What is Batch Picking?


Picking is a fundamental part of the order fulfillment process, yet, it can prove to be one of the most significant sources of inefficiency and productivity losses in a warehouse. Various picking methods can be chosen to maximize the speed and efficiency of order processing, such as pick-to-order, zone picking, wave picking, and cluster picking. However, Batch picking is often seen as the most effective because it is designed to reduce the amount of travel and walking required of warehouse workers and maximize picking rates. Batch picking is particularly useful when there is a large number of the same orders that need to be fulfilled at the same time.

What is batch picking?

Batch picking, cluster picking, or fulfillment batching is collecting items for multiple customer orders simultaneously instead of picking items one at a time. This selection method is designed to maximize operational efficiency by allowing one picker to gather items for a batch of orders in one trip instead of making multiple trips to the exact location for different orders.

Batch picking is a technique of gathering items destined for the same location, usually done to fulfill an order. It is typically done by creating a selection list for each order and allocating batches to pickers. The selectors will then go through the warehouse and retrieve all items specified in their inventory. After all of the products have been collected, they will be packed and dispatched to the appropriate destination. This method of organizing orders by the same items can be beneficial as it allows pickers to collect multiple orders simultaneously, making the process quicker. Additionally, selectors are less likely to make mistakes when selecting items, as they should all be heading to the same destination.

What are the Costs and Benefits of Batch Picking?

Batch picking is a widely used methodology in warehouses and distribution centers to improve the overall picking speed and efficiency. This technique involves gathering multiple orders into a single batch, which gets picked in a single go. The advantages of batch picking include reduced foot travel for the pickers, faster picking, decreased congestion and exhaustion, and lower costs. Implementing the most effective batch-picking systems may be costly initially as they involve automation and warehouse robotics. On the other hand, there are specific potential cons associated with batch picking, such as the requirement of extra storage space and the potential for confusion due to multiple orders in the same batch. However, the positive effects often surpass these disadvantages, ultimately making batch picking a preferred choice for many companies.

How does batch picking work? 

The items must be retrieved from a pick-and-pack warehouse when your customer orders. Instead of assigning one order at a time to a selector, a group of the same orders is assigned to a single selector. Here’s more on how batch picking works:

1.Generate picking lists for each order

A picking list is a written record that details the items that must be shipped to a particular customer. It will include the SKU(s), the quantities, and the inventory storage location(s). Batch picking is the most efficient approach to processing orders with identical picking lists. This method allows pickers to queue up a list of demands that will be sent to different customers. In this day and age, printed picking lists are seldom used. Instead, most warehouses adopt modern technology and employ wearable pickers. This technology helps aggregate, assign and complete each order without paper.

2.Group orders by everyday items

Orders with identical items must be grouped together to execute batch picking. This process can be made much easier using an order management system or a Warehouse Management System (WMS). These systems can automatically amalgamate orders which contain the same items and amounts, making batch picking a much simpler task.

3.Give a batch to a picker.

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can generate pick lists for each of the selectors to go and retrieve the necessary items most effectively. If this process is done manually, it would require the creation of a recommended route for each picker to quickly and conveniently obtain all the Stock Keeping Units (SKUs).

4.Pick all items in the order.

Every picker is expected to go through the packing list in order to accurately select the correct items and plan their route in the most efficient way possible to avoid wasting time or taking unnecessary steps. After all the SKUs for the batch orders have been gathered, they can be passed onto a packer, and the selector can then move on to the next set of demands.

Top 2 advantages of batch picking

1.Less foot travel for employees

Warehouses can be enormous, and it can take a lot of time to traverse the different sections of a warehouse. If your staff have to take items from multiple, distant locations, it will take them longer to fulfill orders. Batch picking helps concentrate operations, meaning that employees can do the same job in one go and travel shorter distances.

2.Faster picking rates

A batch-picking system for your warehouse operations can be a massive boon regarding successful fulfillment. This system enables your employees to make fewer trips around the warehouse, allowing them to complete their tasks quickly. With the amount of travel and waiting between orders drastically reduced, pickers can process orders quickly and efficiently, thus lowering the average time it takes to fulfill an order.

When should Batch Picking be used?

Batch picking is particularly advantageous for large companies that process many orders daily. Instead of having to travel around the warehouse to pick items for one order at a time, batch picking allows the picker to collect items for multiple orders in one trip, thus drastically reducing the amount of time and energy spent on picking. This is especially beneficial to companies with a large number of orders to process, as it eliminates the need to move around the warehouse constantly and helps save time, energy, and resources.

For businesses that are in the e-commerce sector, customer satisfaction is of paramount importance. As a result, finding the quickest and most effective picking strategy is essential. The batch-picking process can be incredibly advantageous for e-commerce businesses with a large inventory and multiple SKUs. It is a process where multiple orders are grouped and picked simultaneously, increasing the order fulfillment speed. On the other hand, this strategy may not be suitable for smaller companies with limited supplies since travel time is not a concern. As a result, batch picking may require additional time to sort items after they have been picked.

Implement Batch Picking with a WMS

Most warehouses use some form of batch picking, where an order picker pulls multiple orders at once. This can be done with or without the help of a warehouse management system (WMS).

Using a Warehouse Management System (WMS) for batch picking offers several advantages:

  • It can assist in optimizing the order-picking route to increase productivity.
  • A WMS can give real-time information about inventory levels, letting pickers know what is available and where it is located.
  • A WMS can monitor the progress of each picker, allowing it to identify any potential delays or issues.

The initial phase in setting up batch picking with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is generating pick lists for each order picker. These pick lists should be built around the most efficient order-picking route. After the pick lists are ready, the selectors can start working. As they complete their tasks, they must update the WMS with the relevant details. This will allow the WMS to track the status of each order and identify any potential delays. Furthermore, the data can be utilized to generate reports or alerts in case of any issues.


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