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What Is Order Picking? Definition and Types

August 11, 2021 Published by

warehouse worker picking box off shelf

Order picking is a vital yet often overlooked part of the fulfillment process.

We’ll explain what order picking is, picking types, and why it’s so important you get your picking strategy right.

A Definition of Order Picking

Order picking is the first stage in the fulfillment process when products listed in a delivery order are retrieved (a.k.a. picked) from their respective warehouses. Order picking must be efficient, so the right product is selected for every order – ensuring that order packing, shipping, and post-sales activity run as smoothly as possible.

Order picking isn’t as simple as grabbing the item you need and shipping it off though, especially when you have high order volumes. There are many different types of order picking methods, and it’s important to choose the right one to ensure you do it efficiently.

Types of Order Picking

  1. Pallet Picking

Pallet picking involves a wooden platform (a.k.a. pallet) that holds a bundle of products in a warehouse. Depending on how big the pallet is, it could hold several items or one large product.

  1. Piece picking

Piece picking is when products are picked one at a time from a warehouse. This kind of picking is typically seen in orders that have many different items but a smaller quantity of products per pick.

  1. Case picking

Case picking is similar to pallet picking except that only one part of the pallet is picked and moved to the packing area. This type of picking is used when there are a large number of picks with fewer items per SKU (Stock Keeping Unit).

  1. Batch Picking

Batch picking lets pickers work with multiple orders at the same time. Pickers are given multiple orders to pick at once and take them to the packing station. This method is great for warehouses that have a large number of orders with a small number of items in each.

  1. Zone Picking

Zone picking is used when a warehouse is divided into different zones. Pickers are designated individual zones to handle the orders that come from their section of the warehouse. Zone picking is perfect for warehouses that receive many high-volume orders, which means orders with a large number of items.

  1. Wave Picking

Wave picking is when pickers from different warehouse zones pick the items for an order at the same time and then send them to consolidation. After all the products in the order have reached consolidation, they are sent to the packing station. This type of picking is also called order consolidation, which is typically used by warehouses that need a quick way to ship multiple high-volume orders.

Which Is The Best Order Picking Method?

When it comes to order picking, there is no one method that works best. The method you choose will weigh heavily on how many orders you get, how many order pickers you have, and how many products are in each order. If you’re having trouble deciding on a method, be sure to think about working with a third-party logistics provider like Fulfillment Works. We have the experience and skilled staff necessary to fulfill your orders efficiently and cost effectively.