Knowledge Hub

It’s all about the packaging

How to choose the best picking and packing fulfilment service

The packaging of a product is the first impression that a customer will get when they order from your ecommerce business. In fact, product packaging is almost as important as the products themselves and could be the difference between a customer re-ordering from your store or never ordering again! Because of this, it is vital to use the best picking and packing methods available to ensure customer satisfaction and a booming business.

Pick and pack order fulfilment

Picking and packing order fulfilment is a process that happens after a customer places an order. Customers will have been encouraged by great marketing, glowing reviews and a good website to buy from your store - and now, you have to deliver high-quality products and service that meets customer expectations. To make things slightly easier, many ecommerce companies are starting to outsource their picking and packing to professional services that know exactly how to make this process run smoothly.

Choosing the right picking and packing fulfilment service isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. There are things to consider before selecting a company to ensure that they are the best fulfilment option for you. If you’re unsure where to start – don't worry. Here, we tell you more about picking and packing fulfilment services and explain how to choose the best one that will wow your customers and ensure they are happy with the final product.

Why is the picking and packing fulfilment process important?

Having a good fulfilment process simply isn’t enough to stay competitive in the growing ecommerce market anymore. Instead, you need to make sure that your picking and packing service exceeds customers’ expectations and leaves them impressed by your brand. Studies have even demonstrated that the attractiveness of a product’s packaging has a direct impact on a consumer’s interest in the product.

Choosing the perfect picking and packing fulfilment service will provide many benefits for your company and will also help you stay ahead of any competitors. Here are just a few of the perks that come with choosing the best picking and packing fulfilment service:

    • Customers will be keen to buy from you again, which will result in customer loyalty
    • Providing high quality, personalised packaging can help your customers feel valued
    • An impressive pack service will leave you with heaps of positive reviews
    • Customers will receive their orders faster with an efficient picking and packing service
    • Outsourcing order fulfilment will take pressure off your own staff and ensure smoother customer service.
Product in white card board box

So, why do many companies outsource a picking and packing fulfilment service?

Many ecommerce businesses now outsource their pack fulfilment to external fulfilment centres or third party logistics (3PL) companies. Doing order processing in-house can be extremely time-consuming and a lot of work for your staff on top of other duties. Outsourcing another company leaves your staff with more time to focus on other aspects of the business.

An in-house fulfilment system also requires a warehouse with enough space to stock all of your inventory. A 3PL provider will own their own warehouse in which they run the picking and packing fulfilment. Using an external logistics service means that you don’t have to add warehouse management and pick and pack fulfilment to the list of things to do. You can instead save money and rent a smaller space to run your business.

As straightforward as it may seem, the order fulfilment process is prone to mistakes, especially if the people running the process have a million other tasks on their minds. By outsourcing, you are handing the overall responsibility of the process to well-trained experts who are on hand to help your business grow and meet changing product demands.

Cardboard boxes on conveyor belt

How to find the best picking and packing service for you

So, you’ve decided that using a picking and packing service would be beneficial, now what? To find the best picking and packing service for you, ask yourself a few questions:

Does your business require more services than simply pick, pack and ship?

Some fulfilment services will offer more than just the basics, which can be helpful for any business that requires more tasks to be done. Many of the companies who offer fulfilment services are also experts along with other areas of the supply chain and could help you with many aspects of your business. It will make things a lot easier if you can do all your outsourcing with one company.

What type of products do you sell?

Most fulfilment providers will have specialist expertise in certain sectors. It may therefore be a good idea to find out what sort of businesses the providers usually work with before deciding on them. That way you can choose a provider who has a successful track record in dealing with your sector.

What is your budget?

Of course, money is one factor that cannot be ignored when outsourcing any service. Fulfilment services come in a range of prices, depending on the services that they offer. It’s a good idea to draw up a clear specification of your essential and desirable needs, along with the service levels you expect for dispatching products and booking in stock, as well as any specialist security, storage or handling requirements.

What are their reviews like?

The best way to understand more about a potential fulfilment service is to look at previous case studies. Seeing a business succeed and grow by using the external company’s fulfilment services could highlight the journey your business could have with them. As well as demonstrate how the fulfilment service provider deals with quick moving stock and changing consumer demands, which may be an important part of your ecommerce business.

How quickly can they fulfill orders?

With customers’ expectations around delivery dates being extremely high, and an increase in the ever-popular Amazon prime; making sure your fulfillment partner can meet your delivery schedule is a crucial area to consider. Most 3PL’s will offer next day delivery and in their package prices will highlight the logistic companies they use as well as any order time windows you need to meet to ensure next day delivery. As well as considering the capacity of the warehouse and their ability to deliver your goods in a timely manner, it is always a good idea to use a fulfilment service that is located close to major transport links. Bearing this in mind will give your ecommerce business the greatest chance of meeting your customers' shipping needs.  A reliable and speedy shipping strategy results in happy customers!

At Linney, we understand that making your customers happy is the end goal. Getting your products to your customers efficiently and exceeding their expectations is a key part of maintaining loyal customers. That’s why we provide much more than just warehousing and stock management - we offer a variety of services to help your ecommerce fulfilment process go smoothly – from managed ecommerce services to order fulfilment services. To find out more about how we can help you provide your customers with the best service possible, read about the services we offer, or contact us.

Warehouse in the sun

Finding a picking and packing fulfilment service: common queries

What is involved during the order picking and packing process?

During a fulfilment service, orders are continuously ‘picked’ and ‘packed’ to create a constant flow of order fulfilment. First, orders are picked from their locations before being packed into the correct packaging. After they have been packaged, customer orders are sent out for delivery.

How can you improve your warehouse picking?

‘Zone’ picking is a great way to improve picking efficiency. With these methods, pickers are assigned specific zones that they will be responsible for. Having just one zone to focus on makes it easier to get into a good flow and pick faster.

How can picking and packing errors be reduced?

Errors in picking and packing fulfilment can be reduced by outsourcing the process to experts. This will take pressure off your own staff and ensure that the process is being handled professionally, rather than struggling to juggle warehouse operations.

How can you improve customer experience?

Picking and packing fulfilment plays a huge role in the experience that customers will receive from your store. Ensuring that orders are shipped quickly, to the right location and for a small fee is one good way to improve customer experiences. You should also try to take time over your packaging and pack orders in a way that will exceed customers' expectations - for example, personalised or clearly branded packaging can provide customers with a more personal experience.

Why is sustainable packaging important?

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic waste involved in the fulfilment process – from over-sized boxes for tiny items, to excessive amounts of bubble wrap and plastic void filler that ends up in landfill sites. Make sure you ask for information on the packaging materials used by providers. Are they paper-based and recyclable?

Do they minimise the use of plastic?

At Linney, sustainability is always at the forefront of our mind, ensuring your product has maximum impact on the shelf with minimum impact on the planet and your budget. Find out more about our services.

Which pick and pack methods are right for your ecommerce business?

There are four main methods that can be used for picking and packing in a warehouse: zone picking, wave picking, batch picking and single order picking. Each picking method has its pros and cons and the one that you use will be completely dependent on the products that you sell. In general, single order picking is good for smaller businesses, whereas zone picking or batch picking is effective for larger-scale businesses. Find out more about the differences between batch picking and order picking.

Do you just need to fulfil orders from your own site?

As a business owner, you only need to worry about fulfilling the orders made from your site. Fulfilment services may work for several businesses, but all other orders will be handled by them and do not need to be attended to by you.


View more on: Ecommerce Knowledge Hub