What is pick-and-pack distribution and how is it beneficial?

The rise of the online marketplace has made improved models for customer fulfillment necessary. Orders come to warehouses at a much higher volume than ever before. Warehouse managers have needed to find ways to make the already complex step of product distribution move at a pace that keeps up with demands.

That's where pick-and-pack comes in. It's a process employed by warehouses of all sizes to make redistribution of individual items from direct shipments easier to manage and faster to execute. Pick-and-pack consolidates individual items into logical storage structures, and allows workers to complete customer shipments with more efficiency and increased volume.

The Pick-and-Pack Process

Pick-and-pack fulfillment begins when a warehouse receives a product shipment. Each item in the package is logged into an inventory control system and is shelved in the warehouse according to whatever zone it belongs to. Usually, warehouse zones are arranged according to the size of a product; sometimes they are broken down into different storage environments, like cold storage.

When an order comes in, workers pull each item in the list from the shelves, according to its specifications. All the items are packaged together, passed through quality control, and shipped to the customer’s destination.

Workers update information at each stage in the pick-and-pack process. Frequently software is used to record changes in inventory, track packages, and sometimes even manage restocking.

While pick-and-pack saves a lot of time, costs, and resources, it's important that warehouse workers practice habits of labeling, inventory management, quality control, and scheduling to make the process work.

Pick-and-Pack Strategies

The pick-and-pack process is accomplished in many ways, each one suited for certain warehouse styles, sizes, and order volume.

  • Piece Picking: Best for smaller warehouses, in this process workers fill one order at a time, picking each item out of inventory until the order’s fulfilled.
  • Batch Picking: Workers collect inventory items to fill several different orders at the same time.
  • Zone Picking: The warehouse is separated into different zones, each assigned to specific workers or small teams. Employees pick inventory items from their zones only, then pass customer packages from zone to zone unit the order is filled.
  • Wave Picking: Essentially a cross between the zone and batch methods, in which zoned workers fill more than one customer package at a time and forward the batch to the next zone.

Benefits of Pick-and-Pack

Improving warehouse efficiency is the driving force behind the pick-and-pack strategy. By abolishing the use of intermediaries or outside agents, warehouse managers receive all their inventory directly and have all inventory on hand in the same place. This saves a lot of additional shipping or management costs.

Pick-and-pack also allows managers to handle orders of all sizes, doing away with minimum order charges and greatly improving the warehouse’s cost efficiency.

Of course, pick-and-pack also slashes turnaround time for orders, especially in well-managed warehouses where the process is monitored at various checkpoints. Software programs take on a considerable amount of work, from tracking stock levels to package delivery, which makes pick-and-pack even more of a timesaver.

For more information, contact the team at Overflo Warehouse at (800) 626-061600 or overflo.com for a free quote.

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