Which order picking solution suits your wholesale business?

Posted by Jackie Taylor on Tue, Oct 27, 2015

Discover the right order picking software for your wholesale business and the benefits that come with it.


Without the right system, order picking can be a labour-intensive process for wholesalers, but it is a critical one to get right. Mistakes can find their way into customers’ orders which means time spent on refunds and paperwork, not to mention dissatisfied customers.

With the right software, wholesalers can improve accuracy, speed and ultimately, customer satisfaction. But with many order picking systems available – which is right for your business?

Option 1: Radio Frequency – the handheld scanning system

Radio Frequency (RF) warehouse solutions are designed to improve efficiency and productivity with the use of handheld devices connected to the main network via RF Access Points installed at strategic locations around the warehouse.

Orders are transmitted to pickers via the devices. The result ensures an impressive 100% stock accuracy compared with paper picking - and the benefits don’t stop there.

RF systems can be used for shelf-edge label checking, stock taking and can match goods-in deliveries against purchase orders, highlighting shortfalls.

For Today’s Group member Regal Wholesale, RF sped up picking time and enabled goods inwards to be scanned straight off the truck. “It has reduced unloading time from three hours to just 20 minutes” said Project Manager Alison James.

It has also eliminated the need to have an annual stock take as stock levels are continuously and accurately monitored. This also benefits telesales staff as they have access to real-time stock levels, enabling them to provide customers with accurate stock information, which helps to boost customer service levels.

Option 2: Voice Directed Picking – hands-free technology

If you’re looking to take productivity and speed to the max, Voice Directed Picking could be the solution for your business. The system gives pickers the ability to communicate totally hands-free, helping them to complete tasks quickly, accurately, and without the need to return to work stations.

The system works by offering intelligent routing with voice instructions, saving time and effort for pickers, while increasing the number of orders picked per shift. It totally eliminates the need for printed lists, reducing costly errors and time spent processing returns.

For award-winning wholesaler JW Filshill, Voice Directed Picking helped to reduce pick time by as much as 30% for some products. Also the increased accuracy and reduction in handling damage - estimated at £10 per error - has enabled this project to achieve ROI with the first full year of operation.

Option 3: Zone Picking – minimising travelling time

For larger warehouses, Zone Picking has been shown to reduce order throughput times tremendously. Pickers are allocated to different zones to minimise travelling distance and enable the operators to stay focused on picking activities.

At Regal Wholesale, Zone Picking has enabled the business to make dramatic operational improvements. The system is configured so that orders that equate to more than 75% of the pick face are taken directly from the bulk location, halving the time spent on the picking order. “We don’t have people waiting around to drop stock, which makes a massive difference. Zone picking is helping us manage orders much better”, added Alison.

Whichever solution you choose for your business, there’s no doubt that saving time and eliminating errors, while improving efficiencies and cost savings, is a worthwhile investment.

Four reasons to invest in order picking solutions

  • Improve productivity and achieve 100% accurate stock taking
  • Match goods-in deliveries against purchase orders to highlight shortfalls and plan ahead
  • Hands-free picking with voice solutions increases accuracy to 99.9% and boosts hourly pick rates
  • Reduce order picking and throughput time further with Zone Picking.

JW Filshill improved its warehouse picking rate by 64% - find out how you can too by downloading: ‘Wholesalers: your essential guide to warehouse management’

Wholesalers: your essential guide to warehouse management