Buying whatever you need online has never been easier. Likewise, ecommerce continues to grow in popularity for both producers and consumers. However, despite the net benefits of leveraging technology to conduct business from afar, it’s created a few unfortunate side effects, especially around fulfillment.
With the sheer volume of fulfillment orders every day, hour, and minute, serving your customers can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true if your one-person business goes viral and your maybe-one-order-a-day volume skyrockets to hundreds an hour.
One process to help mitigate this issue is the pick-and-pack method, which we’ll explore in this article.
What is the Pick-and-Pack Process?
The pick-and-pack process has five core parts:
- Receiving: the process starts with a warehouse (usually the seller’s) receiving a product.
- Inventory Management: once received, the product is stored and organized using a system that makes finding and picking easy. This is the most crucial step because if the organization fails to manage its inventory in any way, it can have cascading effects on the rest of the process.
- Order Picking: after a customer places an order, the order’s transmitted to the warehouse. A warehouse worker then starts gathering the products needed to fulfill the order.
- Packing: once the order has all its items accounted for, they are packed together and sent on their way.
- Shipping: finally, the order is either sent to a shipping company that will handle the items for the rest of the journey or shipped directly from the warehouse to the customer, depending on the business’s logistics processes.
Benefits of Pick-and-Pack for Businesses
You might ask the obvious question, why should I choose this method over every other one out there? These are a few of the many benefits of the pick-and-pack process:
Improved Order Accuracy
While this depends heavily on how you organize your warehouse, few methods compete with the accuracy of pick-and-pack. Simply put, pick-and-pack’s framework leads to greater order accuracy which, in turn, means fewer orders will be returned or refunded. Fewer returns mean less extra work for the warehouse and higher customer satisfaction.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Since pick-and-pack calls for an organized inventory, fulfillment happens at a breakneck pace with everything in its place. Turnaround can happen so quickly that orders can be picked, packed, and shipped in less than a day.
An efficient order fulfillment process can drive costs down significantly through quick turnaround, organized inventory, and strong communication throughout the warehouse. In addition to saving money on fulfillment costs, you’ll save time with a streamlined workflow, increasing the volume your warehouse can handle and customer satisfaction, equating to higher sales.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Though customers enjoy shorter shipping times, an excellent pick-and-pack-friendly warehouse management system will make order tracking much more accurate. This also puts customers’ minds at ease, being able to watch their order’s progress and be impressed by your team’s speed.
Challenges of Pick-and-Pack
Despite all the benefits of the pick-and-pack process, it has its fair share of challenges.
While pick-and-pack has many cost benefits, the system requires workers with excellent communication skills and an eye for detail. One unchecked mistake can cause cascading issues, grinding the warehouse to a halt until the chaos is addressed.
Picking the right software and hardware can be the difference between succeeding and failing. Because this process relies so heavily on keeping everything organized and efficient, careful planning has to go into integrating the right systems. Even after integration, your chosen system will need maintenance and updates to ensure it works effectively.
Depending on what you’re storing and selling, seasonality can significantly affect workloads. While higher demand can be a boon for business, inconsistent work demand can negatively affect your staff. Moreover, improper inventory management and accounting for seasonal changes can cause further issues like shortages, miscommunication, and misplacement.
Useful Pick-and-Pack Strategies
You will want to employ a few valuable strategies to minimize the problems and maximize the benefits. Here are some ways to do just that:
An essential part of the process is keeping everyone on the same page. By creating a standard operating procedure that every team member adheres to, you ensure that everyone knows their part and how it affects the whole process. The next step is ensuring the system is implemented and followed correctly. This is where quality control processes come in. Eventually, the business might evolve and grow, and during these times, you should continue to optimize and improve the process continuously.
Nowadays, we have access to incredible technology that can help automate work for you and your business. This goes beyond just the systems you use to organize products and manage orders. With the proper research, you can automate more aspects of the process to relieve stress on both the business and workers.
Training and Development
Even though you might automate some parts of the process, many parts will still need a human touch. More than anything else, these workers must be trained and developed if you want your business to have longevity. By investing in your employees, your business will benefit tenfold as time goes on. In addition, provide feedback and performance metrics to help show employees areas they can improve, thus creating a space for continuous learning.
Setup Your Pick-and-Pack Process with UCanTrade
Keeping your customers happy, inventory in order, and fulfillment team sane during the holiday season doesn’t have to be overwhelming. While there are plenty of other methods to manage warehouse workflows, the pick-and-pack method is one of the most straightforward.