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What Is a Pick List?

When a package arrives at your house, you expect to get what you paid for. A properly filled order isn’t something anyone thinks about — until that order is wrong. How do thousands of shipments get made every day with the right products inside? The pick list.

How Does a Pick List Work?

You might have an idea about the answer to the question “What is a pick list?” (or picklist, or picking list), but it still needs some explanation. 

A pick list, meaning a physical or digital document that tells employees which items are intended for specific shipments, is essential in eCommerce. The employee will take the pick list through a warehouse or other storage site, grab the items, and put them together for delivery.

Types of Pick Lists

Before tablets and smartphones, there was only one type of picking list, but now there are two:

Physical Pick Lists

A physical pick list was the only way to fill orders for decades. Employees would carry clipboards and check off items as they grabbed them. This could be a slow and inaccurate process. Once items were picked, the physical pick list would have to be analyzed and subtracted from the documented inventory of the warehouse.

Digital Pick Lists

In the 21st century, most pick lists have gone digital. Employees carry digital devices that have the picking list tied to a warehouse management system (WMS). The item SKUs are listed along with pictures and quantities of the various items needed. 

As the employee picks an item they can check it off in the interface. Because the software is tied to the WMS, real-time inventory tracking is possible. Digital pick lists reduce picking time, save money, and increase order accuracy.

Methods for Grouping a Pick List

Of course, once the employees have the pick list in hand, they still have to figure out how they’ll get the items. Picking items needs to be an organized process and is usually determined by the size of the warehouse. 

Regardless of which method you use, your employees should pick items based on location to limit how much time they spend walking around.


As orders come in, employees retrieve the items. Once that order’s picked, they move on to the next. This method works fine when orders are few and far between, but once orders increase, it becomes far too time-consuming.

Batch Picking

By picking multiple orders at once, employees can retrieve items in one location before moving on to the next. If they need five of the same kind of shirt for five different orders, it makes sense to pick all five in one go.

Zone Picking

Zone picking is an “assembly line” style. Rather than one picker moving through an entire warehouse, multiple employees work in different zones. Each employee is responsible for one part of an order so picking can be done simultaneously.

Wave Picking

For the largest warehouses, wave picking is the fastest method. Workers will pick batches of items in their zone and send the batches to the next zones. The orders move through in “waves” for ultimate efficiency.

Example of a Pick List

So what is a pick list? Let’s say you were responsible for assembling orders in a warehouse. You’d get a pick list with information like this:

Item SKU / Item Description / Warehouse Location / Amount Required

These categories would be in a spreadsheet format for easy, at-a-glance reading. At the bottom would be a total number of items required so you could check against how many you’ve picked overall. The list might also contain bar codes for automatic checking.

7 Steps for How to Create a Pick List

Here are seven steps to follow when assembling a pick list.

Step 1: Customer Information

Pickers don’t need to know customer information, but a physical list will be handed off to packers and labelers who will need that information. Digital picking lists are more segmented by job, so pickers who are using tablets or phones will probably never see the customer info. 

Step 2: Date and Time of Order

Because so many online businesses offer “two-day shipping” or “same-day shipping,” the date and time of the order give pickers an idea of how quickly the orders need to be fulfilled. They also help pickers prioritize which order should get picked first.

Step 3: Order Number

If there’s an issue with the shipment, the order number is essential for the customer to get the order corrected. Order numbers make internal tracking easier and more transparent.

Step 4: Product Location in Warehouse

For facilities that use robots to bring shelves of goods directly to pickers, this is less important. For pickers who walk through the warehouse to find the goods, product location is essential. Warehouses need signs that clearly identify where and what the goods are.

Step 5: Order Quantity

Pickers need to be aware of how many of each item to grab. Someone might order five boxes of light bulbs. If a picker just grabs one box, they’re literally leaving a customer in the dark.

Step 6: Product SKUs

The stock-keeping unit, or SKU, is specific to every product and is never duplicated. Barcodes and digital lists make this process much simpler, but the picker still needs to make sure they’re grabbing the correct item.

Step 7: Description or Photo of the Product

To add another layer of protection against wrong orders, each item on the pick list should have a description and a photo. That way the employee knows they have the correct item.

Bypass the Pick List: Let Print Bind Ship Do It for You!

Retrieving items for a shipment is time-consuming and tiring. Why not skip that process entirely? When you trust Print Bind Ship with keeping your inventory and picking, packing, and shipping orders, you get the peace of mind that your customers will get exactly what they want. Make eCommerce easy — call Print Bind Ship for your order fulfillment today!


What Is the Function of the Pick List?

A pick list helps ensure that the correct items in the right quantities are selected for a shipment.

What Are the Benefits of Pick Lists?

Pick lists increase order accuracy, reduce employee labor, and offer accountability and a paper trail in case an order has any mistakes.

Is Picklist the Same as Dropdown?

Dropdown lets you select from defaults, while pick lists are selections from an entire inventory.