Packing refers to two topics in inventory management: boxing and packing, representing the process of putting items into boxes to be shipped, and case packing, defining the quantities and packaging of items that are included in a case.
Boxing and packing
Some companies pack items and ship them out all as a single step from the perspective inventory records, and other companies separate out the process into boxing and packing as the first step, and shipping as the second step.
The boxing and packing step removes the individual items from stock on hand, and adds in their place a packed shipment. The step also often includes a transfer of the packed shipment to a staging area for later shipping. In some types of businesses the packed shipments may remain in the staging area for months before shipping out to the customer. The second step, shipping, records that the packed shipment has been transferred from company storage.
The single step process that includes boxing and packing and shipping altogether is simply the combination of the two parts of the process all at once, and without the transfer to the interim storage location.
Case packing defines the quantity of items that comprise a case. A case packing of 72/1 means 72 items in a single case, also abbreviated as simply 72.
In some inventory management systems you can keep track of cases of items separately from individuals in open stock, or eaches. However, even though the capability is available, you may choose not to use it because the additional complexity of keeping track of two numbers instead of one may outweigh the benefit.
If you deal just in cases, or just in open stock, then your inventory management choice is simple: just keep track of open stock or cases, whichever you use. Companies that deal in both cases and open stock, though, have a decision to make about how to keep their records.
Keeping track of cases and open stock separately
A little more explanation illuminates the trade offs. If you keep track of stock separately for cases and open stock, then when you sell items or buy items you will need to qualify whether the transaction quantities are in cases or eaches. Further, to ship an order for a large number of items that isn't a multiple of the case packing quantity, somewhere in the order handling process you need to reckon with the combination of full cases and additional open stock items that fill the order. For example, if your cases are packed 72/1, or 72 items per case, and you ship an order for 100 items, you may fulfill that order with one case of 72 plus 28 additional items from open stock. Or alternatively you could fill the order from 100 items all from open stock. If you are keeping track of cases and open stock separately, you need to specify what combination of cases and open stock items comprise the 100 items in the order so your records match what actually happens.
Keeping track of everything as open stock
If the distinction between open stock levels and case stock levels is important for your records, then specifying how you are fulfilling the orders is necessary and correct for keeping accurate records. However, it is extra work so if the distinction is not important to you then it may save time to keep track of everything as open stock.
Examples from Finale Inventory
Here is an example video of using Finale Inventory to keep track of returned items.
Boxing and packing