What is a Picking List?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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A picking list is a document that is often used to pull particular items in specific quantities from an inventory. The pulled items are either routed to a production floor for use in a manufacturing effort or to fulfill an order placed by a customer. While the detail found on the list varies, the information is usually sufficient to document the activity so that tracking systems within the overall operational structure of the business are updated to reflect the disbursements from inventory.

When a picking list is used to locate and pull goods to fulfill an order placed by a client, the list often acts as the authorization to remove the goods from inventory. Once the list is used to physically locate and move the goods to the order fulfillment area, that same list can be used to update the inventory records. With some systems, the picking list is actually generated in the inventory database, placing the ordered items into a holding pattern until it is confirmed that the goods have been pulled and are now in the possession of the order fulfillment department. At that point, the detail on the picking list will be matched with the purchase order of the customer, and a packing list is generated to accompany the ordered goods to their destination.


In a similar manner, a picking list may be generated in order to pull specific items for use internally, such as on a production floor. With this application, the line items on the list are often created using details found on a departmental requisition form. As with fulfilling customer orders, the items are pulled and routed to the department that places the requisition, transferring both the quantities and the costs to that department. Once receipt of the items are acknowledged, they are deducted from the inventory stock, making it possible to always maintain an accurate inventory of what goods are on hand and when certain items need to be reordered from vendors.

It is possible to use a picking list in just about any type of business setting. Even offices may use lists of this type to requisition office supplies from a central supply area within the company, or make use of the picking list to pull items for delivery to the customers who order them. As a tool that aids in creating a document trail for both internal and external transactions, the value of the list cannot be overestimated.


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Post 4

@StarJo - That would be terrible! Our office is much less organized. Our picking list consists of post-it notes!

Every time we get tape, paper, or pens from the supply closet, we have to leave a brightly colored sticky note tacked onto the inside of the door listing what we took. This is an okay system, because we get what we need when we need it, but sometimes those notes fall off and slip onto the floor, where they stick to the bottom of people’s shoes.

I usually just take a quick glance over the supplies whenever I’m in there and leave a note stating what we are low on, even if I didn’t take any of that item. Other people do this too, and it helps keep the closet stocked.

Post 3

The bosses at my office keep a picking list of the supplies they have on hand in a huge closet near the center of the building. No one is allowed to remove so much as a box of paper clips without consulting with them so that they can remove it from the list.

I understand that they do this to discourage stealing even in small forms, but it is really inconvenient to run out of staples and be unable to locate a supervisor. If I run out of post-it notes, I can’t leave one on the boss’s desk to let him know, either!

Post 2

The small gift shop where I work utilizes a picking list for web orders. We make all of our things by hand, but even though no two are exactly alike, we categorize the similar ones as though they were.

We sell a lot of fire-hydrant-shaped birdhouses, for example. I use the list as a guideline for when we need to make more to keep them in stock. It can take an entire day from start to finish to make one, so this list is essential.

We also sell a lot of chocolate orange truffles online. The picking list helps me to know when I need to go grocery shopping for more ingredients so that we don’t run low.

Post 1

I work in a distribution center of a large corporation, and I use a computerized picking list every day. The list tells me what to take from the shelves and place on the industrial palett.

I wear an earpiece through which an electronic voice tells me the quantities and order numbers to pick. I have to repeat this information back to the machine to confirm and move along.

The picking list acts as my supervisor in a way. It gives me orders, and I report back to it all day long.

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