How to do order picking in logistics?

  • 20/06/2024
  • 18 minutes

If your company is responsible not only for production but also for delivery, then you are aware of the importance of a strategy for order picking in logistics. However, if the management of the area is not part of your priorities, there are great chances that your business will suffer to serve customers satisfactorily.

After all, order picking is one of the key elements of a product’s delivery process. If it doesn’t work well, shipping and therefore customer satisfaction doesn’t happen.

The good news is that there are techniques to make this process more efficient. In this text, we have separated some tips of what you can do. Check it out!

What is picking in logistics?

Before we show you how you can improve this step, let’s make it very clear what picking really means in logistics.

This process does not just refer to the act of taking a product and sending it for delivery, in fact, it is all that happens until it arrives at the buyer’s house. Therefore, it involves from the choice, confirmation of payment to the withdrawal of stock and delivery.

What are the order picking modes?

Even though it seems like a simple step, there are different ways to perform order picking. The variables depend mainly on the structure of the deposit, in addition to the purpose of the company. 

Also, it is quite common for management not only to use one way of organizing itself, but to merge two or more to better adapt to the warehouse.

Here are the top ways to pick orders. Keep going!

Zone selection

This is one of the cases where the warehouse structure is primarily responsible for determining what the picking will look like. Zone selection is usually used in large warehouses, where the same order can contain several products. In this case, to reduce the travel time, the organization is carried out in zones.

The deposit is divided into sectors according to the characteristics of the application — for example, weight, fragility, etc. Items are selected as they relate to the area, that is, if an order contains heavy products, they will be picked into the zone for the heaviest objects.

At the time of picking, the boxes or containers pass through each zone to pick up one or more products according to what the customer purchased.

Discrete picking

Here, the separation does not happen by area, but rather individually, which makes the process even slower than the previous one. Typically, employees should check what the product is, the quantity and package them for shipment.

As it is a less automated form, it is an ideal type for smaller warehouses or in which the team is reduced, working for situations of lower demand.

Multiple order

First, the products are evaluated according to demand, that is, their popularity. What happens is that several orders are collected at the same time, grouping those that are most common in a list. The idea is to make them ready for when the selectors receive the signal to separate them.

Therefore, in the multiple order, instead of separating the items from a single order, the operator takes the list and collects the units in the same batch. It is an ideal technique for e-commerce that has little variation in the ordering routine.

 Cluster selection

In this case, the warehouse is divided into groups of products with the same functions – for example, cleaning, food, electronics, etc. Employees receive the orders and pick up the items in each corresponding cluster. The major advantage of this technique is that employees do not waste time searching for products throughout the warehouse; instead, they go directly to the related cluster.

Wave Picking

It is a form of picking in which orders are organized by batches (waves). Each is grouped to a series of items that may contain the same characteristics, such as term, weight, etc. 

For example, if a distribution center receives 60 orders in a day, they can be divided into 4 waves of 15. Each batch would be separated in a certain period in order to save more time and bring more speed to the shipment.

What are the steps in the order cycle?

More important than knowing what the methods for delivering orders are, it is essential to understand how the process as a whole works. Basically, it is divided into four steps that we will know next.


In this first step, the distribution center or warehouse receives the order information. As each company may have a different channel for this process — such as an online store, in-person service, direct contact with a salesperson, etc. — it will depend more on the tools used to capture and accurately record what the consumer ordered.


With the order in hand or on file, it’s now time to process it. This is not a one-time procedure, in fact, it is a combination of steps that consists of preparing, transmitting, receiving, attending and monitoring. It is at this stage that the sales, service and inventory sectors work together for the consumer to receive their product

Therefore, it is crucial that the communication between the areas does not have any type of noise, in addition to the company having a management system. This is also where much of the logistics is performed, after all, the goal is for order processing to be done in a short time and without errors.


We can say that this is a part of the processing, after all, the billing phase is where the entire financial step is performed. In addition to, of course, the collection and payment, it is at this time that the issuance of invoices and the dispatch to the carrier occur.


Finally, with all previous phases executed, it is now time for the orders to be distributed. It is at this stage that the company contacts the carrier, which can be either a third party or its own.

It is a stage that needs planning for its execution. That is, define in advance which vehicle will be used, the load, the route and also how the items will be unloaded, among others.

With all these elements ready, the order shipping phase begins. It is a step that needs monitoring by the company. Make sure that everyone complies with the schedule established in the planning.

Finally, it is time to check if the consumer received the product on time and also manage a support channel for any problems.

How to make a good order picking?

As we have shown so far, order picking consists of a series of steps that, in order to be executed, require some care. Pay attention to the space, the type of delivery, and the demand for orders. In addition, there are a number of other measures that help make this whole process more efficient.

Next, we’ll walk you through what you can do to have good order picking. Check it out!

Plan your collection routes

Planning will be a constant activity during separation. Understand that, precisely because it is a more mechanized activity, as there is no variety in its execution, having a step-by-step process is very important for the success of the operation.

In this case, regardless of the chosen type, whether it’s zone picking, wave picking, or cluster picking, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the route that employees will take in the warehouse.

It must be defined with productivity and efficiency in mind, after all, it is important that nothing gets in the way of employees. Also don’t forget to always re-evaluate this planning – the goal should be to look for improvements and prevent the process from becoming obsolete.

Regularly review strategies

Here it is important that not only storage methods are reviewed, but also product sourcing. For this, it is essential to have organization in the order flow.

From intake to preparation and shipping, all these stages must work in a coordinated manner, making it important to invest in strategies and, of course, review if their execution is truly effective. In addition to this care, management must pay attention to two essential situations for the success of separation: inventory fragmentation and its turnover and control.

In the first case, it’s important to avoid a single stock-keeping unit (SKU) having an overload of functions and being used in multiple positions in the warehouse. The tendency is that this generates more errors at the time of separation. It is also essential to use strategies, such as the ABC Curve to achieve more agility during this process.

The second consists of an analysis of the inputs and outputs of the warehouse. Mainly what are the products that have the most orders and how to organize them in a way that facilitates their storage and pickup.

In this process, you will need to make some calculations to know how much is needed to keep the warehouse always stocked with these products. It is important to consider seasonal dates and peak periods.

Conduct periodic inventories

Management must maintain a routine to check the condition of the products deposited in the warehouse. The objective is to assess whether these items are being stored well, both in the way they are arranged on site, and whether the warehouse ensures good conservation conditions.

During the review, some aspects should be analyzed more closely, such as product counts, item location and arrangement, preservation status, expiration dates, among others. This is the best way to prevent and correct errors that may be making it difficult to separate orders.

Implement speed-based allocation

Management needs to have a good knowledge of which products have the most output to implement this strategy. The idea is to see the organization of the warehouse according to the level of output of products.

So, even though there may be a certain period during which these items do not leave the stock, you know that they are the most requested, therefore, they should be arranged in a way that facilitates their retrieval, and, of course, they should always be restocked according to demand.

Use indicators

Monitoring and evaluating your company’s logistics performance will be an essential process for keeping track of your inventory and picking. Tools such as performance indicators work as a way to ensure that management is acting correctly and is on track to achieve its goals.

Automate picking and shipping processes

 Technology will be a great ally for you to be able to speed up many of the stages of separation. It ensures that most of the steps are error-free.

There are several possibilities in the market, however, inventory management software is the best option, since it is specially made to meet the needs of the sector. It will be possible to control the inputs and outputs, monitor the expiration dates, understand which are the requests for greater demand, among other processes.

What is the importance of picking methods?

It is undeniable that the moment of picking is essential for the success of the delivery. It is at this stage that the order is prepared to be sent to the customer, so any mistake can be fatal to the company’s reputation. Therefore, investments to make it faster and more efficient should be at the top of the priority list.

Did you like to learn about the main order picking processes? Want to keep learning more?  Check out our post on logistics 4.0 and understand about this concept.