Pick and pack is a straightforward approach to filling customer orders that utilizes a minimum number of steps in order to expedite the order fulfillment process. Essentially, this strategy calls for receiving a customer order at the warehouse level, selecting or picking the items required to fill the order, and immediately packing those items and scheduling the shipment. In order to make the process as efficient as possible, many companies make use of warehouse management systems that can readily identify the location of specific goods within the warehouses and allow the order pickers to quickly collect the items needed to fill an order.
The success of the pick and pack approach depends heavily on the organization of the warehouse space and observance of specific procedures that are designed to expedite the order fulfillment process. To this end, both small and large companies typically make use of technology to manage the process. This includes the use of software programs to track inventory, prepare shipping lists, and create invoices for the filled orders. In some cases, automated systems also handle the process of interacting with shippers to schedule pickups as soon as the order is ready, a feature that can often help to reduce the lag time between the preparation of the package and getting the order on the way to the customer.
Since the pick and pack approach is often used to manage orders of all sizes, the process must allow for orders that include different combinations of goods as well as different quantities of those goods. To aid in this process, many systems today include software that helps to identify the right type of packaging to use for each order. This approach saves time because packers do not have to find the right size shipping container through trial and error. Instead, the right size container is selected up front, making it easier to quickly assemble the items for the customer order and arrange the shipment.
Smaller companies may use a manual pick and pack system. This is particularly true for businesses that maintain a relatively small number of finished goods or that offer a limited range of items for sale. Here, the pick and pack process is often streamlined to allow a packer to use a handcart or similar device to literally wheel a packing case through the warehouse, select the items for a given order, then return to a shipping area to finish the packing, prepare the packing list, and label the box for shipment.