To ensure that you're meeting the increasing demands of your customers, you may need a packing and shipping solution that is both scalable and cost effective. In this article, we'll help you understand one of the most popular fulfillment services used in the industry today: pick and pack.

Definition of Pick and Pack Fulfillment

Pick and pack fulfillment (also known as pick pack and ship) involves a warehouse picker selecting (or picking) one or more items from a location in a warehouse. The items are then arranged (or packed) in a single box with relevant packing materials and documentation before being shipped to fulfill a customer's e-commerce order.

Components of Pick and Pack Fulfillment

1. Receiving an order

This is the starting point of any pick and pack fulfillment process. An order is typically received via an order processing system and is passed through warehouse management software (WMS). To manage the order, a packing slip will be created to highlight the total number of items that need to be picked to fulfill each order.

2. Picking items for an order

Once the packing list has been finalized, the warehouse picker(s) responsible for the order will have to visit one or more locations within the warehouse to locate and retrieve the relevant products. Additionally, they may need to scan each item using a barcode scanner to update the order in the WMS.

3. Packing items for the order

After all the items have been picked, workers at the packing station will need to carefully place, seal, and label all items in their respective packaging materials. Final checks will also be made to ensure the accuracy of each order.

4. Shipping an order

Finally, the order is ready to be shipped. The shipping process will involve careful planning on the part of both the fulfillment center and courier, ensuring that they prioritize the correct orders.

Overview of Picking Methods

The vast majority of warehouse expenses happen in the picking stage, with estimates suggesting that it makes up nearly 55% of all operating costs. As a result, to minimize waste, multiple picking methods have been developed to fit the requirements of differently-sized businesses.

1. Piece Picking

Piece picking, or single-order picking, involves a single warehouse worker picking individual items for a single order by visiting different locations in a warehouse. As it's a simple picking method, it's tailor-made for retailers with smaller order volumes. On the other hand, piece picking is fairly time-intensive, making it ill-suited for retailers aiming to scale.

2. Batch Picking

Batch picking, also known as multi-order picking, is when a single picker picks items for multiple orders at once when visiting different warehouse locations. This method is ideal for businesses with a high volume of orders and need to reduce the time spent on picking. However, as it is significantly more complex than piece picking, it is advised to invest in warehouse management system (WMS) software to help them pick and manage the various orders.

3. Zone Picking

Zone picking involves multiple warehouse pickers picking items for an order. However, each picker will only pick items from an assigned location in the warehouse, or zone. Depending on the order, a packing slip will move through multiple zones until the order is complete. Once all items have been picked, the completed order will be passed on to the packing station.

Zone picking is most suitable for retailers with a high volume of orders. Much like batch picking, warehouse management software is used to help pickers manage orders.

4. Wave Picking

Wave picking is a method of picking multiple orders across different zones at the same time. A WMS will identify similar clusters of orders and release them at the same time for picking. Warehouse pickers will then work in their zones to pick the correct items, before consolidating the orders at the packing stage.

This is arguably the most complex of the pick and pack methods, and as such, this method is recommended for large retailers with high orders.

Challenges of Pick and Pack Fulfillment Services

Warehouse Layout

The pick and pack process can be significantly affected by the layout of your pick and pack fulfillment center. For example, if items are not in the correct zone then a picker may spend more time searching for them, leading to picker fatigue and an increase in the turn-around time for your orders.

Outdated Monitoring Systems

The efficiency pick and pack provides may suffer by not investing in tech-based warehouse monitoring solutions. For instance, suppose you want to track the progress of an order in real time, but like nearly 40% of fulfillment centers, you don't have a tech-based solution for monitoring supply chains. The lack of visibility means that you may end up relying on processes prone to human error, like paper-based picking, or suffer from inventory errors.

Best Practices For Maximizing Pick and Pack Efficiency

To mitigate the challenges mentioned above, here are some of the actions you should look at to enhance your order picking operations:

Invest in technology: Look at investing in warehouse management systems (WMS) to manage complex order operations and reduce turn-around time between each step of the pick and pack process.

Invest in personnel: Training your pickers can lead to a significant drop in pick time and help motivate pickers to improve their KPIs.

Warehouse layout: Aim to organize your warehouse layout so pickers spend less time looking for items. This can involve color-coding your zones or separating popular/similar items to avoid aisle congestion.


In 2024, an order fulfillment system that can handle consumer needs is vital for your business. But what's equally important is having the right pick and pack warehouse provider. All Points offers advanced pick and pack services designed to optimize your order flows, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction. Partner with us to drive success in your supply chain today.

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