Best warehouse picking practices

Picking is a critical aspect of fulfilment in the supply chains which encompassess the selection and retrieval of items for customer orders. There are several picking practices that supply chains can follow to improve their overall order fulfilment. There are quite a few practices that can make the process more refined with higher accuracy. It also increases productivity and provides greater output and faster cycle times. 

This guide delves into various methodologies, such as batch picking and zone picking, to streamline processes and minimise errors. It explores technology integration, including barcode scanning and automated systems, to enhance accuracy and speed. 

No matter what industry you’re in, the best warehouse picking practices will improve your overall order fulfilment. So, let’s take a look at some of these practices. 

9 Best Warehouse Picking Practices

Implementing one or more of the following order picking processes in warehouse refinements supports higher accuracy, increased productivity, greater throughput and faster cycle times in order picking—ultimately maximising efficiency while boosting customer satisfaction.

1. Warehouse Organisation- Focus on Facility Flow

Organise your warehouse based on the order in which inventory travels through each functional area. That is, receiving to storage/putaway to replenishment to order picking  to sorting/consolidation to packing and staging for shipment to outbound.

Each area should logically lead to the next, eliminating the need to double back or pass through a later process on the way to an earlier one. Other best practices include hanging signage to help associates quickly identify where they are and where they need to be. 

You can give them a map if they are new or if things have changed. Keep storage locations neat and organised. Ensure to not block the aisles or they are not too narrow.  

Just like this there are other options in this list of “best warehouse picking practices” that can help supply chains streamline functions and delivery. Let’s see what they are.

2. Establish a Receiving Process

Make sure to establish a receiving and inspection process that includes greater visibility into shipments, their contents and their scheduling. Not just that it also includes more communication with dock staff about each shift’s activities and expectations. 

Setting firm delivery times with shippers, establishing time-to-unload goals and meeting them, inspecting goods and sorting, classifying and staging them for forward pick replenishment or storage. It also includes sending those items immediately on to their destination to ensure that the pickers are continuously filling orders without delay, prevent traffic jams and improve overall throughput. 

3. Use Bins, Totes and Dividers 

Amongst all the best warehouse picking practices, storage is also a great point of concern. Since the warehouse is a large place, it can be difficult to find items without proper storage and documentation. Whether the items are on shelves or racks or in an automated system, it is crucial to maintain an efficient inventory.

When storage facilities sub-divide inventory with reusable plastic bins, totes, dividers, it makes it easier to find what you are looking for a lot faster. They are ideal for storing and sorting through bulk quantities of tiny items such as nails, washers, O-rings and more. 

This also simultaneously allows to store more items in the same space. With proper labelling, totes, bins and dividers can reduce the search time in picking. Additionally, such best warehouse picking practices keeps the contents clean and protected from dust and debris and damage. 

4. Reduce Waking Time 

Associates spend a chunk of their time on the warehouse floor walking from one end to the other. Of course, it is time consuming and slows down the work process. This happens not only because of the expansiveness of the storage facility but also because the arrangement in it is out of order. 

Reduce walking time with proper arrangement. In addition to properly arranging and slotting in a facility, there are other ways to cut out steps of the process. This includes locating items that are frequently picked together close to each other.

Furthermore, having best warehouse picking practices like associate’s pick orders directly into shipping cartons can avoid the need to route all picks through a consolidation zone, eliminating more travel while saving time.

5. Improving Ergonomics with Goods-to-Person Technology

Implementing a Goods-to-Person (GTP) technology in warehouses enhances ergonomics by minising strenuous manual labour. Employees remain stationary as the goods reach them. This reduces repetitive bending and lifting, thus lowering the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

GTO systems have ergonomic principles which optimise worker comfort and safety. With reduced physical strain, workers can maintain accuracy and efficiency throughout their shifts. Such a measure helps to increase the productivity of the workers. 

Not just this, GTP technology facilitates a more organised and efficient workflow, further enhancing employee well-being by minimising stress and fatigue that generally occur due to traditional picking methods. 

Apart from technology, you cannot talk about the best warehouse picking practices without choosing the right strategy. Let’s eee it in detail.

6. Choosing the Correct Picking Strategy

Choosing the right warehouse picking strategy for your operation will speed up order fulfilment. This happens as it fulfils more picks simultaneously. Batch picking involves grouping several orders that contain many of the same items, and then assign an associate to make a single trip to fill them all,

Zone picking, pick and pass or parallel picking, assigns different workers to different locations in the facility. They pick only the required items stored in their area, placing them into a tote that goes to the next step within the process. The process then repeats until the order is complete. 

 Wave picking releases orders grouped by specific criteria such as priority or regional destination for fulfilment, breaking work into manageable chunks while meeting outbound carrier cutoff times. 

7. Implement ASRS to Reduce Costs

Since travelling to locations to deliver items is time consuming and costs more, supply chains and storage facilities can take measures to resist that. Enter the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS).

Implementing an ASRS typically pays off in roughly 18 months. It comes with variety of systems like Vertical Carousel Modules (VCMs), Horizontal Carousel Modules, Vertical Buffer Modules (VBMs) and Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) each offering cost saving benefits. 

Each of these systems stores inventory in a highly dense footprint, saving floor space. Since these automation technologies work on the goods-to-person principle and deliver required picks to an associate, it significantly reduces travel and search time.  

Apart from such best warehouse picking practices, no warehouse is complete without scanners and tags. With the management of multiple items, warehouses would need proper measurement that tracks the entry, storage and dispatch of items from the inventory. Let’s see how to implement scanning

8. Integrating Scan Verification 

Utilising automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) technologies, such as handheld or fixed-location radio frequency (RF) scanners or camera-based imagers, rather than manually inputting product codes or visually cross-checking SKU numbers, significantly enhances accuracy by instantly validating items based on their barcodes. 

These technologies can read codes placed anywhere, from pick lists to storage positions on single units, cases, pallets, and totes, ensuring that the item picked by the worker matches the required item for the order. This reduces human picking errors and can expedite or even eliminate the need for quality checks later in the order picking process.

9. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is essential for effectively managing and improving operations. KPIs and metrics provide benchmarks to assess performance and identify areas for enhancement. 

Common order picking KPIs include measuring space utilization, throughput (number of picks or orders completed within a specific timeframe), accuracy of physical inventory and picks, and labor costs associated with order fulfillment tasks. Beginning the metrics journey involves determining what to measure, how to measure it, and establishing a regular reporting cadence. 

FAQs: Guide to 9 Best Warehouse Picking Practices

What are the three most used picking systems in warehousing?

Batch, zone, and wave picking are the most common strategies that warehouses use in their picking. 

What is the most efficient picking system?

The efficiency of any picking system depends on a set of factors like order volume, SKU variety and warehouse layout.

How does picking directly into shipping cartons improve efficiency in warehouse operations?

Picking directly into shipping cartons saves time by eliminating the need for extra handling and streamlining the packing process. 


Implementing these ten best warehouse picking practices can significantly enhance efficiency and accuracy in order fulfilment. From optimising warehouse organisation to integrating advanced technology and automation, these practices reduce errors, minimise walking time, and improve ergonomics. For more such information and warehouse and supply chain optimisation techniques visit Qodenext.

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