Pick to Cart: Benefits and Challanges in Order Fulfillment

October 3, 2023
Pick to Cart

Warehouse management is an ever-evolving domain. Over time, technologies and methodologies have come to the forefront to aid in the seamless operation of warehouses. One of the predominant methods in warehouse order fulfillment is the ‘Pick to Cart’ model. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the ‘Pick to Cart’ process, its benefits, challenges, and technological advancements in its application.

What is Pick to Cart?

‘Pick to Cart’ is an order picking strategy where operators, equipped with a cart, move through the warehouse aisles, picking SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) from storage locations. As they pick items, they place them into different containers or totes on their cart. Each container typically represents an individual order. After picking all items for one order, or a batch of orders, they move on to the next location, guided by the warehouse’s radio frequency (RF) network.

Evolution of Pick to Cart

Traditionally, the ‘Pick to Cart’ model primarily relied on paper-based systems and manual intervention. Pickers would receive a list of items to pick and would navigate the warehouse based on their knowledge or fixed routes.

With technological advancements, the pick-to-cart process has seen significant improvements. Modern-day warehouses utilize bar codes, RF scanners, and automation to facilitate picking. These technologies make the process more efficient, reduce errors, and ensure real-time inventory tracking.

Benefits of the Pick to Cart Model

Efficiency: Batch picking allows operators to pick for multiple orders in one trip through the warehouse. This reduces the travel time and accelerates the order fulfillment process.

Error Reduction: With the aid of bar codes and RF scanners, pickers receive real-time feedback. This minimizes the chances of picking incorrect items or quantities.

Flexibility: The pick-to-cart method can be adapted to various warehouse sizes and types of merchandise, making it versatile for diverse operations.

Enhanced Inventory Control: With real-time scanning and tracking, warehouse managers get a more accurate picture of inventory levels, enabling better replenishment decisions.

Challenges in the Pick to Cart Model

Training Requirement: The efficiency of pick to cart largely depends on the skill of the operators. Proper training is crucial to ensure that they can navigate the warehouse efficiently and use technology effectively.

Physical Strain: Continuous walking, bending, and lifting can lead to physical fatigue for the operators, affecting productivity.

Dependence on Technology: With the integration of technology, there’s an increased dependence on the RF network, scanners, and barcodes. Any technical glitches can disrupt the order fulfillment process.

Technological Advancements in Pick to Cart

As the industry pushes towards more efficient and error-free operations, several technologically advanced pick-to-cart variants have emerged:

Pick to Light
This system uses light indicators to guide pickers to the correct storage location. When they reach a location, a light displays the quantity of the item to be picked, making the process faster and less error-prone.

Voice Picking
Voice-directed systems provide audio prompts to the pickers through headphones. The system guides them to the right location and provides details about the item and quantity to be picked.

By integrating these advanced systems, warehouses can further enhance the productivity and accuracy of the pick-to-cart model.


The ‘Pick to Cart’ model has stood the test of time, proving its worth in warehouse order fulfillment. By blending traditional methodologies with modern technological advancements, warehouses can achieve a balance between efficiency and accuracy. As with any method, while there are challenges, the potential benefits make it a staple in many warehouse operations worldwide.

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