When it comes to ecommerce order fulfillment, one of the most aspects is warehouse order picking. Warehouse order picking is the process of retrieving specific products listed in order from their respective warehouses. It is among the final stage of order fulfillment and requires effective strategies to ensure a smooth supply chain, as it is largely responsible for a warehouse’s overall efficiency.
Unfortunately, there is not one single order-picking strategy that can work best for all operations – you will need to consider many different factors when selecting the correct strategy for you. Hence, let’s find out five warehouse order-picking strategies and methods to consider.
5 Warehouse Order Picking Strategies
1. Discrete Picking
In discrete picking or single-order picking, the picker only picks single order, SKU to SKU, from start to finish before moving to another order. This is the simplest order-picking strategy, but since warehouses are now growing in size, this isn’t a well-suited strategy for large-size warehouses or complex orders. However, if you have smaller operations or a smaller warehouse, this is a simple strategy.
2. Batch Picking
Quite the opposite of discrete picking, pickers process multiple orders simultaneously in this strategy. They are typically batched based on the similarity of their SKUs in each order, allowing pickers to pick the same SKU for various orders simultaneously. Since travel time accounts for about 50% of the overall order-picking time, this method mainly helps in reducing the overall time by batching together similar orders.
3. Zone Picking
In this strategy, warehouse owners divide their warehouse into several different sections – or zones. Each picker is then assigned to a specific zone, and they are supposed to travel to the zone to pick SKUs required for the currently processed order. This way, the picker doesn’t have to travel throughout the entire warehouse, which makes picking more efficient as compared to other strategies and also reduces labour work.
4. Cluster Picking
In cluster picking, the picker simultaneously process multiple orders, but unlike batch picking, where the items are picked as per their SKUs for different orders, here, the picker is working with orders that are not similar. Hence, for cluster picking to work efficiently, the picker typically works with an AMR or order-picking cart that has compartments to hold multiple orders, and they will automatically direct the picker to the next SKU location. This strategy also helps reduce time and helps boost the efficiency of the operations.
5. Robot Picking
As the name suggests, in this strategy, the individual SKUs are picked out of the storage racks by a robotic device (for example, a robotic arm), which will also immediately pack the items that are picked. This helps remove manual labour time and costs that are associated with the actual picking process.
Get in Touch With A Third Party for Warehouses
Managing a warehouse and making warehouse order-picking strategies can be a hassle when you are also managing an entire e-commerce business. This is why the best move forward is to find a third-party fulfillment company and rely on them to store your inventory in their warehouse and manage the order-picking process.