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E-commerce Logistics: The Role of Pick and Pack Fulfillment

Phuc Le
September 4, 2023

Within the intricate web of order fulfillment processes, pick and pack holds a crucial place. In the realm of successful e-commerce order fulfillment, the scope extends far beyond mere doorstep delivery. It encompasses warehousing, inventory management, the intricate choreography of picking and packing, and the meticulous processing of returns. E-commerce order fulfillment, therefore, emerges as a comprehensive orchestration of backend operations that spans from order receipt to prompt delivery at the customer's doorstep.

Embedded within the warehousing domain, the pick and pack process comes to life after an order is placed through an online store. A choreographed sequence of steps unfolds, each with the overarching aim of precise order fulfillment, executed with efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and time optimization. This process becomes a critical nexus where products transition from their warehouse abode to their final journey to the customers.

Let’s get into more details about the pick and pack fulfillment process in e-commerce:



The terms "Picking order" and "Packing order" phases in e-commerce fulfillment are substantiated by data illustrating their operational and customer-facing significance. By optimizing accuracy in picking and elevating the packaging experience, businesses can not only enhance their operational efficiency but also foster positive brand interactions with their customers.

Picking Order:

The initial stage, known as picking order or "picking," assumes significance as research underscores its impact on operational efficiency. According to a study by the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), picking typically accounts for around 55% of total warehouse operating costs. The efficiency of the picking process is paramount. The Aberdeen Group's research highlights that top performers in picking accuracy boast a 99.6% accuracy rate, showcasing the tangible benefits of precision. Automated picking technologies have also demonstrated their worth, with a report by MHI finding that companies using automated picking systems reported a 10% increase in accuracy.

Pack Order:

The subsequent phase, referred to as pack order or "packing," presents an equally critical juncture, supported by empirical insights. A report by Dotcom Distribution reveals that 40% of consumers are more likely to share images of well-packaged deliveries on social media, underscoring the impact of packaging on brand perception. In the realm of consumer expectations, a study by Dotcom Distribution indicates that 68% of consumers believe that branded packaging makes a brand appear more upscale. Beyond aesthetics, the efficiency of the packing process matters. A study by the National Retail Federation highlights that 69% of retailers expect the growth of e-commerce to drive greater use of third-party fulfillment providers, often valued for their packing proficiency.



Picture the pick and pack process like crafting a well-organized suitcase: you choose clothes from your closet, arrange and neatly pack them in your luggage. However, pick and pack fulfillment is far more intricate than this simple analogy suggests. It's a multifaceted operation that involves careful planning, efficient execution, and strategic adaptation.

While initially gathering items for orders and packing them might suffice, the complexity grows as your business scales. Embracing diverse pick and pack strategies becomes essential to handle escalating order volumes. The choice of strategy depends on factors such as the size of your business and the nature of the products you handle.

Let's explore some common strategies that fulfillment warehouses employ for the pick and pack process:

1. Types of Picking Strategies
  • Piece Picking: Ideal for smaller businesses, this straightforward method involves pickers retrieving items for a single order individually, followed by packing them. It's a simple approach best suited for businesses with limited operations.
  • Batch Picking: This method groups orders into batches, with each batch containing items that are located in the same warehouse area. It's efficient for businesses handling multiple orders simultaneously.
  • Zone Picking: Larger warehouses benefit from zone picking, where each picker is assigned a specific warehouse area to pick items for one order at a time. The order moves through different zones until it's completely picked.
  • Wave Picking: Combining aspects of batch and zone picking, wave picking involves workers picking items in a specific zone for a batch of orders. This streamlines the process by allowing pickers to focus on a single zone before passing it on.
  • Cluster Picking: Perfect for fulfilling multiple orders simultaneously, cluster picking involves pickers collecting items from different orders into separate containers. This approach minimizes back-and-forth travel.
2. Type of Packaging Strategies
  • Primary Packaging: The initial layer of packaging that directly contacts the product. It's designed to preserve and protect the product while conveying essential information to the end consumer.
  • Secondary Packaging: The layer outside the primary packaging, often used to create a stock-keeping unit (SKU) by grouping smaller products. It provides added protection to the primary packaging and may serve as a container for smaller shipments.
  • Tertiary Packaging: Used for transporting larger quantities of SKUs, tertiary packaging ensures products remain undamaged during transportation. It's vital for efficient handling, storage, and transportation of bulk shipments.



When orchestrating the blueprint of a pick and pack warehouse, flexibility and functionality take the lead. Beyond the physical space allocation for inventory, the focal point is enhancing productivity, maximizing spatial utilization, and curbing operational expenses.

1. Receiving and Storing Inventory:

The cornerstone of a seamless warehousing process lies in an efficient inventory receiving system. Swift and meticulous handling of incoming stock is imperative to maintain stock control accuracy and operational efficiency. Depending on your product spectrum, the arsenal includes storage shelves, bins, palettes, and robust lifting equipment. A well-executed inventory intake not only safeguards stock quality but also sets the tone for downstream processes.

2. Inventory Tracking:

Beyond reception, maintaining an accurate inventory status is pivotal. A manual approach might suffice for limited orders, but scalability demands an advanced inventory tracking system. Data-driven insights from companies such as McKinsey highlight that improved inventory management can lead to a 10-30% reduction in carrying costs. By investing in inventory management software, real-time tracking becomes feasible, ensuring optimal stock levels and addressing customer demands effectively.

3. Warehouse Picking:

The heartbeat of efficient warehouse operations lies in an effective picking workflow. A harmonious picking process hinges on thoughtful warehouse setup. Reducing picker movement, issuing clear picking lists, providing location guidance, and implementing strategic picking approaches are integral. According to the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), effective picking processes result in a 99.9% accuracy rate. The layout should be orchestrated to expedite and ensure the precision of the picking process.

4. Shipping:

Concluding the fulfillment cycle, the shipping phase's efficiency is pivotal to customer satisfaction. A well-designed warehouse optimizes space for product aggregation and loading onto delivery vehicles. Alternatively, partnering with shipping carriers reinforces timely deliveries. Statistics from Statista indicate that 63% of online shoppers expect three to four days of shipping. Thus, seamless shipping workflows and transparent tracking mechanisms uphold the promise of prompt and reliable deliveries.

In the ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce, a harmonious pick and pack warehouse design encapsulates strategic foresight. Embracing adaptable layouts and cutting-edge technologies doesn't just translate to efficient processes; it ensures a customer-centric journey from order placement to delivery.



1. Cost Savings at Scale

Choosing to outsource pick and pack operations to a Fulfillment center comes with costs, but it's a strategic move that can yield significant long-term savings. Contrarily, in-house fulfillment tends to be costlier and less efficient over time. Leveraging the extensive network of a Fulfillment provider enables access to industry contacts and the ability to negotiate favorable shipping rates, ultimately reducing overall fulfillment expenses.

2. Industry Proficiency

Collaborating with a Fulfillment center empowers e-commerce enterprises to tap into specialized industry expertise that might not have been feasible to build in-house. Unlike internal operations that have multiple focuses, 3PLs exclusively center on distribution, fulfillment, and shipping. This focused approach equips them with the adeptness and experience required to excel in these critical supply chain functions.

3. Seamless Scalability

A pivotal incentive for e-commerce businesses to entrust pick and pack responsibilities to a 3PL is the facilitation of business expansion. Partnering with a third-party fulfillment provider grants access to a robust logistical infrastructure, allowing companies to scale their fulfillment and distribution activities without the need for extensive capital investment in facilities and infrastructure.

4. Elevated Customer Satisfaction

The culmination of these benefits culminates in a streamlined, effective, and precise fulfillment process that directly influences customer satisfaction. The reliability of a 3PL ensures timely deliveries, amplifying the overall customer experience and subsequently driving enhanced sales. This positive feedback loop of efficient fulfillment, content customers, and increased sales reinforces the value of selecting a 3PL center for pick and pack services.

Pick and pack fulfillment is pivotal in e-commerce, necessitating entrepreneurs' comprehensive understanding. When seeking a fulfillment partner, awareness of essential factors is crucial.


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