Often people assume eCommerce logistics begins with packing orders and ends with delivering shipments. In reality, that is only partly true; it also involves numerous minute details and paperwork, without which the order fulfillment process is next to impossible. A packing slip is one critical document in that chain of paperwork.
Generally, packing slips are quite underrated. Though they play a major role in ensuring that the customer receives the correct order within the stipulated time, they are often confused with an invoice and other similar documents.
So to put an end to those comparisons, today we'll be uncovering what the document is and what is its role in the eCommerce logistics industry.
2) What is a packing slip in eCommerce logistics?
A vital document in the order fulfillment process, a packing slip, gives an overview of the contents of the package. It includes details like the SKU number, the product's weight, dimensions, the number of units, the address of the receiver, and so on. Packing slips are mostly placed inside a package.
The idea behind placing a packing slip inside the package is to help the customer check the order against the contents mentioned on the packing slip and ensure its accuracy. Other than helping the customer, the document assists eCommerce sellers in avoiding any mistakes while packing the order and sending it out for delivery.
Now that you've got an idea about packing slips, let's find out their role in the eCommerce logistics industry.
3) Importance of packing slips in logistics
Since customers aren't buying the products from a brick-and-mortar store, the physical verification of the products is out of the question. Many-a-times, the person ordering the product isn't even present to receive it. In such cases, a packing slip plays a vital role in letting the receiver know and verify its contents.
Additionally, there are several ways in which packing slips increase the efficiency of the logistics industry:
3.1) They ensure the shipment is complete
Checking is an essential part of the order fulfillment process. Before sealing the package, online sellers need to go through the contents and see if they have added everything the customer requested for.
Packing slips simplify the verification part making the order fulfillment process quick and accurate. Online sellers can easily verify the products and then print and place the packing slip inside the package to confirm that they’ve checked everything.
3.2) They ensure fast identification of damaged or missing products
Often during product delivery, the package or shipping label gets hampered. Sometimes the information printed on it even gets erased due to climatic impact. In such cases, packing slips assist the delivery personnel in reaching the customer.
Similarly, when the product is damaged or missing, it assists the customer to file a complaint for an immediate refund or vice-versa.
3.3) They help in order tracking
Not every order is packed under one roof. Sometimes due to large shipment sizes or unavailability of products at a particular site, products are procured from different warehouses. This leads to the splitting of the package into multiple shipments.
Packing slips help sellers and customers keep track of the shipments, thereby simplifying the order fulfillment process.
3.4) They help customs estimate the value of the package
When shipping internationally, customs always verify the package against the invoice. However, at times they may demand a packing slip to move the package forward.
4) Advantages of packing slips in logistics
Though packing slips are mainly used for verification purposes, they bring other benefits to online sellers too. Given below are some perks of placing a packing slip inside the package:
4.1) Customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is vital in the eCommerce logistics industry. Unless an organization's customers are satisfied, the business can't witness growth.
Packing slips ensure customers are well-versed with the contents of their package and can reach out to the seller immediately in case something is damaged or missing.
4.2) Marketing opportunity
Packing slips aren't only limited to carrying information about the package. They can also be used as a marketing tool to announce new launches or offers within the organization.
Online sellers could use a small space after adding the necessary details to advertise their brand. They can even paste the company logo to make it more professional.
4.3) Time and effort saving
Imagine receiving a shipment and having to visit your order history to verify its contents. It would be hectic, wouldn't it?
Thankfully with packing slips, customers can verify their products without looking back at their order history. All they have to do is safely unwrap their package and use the packing slip to do it.
5) Things to include in packing slips
Depending upon their idea of what a packing slip includes, different online sellers add different subheads on them. Some prefer giving product descriptions, while others find it unuseful. Similarly, there are contradictions in other pieces of information too.
In case you have also been struggling to find out what a perfect packing slip must comprise of, don't forget to go through the points given below:
5.1) Basic details
Similar to an invoice, a packing slip must have a shipping address, contact details of the customer and seller, and the order date, along with other product-related information.
Now, many people would debate mentioning the seller's contact details on a packing slip due to its presence on the shipping label. Nevertheless, it's better to add it, as it may be beneficial in cases where the shipping label gets hampered during the delivery process.
5.2) List of shipped products
The basic role of a packing slip is to assist the customers in verifying the contents of the package with that mentioned on the document. Therefore, sellers must list down all the products ordered on the packing slip for maximum customer satisfaction.
5.3) Weight and quantity of each product
Though the weight of the product is displayed on the label, online sellers should list that on a packing slip too. This way, justifying the shipping charges becomes easier, and customers aren't in the dark anymore.
Similarly, the units of each product must be present on the packing slip for customers to match while unboxing the package.
5.4) List of out of stock items
Often, online sellers fail to mention the out-of-stock products list on the packing slips. This creates a panicky environment for the customer, who has been patiently waiting for the package's arrival.
Plus, for paid orders, customers get very furious as they have to reopen the website to learn why the said product wasn't shipped. The situation can be handled appropriately by mentioning out of stock items on the packing slip.
5.5) SKU of each item
This detail mostly doesn't concern the buyer as it signifies a unique identification code for each product. However, for sellers, it helps identify their inventory, especially when customers reach out to them in case of any problem.
5.6) Tracking number
Often, buyers like to stay in the loop about their product's whereabouts. Adding a tracking number on the packing slip might help buyers easily contact the sellers in case of any discrepancy once their package has arrived.
Each online seller has different ways of handling the order fulfillment process. But adding a packing slip can help sellers simplify their tasks while ensuring that their deliverables are accurate and meet the expectations of the customers. It can even set a new bar pushing the customer to revisit the online store for its better practices and customer handling techniques.
7.1) What is a packing slip?
A packing slip is a document used by eCommerce business owners to display information about the contents of the package and relevant details. It includes information about the units of products, the address and contact details of the recipient, the weight and dimension of the product, and the SKU number for buyers and sellers to match against the package's contents.
7.2) Is the packing slip and invoice the same?
Though an invoice may carry similar information to a packing slip, it serves a different purpose. An invoice is a financial document, whereas a packing slip is used to verify the contents of a package.
7.3) Is a packing slip necessary for international shipments?
No, it's not a necessary document since customs are often interested in seeing the invoice, as it includes both product details along with their value. However, it's better to add it in case they wish to see it.
7.4) Where is the packing slip placed?
Unlike the shipping label, packing slips are placed inside the package so that if the label gets damaged, the delivery personnel will at least have some idea about where to take the package.
7.5) Can the packing slip display the value of the product?
Generally, the value of the product isn't mentioned on the packing slip as that part has already been covered in the invoice. However, online sellers can add or remove the amount as per their wish.
7.6) What should be included in a packing list?
Details like the shipping address, contact details of customer and seller, weight and dimension of products, list of items ordered, list of items out-of-stock, SKU number of each item, and so on should be present on the packing slip. As for the tracking number, the online seller may or may not mention it on the document as it's already shared with the customer upon placing the order.