Wave Picking in Warehouses: Enhancing Efficiency, Benefits, and Strategies

Efficient picking strategies are crucial for warehouse operations, as they directly impact order fulfillment, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Wave picking is one such strategy that has gained popularity due to its potential to streamline the order picking process. In this blog post, we will discuss what wave picking is, its benefits, and how to optimize it for the best results in your warehouse.

What is Wave Picking?


Wave picking is a method of organizing and scheduling the picking process in a warehouse by releasing a group of orders into the system simultaneously. These orders are typically grouped based on certain criteria such as order priority, delivery deadlines, item locations, or shipping carriers. The term "wave" comes from the idea of releasing a large amount of work at once, or a wave of work, where pickers focus on picking line items rather than individual orders. The picked items are later consolidated and sorted downstream in the order fulfillment process.


Benefits of Wave Picking


  • Reduced travel time: By grouping orders into waves, pickers can collect items for multiple orders in a single pass, reducing the overall travel time.
  • Improved resource allocation: Wave picking allows for better scheduling of labor and equipment, ensuring optimal utilization of warehouse resources.
  • Faster order fulfillment: By prioritizing orders based on criteria like delivery deadlines, wave picking can help ensure timely order fulfillment and improve customer satisfaction.




Wave Picking for Single Line Item Orders


One effective wave picking approach is to group single line item orders into one wave. This strategy can help reduce transportation and avoid the need for consolidation downstream. Pickers can collect items for multiple single line orders into a single tote or cart, which can then be sent directly to packers and shippers. The packers and shippers do not have to match or consolidate as each item in the tote represents a single order.


Additionally, wave picking single line item orders can further support a single shift. With labor difficult to find right now, some facilities are starting the day by wave picking single line item orders to ensure that packers and shippers have work to do at the beginning of the day. Instead of staggering shifts or running two shifts, a wave of single line item orders that can quickly reach the downstream process keeps the packers and shippers busy from the start of the day and thus eliminates the need for staggered or multiple shifts making one single work shift possible.


Combining wave picking with a pick and pack strategy can be a double win specifically for e-commerce fulfillment.

For a Deeper Dive: Optimizing the Pick and Pack Fulfillment Process



How ASRS Can Optimize Wave Picking


Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) can add to the efficiency of wave picking in several ways:

  1. Faster item retrieval: ASRS can quickly and accurately locate and retrieve items, reducing the time spent searching for products and allowing pickers to focus on completing waves.
  2. Improved wave planning: ASRS can provide real-time inventory data, enabling warehouse management systems to plan waves more effectively by considering factors like item locations and availability.
  3. Enhanced order consolidation: ASRS can assist in consolidating picked items from multiple orders, reducing the need for manual sorting and speeding up the order fulfillment process.
  4. Integration with other systems: ASRS can be integrated with warehouse management systems, conveyor systems, and sorting systems to create a seamless wave picking process, further enhancing efficiency.


Wave picking in the warehouse is an effective strategy for streamlining the order picking process. By grouping orders and prioritizing them based on various criteria, wave picking can significantly reduce travel time, improve resource allocation, and speed up order fulfillment.


For other order picking strategies, check out our blog: 3 Warehouse Order Picking Strategies to Maximize Throughput and Accuracy