The difference between pick and pack fulfilment and cross-docking fulfilment

31 October, 2017

Efficient order fulfilment is at the heart of an e-commerce business. It not only leads to positive customer responses to service but can also help to save resources and cut costs when it performs well.

Pick and pack fulfilment and cross-docking fulfilment are two of the most popular options – so, what’s the difference between them?

Pick and pack fulfilment

This type of order fulfilment is used very effectively in retail distribution. It involves the collecting together of the individual components of an order by a fulfilment provider and parceling them up together ready for shipping. Pick and pack fulfilment is a flexible way to efficiently handle goods and add something to the ongoing customer journey. It is the solution for retailers and e-commerce stores where the contents of packages are not predictable and a swift and accurate packing result – with attention to detail - is required.

Cross-docking fulfilment

If you’re working with pre-packed goods or a very small number of SKUs and the orders have already been obtained, then cross-docking fulfilment is often a great choice. A Groupon type sale is the perfect example of this. It requires less storage and little or no packing, as the goods are unloaded directly from an incoming transport, labelled straightaway by the fulfilment company, and then collected by a postal or parcel supplier. Cross-docking fulfilment has many advantages, including lowering (or removing) the costs of storage, as well as simplifying inventories, as fewer goods are held in one place for any period of time.

The key differences

  • Cost - cross-docking fulfilment incurs little or no storage cost whereas pick and pack fulfilment requires this to be factored in.
  • Attention - pick and pack fulfilment is the better option where parcels are not already prepacked and where any attention is required to the preparation of goods for onward shipping.
  • Time – cross-docking can reduce the amount of time involved in order fulfilment, as there is less delay between the arrival and departure of the goods.
  • Flexibility – cross-docking order fulfilment doesn’t necessarily offer the same degree of flexibility as pick and pack, as the parceling is not actually done on site.
  • Shipping times – if your business is looking to achieve a reduction in shipping times then cross-docking may be a good solution. Ordered items are shipped and sent on at a slightly faster pace because no storage is involved.
  • Damage and mistakes – in theory there is more potential for product damage and mistakes where items are sitting for longer in a warehouse. However, working with the right provider can ensure that whether you choose cross-docking or pick and pack fulfilment you’re getting the best possible results every time.


Simplify your supply chain with our cross docking solution. We can package products from your supplier or manufacturing plant and distribute them straight away to your customers. Asendia can help you skip the storage phase and optimise your supply chain to save you money.

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