Order Fulfillment consists of various steps from the initial level of receiving the order till the time the entire process wraps with the last mile delivery. Ensuring the predesigned timeline of order delivery, it’s crucial to keep a close watch on every single step in the process. Everything starts with order receiving. Later on, a pick list is created for the picker to get the required items from a warehouse, if the picking process isn’t accurate, there can be a fair room for errors and delayed deliveries.
It’s highly imperative to understand the value of a smooth and efficient picking process at the warehouse as it can have a deep impact on the bottom line. Therefore picking optimization should be considered one of the most crucial aspects to improve the customer experience and keep a check on the picker efficiency at the same time.
Let’s decode the basics of the pick list, the challenges in the row, and finally, the right ways to increase picking efficiency in the long run.
What’s a Pick List?
A pick list can be defined as an all-inclusive document sent to the warehouse pickers for order fulfillment. The list consists of the items which are required to be retrieved from the storage. Why’s it required? Exactly how you need the right planning before execution, a pick list is the part of the plan which makes the picking process organized. Pick list optimization facilitates faster and more efficient order fulfillment along with a significant reduction in SLA breaches.
To your surprise, manpower usually accounts for 70 percent of operations cost within a warehouse, and 50-60 percent of manpower cost is usually spent on order picking. Well, that’s quite a huge share of investment! Considering this, pick list optimization becomes an inevitable part of the process.
Importance of Pick Lists
Pick lists are crucial in e-commerce warehouse management, streamlining the order fulfillment process and enhancing overall efficiency. Here are five key points highlighting their importance:
- Order Accuracy and Fulfillment Efficiency: Pick lists ensure the right products are selected and packed for each order.
- Optimized Warehouse Operations: Pick lists help organize and optimize the picking process within the warehouse. This efficiency translates to higher productivity and cost savings.
- Batch Picking and Grouping: It helps expedite the picking process by enabling workers to pick multiple orders simultaneously, increasing productivity and reducing fulfillment times.
- Inventory Management and Stock Replenishment: Pick lists are essential for real-time inventory tracking, providing valuable insights into stock levels, enabling timely restocking, and preventing stockouts or overstocks, ultimately improving supply chain efficiency.
- Data Analysis and Performance Tracking: Utilizing pick lists allows data collection to identify bottlenecks, improve picking strategies, and enhance overall warehouse performance. It provides valuable insights for continuous process optimization and decision-making.
What’s the Challenges of Pick Lists?
When the pick list is assigned to the warehouse picker, the process requires edge to edge tracking to gather picker insights and check the efficiency at the same time, however, a manual process lacks tracking which can lead to delays, errors and a messed up delivery. To optimize the pick list management, it’s advisable to have a warehouse management system recording your data, saving product images, adding in additional information required to ensure the pick list, having the right idea for quality control, and most importantly ensuring accurate picker activity from assigning the list, procuring the product, allocating it at the right place and ultimately delivering on time.
Ways to Increase Warehouse Efficiency with Pick Lists
Optimizing warehouse operations is beyond necessity and for doing it right, it’s important to have a system that not only lets you manage the stocks but provides picker staff tracking as well. As efficient picking leads to delivery accuracy and a thorough streamlined process.
As a business owner, if you’re in splits over declining growth rates or waning productivity, there are surely some adjustments that can help in making the picking process effective –
1. Assigning Pick List to the Agent
Once a pick list is ready to be assigned, consider assigning it to the right agent. When the picker is assigned manually, there can be more errors & delays as you can never track picker efficiency accurately, but, through incorporating a warehouse management solution, picker is assigned automatically through analyzing their regular activity logs and tracking the efficiency as well. Alongside, the pick list can be assigned based on the order location or can be filtered based on the marketplace as well, for instance, you can assign picker location wise – Picker A for Delhi, Picker B for Bangalore etc. this will save time and get the deliveries done quickly and accurately. Also, if the picker is assigned based on the marketplaces such as Flipkart, Amazon etc. this again helps in quick deliveries and lesser SLA breach, and streamlined operations. This can further facilitate in knowing where the process lacks and find the reason for delivery delay loopholes, helping a business to streamline the order delivery process.
2. Consider Right Placement
Larger warehouses might have tons of products stored in and the placement of the products might be the prime reason for delays. Why? If the highest selling SKUs are kept at the extreme ends of a single warehouse, it might eat up heaps of time for the picking staff. Be wise in organizing your inventory in such a way that picking could be done faster. While in most cases inventory organization is done by SKU number, it’s always better to have it organized based on the probability of being bought together. This can save your time and ultimately get deliveries quicker.
3. Give a Thought to Storage Racks
This might seem an underrated idea but can actually save you a lot of time! Picking up the right racks for your warehouse is another good option to consider. It’s also good to have elevated racks that are easy for the conveyor belts but, in case manual picking is your go-to, trust the floor racks which are easier and faster to access for the pickers.
Pick list optimization is an integral part of every ecommerce business, though there’s a dire need to automate or digitize the warehouse processes to make order management, inventory management, and returns management more streamlined. Incorporating a warehouse management system (WMS) in your business can effectively help in making the supply chain run smooth and error free. A few adjustments in the way your warehouse is being operated can help in lesser errors and promote faster & more accurate deliveries.
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