trips, steps, and time.
  • Zone Picking: Otherwise known as pick and pass, zone picking is an enhanced version of batch picking. Workers are assigned to specific locations or zones, and order cartons to move through those zones.
  • Wave Picking: Just like batch, ordered items are queued and grouped (batched) into combined pick lists. On the other hand, wave picking is executed multiple times per day (or shift) and balances more factors than product overlap.

Stage 2: Pack

Once the items have been picked, they move on to the next stage – “pack.” The packing process involves carefully placing the items in appropriate containers or boxes, ensuring they are protected during transit.

This step may include additional tasks such as adding packing materials, creating labels, and inserting any necessary documentation, such as invoices or return labels. The packaging needs to be secure and efficient, preventing damage to the products while also optimizing the use of space.

Packers will make sure items are securely packed, sealed, and labeled. Furthermore, packers will typically follow a packing list – along with dunnage and any other custom packaging materials like a thank you card and place the products into an appropriate box. You may also want to include print shipping labels at this point, to allow for seamless customer returns.

Packing slips can be both internal and customer-facing documents. Customers can verify packing slips to check if they have received everything. A packing slip is typically packed into the package along with the products. Some companies may even combine the packing slip with the shipping label; which is placed on the packaging itself.

The details that you may find in a packing slip include:

  • Packing slip documentation number
  • Invoice details
  • Company address and contact details of the seller
  • Shipping addresses of the seller and the customer
  • Description of goods shipped
  • Personalized messages

During the packing stage, quality assurance measures also take place to ensure that what was ordered is exactly what was picked. Quality checks include order accuracy, packaging appropriateness, and labeling accuracy.

Stage 3: Ship

After the items have been picked and packed, they move on to the final stage – “ship.” This involves preparing the packages for shipment by arranging transportation logistics, such as selecting a suitable carrier and generating shipping labels.

Efficient shipping processes are a must, especially when it comes to reducing delivery times and enhancing customer satisfaction. Customers also tend to expect a tracking number, to be able to monitor the progress of their orders and estimated delivery dates.

The shipping carrier you choose to work with is of utmost importance, as they will influence your total shipping cost. You must understand how all these factors can impact your business’s shipping margin to make the correct decisions. To learn more about calculating shipping costs and comparing different shipping methods, read our guide here.

When you partner with Print Bind Ship, you get a built-in shipping carrier and fulfillment service in one. Bundling may not only allow you to save, but also optimize your business’s pick, pack, and ship process.

Challenges of Pick, Pack, Ship Process

Are you experiencing problems with your internal pick, pack, and ship process? Rest assured that you’re likely not the only one. There are so many factors that affect the smooth operation of eCommerce fulfillment that can be overlooked or underestimated. Ultimately, this can lead to delayed orders or missed products for your customers.

Some areas that would likely require more attention are the following:

Lack of Organization

There’s no doubt that efficient warehouse management will save you both time and money. On the flip side, a lack of organization can lead to slower fulfillment times and more costs.

Hours can quickly add up with a messy and disorganized warehouse. Additionally, if your team doesn’t have a tight system in place, this can lead to wasted time as well.

Disorganization is the number one reason to implement the pick, pack, ship strategy. Even though it may be a difficult transition, using a professional 3PL can definitely can pay off in the long run.

Inventory Management

Having an inaccurate record of inventory can lead to incorrect scheduling and a longer lead time. Inaccurate inventory can stem from items that go missing or counts that are off. For instance, if the stock records are not updated or inventory data is entered incorrectly, it can lead to confusion in the order fulfillment process regarding the amount of stock available.

For cases like this, a perpetual inventory system is ideal for organization and inventory management. However perpetual inventory systems can be expensive and a challenge to implement. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in learning more about perpetual inventory systems, we go into deep about it here.

Why Outsource Warehousing and Fulfillment?

Implementing warehouse picking improvements is one of the most effective ways to optimize your supply chain, but it can also be costly and time-consuming if you’re going at it on your own. This is the leading reason outsourcing warehousing can save you the headache of both.

More and more retailers are choosing to partner with a fulfillment expert and outsource their pick, pack, and ship processes. In 2023, estimates suggest that 60% of online retailers at least partially outsource fulfillment services, while 20% of them outsource the entire fulfillment process.

Partnering with a 3PL means utilizing a company that is already an expert in pick, pack, and ship strategy, and has the resources to take charge of your order fulfillment successfully. 

How a 3PL Partner Can Help Optimize Your E-commerce Fulfillment?

Third-party logistics (or 3PL) refers to the outsourcing of eCommerce fulfillment processes to a third-party company. These processes can include inventory management, warehousing, order fulfillment services, and more! 

Furthermore, a 3PL partner will allow eCommerce businesses to accomplish more and even aid in scaling; with the tools and infrastructure to automate retail order fulfillment.

Print Bind Ship is a leading 3PL and eCommerce fulfillment partner. We manage all stages of the pick, pack, and ship process – allowing you to focus on other priorities for your business.

Listed below are some of the benefits of partnering with a 3PL service provider:

Order Management

The best 3PL providers will be able to process all your orders in real-time through their central dashboard. In addition, 3PLs handle returns, making it extremely easy because they will have all the needed information at hand; including eCommerce order tracking numbers.

Streamlined Pick, Pack, Ship Process

As previously mentioned, 3PL partners have the much-needed expertise to handle pick, pack, and ship fulfillment strategy. Thus making it easier to streamline the process and even reduce the cost of eCommerce fulfillment.

Of course, there are other added benefits as well, depending on the 3PL partner. 3PLs, like Print Bind Ship, can provide subscription services, handle customer returns, and even offer custom packaging solutions.

Inventory Management

A 3PL can help you better organize and keep track of your inventory.

3PL partners, like Print Bind Ship, can provide more value for warehouse fulfillment by fulfilling orders on demand. This process means that a 3PL partner will manufacture or assemble your orders as needed and even update you when stock is low.

Partnering with Print Bind Ship for the Best Pick, Pack, and Ship Solution

If you are looking to improve the efficiency of your pick, pack, and ship process, then outsourcing this task to a professional fulfillment company like Print Bind Ship is the way to go. When you outsource your pick, pack, and ship process to Print Bind Ship, you can rest assured that your order will be accurately picked, packed, and shipped, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your business.

The fulfillment experts at Print Bind Ship have over 60 years of item fulfillment, commercial printing, and shipping experience. Think of us as your go-to expert for all things branding and eCommerce.

We carry out fulfillment for thousands of orders daily. Our warehouse operations are top-notch to ensure an optimal inventory management process and pick, pack, and ship solution for your business. If you’re considering optimizing your eCommerce fulfillment, contact us and find out how Print Bind Ship can help grow your business!

FAQ

What is pick pack ship?

Pick pack ship refers to the process of receiving, sorting, packaging, labeling, and dispatching orders within a warehouse or distribution center. It involves selecting the right items from inventory, securely packing them, and arranging for their efficient shipment to customers.

How can pick pack ship benefit my business?

Pick pack ship plays a crucial role in streamlining your order fulfillment operations. By efficiently picking and packing orders, you can ensure accurate and timely shipments, leading to customer satisfaction and increased sales. Additionally, it helps minimize order errors, reduce inventory handling costs, and optimize warehouse space utilization.

What technologies are used in pick pack ship?

Modern pick pack ship systems utilize advanced technologies such as barcode scanners, warehouse management software, and automated sorting and packaging equipment. These technologies enable faster and more accurate order processing, real-time inventory tracking, and seamless integration with eCommerce platforms or order management systems.

Can pick pack ship be customized to suit my specific business needs?

Absolutely! Pick pack ship systems can be tailored to accommodate the unique requirements of your business. Whether you deal with perishable goods, have specific packaging preferences, or need to follow specialized shipping regulations, a customized pick pack ship solution can be designed to meet your needs and enhance your operations.

Is pick pack ship only applicable to large businesses?

No, pick pack ship is beneficial for businesses of all sizes. While larger enterprises may have higher order volumes and more complex fulfillment requirements, small and medium-sized businesses can benefit greatly from implementing efficient pick pack ship processes. It helps them compete on equal footing, improve order accuracy, and deliver exceptional customer service.
Remember, optimizing your pick pack ship operations is crucial for achieving efficient order fulfillment and customer satisfaction. Implementing the right technologies and processes can significantly enhance your business’s overall performance and profitability.

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