It’s 2017 and it seems like we still can’t quite get away from packing slips. While direct-to-consumer e-commerce has greatly reduced the number of companies using physical packing slips and substituting e-mail instead, there are still companies that include physical packing slips with each order. For today, let’s talk about creative ways that companies who need/want to send physical packing slips can still do this – and actually make it easier on the warehouse.
With the holiday season upon us, I’ve seen many boxes arrive at my home lately, and inside is a tiny little packing list generally printed on 4 x 6 label stock. From a warehouse operations perspective, this is nice because it is very simple to marry the packing slip, box, and shipping label together. If done right, the packing slip can print out on the same label printer as the shipping label. This eliminates the need to have 2 printers at a pack station or in the case of operations where pack stations are eliminated altogether by picking the order directly into the final shipping carton, the packing slip can be printed in advance with the shipping label.
If you are going to use your shipping label stock to print packing slips (either 4 X 6 or 4 X 8 stock), there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Keep it simple – The design of the packing slip should be kept simple and minimal. Many companies like to put legal terms and conditions on the packing slip. At best you might be able to put a link to your website with your terms and conditions or simply cross off that step during the order entry or payment process. If you’re generating a return label at the same time, you might be printing 3 labels with every outbound carton (shipping label, packing slip, and return label).
- Size to Fit – It is quite easy to get at least 25 order lines on a 4 X 6 packing slip label, however, if your outbound cartons can hold more than 25 items, you should consider continuing pages for your packing slip and simply roll over to a new label. Trust us when we say this rollover to a second or third label is a much easier consideration in the design phase vs. after you have already rolled out a packing slip label.
- Direct vs. Thermal – With thermal printing (like a credit card receipt), the ink will fade over time and be unreadable. This might be fine if your product can only be returned after 30 days or if you don’t offer a multi-year warranty. If you require your customers to produce the packing slip as proof of purchase years down the road, then you’ll want to consider upgrading to direct transfer printers. Even if you use Print and Apply to automate applying shipping labels, the technology exists to hide a packing slip under that shipping label, which might simplify your operation even more.
If you haven’t completely done away with packing slips in your operations already, we hope this post gives you a few ideas to consider.