Batch Picking: Definition and Importance - ChicagoShipper

In the order fulfillment process, picking is one of the most relevant steps, yet known as one of the main negative factors in terms of warehouse efficiency, most especially when employees spend so much time picking a single order. 

The picking process comes in different methods such as pick-to-order, zone, wave, cluster, and the most systematized, the batch picking method. 

If you need to run many of the same jobs at the same time, you can use batch picking. The batch picking process is a popular choice as it is designed to reduce the walking distance of employees in the warehouse and prioritize speedy picking rates. 

This article describes what batch picking is, what the benefits of batch picking are, and how to batch picking differs from other warehouse picking methods. 

Batch Picking Definition 

Inventory picking refers to the process of picking individual items from a fulfillment facility to fulfill a customer’s order. This is an important aspect of order processing and is considered one of the most costly and labor-intensive activities for the warehouse. 

Imagine, if two items are ordered together in one order and are on the other side of the warehouse, instead of the picker moving back and forth to complete each order, the stock can be picked in a repeated movement. 

The most common examples of batch picking are crowdfunding campaigns, product launches, and the fulfillment of large backer rewards for the same order. Batch picking becomes more difficult when the combination of orders is very different. 

Batch Picking Steps: 

Once orders are placed by customers, the items must get back from a pick and pack fulfillment center. And ideally, instead of allocating one order at a time to a picker, orders will be grouped and will be assigned to one picker. Learn more about how to batch picking works: 

1. Picking lists for each order will be generated. 

A picking list is a document that shows items that need to be shipped to customers, such as SKUs, quantities, and locations. 

Batch picking is ideal for orders with the same picking list. In this way, the order picker queues a list of orders sent to different customers.

Recently, it is very rare to use a printed list. In modern warehouses, order pickers use portable devices and technology to aggregate, allocate, complete (and eliminate paper) each order. 

2. Orders with common items are grouped together. 

To be able to do batch picking, you will need to group the orders that have the same items by batch. Order management system or warehouse management system (WMS) groups orders with the same item automatically and quantities can be automatically gathered together. 

3. Handing off a batch to a picker. 

WMS can create a batch picking list for each order picker to pick items in the most efficient way. If done manually, you may need to create a recommended route for each order picker in order to efficiently collect all SKUs. 

4. Picking Every Item in the Order 

Each order picker should follow the picking list to select the correct item and hone the route to avoid wasting time or performing unnecessary steps. After the batch order, SKU is selected, the order can be transferred to the packer and the order picker can start from the next batch. 

Importance of Batch Picking 

Efficiency is the key to a successful fulfillment center. Batch picking focuses on reducing walking and speeding up order processing. 

A successful warehouse means an efficient center as well. With batch picking that focuses on reducing walking and speeding up order processing, they can get the efficiency that they need in order to be considered successful. 

  • Decrease on Employee’s Foot Travel 

Fulfillment Centers are large in nature since it has a large number of items inside them, and it is fact that traveling each area of the warehouse can take up so much time. 

If an employee needs to receive items from multiple remote locations, the order will take longer to process. Batch picking helps centralize operations so that employees can perform the same tasks together and travel shorter distances. 

  • Speedy Picking Rates 

In order to get the needed efficiency for a warehouse to be considered “successful”, a speedy fulfillment process must be present. Batch picking allows employees to work faster because they don’t have to roam the warehouse. By reducing the time between transfers and orders, the order picker can process orders faster and reduce the average time it takes to fulfill an order. 

Different Types of Picking: Zone Picking vs. Batch Picking vs. Pick-To-Order 

There are three most common types of picking methods namely Zone, Batch, and Pick-to-Order, that are widely used in fulfillment centers. 

For small businesses, pick-to-order is the most recommended method. It is because, for low order volume, orders should be out in a very timely manner. If you are selling only a few items, or your items fit a one-room inventory, all pickable products are in the immediate vicinity of the order picker, in just a few steps or seconds to the next SKU. 

That is to say, if the order picker is also a packer, or if there are only a little number of people doing retail fulfillment, pick to order is a great solution for the company. 

On the other hand, zone and batch picking are considered more efficient in comparison with the pick-to-order method and is mostly used by bigger enterprises that own a warehouse, with a high SKU volume, and an advanced technology that can detect orders with the same SKUs and numbers, or can know the proximity of storage locations in the warehouse. 

In zone picking, multiple pickers pick different products within the same order. Imagine an order with 10 items. If you have 3 SKUs in the south of the warehouse, 3 in the north area, and 4 SKUs in the east area, you can have one order picker in the north, one in the south, and one in the east. 

Similar to the concept of zone coverage in sports, zone selection helps individuals stay in one area while others cover other zones. In contrast to batch picking, zone picking does not require you to order the same item. This is another efficient method, but it can be very difficult to evenly distribute the workload. 

Conclusion 

If you run an e-commerce warehouse in your online business, consider batch picking. This is a great method that allows warehouse workers to be more productive, minimize travel time, and focus on processing orders faster. 

And if warehousing and logistics are becoming more and more complicated for you, here at Chicago Shipper, we can help you learn more about inventory management and fulfillment services. Contact us now so we can help you further.