The Picking List: A Tool for Streamlined Order Fulfillment


In ecommerce, every second counts when it comes to order fulfillment. From the moment a customer clicks purchase to the moment their order arrives at their doorstep, efficiency is key. And at the heart of this efficiency lies a seemingly simple yet powerful tool: the picking list.

But what exactly is a picking list, and how does it work? In essence, it’s a roadmap for your warehouse pickers, guiding them through the process of retrieving the correct items for each customer order. It typically includes information like order numbers, SKUs (stock keeping units), quantities, barcode numbers, and warehouse locations. Armed with this information, pickers can navigate the warehouse with confidence, ensuring accurate and speedy order fulfillment.

Beyond the Basics: Different Picking List Types and Methods

While the core function of a picking list remains the same, there are different types and methods to consider depending on your specific needs and warehouse operations. Here are some common options:

  • Single-order picking: This method involves picking items for one order at a time, ideal for low-volume orders or high-value items.
  • Batch picking: This method involves grouping multiple orders together based on specific criteria (e.g., location) for more efficient picking.
  • Zone picking: This method divides the warehouse into zones and assigns pickers to specific zones, reducing travel time and increasing efficiency.
  • Wave picking: This method groups orders into waves based on a preset schedule, allowing for synchronized picking and packing.

Is your 3PL not meeting SLAs?

Our dedicated account managers can help optimize your inventory management and track delivery performance, so you can work on growing your business.

More blog posts  ›

Digital vs. Physical Picking Lists

Traditionally, picking lists have been paper-based, requiring manual updates and prone to errors. However, the rise of digital pick lists, often integrated with warehouse management systems (WMS), is transforming the game. These digital versions offer several advantages:

  • Real-time updates: Inventory levels and order details are automatically updated, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.
  • Multiple device compatibility: Pickers can access lists on tablets, smartphones, or dedicated picking devices, improving mobility and flexibility.
  • Error reduction: Features like barcode scanning and voice picking minimize the risk of picking errors.
  • Data insights: Digital pick lists provide valuable data on picking performance, enabling continuous improvement.

Choosing the Right Picking List for You

The ideal picking list solution depends on several factors, including your order volume, warehouse layout, budget, and technological capabilities. Consider these questions:

  • What is your average order size and volume?
  • How is your warehouse organized?
  • What is your budget for picking technology?
  • Do you have a WMS in place?

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the picking list solution that best optimizes your order fulfillment process and drives customer satisfaction.

FAQs: Demystifying Picking Lists

What information should a picking list include?

  • A picking list typically includes order number, SKU, quantity, barcode number, warehouse location, and sometimes customer information.

What are the benefits of using digital picking lists?

  • Digital picking lists offer real-time updates, improved accuracy, faster picking times, and valuable data insights.

How can I improve my picking accuracy?

  • Implement digital pick lists, use barcode scanners or voice picking, and provide clear training for your pickers.

What are some common picking list mistakes?

  • Picking the wrong items, missing items, and inaccurate quantities are all common errors. Digital pick lists and proper training can help minimize these mistakes.

Bottom Line: The Picking List - Your Key to Order Fulfillment Success

A well-designed picking list is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a strategic tool that can significantly impact your order fulfillment efficiency and customer satisfaction. By understanding the different types, methods, and benefits of picking lists, you can choose the solution that best fits your needs and empowers your warehouse to achieve new levels of accuracy and speed. 

If you are looking for help with your order fulfillment operations we’d love to hear from you. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support. Send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow.

Need a Reliable 3PL?

We’ve been in business for over 40 years. Let us know how we can help your company grow.

More blog posts  ›