As an online shop operator, whether you build your own online shop (on Shopify, Shopline, etc.), consign via a large online shop (such as HKTVmall), or even just open a shop on basic social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.), you will still enter the “Pick and Pack” process of the ecommerce process after your customers place orders. Establishing a solid “picking and packaging” mechanism is definitely an important factor in determining the success of your online store.
What is “Picking and Packaging”?
After receiving an order in your online store, the “picking and packaging” process will be carried out in your goods warehouse(s). Picking refers to picking an appropriate quantity of goods from the corresponding location in the warehouse according to what has been ordered. Packaging means to put the goods together with the appropriate packaging materials and documents into an appropriate box or boxes, then labelling them for delivery to customers.
The process of “picking and packaging” must be simplified in order to effectively reduce e-commerce logistical costs. Though it seems simple, an efficient “picking and packaging” method actually carries many complicated steps behind it. Understanding these methods and strategies can help shop owners further develop and grow their business, whether you are running a small handmade online store or a full-fledged online marketplace.
Different Picking Methods
When picking goods, the labor required to complete orders should be minimized. In modern logistics warehouses, there are a few different picking methods as listed below:
When an order is received, the warehouse staff will go to different shelves to pick up various goods by hand, collect them and send them to the packaging department. This is the simplest and most direct way of picking goods. It is generally only suitable for very small online stores that receive only a few orders per day.
If there are enough orders for a given store, the orders can be organized into batches for picking, meaning that warehouse employees can process several orders at the same time. If several orders contain the same few goods, warehouse employees can save a lot of time by picking the matching goods up all at once.
Suitable for large online store warehouses. Employees are assigned to specific areas of the warehouse, pick up the goods in their area for each order, and then forward the order to personnel in the next area. This method is very efficient, but because it involves such complex coordination, it often requires the cooperation of both hardware (such as conveyor belts) and software (warehouse management software).
Zone picking combined with batch picking. Employees pick a batch of orders in a specific area, and then transfer the batch to the next area for picking.
Packaging Tips / Notes
Packaging refers to the placement of goods in a packing box or box of appropriate size, together with the corresponding necessary packaging materials to ensure that the goods are not damaged during the transportation and arrival process. In order to reduce transportation costs, the goods in the same order should be packed in the fewest boxes possible. Many warehousing management systems can automatically provide suitable estimates of packaging box selections for each order’s contents. The following are some precautions for proper packaging, which can significantly reduce errors, return and transportation costs.
- It is important to fill packing boxes with enough materials to properly protect the goods, while still using the smallest packing box possible to reduce transportation weight and cost.
- Before packing, employees should rescan the goods in each order to ensure that the goods put in the box are the same as those on the order.
- Don’t let packers guess the needed box sizes. Instead, use picking and packaging software to calculate the box size required for each order.
- For each order, packers should be given clear instructions regarding packaging methods, so that they can quickly identify the appropriate packaging materials and improve the overall efficiency of picking and packaging.
How to Choose a Third-Party Logistics Company for “Picking and Packaging”
Many online stores choose to use the “picking and packaging” logistics services provided by third-party logistics (3PL) to improve their operations. Because the entire “picking and packaging” process is fully automated this way, it not only reduces costs and increases efficiency, but also allows shop owners to focus on business development without having to deal with complex logistical matters. Additionally, in terms of storage, 3PL companies can also provide high-quality warehouses that are charged only according to the actual usage of the company, so that online stores do not have to bear expensive long-term warehouse rental fees. However, when choosing a third-party logistics agency for picking and packaging, online stores should take note of the following points:
1. Flexibility of Service: Can the third-party logistics company handle a large variety of products and quantities while picking and packaging? Whether you need to send a few items per week or hundreds of items per day, can they provide you with a reasonable price and custom service?
2. Goods Bundling and Special Packaging: Can the third-party logistics company provide goods bundling services by pre-assemble different goods into a package at your request? This can greatly reduce costs and increase efficiency when promoting sales periods for your online store. In addition, can they provide special packaging (such as distinct brand packaging, commemorative packaging, gift packaging, etc.) according to your needs?
3. Delivery Efficiency: Can the third-party logistics company provide morning orders with afternoon delivery services? Or can they provide delivery within 24 hours for all orders if needed?
4. Diversity of Transportation Services: Can the third-party logistics company handle both local and overseas transportation? Do they offer flexible pricing and shipping options? Can express delivery services be provided when necessary?
5. Quick Service Responses: Online stores need to respond to rapidly changing market conditions, emerging products and customer needs. When you need to change shipping instructions or make sudden changes to orders, can the third-party logistics company respond to and cooperate with you immediately? You should choose a logistics company that can provide efficient and easy-to-use cloud inventory management, as well as a service team with personnel that can respond to you as quickly as possible.
Boxful’s online store logistics service can provide tailor-made “picking and packaging” services for your online store. Regardless of the size of your online store, or whether you have your own website or consign on HKTVMall, Boxful Fulfillment can serve as a one-stop solution for your picking, packaging and delivery needs, improving your business efficiency and reducing costs as well. If you’d like to learn more, please contact our online store logistics consultant.
Further readings：[Online Store Strategies] 5 Major Benefits of Using an Online Store Logistics Service
Further readings：[Online Store Strategies] 7 E-Commerce Tools and Platforms That Start-Up Online Store Must Use
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