Pick and pack services are popular offerings from many fulfillment services. Learn everything there is to know about this convenient service and what it could mean for your business.
You’ve probably heard of picking and packing service, but understanding its nuts and bolts can help you decide what this service can do for your company. In basic terms, parts of an order are taken from master cartons, or picked, and then these parts are put into an envelope or box that is addressed to the recipient, or packed.
To understand how this service is carried out in a fulfillment center, check out the following example.
An agricultural business needs its products shipped to customers as quickly as possible because the produce is time-sensitive and has a shorter shelf life than other types of goods. Because of this, it needs to move through the warehouses faster.
The company wants to focus on its products and doesn’t want to use staff to sort and package its goods, so it partners with a fulfillment center to develop warehouse picking and packing services that are specific to its needs. This involves the use of software, system integration between the center and the agricultural company’s ordering system, and a clear understanding of products, delivery times and all services on both sides.
Now, the agricultural company transports its goods to the fulfillment center. When a new order is received at the center, workers there gather the produce from their master cartons, assemble the orders, and prepare and label those orders for shipment to customers.
What To Look For in Pick Pack Fulfillment
For a picking and packing arrangement to run smoothly, there has to be a lot of organization and attention to detail, with enough staff in place to handle the volume and a defined chain of command to handle problems. System integration must be successful, and everyone involved has to be clear on their responsibilities.
In our example, if the fulfillment center is not adhering to the agreed-upon service times because of disorganization, the produce could stay in storage longer than it is supposed to. This results in delayed orders and/or orders with spoiled produce reaching the agricultural company’s customers. If the ordering system from the agricultural company isn’t aligned properly with the fulfillment center’s systems, the result could be lost or incorrect orders.
If the fulfillment center does not have enough staff during the agricultural company’s busy season, orders may be delayed or filled incorrectly. Similarly, if workers aren’t clear on the agricultural company’s requirements, orders that aren’t packaged properly could go out to customers. If there is a huge problem, both the fulfillment center and the agricultural company must know how to communicate with each other to resolve the issue as quickly as possible before it harms the businesses.
With all these variables, you need to do a little research and know what to look for before selecting a center for pick and pack services. There are a few basic areas you should check into when you’re evaluating a partner for pick pack fulfillment:
- Find out how long they have been in business and how long they have offered this service. While a newer company or one that has just started offering this service might have lower prices, you’re also essentially a guinea pig, and that comes with risk. You should also confirm that their typical staffing levels are able to handle your volume in addition to their current volume.
- Ask to speak to customers, both large and small. Pay particular attention to the service experience of businesses that are similar in size to yours and the ones that offer similar products. Don’t be shy about asking some detailed questions, such as how any problems the other businesses have experienced have been handled and resolved by the fulfillment center.
- Evaluate the systems they use, both technical and manual. Determine whether these systems are compatible with yours and if they are capable of meeting your business needs. Look into the reliability of the systems. The most cutting-edge software won’t be much help to your company if the system goes down and the center doesn’t have anyone immediately available to fix it.
- Ask about value-added services you might need now or in the future and what the extra cost is for each. If you don’t need a special service right now but think you will down the road, it will make things easier if you find a center that offers it so you can access it when you need to.
Communication is also important, so make sure you are comfortable with the layers of management in the fulfillment center. These people will essentially be partners in your product’s shipment cycle, so it’s vital that you are all able to relay information back and forth in an effective and clear manner.
Warehouse Picking and Packing Pricing
Generally, fulfillment centers charge for various parts of this service, including receiving, shipping, order fulfillment and storage. Your pick pack partner should be transparent about their pricing first and foremost. There’s a lot of variety between fulfillment centers when it comes to pricing for this service, so look for the business that best meets your needs at a price your business can afford.
You should not let prices alone determine which company you use. While that is an easy trap to fall into, you’re allowing another company to handle your products and prepare them for your customers under this arrangement. Service is incredibly important, as their work will essentially the first thing your customers see when your products arrive.
Finally, fulfillment services specialize in various things. Some focus on handling a specific volume, such as 200 orders or fewer per month, while others target a specific industry or good type. Make sure you’re looking at fulfillment centers that focus on your volume and product type because they will have the experience and staffing necessary to help ensure your relationship is successful.