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Batch picking vs single order picking

Which order picking option is ideal for your business?

Successful ecommerce fulfilment results in loyal, trusting customers and ensures a good reputation for your business. One way to ensure your business is achieving customer satisfaction is by making certain your order picking system is the best option for your business.

This guide compares batch and single order picking, explaining which system may be the best option for your business to achieve customer satisfaction.

Why are order picking methods a vital part of ecommerce fulfilment?

Read why getting the right picking method for your business is so crucial in ecommerce fulfilment.

Batch picking vs single order picking

A comparison guide to batch picking vs single order picking explains each option's key benefits and cons.

Choosing the best option for your business

Find the best picking strategy for your business depending on your needs and customer trends.

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Why are picking methods a vital part of ecommerce fulfilment?

A large factor in achieving successful ecommerce fulfilment is speed – customers expect a fast and efficient service. This process begins with efficient inventory management. If your picking methods are fast and accurate, orders will be processed and delivered in a timely manner, and your business is likely to succeed. If you suspect there may be a faster option available to you, your business should avoid wasting time by continuing with your existing picking method.

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Batch picking vs single order picking

What is single order picking? 

In single order picking, orders are fulfilled by manually picking each item directly from a storage box, case or shelf. Warehouse workers will pick one customer order at a time from a pick list rather than picking up numerous items for various orders, making this a reliable yet time-consuming method.

How can it benefit your business?

In addition to serving as a simple, accurate warehouse inventory process, single order picking also provides the following benefits for your business:

It requires minimal technology

Single order picking requires little to no technology, which can ultimately save you time and money to put to other uses.

It is easier to train employees

Perhaps your business doesn’t have the time to train employees on how to use advanced technology. This is where picking by order may be a better option, as you can save considerable time.

The system is less prone to errors

Although there is a risk of human error in most manual processes, picking by order is considerably less prone to errors than using automated batch picking.

Lower start-up costs

In contrast to using a batch order picking system, single order picking requires no expensive start-up cost for equipment and is inexpensive to implement and execute.

Potential cons

It results in a lot of travel time around the warehouse

In single order picking methods, pick lists are handed to workers who then have to visit a picking location individually for each order, resulting in a more time-consuming process. This can be especially damaging to a company with a large number of orders per day, impacting warehouse efficiency.

It is labour-intensive

Single order picking requires high labour costs and hiring a lot of warehouse workers, particularly if your business brings in a large number of orders. If you feel you don’t have time to manage a lot of staff, implementing batch picking may be a viable solution.

Businesses may struggle if there is a large number of orders

If your business has a larger number of orders than picks per order, you may struggle to stay on top of your ecommerce fulfilment process. This could lead to increased pressure on staff and ultimately, slower execution.

What is batch picking?

Batch picking, also known as multi order picking, allows pickers to work on multiple orders at the same time, one SKU at a time. This is a faster warehouse operation process than picking single items one order at a time or picking orders with different SKUs and quantities consecutively. Many businesses move to this process when their customer demand increases or when there are a higher number of orders than the number of picks per warehouse order.

Batch picking systems reduce the average time to fulfil an order due to the result of less travel and time between orders. This can result in greater picking productivity and a faster order fulfilment process for the customer.

Fewer members of staff are required

Batch picking is less labour intensive, meaning fewer members of staff are required in the warehouse for order picking. This can benefit you as a manager if you have less time to manage staff and can make room for other responsibilities.

Less foot travel for employees

Batch picking can provide workers with an easier and less time-consuming way of picking orders, as it significantly decreases their foot travel in the warehouse. Batch picking helps centralise warehouse operations, so employees can complete the same task in bulk and travel less distance. When workers batch pick, they can be more productive and put their time to better use.

Ability to handle higher order volume

Batch picking will allow your staff to handle a greater number of orders without becoming overwhelmed or overworked. This means you can allow customer demand to grow without constantly hiring new staff.

Investment in warehouse equipment and technology

As opposed to single order picking, batch picking requires greater investment in warehouse equipment and the necessary technology to make the picking process run smoothly. You will also likely have to train staff on how to use certain equipment for this process and potentially adjust your warehouse layout.

Orders must be sorted and consolidated after picking

After products are picked, they must then be sorted and separated into separate orders. This can make the picking process slightly more complicated than the single order picking process. However, with good organisation, this process can remain efficient.

May result in more mistakes being made if the process is rushed

As the batch picking process is slightly more complicated, rushing the process may cause more mistakes to occur.

May be an unnecessary investment if you have a small warehouse

If you have a small warehouse and stock few items, batch picking may not bring any benefits to your business, as your workers won’t be travelling long distances for single order picking.

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Choosing the best picking option for your ecommerce business

The best picking option for you should depend on your warehouse operation goals and trends in customer demands. Single order picking is a good fit for warehouses with many SKUs but low pick amounts per SKU. It is also ideal if there are more picks per order than number of orders. Single order picking is often ideal for start-up businesses with smaller warehouses. If you only sell a few items or all of your inventory fits in one room, then your pickable products will all be in close proximity to the picker with only a short distance required to get to the next SKU.

If your business is struggling to meet customer demands at a fast speed, batch picking can help increase customer satisfaction and reduce pressure placed on your workers. Batch picking is perfect for you if the same SKU with relatively small dimensions is frequently ordered from you by different customers or you have orders with only a few SKUs in each. Using a batch picking process is ideal for dealing with a large volume of orders.

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Are you struggling with speed and accuracy with your ecommerce fulfilment service?

Linney has a proven track record in scaling up our services to meet increased demand at peak times without any impact on service levels.

Our simple pricing structure for fulfilment, warehousing and logistics services, gives our ecommerce fulfilment customers the clarity they need to take decisive action.

Read more about our managed ecommerce, warehousing and distribution and order fulfilment services to find out how we can help.

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