Top Inventory Pick Processes for Ecommerce 3PL Warehouses

Managing inventory pick processes is critical for eCommerce 3PL warehouses. It will allow you to run a successful and organized eCommerce 3PL warehouse. There are many different aspects and complexity when handling inventory. Still, picking is one of the most essential. This determines how fast you can fill an order and deliver it to your customers.

Inventory Pick Processes

Manual Picking

The most widely used inventory picking process is manual picking. This inventory pick process involves employees picking each item manually.

This is usually the best option for small and low-volume warehouses due to its efficiency. The only drawback might be that it can take quite a time to complete all orders. This is true if you have a more complex order setup. A good example is if you must open every box before picking it.

Wave Picking

Wave picking is picking multiple orders at once in a single location. This method is ideal for warehouses with limited space. Plus, they require no additional sorting or storage areas.

The selector uses a scanner to scan each order ID and then collects all items related to that order. The selector should use a cart to move around the warehouse and collect items. As you collect each item, ensure you place it on top of the cart. This is so that you can add the following items without dropping anything off first. If you’re using barcode technology, consider using wireless headsets. This way, you will not require your employees to hold their hands while performing this task. Note how safer it is to have your employees walk around without scanners attached!!

Batch Picking

Batch picking is one of the most common inventory pick processes. It’s a method where you group orders together and then pick them in bulk.

You might be asking yourself, “Why not just pick all of the items for each order?” There are practical reasons for batch picking. It reduces the amount of time spent walking around a warehouse. This would mean less energy consumed on walking or driving around. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions and gas costs (if you use a vehicle). Picking orders in batches also makes it easier to track where items are located. Since you know that they are all located in one part of your warehouse, this helps ensure fast retrieval times when customers place new orders later on.

Zone Picking

Zone picking is a cost-effective method in large warehouses. The large warehouses have many stock-keeping units (SKUs) and little space to store them. With this method, workers can be assigned to an area of the warehouse (“zone”) and pick units from that zone as needed. In other words, each worker picks from one section of the entire inventory within the facility.

Zone picking is best used when your ecommerce 3PL warehouses have many SKUs. The SKUs must have relatively low unit counts per pallet or carton. That way, you can group products logically by type. This makes it easier to find workers who only need to process one item at a time in their assigned areas. 

Combine zone picking with another method, such as randomization if necessary. This can help expedite order processing since every worker will have access to many working zones. However, this will depend on how much room is available for storing product inventory.”

Single Order Picking

Single Order Picking is an excellent option for small warehouses, as it’s ideal for low volumes. You can use this method for pick and pack, order fulfillment, and shipping. We can use this single order picking process for receiving and returns if the orders are small enough.

Pick-to-Light Systems

Pick-to-light systems are probably the most common type of picking system. Many companies and warehouses use this technology. For example, Amazon employs this technology across its fulfillment centers. This way, you will be assured that items are picked at the right time and in the correct quantity. The process works by having an employee scan an order using a handheld scanner or computer terminal, directing them to pick each item on that order. Once they have successfully selected the first item, they press a button on their device. They will then be directed to pick the next thing in that order in the sequence. This method can be used for all picking processes—both manual (people) and automated (robots).

Voice-Directed Systems

A voice-directed pick system can be used to help you maximize employee productivity. Plus, it can increase satisfaction, safety, and accuracy. It also helps with cost, speed, and scalability. Voice directs are ideal for warehouses with a high volume of SKUs (stock-keeping units) to choose from and orders placed by customers. An automated voice-directed pick process is ideal when:

  • The warehouse layout is flat or has small shelves/racks.
  • You know the location of the items being picked in advance (like a grocery store)

Pick-to-Cart Systems

A pick-to-cart system is a good option if you have many SKUs. It also comes in handy if you need to quickly and efficiently get the proper inventory to your warehouse.

In this process, an operator follows behind each selector. The operator has a cart carrying all the items needed to pick. The operator hands over each bin as soon as it’s filled with items from one location or row. This method allows for faster picking speeds. This is because only one person moves around the facility. This is easier than two people walking side by side at slower speeds.


The size and layout of your warehouse are critical. This is because they influence Inventory Pick Processes in an eCommerce third-party warehouse. The size and layout of your warehouse are essential considerations. If you have a small facility that’s easy to navigate, you may want to consider a conveyor system.

Inventory Pick Processes

Conveyor systems are great for smaller facilities. This is because there isn’t much room between shelves or racks. Besides, they’re good if you want everything within reach of employees who will be walking around all day. For more details, contact sales support.

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