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Tricks of the trade on shipping out more than 50+ items a day

jsmith221jsmith221 Member
An Apprentice
We're a small dog related company. When we do promotions I cringe at the sight of our employee who decides that he will batch 2-3 days worth of jobs in one setting and have them all piled on the floor next to the ship station area. Then I find out today that he's not putting in packing slips (especially for the international folks) (I don't want to hear comments regarding yay or nay on packing slips. I'm a professional seller, and I'm old school, I want packing slips! LOL

Some items we cannot print in one day if we are waiting for new stock. So those items stay on hold in ship station. I hate when he says, "i have my own system that works..." or "I prefer to do this on my own so it doesn't get messed up" I understand, but as an owner, if I walk in and see 100 packing envelopes on the floor with no packing slips, all hand written on the tops with names of customers, and then being told, I have to do the postage now. This makes me crazy to see this. It's inefficient, it's messy, and to see him ever to have to train someone else to do this. Oh hell to the no!

Need advice, how do you all process these orders out of ship station?

Pick list first? Do you even use the pick list?
Print packing slips first and use those as your picking?
Print 100 labels at once? or One at a time and then place on packing?

We will continue to grow and with that I'd like to learn more about the process from others who ship out large quantities of small packages.

thanks
BDN

Comments

  • steveosteveo Member
    An Apprentice
    I think you have to make two big changes, and the rest will follow. The first is dump preconceived notions and old habits. The second is to take control.

    You said "I don't want to hear comments regarding yay or nay on packing slips.", but I'm going to comment anyway. Being a professional seller has nothing to do with packing slips and being "old school" in the new economy could be a barrier to success. Trust me, no one is more "old school" than me. I first started shipping via UPS for my own business since the mid-70s. As businesses and situations changed, my focus has always been efficiency, not preserving old habits.

    I have no opinion on whether packing slips are appropriate for you, but using them because that's the way you've always done it is an incredibly bad reason. You should analyze your current situation. What is the benefit of packing slips? What is the cost of using them? What are the costs of not using them? For example, if the cost of not using them is dealing with a rare complaint while the cost of using them is an hour a day of shipping labor, packing slips are obviously not worth it.

    You need a well defined shipping process. That process should be on paper and preferably flow charted to make it easy to follow and to easily identify inefficiencies. In a perfect, but harder to achieve world, you should identify risks and include controls to prevent and/or catch errors. For example, to minimize pick errors, if you pick from labels (as I do), make sure the product IDs or descriptions from all marketplaces are identical (you can change the default name in ShipStation) so that labels can be automatically batched by printing alphabetically. That also speeds-up processing. (It's worth noting that only three items can be listed on a label, so when there are three or more we use Field 3 to say "3 or more items" as a heads-up to look-up the order. That happens once every two months.)

    Collaborate with the shipping employee to create the written process. If he feels invested in the process, he is more likely to stick to it. Perhaps more importantly, since he's on the shipping front lines, he'll have invaluable insights.

    You really should ship every day. Not only is the larger multi-day volume more difficult to process, but the delay could be hurting your marketplace ratings. Even if you don't get negative ratings because of it, you are missing on positive ratings that customers are not posting.

    My company separates packing from shipping. Products go straight from manufacturing to being packed in shipping boxes, and then after printing labels, we pull batched by SKU and apply the labels. Wholesalers should also be able to pack for shipping when goods are received, assuming there's enough storage space. We leave a few unpacked so we can assemble unusual orders, but that's only 2% of orders. We ship a few more orders per day than you do. Even so, we don't print labels until 4:30 PM and the boxes are in the hands of the Post Office by 5:00. The exception is Mondays, when we print the weekend's orders in the morning to not make the afternoon too crazy. Frequently, we get a late afternoon order that is delivered the next morning. That almost always insures exuberant positive feedback.
  • jsmith221jsmith221 Member
    An Apprentice
    Thanks so much for your feedback. I'll weigh through it all carefully before making some much needed decisions & changes. I'll think about some things and post for more feedback and ask some more questions. I know I'll have some for you. I'll do some more research on warehouse layouts. We need a new system and things are slow enough right now that we can make those changes and not disrupt things too much.
  • Anthony@33543Anthony@33543 Member
    An Apprentice
    Just reading this thread and wanted to offer a kudos or +1 to Steveo's approach. I'll also 2nd the focus on a process. Having it on paper is something I am in agreement with and should actually do for us too. Additionally, i do believe this is valid for small and medium business for sure! Thanks Steveo and Jsmith221!
  • John@39C01John@39C01 Member
    An Apprentice
    I don't do packing slips. 25-30 packages per day is my current norm, but I have done 65. If I were to do packing slips, I would do the packingslip/label combination. For a while I was doing that just to be sure that I had the right label. But now I am using 2 up labels.

    I must say that, for me, it is important to have a system where I am 100% confident that I am not labeling the wrong thing. So, my system is this. I do all the same products in a row. For identical packages, I will batch. I like to print a label and then stick it on the package so that I know 100% that I did the package.

    For employees, you need to develop the system and then teach the exact system that you want. You doing it day after day is really the best way to develop the system because no one cares more than you. No one cares more than you that you are sending the right packages. No one cares more than you that you using the most cost effective shipping rates/methods, etc.
  • WayneWayne Member
    A Usual Suspect
    We ship a variety of products. Some boxes will be just one item, other orders may have 50 items. We average 75 orders a day, but will peak up into the hundreds. We always try to ship all orders in less than 1 business day. I think our average ship time for an order is a couple of hours during the day. Mondays are always a race to get the weekends packages out.

    We do not use packing lists, instead we have a large TV that we can view from a ways away and pull from that. (We have a small space for our inventory.) We pull the order, double check it, then pack it, weigh it and label it. Then move onto the next order.

    We are growing and will be moving to a larger space. This will bring about changes as we will have at least 2 shipping stations instead of just one, and our inventory will be more spread out. We may go to a picklist process at that time. I like the idea of a cart with an Ipad for the order picking/packing, but we shall see.

    We get no complaints for the lack of a packing slip on the orders. We are well known for our customer care, and our industry, I just don't think people care much if they have them or not.

    The only time I will batch print is if we have a bunch of identical orders. Curious how the workflow is with the batch printing.

    We have 2 USPS pickups a day, and 1 FedEx. So we like to have the packages ready to run out the door whenever a driver shows.
  • Konrad@38DADKonrad@38DAD Member
    An Apprentice
    Hi,

    Good topic.
    Here's what we do. We don't use picking lists. We print our labels and packing slips on one sheet of paper which is an integrated label. Top of the sheet is an adhesive label, and the bottom is plain paper with perforation in between. We print shipping label on the adhesive part and packing slip on the plain part. Then we use it all together as picking list. We do not offer backorders so we don't have problem with not having something in stock. We even print information about the selected box for the product on the packing slip, so it's much easier for the S&H person to choose the right box. Packing slip / shipping label always goes with the picking cart in separate slots. After the box is ready and inspected we just tear of the packing slip, stamp the information about inspection with the initials of the person who did the inspection, slip it into the box, and then put the shipping label part on the box. This way we don't waste paper for picking lists and we avoid putting the wrong label on the wrong box. We can use one laser printer for all of this and the only remains is just the back part of the adhesive label. We print the labels/packing slips in batch. Using proper automation rules is essential to save some time with setting the proper weight/box dimension/shipping service.
    So far it works for us. Now we're playing with introducing wireless barcode scanner into the process as we expect to expand the inventory.
  • Brad@478A0Brad@478A0 Member
    An Apprentice
    I just started using ShipStation, and I can honestly say it has cut my shipping times by over 5 times. I use to have to look at a spreadsheet and match up what they ordered with the label. I print 100+ labels at a time so keeping track was a nighmare. I now print off the packing list after the label and can do 100% of the shipping away from the computer. Paying 2x the money for labels is well worth the time saved - if your time is worth money.
  • StaticStatic Member
    An Apprentice
    When I first started using ShipStation (about a year and a half ago), the shipping method at my company was to spend the day packing orders and putting them in boxes, then writing the customer's first name and last initial on the box. Invoices went in before the box was taped up, and it was ready to go apart from the label. At the end of the day, we'd weigh each box on a scale that doesn't integrate with the computer, so it's all manual entry. Fingers crossed you can read the name on the box (Both I and my co-worker have deplorable handwriting, so we had some close calls with people with similar names). We'd tag each order that was ready to go with a weight and an associated box, then select them all and print the labels. The number of times we missed going to the post office because it took 15-20+ minutes to label 30+ boxes is more than I can count.
    We've recently switched to auto postage refill and completing orders one at a time. At the beginning of the day we print all the invoices and and a pick list if necessary. We have an area with the scale and a laptop which runs ShipStation Connect and is hooked up to the label printer and two laser printers. Whenever we finish a box, we weigh it and run off a label immediately. It's so much faster now than it used to be it just makes sense to do it that way. We save so much time versus trying to do them in batches. At the end of the day we have a pile of boxes ready to go instead of a pile of boxes to put labels on.

    Just my personal experience :)
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