Did you know that the order-picking process can make or break the customer experience in the world of e-commerce? As the initial step towards delivering great customer satisfaction, order picking is crucial for businesses. In fact, according to a study by McKinsey, efficient order picking can lead to a 20% to 30% improvement in warehouse productivity.
Understanding the Basics of Warehouse Order Picking
Order picking involves retrieving inventory from its designated location within the warehouse to initiate the delivery process. During the process of picking, a Picklist is created, which encompasses orders received from multiple marketplaces. This Picklist is then handed to the warehouse staff, providing them with the item’s designated locations. Once the shelf is located, the inventory is scanned, picked, and prepared for packing and delivery.
Given that the picking process can be time-consuming, it is essential to have a technologically advanced warehouse management system in place. Such systems enable multiple scans and facilitate the quick location of goods in a warehouse and then help the staff collect them and move forward with other processes.
By deploying the right picking processes for your warehouse operations, you can provide your business with the ease to enhance the overall customer experience.
Why is an Efficient Order Picking Process Important?
An efficient picking process plays a crucial role in the smooth operation and success of a business. Here are some reasons why it is important:
- Provides higher efficiency and accuracy
- Allows better order fulfillment and processing
- Increases overall revenue of the business
- Enables faster and smoother deliveries
- Saves time by reducing manpower and stock management costs
To enhance and streamline the picking process, it is essential to implement a barcoding system. The first step is to initiate product serialization, which helps the warehouse staff to locate and track each item in your warehouse; this involves assigning a unique code to every product.
Serialization is done using barcode systems that generate a combination of unique characters in a 2D or 3D format. These codes are then affixed as labels onto individual items and subsequently scanned during the picking processes to retrieve pertinent details.
Types of Warehouse Order Picking Processes
There are various picking processes you can use, depending on the fulfillment requirements of your e-commerce business. Here are the two major order-picking processes:
- Zone Picking
- Batch Picking
1. Zone Picking
Zone picking involves dividing the warehouse into distinct zones or areas, with each zone assigned to a specific picker or group of pickers. For large warehouses that cater in multiple categories and have a wide range of inventory, the process of zone picking is recommended.
In a warehouse using zone picking, let’s consider an example with three zones: Zone A for electronics, Zone B for clothing, and Zone C for household items.
For three customer orders:
- Order 1: Requires a laptop (Zone A) and a T-shirt (Zone B).
- Order 2: Requires a blender (Zone C) and a pair of jeans (Zone B).
- Order 3: Requires a vacuum cleaner (Zone C) and a smartphone (Zone A).
A picklist is created, and the system routes the order items to the respective zones and assigns pickers accordingly:
- Order 1: Laptop goes to Zone A picker, T-shirt goes to Zone B picker.
- Order 2: Blender goes to Zone C picker, jeans go to Zone B picker.
- Order 3: Vacuum cleaner goes to Zone C picker, the smartphone goes to Zone A picker.
The pickers collect the items within their zones and transfer them to a handoff point for consolidation, packing, and shipping.
Features of Zone Picking: The process of zone picking allows you to –
- Improve the efficiency of collecting goods
- Speeds up the collection of multiple items
- Decreases move-around time within the warehouse
- Allows multiple pickups in one go
2. Batch Picking
Batch picking, also known as multi-order picking, involves picking multiple orders with the same SKU in a single pass through the warehouse. Instead of picking one order at a time, the picker collects items for multiple orders during a single picking trip. This type of picking can also be done for the same channels, same logistics provider, priority orders, etc.
For example, In batch picking, three customer orders are received:
- Order 1: Laptop, keyboard, and mouse.
- Order 2: Printer, ink cartridges, and paper.
- Order 3: Tablet, headphones, and charger.
Batches are created as follows:
- Batch 1: Includes laptop and tablet.
- Batch 2: Includes keyboard, mouse, printer, ink cartridges, paper, headphones, and charger.
Pickers gather items for their assigned batches, optimizing efficiency. After picking, items are sorted and allocated to the respective orders for packaging and shipment.
Importance of Batch Picking: Ideal for e-commerce businesses, the process of batch picking enables you to:
- Increase order fulfillment rates
- Decrease travel time for picking
- Save on warehouse space
- Organize inventory in a better way
Batch picking is recommended if you wish to make the most out of your small or big warehouse and to equip your staff to fulfill multiple customer orders at the same time.
Let’s Make Order Picking Efficient!
When it comes to optimizing order picking, there are several factors to consider, including the size of your warehouse, product availability, item variety, demand, manpower, and facility location. By carefully analyzing these elements, you can choose from a range of efficient picking methods.
Moreover, integrating automation into your picking processes can offer improved oversight of your warehouse operations. To achieve seamless order fulfillment, it is crucial to implement a reliable e-commerce Warehouse Management System (WMS) that automates the entire picking process, minimizing errors and issues.
Related read –
- What is a Warehouse Management System?
- Role of Warehouse Management in the FMCG Industry in India
- Logistics vs Supply Chain Management: Key Components, Benefits, Comparison
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