Order Picking:8 Best types in 2024

Has your business ever delivered the wrong item to a customer before? And when customers receive, does that directly affect customer satisfaction?

There’re many steps to implement to complete a customer’s order in the supply chain. The first step all warehouse managers should consider and focus on is the order picking methods.

Based on our decade of experience working with thousands of suppliers and warehouses. Leeline Sourcing is proud to deliver the most in-depth expertise you can get nowhere else. This article will know anything about this first step of the warehouse process and how they work.

This basic process might seem easy, but it is not. Let’s get the basic knowledge first.

Order Picking

What is Order Picking?

Order picking is simply picking orders. It’s the process of gathering items from the warehouses to fulfill customer orders and finish the order fulfillment process

This first stage in completing an order is one of the most costly tasks in the entire supply chain (50% to 55% of total warehouse operational costs). 

Maintaining this vital process well will let the entire operation run smoothly, including packing, shipping, and sale.

Types of Warehouse Order Picking Methods

Below are some standard picking methods to optimize your warehouse productivity.

1. Single order picking (also known as Discrete Picking)

In this system, order pickers pick one customer order at a time. Usually apply to piece, case, and pallet picking. The single order is the most used method for small warehouses with low traffic.

  • Pros: Simple, easy tracking, high level of accuracy
  • Cons: Requires a lot of movement, time-consuming.

2. Batch order picking (or multi-order picking)

Batch order picking allows pickers to gather only a few SKUs and complete multiple orders at once. Better with piece picking, rarely case picking, but not pallet picking. Batch picking is ideal for warehouse orders containing large orders but a few products each (under 4).

  • Pros: Reduces time.
  • Cons: Only work with small product types and small dimension products.

3. Zone Picking 

Divide and distribute separate pickers to discrete storage locations. Here, warehouse workers pick multiple SKUs in that specific zone. Instead of using this type separately, businesses usually combine it with another one. Zone picking is helpful for companies that receive many high-volume and multiple orders.

  • Pros: Reduces travel time
  • Cons: This can lead to uneven distribution of labor.

4. Pick and pass

Pick-and-pass is an extension of the Zone picking type. Pickers place items into a container in each area and pass them to the following pick location until they fulfill the order. This method is compatible with all three key elements of the picking methods.

  • Pros: Complete large orders quickly.
  • Cons: The time waiting for the previous zone might exceed

5. Wave picking

Wave picking is similar to discrete order picking. At a time, the picker gathers one SKU and one order. More than one picker works simultaneously at different zones, then sends them to order consolidation until they reach all the items. Perfect for businesses that typically have many separate commodities in each order.

  • Pros: Speedy process, save time
  • Cons: Requires an optimized schedule

Besides these single methods, there are many combined types for your specific warehouse needs. Some famous processes are:

6. Zone-Batch Picking 

Zone-Batch Picking is a mixture of Zone and Batch Picking. Each picker handles one spot and is responsible for batch picking in their zone.

7. Zone-Wave Picking 

In each zone, the picker picks the SKUs for all orders. They only need to choose the commodity available in their zone stock.

8. Zone-Batch-Wave Picking 

This one considers the most complex combination of all. Picker picks all SKUs for orders stocked in their assigned zone. The difference is the picker picks more than one SKU at a time.

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The Importance of Warehouse Picking System 

Good match warehouse order picking systems will help you

Reduce cost

Travel time – the time workers have to spend collecting warehouse items can become the most significant drain on the warehouse management system. Strategically organizing the warehouse and carefully planning for picking routes will minimize travel time. Accordingly, Efficient picking routes can increase productivity twice or even three times before.

Maximize space & Happier workers

In an organized and clear space, it’s always easier to look for anything than a mess. The proper Order Picking type will bring you an organized warehouse, and as a result, it will maximize more space. Once all inventory is in the right place, staff can work in their best efficient status.

Reduces mistakes

A small mistake in the supply procedure can affect the delivery date of customers’ orders. It can be costly and affect customer satisfaction levels for a long time. For example, the wrong products shipped to customers might get a high chance to return and receive negative feedback.

An efficient system of Order Picking is your business “life-saver.” It eliminates these inefficiencies by placing order items in the right place. And by that, you can worry less about those issues.

Tips for choosing the warehouse Order Picking process

There’s no one-size-fits-all system for every business. But by following these tips, the goal gets more straightforward to achieve.

Tips for choosing Order Picking

Your warehouse inventory size matters.

Yes. By observing your warehouse’s size and inventory number, you can indicate which suitable picking system is. If you have a small warehouse, the single order picking system to maintain accuracy will fit yours best. Having a large amount of inventory, the zone picking method, which can help pickers handle large orders, is your solution.

Analyze your data

Sales data analysis is also a factor in helping you pick a type. 

How many orders does your company receive on average? And how many items per order is every day? Determine that can help you choose a system equipped to handle your business’s volume and size of orders.

Combining multiple systems is worth considering.

Sometimes, one isn’t enough. A combination of systems might help your business more than a single one. Carefully consider the requirements of your business. There are three popular combined types we’ve introduced above. If you’re a big business with a thousand orders each month, Zone-Batch-Wave Picking will not disappoint you.

Have you tried the auto-machine option?

Humans can’t always perform perfectly. A mistake is understandable. But the possibility of a machine going wrong is a little low. Automated picking can further optimize entire warehouse operations and improve the speed and accuracy of order fulfillment.

Explore conveyor belts, robots, or inventory management software to help you in the warehouse picking system. 

How many pickers do you have?

If you have multiple workers, we recommend choosing the zone picking method. That’s how you can make the most of your labor force. If your business has a few pickers, a single order is your choice. The amount of staff at your business can also impact which type of system you should choose. 

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1.Which is the best warehouse order picking method?

The best warehouse picking process is the best suited to your warehouse size and inventory number. And you know that the best approach is when it brings the most speed and accuracy to your Picking Order procedure.

2.Is order picking easy?

It seems like an easy task. Just pick orders, and that’s it. But in practice, it’s pretty complex.

3.What does an order picker job?

An Order Picker is responsible for finding, replacing, and arranging items in the warehouse using barcodes or serial numbers. Sometimes they might ask to run the forklifts.

What’s Next

Overall. Order picking is a vital step in warehouse management and order fulfillment. It requires speed and accuracy to ensure the following tasks work smoothly. Using the five tips above can help you decide what picking strategy fits your business requirements. What type do you think is your solution? Single picking type or multiple combined methods?

Are you struggling with choosing the best match warehouse order picking? Leeline Sourcing can help!

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Article by:

Sharline Shaw

Hey I'm Sharline, the founder of Leeline Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 2000+ clients import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA or shopify. If you have any questions about sourcing , pls feel free to contact us.