What Is a Shipping List?

Lori Kilchermann

A shipping list, or a packing list, as it is often called, is a statement from a shipper describing all of the components of a shipped order. Commonly describing the contents of the order by size, color and quantity as well as the date the order was received and shipped, the shipping list also explains any changes to the order such as back orders or out-of-stock items. The shipping list provides the consumer with a written record of the transaction and provides information needed to follow up on the order with the shipper. In order to verify that a customer has received a correct shipment, the delivery can be cross-referenced with the shipping list, and any discrepancy can be brought to the delivery driver's attention and verified to ensure the shipper will reship the item and correct the shortage.

The shipping list outlines all of an order's components.
The shipping list outlines all of an order's components.

Many times, the shipping list is also the customer's order sheet. Once the customer fills out the order form and sends it to the manufacturer, a picker takes the sheet and pulls the proper items from inventory and boxes them to ship. The order form accompanies the order to the customer's home along with the order. Once delivered, the driver will typically allow the customer to check the contents of the delivery against the order form/shipping list and ensure that the items have arrived in good condition and as ordered.

Items in a shipment are listed on a packing slip.
Items in a shipment are listed on a packing slip.

In the event that an item requires return, the shipping list will usually need to be returned with the order to verify what the customer's complaint actually is. In many instances, on a back-ordered item, a duplicate invoice will be sent with the initial shipment while the original invoice is kept to accompany the remainder of the order. A thorough explanation for the cause of the back order as well as the expected time of the order's completion will be included with the initial invoice. Often, a store credit or coupon will also be included with the invoice as a courtesy to apologize for the delay in completing the order.

It is very important to have the delivery driver sign the shipping list when a return is inevitable. This verifies that an issue with the order exists and that it stems from the actions of the shipper. Any return initiated after the package has been signed for and the driver has left can be blamed on actions of the receiver and not covered by the shipper or any shipping insurance.

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