What is Picking and Packing Fulfillment?

As most growing businesses know, managing your fulfillment orders can be highly time-consuming. Especially when the main goal is to provide exceptional customer service while also making sure everyone receives their products promptly. However, balancing these two equally important tasks simultaneously can pose a challenge for any business owner.

This is where third-party fulfillment logistic services (3PL) come in to assist in that operational flow. Although, choosing the proper shipping structure for your business needs can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for.

The following breakdown will explain what 3rd party picking and packing fulfillment is and what they can do for growing your business.

Picking and Packing:

A pick and pack fulfillment company has its layout within a sizeable but organized warehouse where products for different businesses can be stored for shipment. The individuals working in this establishment ensure that all orders are picked and packed correctly for shipment to the correct locations.
Within these warehouse spaces, there are many different types of picking and packing outlines to choose from. There are also several ways it could be set up for every fulfillment center, whether they use zone packing, wave packing, or batch packing.

The process breakdown begins when an order is placed from an online store that is then sent to the fulfillment warehouse. Picking is where a list is compiled of the order, and individuals then follow it to gather the proper quantities for each product from its particular location in the warehouse. This step is followed by packing. The items are wrapped and safely packed in the appropriate box—accompanied by the correct documentation attached to the package before being labeled and shipped.

With packing these products, the materials, box size, picking locations, and even the storing conditions are all considered. This is how fulfillment centers ensure that the original order reaches its final destination undamaged and in the most cost-effective manner. This is also where maintaining order accuracy comes in to reduce shipping costs, packing orders in the smallest amount of boxes, and using the correct type of packing materials for each product. Most fulfillment warehouses will have a management system to help layout the most appropriate outline for the packing choices.

Warehouse Picking Strategies Explained:

Batch Picking:

The batch pick and pack process are typically in place to increase efficiency. Batch picking is where multiple orders are picked at once, with employees working on several lists simultaneously. There are times when customers place orders that have the same items. The employee cuts down on visiting the exact warehouse location several times with a batch pick, thus saving overall time.

Piece Picking:

The piece picking process is the simplest of the pick and pack methods. Each employee has one list; they compile the products piece by piece according to that single order. Once that’s completed, the picking process is packed in the appropriate packaging and labeled to be sent off to its respective location. Although piece picking makes the most sense, it is also the slowest method in a fast-paced fulfillment company with multiple moving components.

Wave Picking:

Wave picking is where you have bubbles of employees picking multiple batch orders while staying within the same area (or zone) of the fulfillment warehouse.

Zone Picking:

Zone picking has become the industry standard for many reasons. It cuts back on time, keeps employees in one warehouse area, and creates a more efficient chain of orders being picked and packed. A conveyor belt is usually involved because it supports multiple batches of orders being pushed down the packing line, with minimal movement from employees having to walk miles across a large warehouse.

Order Fulfillment Strategies Explained:

Pick, Pack, and Ship:

As broken down in the above section – this is the process of selecting the correct items within the warehouse, choosing the suitable packing materials, and then labeling them to be shipped off to their respective customer. Though it may sound simple, it is part of a complex system ensuring multiple companies’ products reach the correct customers on time and in immaculate condition.

Scalable, Flexible Labor and Production:

A critical aspect of the supply chain strategy is having those insights into labor costs and accounting for the ever-increasing fluctuation of cost-per-unit shipments. With this at the forefront, flexible staffing, plug-and-play positioning, an onsite engineering team, and qualitative productivity management systems are used. Then most fulfillment operations can scale quickly to the market’s peaks during different seasons and changing shipping patterns.

Retail Store Replenishment:

This can be as simple as the fulfillment center requesting more products from the businesses to replenish their designated zone for that company. Or, if a customer and particular channel request more products in addition to what is already on hand, it can also be considered a store replenish.

Product Configuration:

With a full array of value-added services available at fulfillment locations, individual project experts ensure a product is ready for sale before it is shipped. Accomplished by having the teams and tools to manage multiple projects, from simple price ticketing and labeling to complex sub-assembly and repackaging.

Why should your company use 3rd party fulfillment services?

Most growing businesses focus on customer satisfaction and receiving their products promptly. The challenge of time placement and shipment accuracy can cause challenges at every turn, tearing attention away from quality outputs and creating a scramble.
Customers have expectations for the products they order to be packaged and delivered correctly. From a business perspective, you need physical space, labor, and materials to work around the clock.

Ultimately, unless you have the set up for it, the task can be overwhelming regarding time and expenses. However, by outsourcing your fulfillment and shipping processes, you can not only have products to customers faster. But it will free up time, minimize cost and shipping mistakes, and essentially handle the background logistics of a growing business.