Picking and packing are some of the most important steps of the order fulfilment process. However, it is also one of the biggest detriments to efficiency when employees have to spend longer picking multiple items for a single order.
Whilst there are many methods for the picking process, from pick-to-order, zones, wave, cluster, if there are many of the same orders that need to be fulfilled at one time, batch picking is your best bet.
Batch fulfilment is a popular choice among employees and warehouse managers in distribution centres, as it is focused on reducing the required foot travel time inside the warehouse and speeds up the picking process.
This article aims to explain what batch picking or fulfilment batching is, the benefits of this picking strategy, and how the method compares to other popular picking strategies.
The process of fulfilment batching, or batch picking consists of the collection of inventory for a batch of orders that are identical at one time. This allows warehouses and fulfilment centres to increase their operational efficiency as, rather than picking items one order at a time or picking items with different stock keeping units and quantities consecutively, a single picker can pick multiple orders at one time – further reducing repeated trips to the same places.
If there are two commonly ordered together items in a single order that are on opposite sides of the warehouse or fulfilment centre, some of that inventory can be moved to a new area where pickers can collect these items in one go rather than having to walk back and forth to complete each order and wasting time.
The most common practices of fulfilment batching, or batch picking, include fulfilling backer rewards for a crowdfunding campaign, a product launch, and large volumes of the same order. If your order combinations typically vary greatly, it will be more difficult to utilise batch picking, and a different method of order picking may work best for you.
When your customer places an order on an online store, the items must be picked and packed from a warehouse or fulfilment centre. Rather than assigning one order at a time to one picker, a group of the same orders are assigned to a single picker, and this can greatly increase the efficiency of how staff pick items. Here’s more on how the batch fulfilment order management system works:
A picking list is a document that lets the team in the warehouse or fulfilment centre know the items that need to be shipped to a customer. The picking list will include the stock-keeping units, the quantities of the items needing to be picked, and the storage locations of inventory.
Batch picking is most efficient for orders that have identical picking lists, as this will allow the picker to have a list of orders queued up that will be sent to different customers; allowing the picker to quickly and efficiently complete more than one order at a time.
In order to remain green, printed lists are highly unusual these days unless stock needs to be manually checked against any potential errors during inventory management. Nowadays, pickers will typically use wearable devices and voice technology to aggregate, assign, and complete each order digitally.
Batching and picking involve the grouping of orders that include the exact same items into a singular picking batch. An order management system, or a warehouse management system (WMS), can speed up the process by automatically group batchable orders that contain the same items and the same quantities.
A warehouse management system (WMS) can generate fresh batch pick lists for each picker, allowing them to retrieve items in the most efficient and speedy ways possible. When this happens manually, you need to create the recommended route for each picker yourself so that pickers can efficiently pick all the stock-keeping units needed.
Each picker must follow the picking list correctly to ensure that they pick the correct items, allowing the route to be optimised so that they don’t waste time or take unnecessary steps. Once the stock-keeping units have been picked for the batch orders, these orders can then be handed off to a packer, allowing the picker to start picking the next batch.
With batch fulfilment, the focus is to reduce walking and unnecessary travel within the warehouse, and optimising order processing to be faster instead. Efficiency is key with this order fulfilment method.
Warehouses and order fulfilment centres can be very large spaces, and travelling from one end of the warehouse to the other can take a long amount of time. If warehouse staff have to grab items from multiple faraway locations, it is a given that order fulfilment will take a longer amount of time. Luckily, the batch fulfilment method helps to centralise your operations, meaning that your employees can complete multiples of the same task in bulk; all while travelling a shorter amount of distance each time.
Fast and efficient fulfilment is a huge factor for the success of your order fulfilment operations. When utilising the batch fulfilment method, your employees won’t have to move around the entire warehouse as much; meaning that their job will be done faster. This results in less travel and time between orders, pickers that can complete orders faster, and an overall reduction in the time it takes to fulfil a typical order.