E-commerce growth is not stopping. In the first quarter of 2022, U.S. sales rose to 6.7 percent. It’s the lowest increase for any quarter since 2009, but for every $5 spent on retail purchase, $1 still goes to online orders.
The upward trend only highlights the importance of giving what your customers want, from the best products and convenient purchasing to appealing product packaging and seamless shipping. When each stage is delivered well and everything works in harmony, your business will be able to see a favorable impact on revenue.
What role does a packing slip play in this entire process? And what is a packing slip?
What is a Packing Slip?
A packing slip, also referred to as a shipping list or waybill, is a shipping document that details the contents of the package. Shipping departments use packing slips to determine what inventory must be pulled out from the warehouse to complete customers’ orders. It ensures nothing is left out, assuring customers they’ve purchased from a retail business that knows what it’s doing.
Packing slips are not just useful for your customers or the recipients of your products. The shipping document is also crucial to your inventory management. It also allows your business to keep track of accuracies and inaccuracies with customer orders. And ultimately, helps you manage the cost of packaging and shipping products.
Is a Packing Slip Necessary?
Packing slips are necessary, but they’re not a legal requirement. They’re more for enabling your business to get organized because good inventory management is crucial to your bottom line. This part of your e-commerce business lets you:
- Determine which stock must be ordered and filled;
- Identify which stock isn’t moving or selling and
- Ensure efficiency in the warehouse.
Stock or product that sits in the warehouse, also called deadstock, is money tied up in inventory. When you’ve got more deadstock in your business, you’re dealing with limited cash flow.
Because the packing slip includes the stock keeping unit (SKU) or unique identifiers or codes, your business can use the document to keep track of inventory.
When you’re able to track which stock is moving more (or being purchased more) than others or which ones are deadstock, you manage your costs. You don’t spend needlessly on filling stocks that are still full. And you’ll know which stocks to re-order, ensuring your warehouse never runs out on bestselling items.
So packing slips are a good way to ensure order fulfillment.
Is a Packing Slip the Same as an Invoice?
A packing slip is not an invoice. Whereas packing slips list the items customers ordered, invoices detail how much customers need to pay for those items. Payment terms and conditions as well as the due date of the payment are all indicated on an invoice.
Both documents are essential to the business, but an invoice may be more relevant to a customer. When you receive the package of what you ordered, do you look at the packing slip? Not every consumer looks at a document of what they’ve ordered. The tendency is to go straight to opening the boxed, tubed or bagged packaging.
What’s a Packing Slip Template?
A packing slip varies, depending on the template a business uses. But in general, the packing and shipping document contains:
- Itemized list of goods
- Quantity of each product
- SKU numbers
- Weight, size or dimensions
- Shipping address
- Order date
A packing slip also contains the purchase order (PO) number and slip number. The PO number shippers and businesses use these number to cross reference information on whether the right goods were shipped to the right recipient. The slip and PO numbers are also helpful in case problems are encountered.
Shipping and packing problems may include damaged goods. If products were damaged in transit, the customer will likely want to return the item to the seller if not cancel that order. Although not every customer may pay attention to packing slips, some will if they instantly realize something is wrong with or missing in their package.
Your business may make its own packing slip, customizing it for your brand. Every part of your product’s packaging, from the ones you place on the store shelves to the ones you deliver from your warehouse, is a reflection of your business. So it’s crucial to give every element some thought, and the packing slip is one such element.
The packing and shipping document doesn’t have to be just about managing your inventory and providing good customer service. It may also serve as an opportunity to market your brand.
Alternatively, you may get packing slip templates from Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
Packing slips may seem trivial when a customer finally receives what they ordered online. But this seemingly inconsequential piece of document has a vital role in improving your revenue.