Barcode Order Picking

Barcode order picking become increasing important improve the order picking efficiency and mitigate costly picking errors as a company order volume grows.  Order picking is by far the most labor-intensive process in the warehouse and also the most error prone – which makes it an ideal workflow for operational improvements. Order picking is also the activity that plays the biggest role for customer satisfaction with the warehouse. Order picking is the last touch point between you and your customers. Mistakes happen, but in order picking operations, reducing the number of errors is critically important.

barcode order picking

Florida-based Cable and Sensors leverages Finale’s barcode solution for their order picking process

Incorrect packed shipments will increase service calls from unhappy customers resulting in time and money. Not only is the customer with the incorrect order harmed, so are potential future customers who suffer because of inventory errors delaying orders.

The integrated Finale mobile barcode scanner solution will improve the order picking efficiency and mitigate costly picking errors. Finale will automatically provide each handheld with updated lists of items to pick, and the barcode order picking system will ensure staff can pick and pack stock accurately from anywhere.

Data is normally transmitted from the wireless barcode scanner to Finale via WiFi. If the warehouse does not have not WiFi or the WiFi is spotty, the data can able also be transferred by docking the scanning and syncing via USB cable.

The barcode scanner has four picking options and two packing options to allow you to decide which barcode order picking operation is best for your operations.


  1. Basic – Un-Guided Discrete Picking (Picking a sales order one by one)
  2. Basic – Directed Picking (One order at a time)
  3. Advanced Batch- Barcode Wave Picking
  4. Advanced Batch- Barcode Pick and Pack


  1. Item By Item – All items on the order must be scanned
  2. Scan packed orders

When it’s time to pick and ship ecommerce orders, most small businesses tend to start with the basic picking, picking orders one by one. This fulfillment process usually involves printing out paper pick lists for each order, using the barcode scanner to pick items for one order at a time, packing and shipping that order, then moving on to the next pick list on the printed stack.

This basic picking routine is called discrete picking and shipping and is the most common fulfillment method among online retailers. The advantage is discrete fulfillment is straightforward and easy to adopt, but simplicity comes at a major cost in fulfillment efficiency.

As order volumes grow, companies typically migrate to a batch picking process, wave picking or pick and pack. The basic batch fulfillment workflow is simple. Instead of starting with one order, a store worker will group similar orders together in batches. Travel time can easily account for 50% or more of order picking hours. By combining orders into a single batch, the time spent walking through the warehouse is greatly diminished.

Regardless of the picking or packing option, Finale will instantly speed up the picking and packing process by scanning the barcode when an item or order is picked or packed. As items are scanned, Finale checks every picked item against its barcode and alerts the user if the incorrect items were picked. If your warehouse segmented by sublocations (e.g aisles, shelves, or bins), the scanner can be additionally configured to alert the user where to find and pick the item.

Check out videos below to learn about the various barcode picking options.

Barcode Order Picking and Packing Options Overview

Video Transcription

Hello, Mike Kroeger with Finale Inventory. We’re gonna discuss very quickly, in this short video, about the different picking options using the Finale mobile barcode scanner and our Finale Data Collector software.

So in our mobile data collector, you can have basically four different ways to pick and pack your sales orders. So one of them that we call is called Basic. So we have two ways to do Basic, you can have a Basic – Simple and you have a Basic – Directed. And then you also have a choice of Wave picking and Pick and Pack.

Let’s cover basics of just the differences of the barcode order picking options. So a Basic – Simple, it basically means you’re gonna pick one order at a time. So you would be choosing the order that you wish to pick, it’s going to basically ask you to scan an item. It’s not gonna tell you where to go or any of that other information. It’s just a basic pick function. So that’s called Basic – Simple. Now, there’s another way you can do, is you can change the settings in the software on the handheld and you can throw it into what we call a directed mode. So here we see a Basic – Directed. It’s still just one order picking at a time. But if you go to the directed mode, then it will actually tell you which item to pick on the order. It’ll tell you how many you should pick. It will tell you where to go in your warehouse if you have multiple locations where products are stored. It will direct you to each of the different areas. And it will direct you in the proper order. So it’ll sort the warehouse locations in an alphanumerical order, it will tell you to go in that alphabetical order to make it through the warehouse most efficiently. And you’ll see feedback on the scanner. Like, it tells you where the scanner is now and where it’s picking from and how many are in that location. There’s a lot more information when you use the Basic – Directed.

Now, what this does is it’s gonna allow you to pick one order at a time. And when you get done picking that one order, it will be considered packed or shipped based on your settings that you set. So that covers Basic. But there’s two more advanced features in picking sales orders with the Finale Data Collector. So the next two barcode order picking options are Wave picking and what we call Pick and Pack.

So let’s talk about the next barcode order picking option, Wave picking. Wave picking is designed for you to process multiple orders in a Wave. So that means you’re going to pick and you are gonna pack multiple orders at the exact same time. You’re gonna make one trip in the warehouse and possibly pick and pack all the items on, say, 5 orders at a time, 10 orders at a time, 20 orders at a time, depending on how big a cart you got and how many you wanna try to pick and pack all at the same time. That’s called a Wave. So we call Wave picking for multiple orders. So it basically starts in the premise that you’re gonna have a stack of packing slips, right? So you may have a stack of, say, 10 packing slips and you wanna make 1 trip in the warehouse and pick everything on those 10 packing slips. So what you would do is you would scan each one of those packing slips because each one represents a different order. And you’re gonna associate an order with a slot.

Now, a slot is what we’re calling nothing more than a bin or a storage bucket or a place on a cart. So, you can have cardboard boxes or bins that separate each order that when you go through the warehouse and pick, you’re gonna assign each order its own little bin, or what we call a slot. And you’re gonna put each item into each bin. And then we will then tell you how to most efficiently go through the warehouse and go pick all the items for all those orders that you have put in the wave on your cart. We will go into more detail within a real live example in a secondary video. This is really just to orientate you on the different options you have for picking using our barcode scanner.

Now, if the Wave picking is not good enough as a barcode order picking option, so maybe you have even more orders and you wanna get even more efficiency, so you’re a large e-commerce or a large high processing business, then you may wanna consider Pick and Pack as a barcode order picking option. So Pick and Pack is actually built on batches of orders. So it’s still a multi-order pick and pack process but what we do is we separate the picking process from the packing process. So we call it pick then pack. So Pick and Pack is really the separation of the two whereas Wave, you’re gonna be picking and packing multiple orders at the same time. So Pick and Pack is gonna work similar to the Wave but it separates the pick process from the packing process.

So for example, you may have a stack of 30, 50 or a hundred orders out of, maybe, thousands of orders that you need to go process. And you wanna send a team into the warehouse to go pick all of the products related to a batch of, say, 30 or 50 or a hundred orders so that you don’t have individuals walking in and out of the warehouse trying to locate the one or two items that are on each of these orders. You’re gonna send one person to go get all the items that they need to fulfill the batch of orders in a pick process and they’re gonna bring all that merchandise back to a centralized packing location where they or another team may pack ’em from that packing location, not necessarily the warehouse. So it’s called Pick and Pack. So that’s what Pick and Pack is designed for.

So what it will do is allow you to scan the order IDs off the packing slips. You can just sit there and scan, you know, 10, 20, 30, 50 orders right into the scanner. And when you get done, you’ll tell the scanner that you wanna go pick all the items for the total number of orders you’ve scanned in. So it creates a consolidated picklist and then drives you in the warehouse to just go get the items. Don’t worry about what orders they go on, it’s just saying, “Hey, let’s go pull this from the warehouse and bring it back to the central packing location.” And then you’re gonna go through a pack process. That’s the difference.

So we covered various barcode order picking options: Wave, Pick and Pack. So in other videos, we will go into more details and give you prime examples of each of these and how they work. Give you a better idea of how they flow.


(Videos: See complete list of available videos)