Back to Blogs Warehouse Picking steps shown in graphics as strategies to speed up the process.

7 Warehouse Picking Strategies to Speed Up the Process

March 1, 2023 | Career Blog

If you work in a warehouse, you know that new strategies and methods to achieve efficiency are critical. As a picker, staying abreast of various warehouse picking strategies can help you complete your tasks faster and more accurately.

Working smarter, utilizing new methods, and performing to the best of your abilities can set you apart from other warehouse team members. You can increase customer satisfaction or boost your picking stats, leading to a raise or even a promotion that will further your career.

Find out more about advancing your career by speeding up the picking process.

Which Warehouse Picking Strategies Should You Learn?

Most distribution centers use several different picking methods depending on how many items they carry and how the workflow looks. Familiarizing yourself with these methods can help you create a picking strategy that works for you.

1. Velocity-Based Slotting

One of the most common warehouse picking strategies is called velocity-based slotting or product velocity. With this method, collated data determines which items are most frequently requested in orders.

These items are placed – or slotted – closer to the area where shipments are packed and sent out. Pickers won’t need to walk across the entire warehouse multiple times to pick items but can instead grab the items from a convenient, nearby location.

Velocity-based slotting is used in most companies. Whether your company uses this method or not, you should take mental notes about which picked items are the most common. 

Then, even if these items aren’t appropriately slotted, you can still make plans to gather them more efficiently, either by devising quick routes, planning ahead, or even bringing a suggestion to your co-workers in warehouse operations.

2. Establish Routes

As mentioned above, establishing routes is a common but beneficial picking strategy that you can quickly and easily put into place. As you learn the warehouse, you’ll get a feel for where certain items are kept, which items most frequently appear in orders, and the best way to get from place to place.

Building a good mental map of the warehouse and various storage areas can help you save time and even ensure better order picking accuracy.

Some warehouses provide established routes for you to follow. These routes may avoid certain areas where machines are frequently used or where people are performing other work, so it’s a good idea to keep these routes in mind and use them whenever possible.

3. Utilize Automated Picking Aids

Even when you’re working hard and have excellent supply chain support, picking mistakes can still happen. One strategy for combatting mistakes and making picking more efficient is to utilize any provided automated picking methods or tools.

Instead of replacing human workers, most automated picking solutions augment the order picking methods already in place. These tools can include:

  • Barcode scanners
  • Warehouse shuttles
  • Conveyor belts
  • Computer systems
  • Mobile robots, in some cases

Learning how to use these tools can help you speed up your picking and propel your career forward.

4. Zone Picking Method

Another well-known order picking process you might encounter or decide to implement is known as zone picking or pick and pass. With this method, each picker is assigned a zone in the warehouse. Pickers will find each item needed to fulfill a given order in their area before passing that order to team members in the next zone.

Zone picking means pickers won’t need to travel across the warehouse to retrieve items for a single order. Because they work within a smaller zone in the warehouse, zone pickers also get a better feel for where each item in their area is located, which helps to save even more time.

5. Discrete Picking Methods

Discrete picking is the warehouse picking process that warehouse pickers are probably most familiar with. For this method, pickers are given an order and pick one item at a time until the order is complete.

As a picker, you might travel anywhere in the warehouse before bringing the picked items back to the shipping area. So much movement can seem time-consuming, but working with co-workers to create your own pick-and-pass method, mapping out mental routes, and learning how to utilize automation tools can help you customize your workflow to make this picking method one that suits you.

6. Batch Picking Method

When batch picking is utilized, pickers receive multiple orders to process at a time. These orders include several of the same items so that workers can pick multiples of the same SKU numbers at once.

A picker might only collect certain items before the order moves to the next batch picker and so on until the order is fulfilled. Batch picking can decrease how far you need to travel around the warehouse. Usually, batch picking strategies are paired with computer systems that optimize picking efficiency.

7. Wave Picking Method

Wave picking, sometimes called cluster picking, is like a combination of batch and zone picking, but it also has different picking requirements.

Pickers receive multiple orders to work on at a time. This method groups orders into waves that prioritize deadlines, order importance, and how well the orders fit together. These orders often include similar items, be grouped by warehouse zone, or can be sorted using several other factors.

Pickers will use software, advanced technology, and pick sheets to keep track of which items match each order. Each group of pickers will move through the warehouse in a wave formation to maximize picking efficiency.

Find a Warehouse Job to Utilize Warehouse Picking Strategies

Warehouse jobs can lead to many career opportunities. Starting as a warehouse picker is a fantastic way to learn about a company and get a feel for the day-to-day operations.

However, if you’re currently in a position where you don’t feel that your warehouse manager is supportive or encouraging you to succeed, consider moving to a company where you do.

Allegiance Staffing works hard to find the right fit for employees and companies. We can help you find a job that suits your skills, interests, and goals.

Contact us to find out more about warehouse picking jobs that work better for you. You can also check the Jobs Board to learn about warehouse positions that are available right now. We can help you find a great role to use these warehouse picking strategies.