Pick, Pack, and Ship Services: What to KnowPatrick Newman
SabeRex excels at providing a comprehensive suite of services that allow manufacturers to focus on improving their products and core competencies. One service that has seen a marked increase in interest is our pick, pack, and ship services. Pick, pack, and ship refers to a type of order fulfillment where products are taken from a larger storage container (picked), packed together with other products (packed), and then shipped out to fulfill the order (shipped). This type of fulfillment has seen a dramatic increase in use due to the rise in ecommerce.
Despite its simple name, there is a lot that goes into the planning and execution of these services and it’s worth manufacturers’ time investigating whether they benefit from outsourcing this important function.
Why contract pick, pack, and ship services?
The need for pick, pack, and ship services begins in the same way companies need broader warehousing services – once the volume or variety of the products needing delivery grow to a point where their fulfillment detracts from the main focus of the manufacturer. Partnering with a company that specializes in fulfillment services can help manufacturers meet the strict timing and accuracy that is now expected in both B2B and B2C environments.
Companies that focus on fulfillment services have invested in the space, location, software, relationships and organizational systems that ensure complex orders make it to the right place at the right time.
The methods involved
To explain the various methods employed by fulfillment centers, it helps to first break down pick, pack, and ship services into their constituent parts.
Picking refers to the process of efficiently retrieving individual items from where they are stored prior to being ordered and efficiently moving them to a packaging area.
Packing refers to not only physically placing the individual items from an order into packaging, but also adding the packing slips and shipping labels.
Shipping involves the relationships between the fulfillment center and the various carriers that will take the packed product to its destination while also handling order and inventory updates once the product has left the facility.
With these now defined, it is worth detailing the different methods companies use to organize and move the different products through their systems.
Piece picking is likely what any operation will employ when they start out and are working with small volumes. With this method, an individual employee will fulfill one order at a time, picking and packing all the items as they go.
Batch picking adds a level of efficiency to the equation. It still involves one individual who is still performing both picking and packing, but fulfills multiple orders at a time, bringing boxes along each aisle. For a mental image, picture how personal shopping services work at retail chains and grocery stores.
Zone picking is the first method that should be considered for high volume fulfillment. In this system, the warehouse is divided into zones with products being organized either by size, weight, type, or SKU. An employee is then assigned to a zone where they are responsible for only picking from that area and then passing those products through the other zones and along to a dedicated packing area. The products can be transported either by hand or other means, like a conveyor belt.
Wave picking is a blend of zone and batch picking where someone picks for batches of orders, within the confines of an assigned zone.
How to choose a partner
There’s a number of factors that go into choosing a partner to fulfill these services and they mainly revolve around the volume and variety of product you are trying to have delivered. With the info above, manufacturers can see how a fulfillment center is organized and if that system is right for their product.
In addition to this, it’s worth checking to see if the company provides white label service, custom packaging and bulk discounts on the amount of product moved. At SabeRex, we’d invite you to also look beyond pure fulfillment needs and consider the value in a partner that can handle the larger picture. Our integrated logistics services can be augmented with system integration and our value-add configuration services to provide a turnkey solution for any manufacturer, from sourcing, to building and onto fulfillment.