Precision in Every Parcel: Pick and Pack

The pick and pack process is a critical aspect of order fulfillment within the logistics and supply chain management, and it’s a key service provided by Third-Party Logistics (3PL) providers.

Here’s an overview of the typical pick and pack process in a 3PL context:


Receiving and Inventory Storage:

Goods Arrival:
When products arrive at the 3PL warehouse, they are received and checked for accuracy and quality.
Inventory Allocation:
Products are assigned specific locations within the warehouse, often based on factors like size, weight, or demand.

Order Placement and Integration:

Integration with E-commerce Platform:
The 3PL’s systems are integrated with the client’s e-commerce platform or order management system to receive real-time order information.
Order Pooling:
Orders are collected and grouped based on factors such as proximity in the warehouse, similar delivery destinations, or shipping methods to optimize the picking process.
Order Batch Creation: The system generates batches of orders for picking, taking into account factors like the location of items, order deadlines, and delivery schedules.
Zone Picking:
Warehouse staff are assigned specific zones within the warehouse, and each batch is divided among them. This reduces travel time and increases efficiency.
Pick-to-Light or Pick-to-Voice Systems: Some warehouses use technology like pick-to-light or pick-to-voice systems to guide workers to the right products and quantities, minimizing errors.


Quality Control:
Picked items undergo a quality check to ensure they match the order and meet quality standards.

Packaging Selection:
The appropriate packaging materials are selected based on the size, fragility, and other characteristics of the products. This may include custom packaging based on client requirements.

Inserts and Marketing Materials:
Additional inserts, marketing materials, or promotional items may be added to the package.

Weighing and Dimensioning:
Packages are weighed and measured to determine shipping costs accurately.

Shipping Label Generation:

Shipping Information:
The system generates shipping labels with accurate recipient information, shipping method, and tracking numbers.
Carrier Selection:
Based on the client’s preferences and shipping cost considerations, the appropriate carrier is selected.


Shipping Confirmation:
The 3PL notifies the client and the end customer of the shipment, providing tracking information.
Carrier Integration:
Some 3PLs integrate directly with carriers for real-time tracking updates and other logistics information.
International Documentation:
For international shipments, the 3PL manages the necessary customs documentation and compliance.
Returns Management:
Return Authorization: If a customer initiates a return, the 3PL manages the return authorization process, providing instructions for the customer and processing returns upon receipt.
Throughout this process, 3PL providers leverage technology, automation, and skilled personnel to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and timely order fulfillment. The goal is to streamline operations, reduce errors, and enhance the overall customer experience. The specifics of the process can vary based on the 3PL provider’s capabilities and the unique requirements of the client.
Definition of the pick, pack and ship process
1.1. Picking:
In this phase, goods are removed from the shelves of a warehouse according to the printed or digital customer receipt. Fast and error-free picking is important for every company, because efficient picking means excellent customer service. And satisfied customers are usually the decisive factor for competitiveness and thus for sales. The price of inaccurate fulfillment is high: for example, if the wrong components are brought to a production line, the entire fulfillment process comes to a standstill until the right parts can finally be properly provided.
1.2. Packing:
After all the goods have been collected, they are taken to the packaging line. Here, a packer selects the appropriate packaging material, packs, secures and labels the package, and makes it ready for transport.
1.3. Shipping:
After that, the packages are sorted and taken to the loading area. Here they are finally taken over by carriers and shipped to the buyers
What is pick and pack fulfillment?
Pick and pack fulfillment refers to the end-to-end process of receiving, packing, and shipping individual orders to customers. It forms a crucial stage of the wider e-commerce order fulfillment process.

When a customer places an order, the fulfillment center processing the order will send out a request for an operator to “pick” the items required from the warehouse and “pack” them into a box or package for shipment. The pick and pack process can either be handled in-house or outsourced to a third-party logistics provider (3PL) which allows businesses to focus on other aspects of their business. A 3PL will charge brands a pick and pack fee for completing this service, usually per item or order completed.

Although pick and pack fulfillment can appear to be a straightforward process, there’s a lot of strategic planning required to ensure that workflows are efficient and errors are minimized as much as possible. How a warehouse sets up its packing station and picking zones has a huge impact on how easy it is for personnel to locate the right merchandise and select the appropriate packing materials for shipping, ensuring that orders make it to the final destination undamaged.
2. Order picking
When the fulfillment warehouse receives the order, a warehouse worker will be assigned a picking list to retrieve the items from the relevant warehouse shelves or storage facilities. This may require them to visit multiple zones of the warehouse, depending on which picking method is being used.
3. Order packing
Once all of the items have been gathered for an order, they are delivered to the nearest packing station to be prepared for shipping. The operator needs to select the appropriate pack methods according to whether the goods are fragile or require specific handling e.g. hazmat products. The items are then packed into the correct box, along with any necessary packing materials, such as bubble wrap or foam.
The packing process may be fast or lengthy, depending on the demands of the products and any additional requirements listed by the brand. AI pack software may be used by larger fulfillment warehouses to make recommendations for packing methods to help speed up the process.
4. Order shipping
Once the order has been packaged, it needs to be correctly labeled to meet the requirements of the parcel carrier and service level. Packages are also weighed at this stage to make sure that the business can save money on shipping.
Shipping processes are one of the most complex and costly e-commerce fulfillment services, thanks to the tension between shipping costs and speed. The expectation for free shipping has put pressure on brands to shoulder higher carrier fees, making a streamlined pick and pack operation essential for cost-effective order fulfillment.
Naturally, the pick and pack fulfillment process will vary depending on the specific needs and requirements of the business and the fulfillment provider. Some fulfillment centers may also offer additional services such as assembly or customization of products, returns handling, and more.
In addition to an automated order fulfillment system that aids in scrupulous picking & packing, we have the bandwidth to fulfill up to 10,000 orders daily. We don’t believe in charging for unused services, so, with ShipMonk, you’ll only pay for what you use. That is, if you ship one product in one month, you’ll only pay the pick & pack fee for that one product. It’s that simple.

When you partner with a 3PL for pick and pack fulfillment services, your 3PL handles everything from the moment the order is placed to when the package is given to the carrier (e.g., UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.) for shipment.
Order information is fed to your logistics partner’s warehouse management system (WMS). This commonly occurs via an integration between your eCommerce platform (e.g., Amazon, Shopify, Magento, Big Commerce) and your 3PL. This WMS is a software application that handles all operations of the fulfillment warehouse, including inventory management. After the order is received, it’s time for the order to be picked, packed, and shipped.
The Pick.
Once an order is received by the WMS, the system directs warehouse associates to “pick” the ordered items from inventory. The WMS is programmed to assign the most efficient picking pattern to associates to reduce walking distance and overlap, and therefore to minimize labor costs. The picked items for each order are scanned by the warehouse associate (which updates inventory in the WMS) and set aside for packaging.
The Pack.
After being picked, each order’s items are compiled and placed – along with dunnage and any other extra materials (e.g., promotional materials) – into the appropriate box or bag. The printed shipping label is then affixed. Quality Assurance (QA) measures take place at this stage to ensure that what was ordered is what was picked. QA checks include order accuracy, packaging appropriateness, and labeling accuracy. Once QA is complete, the finished packages are staged for carrier pickup.
The Ship.
You might have your own agreements with parcel shipping partners, or you may rely on your 3PL to manage parcel shipping on your behalf. If your volumes are modest, there could be a significant cost benefit to shipping under your 3PL’s negotiated agreements with carriers. Some 3PLs can negotiate rates based on their aggregate volume across many different clients. You may be able to piggyback on these rates to reduce your parcel costs, which will be the largest portion, by far, of your total fulfillment costs.