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What Is A Packing Slip?

August 4, 2021 Published by

packing slip inside of box

As more businesses move online, many of the documents we used to request physical copies of like receipts and buying history are easily accessible online. Even so, some print documents like packing slips continue to be sent with each delivery. Read on to find out what packing slips are and what they’re used for in order fulfillment.

What Are Packing Slips?

A packing slip is a document that contains the complete list of items included in a package so that the receiver can make sure the items included in their shipment match their order. In addition, they contain SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) numbers, weights, dimensions, and the number of units used by shipping departments to determine what inventory must be sent out to complete an order.

Now that we know what packing slips are, let’s go over how it differs from a few documents people commonly mistake them for.

The Difference Between Packing Slips and Invoices

At first glance, it is easy to mistake packing slips for invoices and vice versa. However, both documents serve different purposes for purchase orders. Packing slips are used to list physical goods being received, while an invoice is the financial report of the order, containing details like the cost of the product, the payment methods, payment terms, and sell date.

Packing slips and invoices are typically intended for different people. For example, in the case of a gift, an invoice is the bill sent to the person responsible for paying, and the packing slip is for the person who receives the package. If you order the package for yourself, both the invoice and packing slip will be sent to you.

Shipping Labels Vs. Packing Slips

Another document people commonly misidentify as a packing slip is the shipping label. Packing lists are primarily used to list all the items included in a package. On the other hand, a shipping label is used to provide all the information your carrier needs to efficiently deliver your box.

Why Packing Slips Are Important

Packing slips are important because they help you to keep note of all the items included in a customer’s order. This is an especially useful feature if your order is arriving in multiple packages as you can more easily keep tabs on what is being shipped. Before you seal and label your order, you should verify that the items inside are what the customer ordered by looking at your packing slip. As soon as you’ve verified it is accurate, you can put the packing slip in the box and ship it out.

Packing slips may also come in handy if you are shipping internationally. Sometimes, customs will use a packing slip to estimate the value of your shipment.

What Packing Ships Should Include

Packing slips should include details like SKUs, price, and itemized lists. The exact information provided on packing slips varies depending on the business, but there are some elements that tend to stay the same on most packing slips.

  1. Itemized List Of Shipped Products

Most purchasers will check the items they receive against this list to make sure they are receiving everything they ordered. Customers can also use their confirmation email, but some prefer to use a packing slip.

  1. Shipping Address, Contact Information, and Order Date

Keeping this information on hand is useful for filing purposes and identifying if there were any problems with the shipment while in transit. The shipping label is the default for shipping carriers, but, when there are issues, packing slips are a helpful alternative should something go wrong with the shipping label.

  1. Itemized List of Out-Of-Stock Products

A packing slip could include line items of products that were not shipped due to being out-of-stock. This is a rare scenario as usually this fact is communicated before an order is placed, but a packing slip would help in this case.

  1. Item Quantities

If you want to check each individual item in a packing slip, the SKU or product name is not enough as many customers order more than one of a specific product. A quantity column helps to outline this information.

  1. Purchase Order Numbers or Slip Numbers

You can use your purchase order number to cross-reference with your slip number to ensure the right order was shipped and received.

  1. SKU or UPC of Each Product

SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) or UPCs (Universal Product Codes) are the numbers sellers use to identify their inventory. They are the codes that will be referenced when a customer contacts the seller to resolve an issue.

What Do Packing Slips Look Like

A packing slip should contain an itemized list of everything that is in an order, for example:

image of a packing slip

In the packing slip above, the warehouse this order was shipped out from could have been out of inventory for Product YYY, and it will need to be shipped from a different location, or the customer will have to wait until it is restocked.

In Summary

Packing slips play an important role in helping to keep track of delivery outcomes. Whether an item is damaged or simply goes missing, a packing slip will serve to easily identify which issues need to be dealt with. However, identifying the issue is only the beginning. Be sure you have the capability to handle returns and keep your stock levels optimized to resolve missing or returned orders. If you need help with your product fulfillment, be sure to enlist the help of a 3PL provider like Fulfillment Works to keep your order fulfillment on track.