Streamlining Warehouse Picking: Your Complete Guide

Home    »    News    »    Streamlining Warehouse Picking: Your Complete Guide

Warehouse picking plays a vital role in the smooth functioning of the supply chain. The process of selecting items from your warehouse inventory can directly impact not just operational costs but also operational costs associated with your fulfilment process. In this guide, we will delve into the world of warehouse picking, exploring its significance and providing valuable insights on how to streamline this essential operation.

A forklift removes items from a storage unit

Warehouse picking refers to the systematic process of selecting and gathering items from the warehouse inventory to fulfil customer orders. It involves locating the right products, ensuring their accuracy, and preparing them for shipping. Efficient warehouse picking is a vital aspect of maintaining an organised and streamlined warehouse management system.

  • Connection between Effective Picking and Order Fulfilment

Efficient warehouse picking directly contributes to order fulfilment speed and accuracy. By streamlining the picking process, businesses can significantly reduce order processing time, ensuring that customers receive their products promptly.

  • Warehouse Picking and its Effect on Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is greatly influenced by the accuracy and timeliness of order delivery. Accurate and error-free picking ensures that customers receive the correct products, leading to increased customer satisfaction, positive reviews, and repeat business.

  • Cost and Time Implications

Inefficient warehouse picking can result in wasted time, increased labour costs, and higher shipping expenses. By optimising picking operations, businesses can reduce labour requirements, minimise errors and returns, and ultimately lower operational costs.

White dots
White dots

Warehouse picking presents several challenges that can impact operational efficiency. Some of these commonly experienced challenges include:

  • Inventory Inaccuracies and Disorganised Storage – Inaccurate inventory records and disorganised storage locations can make it difficult for pickers to locate items efficiently, leading to delays and errors.
  • High Volume and Peak Period Demands – During peak periods or seasonal spikes, the volume of orders increases significantly, putting pressure on picking operations and potentially resulting in bottlenecks and delays.
  • Lack of Standardised Processes – In the absence of standardised picking processes, inconsistencies may arise, leading to errors, inefficiencies, and reduced productivity.
Warehousing elipse

Due to the exponential savings that can be made by saving just a few seconds per product, different approaches to warehouse picking have been tried and tested extensively. However, due to differences in products between businesses, and a vast variety of warehouse layouts, these need to be considered on a case by case basis.

Fulfilment workers moving around a warehouse

Discrete – Discrete order picking is the most simplistic approach, and usually what someone has in mind when fulfilment is first explained to them. In this methodology, one order picker walks the warehouse, picking one order at a time as they work down a list. This simplicity makes it a reliable approach, however it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of efficiency as the order picker will have to take excessive time moving from each product to the next as they’re randomly spaced around the warehouse. 

Batch – Batch picking is where an order picker selects multiple orders at once, one SKU at a time. By doing this, it can reduce the necessary travel time as several orders are being fulfilled simultaneously. This approach does have limitations though as it’s only effective when each order is made up of just a few product options. If your warehouse has hundreds of different products, then this can make batch picking difficult as it might be unlikely to have cross-over in orders.

Zone – The zonal approach to order picking assigns each picker to a specific physical area of the warehouse and they will only be responsible for selecting products that lie within this area. If an order contains products from across several zones, then it will be fulfilled in each zone in turn before being passed onto the next zone’s picker. 

Wave / Cluster – Wave picking is sometimes referred to as cluster picking, however these are essentially the same process. In this, pickers are provided with a series of grouped orders that have the same products or have products that are close to one another. The aim of this is to reduce the travel time. 

  • It’s worth noting that sometimes orders are grouped together not just because of proximity, but also because of being shipped with the same courier or even because they’re all large products that need a forklift to transport. 

Tote – Tote picking minimises operator movement by utilising a moving conveyor belt with a plastic bin (called a tote) that moves along it. As the tote moves past each operator, they can place the necessary SKU’s for each order into the box. After being filled, the tote box will then move to the consolidation area to be double-checked for accuracy, and then packaged before dispatching.

Warehousing elipse

Despatch Cloud’s fulfilment software is designed with efficiency at its core to help streamline your warehouse operations and expedite order dispatches. In line with the ongoing approaches to automation, these integrated features cover a range of different picking methods.

Our fulfilment software contains the following:

  • Smart route mapping to point your pickers in the quickest direction based on your pre-established location priorities.
  • Multiple multi-pick options: whether you pick by order, tote, bulk and sort, or screen-sort, choose the system that works best for your business.


Get in touch with our onboarding team today to explore further ways that Despatch Cloud’s ecommerce software can aid you in scaling your warehousing business further. 

White dots
White dots