The 6 best picking methods for producers and retailers - Blog


The 6 best picking methods for producers and retailers

3 Minutes

Picking is the central function in inventory logistics and is associated with high costs. In many companies, around 50 percent of the overall inventory costs can be attributed to picking. There is plenty of savings potential here, which can be fully exploited with the use of modern technologies.

And picking has a significant influence on customer satisfaction. Fundamentally however, it is very simple: The lower the error rate, the more satisfied your customer is. It is definitely worth one's while to rethink existing processes and realign them where necessary. Especially is you are still using paper documents and picking notes. Paperless communication processes help reduce the error rate and thus the costs for complaints, post-picking, partial deliveries and cancellations. In our article, we will introduce the processes that are best suitable for food producers and retailers.

Pick by scan

Pick by scan is a commonly used picking procedure. The order data from the ERP system are transmitted to mobile data entry devices with scan function. The employees scan the items to be picked, take out the quantities indicated on the mobile data device, and acknowledge the process with a keystroke. The direct connection between the mobile data devices and the ERP system eliminates any media disruptions.


  • Fast and faultless information processing
  • Manual rework of the data is not required
  • Given the connection to the inventory management system, the current picking status can be permanently monitored
  • Systematic guidance in picking and optimized processing sequences

Pick by light

With pick by light, flashing lights indicate where the employees can find the items to be picked in the warehouse or at the picking station. Via an acknowledgment key directly at the tray or by means of an entry at the MDC device, the operator confirms the removal which is fed back to the software.


  • High pick performance through reduced search times
  • Inventory stock changes are immediately returned to the inventory management system
  • Wrong picks or missed items are virtually ruled out

Pick to light

Here, the orders received in the ERP system are transferred to displays in the picking area. The items to be picked are displayed with different colors on a screen, and the employees allot the ordered items to the displays. A completed order is confirmed, for example at the CSB-Racks, and the quantities are updated in the order.


  • Intuitive use
  • Very high pick performance with very low error rates
  • Automatic stock control through inventory function
  • Employees have their hands free

Sorter picking

Highly modern automated sorter systems are used for sorter picking. Semi- as well as fully automated models are employed together in small spaces. They are particularly useful for picking mixed containers. The software compiles order data, products and containers in an optimal manner. Supported by the software, products are retrieved from the warehouse, supplied to the picking lines and weigh-labeled at the sorters. After that, they are automatically ejected at the customer channels and distributed to the containers.


  • Very high degree of automation even on limited space
  • Efficient picking of mixed containers
  • Manual tasks are limited to a minimum
  • Very high performance with low error rates


With pick-b-voice, picking is speech controlled and thus very user-friendly. The order data from the CSB-System are converted into speech, and the respective orders are electronically transmitted to the headsets of the employees. This ensures error free and secure workflows. Using the headsets, the pickers have their hands free for key tasks, allowing them to respond faster and more flexibly. It also means less stress for the eyes of the workers. The pick process is confirmed by voice, too.


  • Very user-friendly
  • Only brief on-the-job training required
  • Very high pick performance with very low error rates
  • Employees have their hands free

Pick by vision

Pick-by-Vision is a new technology in which order data etc. is transmitted to so-called data glasses. This procedure offers many benefits, especially in cases of high picking volumes, whether in high-bay storage areas or floor picking. Current examples show time savings of approx. 18 percent while the error rate is extremely low.


  • High picking speeds and performance
  • Less picking errors and thus high picking
  • Hands-free solution
  • Efficient use in many different types of storages

No cut out solution

Every paperless system offers food producers and retailer considerable benefits in comparison to picking with picking notes. However, there are no cut out solutions. A lot of thought should therefore go into the selection of a new system.  Here, not only relevant parameters, such as product and assortment features and order structure have to be taken into consideration, but also spatial circumstances, the condition of the cooling zones, etc. Often a combination of different picking methods is the best choice in order to be able to process various item groups. Once example: The meat processing plant EDEKA Südwest Fleisch GmbH implements a"dynamic picking" (man-to-goods) as well as "static picking" (goods-to-man). Both systems are characterized by high performance: In the case of status picking, each employees reaches about 500 picks/hour, in dynamic picking 700 picks are possible.


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