Errors in the order fulfillment process can cost your company dearly. If you accidentally send more items than ordered, it will undoubtedly please the customer. But how will this affect your profit and accuracy of accounting?!
Similarly, by under-fulfilling an order or mixing up items, you risk facing customer dissatisfaction and spending additional time and resources on replacements or returns. If you factor in packaging and delivery costs, your company’s expenses significantly increase. What’s even worse is that these issues can have a negative impact on your reputation.
A pick list is precisely the tool that can streamline the picking process and minimize the risk of such errors. To learn more about what a pick list is, why it’s essential, and what information to include in it for efficient order fulfillment, read our article.
Picking list: definition and key benefits
A pick list, also known as a picking list, is a document that contains information about the specific items that need to be gathered to fulfill a particular order. It provides a detailed inventory of the quantity and variety of products selected by your customer during the order placement process and may include additional details about the items to facilitate the picking process.
Picking list formats
A pick list can be provided to the picker in either a physical or digital format. The physical format involves creating a written document that can be printed and used in the warehouse. This is suitable for beginners, small-scale entrepreneurs with limited inventory and order volumes, or small companies with constrained resources. In this case, the accuracy of fulfillment depends on the attentiveness of the picker.
However, today, many companies aim to minimize the use of paper documents in favor of digital warehouse management systems. To pick orders faster and more efficiently, they employ a digital format for the pick list. This is an electronic version of the document accessible through specialized warehouse management software or mobile applications. In a digital picking list, you can easily track and update information. Additionally, this approach minimizes the risk of human errors.
Key advantages of the pick list
The main criteria for the efficiency of the picking process are minimizing the time and maximizing the accuracy of assembly. A pick list can help improve these metrics. With a clear instruction containing a list of items, their quantities, and a route on how to reach them, the picker can perform their duties more quickly and with a lower likelihood of errors.
Key advantages of using a pick list:
1. Error Minimization: The information presented in the pick list is structured and clear, reducing the risk of incorrect assembly. This is especially crucial for ecommerce businesses, where errors can lead to customer loss and damage the company’s reputation.
2. Picking Process Optimization: The pick list enables a more efficient organization of the order picking process. It instructs warehouse operators on which items and quantities need to be picked and their locations in the warehouse. This speeds up task completion and enhances employee productivity.
In the end, the picking list will allow your company to better control its inventory and avoid unnecessary expenses. By delivering all ordered items on time and in the correct composition, you will enhance the quality of your service and strengthen your reputation in the competitive ecommerce environment.
Application of the pick list depending on the picking method
To ensure maximum efficiency and productivity of pickers, companies employ various methods of order picking. The pick list can be adapted to each of these methods. Below, we’ll explore the three main methods of order picking in a warehouse and how the pick list is used for each of them.
This method involves processing each order individually. The pick list specifies the items that need to be picked to fulfill a specific order. In terms of speed, this method is not very efficient because the picker has to spend a lot of time moving around the warehouse to select the items.
When fulfilling a batch of orders, several orders are picked simultaneously. In this case, pickers select a batch of items from multiple orders from their storage locations in the warehouse, move them to the picking area, and then allocate them according to each order. A separate pick list is created for each batch.
During zone picking, a specific picker is assigned to each zone in the warehouse. They use their pick list to gather items from their designated storage zone and move them, along with the list, to the next zone to pick other order items. This method reduces the time spent on employee movement within the warehouse and enhances the overall efficiency of the picking process.
How to make picking list?
The key requirement for a pick list is its accessibility and informativeness. Whether you are picking items for a single order, batches, or zones, it should include all the essential information that simplifies and speeds up the picking process. If you’re using a warehouse management system, the list is typically automatically generated within your system.
However, for companies that do not have such resources, they have to independently create a template for a picking list. A manually created pick list should be clear, informative and understandable for assemblers. This will help to avoid errors in the picking process, reduce the time spent on completing the task, and ensure higher assembly accuracy. Which items should be included in the list?
1. Customer Data
For pickers, the primary need is the names and quantities of items. However, because you manually oversee all warehouse processes, downstream staff will require customer information in the subsequent stages. Packaging personnel will be able to apply the correct labels and verify their accuracy for each individual order. Be sure to include the customer’s name, their contact details, and delivery address. This information will help ensure that the order is delivered to the correct recipient.
2. Order receipt period
If your company offers expedited delivery, you need to monitor the adherence to these standards. To determine the level of urgency and priority in the fulfillment process, include the order receipt date and time, as well as the completion deadlines in the pick list. This information will provide warehouse staff with details about the time frames they need to meet. Furthermore, it allows the company to not only meet customer deadlines and expectations but also optimize the use of resources in the warehouse.
3. Order number
To have the ability to control each order, assign a unique order number to it. Each number should be unique and correspond to a specific customer request, making it easy to track its status and progress. By linking the picking list to the respective order, you can more promptly complete it if necessary or address any issues that arise with it.
4. Route for the order picker
Including a route for the picker will ensure a more structured and organized picking process. By incorporating it into the pick list, you will reduce the likelihood of errors and increase the efficiency of warehouse staff. Specify the precise location of each item in the warehouse on the list, including the shelf number, row or zone, the order of picking, and the optimal route for movement. This will simplify the task for the picker during item selection and expedite the task’s completion.
5. Article of goods
SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is a unique identifier used for the identification and tracking of products in the warehouse. It typically consists of numbers, letters, or combinations of characters assigned to each item in the inventory. Listing the SKU for each item in the pick list will simplify the task for pickers. They will be able to easily identify and collect the correct items, avoiding confusion and errors.
For more efficient use of SKUs, barcodes are often employed. Barcodes are optical codes that contain information about the product. With the use of a scanning device (barcode scanner), pickers can quickly and accurately identify items by scanning their barcodes. This significantly speeds up the picking process and reduces the likelihood of errors.
6. Description and photos of the goods
Include product descriptions in your pick list, detailing their features, colors, sizes, and other important characteristics. This will help pickers avoid confusion, especially when dealing with items that have similar features. If possible, attach photos of the products to allow your staff to visually verify the items they are picking.
How to eliminate the possibility of errors at the picking stage? Software solution for your business
Making errors during the picking stage can have a negative impact on your business. One way to minimize these errors is by using software solutions to automate the picking process. In the Ysell.pro system, order picking is carried out in a digital format. Each order in the system has its digital pick list, which includes information about the required items, their quantities, and other important order details.
To scan each item included in the pick list, warehouse staff use barcode scanners. When all items from the picking list are scanned, the order is automatically marked as complete. This means that the picker cannot finish the picking process without scanning all the items, which eliminates the possibility of errors.
This approach to order picking not only ensures high accuracy but also enhances the efficiency of all warehouse processes.
Having read the article, you now know what a pick list is, how to create its template if necessary, and how to adapt it to your way of picking items. It’s important to understand that picking is a rather labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Minimizing errors at this stage will impact your company’s financial position and reputation.
To achieve such results, modern digital solutions like Ysell can be used. An automatically generated pick list simplifies the picking process and eliminates the possibility of human errors. This, in turn, leads to increased inventory accuracy, optimized business processes, and, as a result, improved service quality and increased profitability.