Fulfillment Process Overview
To understand pick & pack, we first need a high-level understanding of order fulfillment through a 3PL.
You connect your store (Shopify, Amazon, etc.) to the 3PL’s software.
You send your goods with a list of quantities of each SKU to the 3PL’s warehouse.
When an order comes in, the 3PL will pick, pack, and ship the products in the order.
We will take a closer look at step 3 to understand the pick & pack fulfillment process and the fees involved.
Check out our Fulfillment Services Pricing Guide for more info on 3PL services and fees.
Pick & Pack
So, what is pick & pack fulfillment anyways? Let’s break it down into two parts.
When an order comes into your store, the picker is able to see the packing list. The packing list tells the picker which SKUs to pick, how many to pick, and where to find them. Advanced fulfillment centers like OTW Shipping will utilize barcode scanning technology to ensure the correct products are picked in the most efficient manner. The warehouse worker will then go pick out all the units from the corresponding locations in the warehouse.
The method in which orders are picked helps the warehouse be more efficient and cost-effective. There are multiple different methods of picking used by 3PLs including piece picking, wave picking, zone picking, and batch picking.
Pick and Pack Methods
Depending on the complexity of warehouse operations, a fulfillment center will utilize different fulfillment processes to pick and pack items in the most efficient manner.
The packer receives the orders from the picker, verifies that the orders picked are correct, and packs them into the appropriate packaging. A 3PL with advanced packaging software, like OTW Shipping, will select the right box size automatically which speeds up the packing process significantly. Once in the packaging, the packer will print the packing list and shipping label. The packing list is included in the order and the shipping label is applied to the package once sealed.
Pick and Pack Fees
There are a few different ways pick & pack fees can be charged. Every 3PL is different. We’ve described a few of the most common scenarios below.
1. Flat Fee + Per Unit Fee (ex. $2 + $0.50/unit)
In this scenario, you will be charged a flat per order fee, and each unit in the order will be an additional fee.
2. 1st Unit Flat Fee + Additional Unit Fee (ex. $2 + $0.50/additional unit)
This fulfillment pricing structure is similar to the first scenario, except the first unit pick fee is included in the flat per order fee.
3. Flat Fee for X Units, Then Additional Unit Fee (ex. $3 up to 5 units + $0.50/additional unit over 5 units)
Sometimes helpful for clients with a high number of units per order, this structure features a flat rate for a specific number of units, with an additional unit fee if the order has more units than that.
Now, this scenario is only used by a handful of 3PLs, but is intentionally misleading. While pick and pack may be free, those costs are rolled up elsewhere. You will likely see it in the form of inflated shipping costs, hidden fees, or auxiliary charges.
This composition includes all per order fees (pick & pack, packaging, shipping) in one rate. While this makes it easy to understand your costs, there are often many exclusions and additional costs you may need to uncover that aren’t advertised at the surface level.
If you are obtaining quotes from multiple 3PLs, it can be difficult to compare pricing. We’ve made a great 3PL comparison template to help you understand your total fulfillment costs across a variety of different pricing models.
OTW Shipping’s Pick and Pack Fulfillment Services
OTW Shipping utilizes advanced barcoding, order routing, and fulfillment processes to pick and pack orders in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. This leads to cheap fulfillment pricing and faster shipping to your customers. OTW Shipping also offers a range of fulfillment services for eCommerce companies.
Things happen. If a customer orders to the wrong address or you need to put an order on hold, you have the power at your disposal to fix those problems right from our platform. We also have a variety of reports to give you a full understanding of your cost per order.
Order management is just one piece of the puzzle. You also need to make sure your inventory counts are accurate and your products are always stocked. OTW Shipping’s platform lets you track inventory in real-time and syncs with your stores so you never over-sell. You can also set alerts to let you know when you need to order more inventory!
White Label Fulfillment
Although your product is stored and shipped from OTW Shipping’s fulfillment centers, your customer will never know. Your packaging will never have OTW Shipping markings and the label will show that the package is being shipped from your company.
It’s tough to get volume discounts without shipping A LOT of packages. Luckily, we handle tens of thousands of orders every day. This means we can negotiate huge discounts with our carriers and pass those savings on to you!
Direct Access to Your Warehouse Team
Lastly, and most importantly, you will have your own communication channel with us. In addition to your account rep and our support team, you will be able to contact the warehouse and the people handling your product directly! This makes for quicker responses to your questions and the feeling of your own personal warehouse team.
Pick & Pack FAQs
What is a pick and pack warehouse?
This is a common term used to refer to a fulfillment center or third-party logistics company. OTW Shipping is one such example. We store your inventory, and when you receive orders we will pack and ship the orders for you.
What is a pick & pack fee?
This refers to the cost charged by your fulfillment center to pick the items for an order and pack them in packaging. There are a variety of different pricing models so we recommend using this template to compare quotes.
What does pick, pack, and ship mean?
This refers to the fulfillment process. When an order is placed in your store, your fulfillment center will pick the correct items from their location in the warehouse, pack them into packaging, and place a label on the order to be shipped to your customer.