Warehouse Management Terms and Acronyms Ecommerce Brands Need to Know


If you are an ecommerce business outsourcing your fulfillment and logistics, you’ll probably hear your 3PL or operations team use many terms and acronyms that are unfamiliar to you.  

For those who work in a warehouse, they have an especially specific set of words and concepts they’ll use because of the specialty work they do and the equipment they use.  

This list is nowhere near exhaustive. Various industries may have other terms specific to their own operations, these are some of the most used warehouse management terms you may come across.  


A logistics strategy where incoming goods are immediately unloaded from an inbound shipment and loaded onto an outbound shipment with minimal storage time in the warehouse. Cross-docking reduces handling and storage costs. 

Cycle Count 

A periodic inventory counting method where a subset of inventory items is counted on a regular basis to ensure accurate inventory levels and identify discrepancies. A cycle count differs from a physical inventory count, which requires counting every unit in the warehouse—a more intensive process, but also a more accurate inventory counting method. 

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FIFO (First In, First Out)  

FIFO is a method of inventory management where the oldest stock is sold or used first, ensuring that goods are used or shipped in the order they were received. This approach minimizes the risk of product expiration or obsolescence. 

Inventory Management 

The process of overseeing and controlling the movement and storage of goods within a warehouse, including tracking stock levels, organizing inventory locations, and managing stock replenishment. 

Labeling and Sortation 

After a package is ready to be shipped a shipping label must be applied to ensure it reaches the correct destination. This often happens via automation—in smaller operations will be done manually.  

Packages are then sorted to be picked up from the warehouse—they may get sorted by carrier, or pickups to happen at certain times of day. Some warehouses will need to sort out various types of pickups like retail, B2B, or international, these packages will go to a retail store, a distribution center, or another carrier like a freight forwarder.


The process of preparing items for shipment includes packing all components into the box, adding appropriate packaging and packing materials, and including any supplemental materials like flyers, stickers, or branded assets to the box.  

Applying tape and packing materials may happen at the same picking station, a different packing station, or via an automated tape machine. Some ecommerce companies may choose to have branded tape put on manually, whereas others may opt for standard packaging to be applied with automation to lower costs and time on the line. 


Selecting and collecting items from their designated storage locations within the warehouse to fulfill customer orders or transfer to other areas within the supply chain. 


This signifies the combined process of picking items from their storage locations and immediately packing them into shipping containers or packaging materials, reducing handling time and increasing order fulfillment speed. 


The process of assigning a specific location within the warehouse for newly received items or restocking inventory, ensuring efficient storage and easy retrieval. This is an essential function for ecommerce brands who have new stock and returned merchandise coming into the warehouse daily. 


Accepting and inspecting incoming shipments is usually its own department. Processing goods that come into the warehouse requires verifying the quantity and quality of the received items and updating inventory records accordingly. 


The process of restocking inventory to maintain optimal stock levels. Replenishment may be triggered by reaching predetermined reorder points or through demand forecasting.  

Reverse Logistics 

The management of the process for handling returned or defective merchandise, including their transportation, disposition, repair, or disposal. 


The process of arranging and executing the transportation of goods from the warehouse to the customer or another destination, involving carrier selection, load planning, and tracking. 

SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)  

A unique identifier assigned to a specific product or item within the inventory. SKUs are used to track and manage inventory levels accurately throughout a warehouse and sometimes beyond. 

Warehouse Management System (WMS)  

A software application that helps manage and control warehouse operations, including inventory management, order fulfillment, picking, packing, and shipping. 



If you are looking for a fulfillment provider with modern tools and an automated warehouse, at DCL Logistics we adapt and iterate when and where necessary to help give our customers a competitive edge. Reach out for a quote or to hear more about how we can help your brand scale.