What is a packing slip?
A packing slip is a document (either a digital document or a physical paper document) used in shipping to list all important information about the materials, items, or packages being shipped. Depending on your industry and location, a packing slip may also be known as a waybill, packing list, or shipping list. The packing slip is usually compared to the invoice to confirm whether or not a shipment is complete.
The specific information required in a packing slip also varies between organizations, but generally includes details such as the quantity of products, number of units, weights, dimensions, SKU numbers, and units of measure being used. This information is vital for ensuring that orders are fulfilled accurately and in the quantity and condition expected.
Why is a packing slip important?
A packing slip is an important document for accurate order fulfillment, invoicing and payment, and quality control. Both the buyer and the seller rely on packing slips to:
- Confirm that the right customer receives the right shipment
The primary function of a shipping process is getting customers the products and services they actually ordered. A packing slip serves as a quick reference to check that all of the intended items have been packed correctly, and can also help to resolve the issue if a shipment is incorrect.
- Ensure the accuracy of each shipment
Warehouse employees refer to the packing slip to make sure that they are including all of the correct items in the shipment. Using a packing slip to double-check quantities, SKU numbers, and completeness of orders can help detect potential issues before they become costly errors.
- Make it easier to track and record shipments
In an era of delicate supply chains and increasingly speedy shipping, being able to keep a real-time record of a shipment’s progress is more important than ever. Especially for high-volume enterprise businesses that regularly split orders into multiple shipments, a digital packing slip makes it easy to get at-a-glance updates on all parts of a complex order.
- Identify quality control issues
If the items included in a package do not match the information recorded on the packing slip, there is probably a quality control issue. If items have been lost or damaged in shipping, the packing slip provides a record of their intended condition and makes it easier to determine responsibilities and a remedy for the errors.
- Help determine a value for customs
While customs officials rely more on the commercial invoice to determine the value of international shipments, a packing slip is a valuable secondary resource for estimating the correct taxes, duties, and fees associated with a shipment.
- Simplify returns and refunds
Handling returned items can be a complicated process when dealing with online orders. Packing slips provide a quick and easy reference for determining if orders were damaged or incomplete, as well as whether the customer has returned all of the necessary items.
What should a packing slip include?
The simplest answer to what goes on a packing slip is an itemized list of all of the products and materials included in a package. Different industries and organizations will have different standards for which specifics are require on a packing slip, but some universal items include:
1. Order number
An order number allows customer service to identify an order quickly and accurately, and aids in returns and refunds.
2. SKU numbers
Including SKU numbers for each product in a shipment keeps the fulfillment process more accurate.
3. Order date
Recording the order date is important for tracking the timeliness of a shipment and identifying any delays.
4. Quantity of units
Recording unit quantity is necessary so the customer can easily check the order against the items included in the shipment.
5. Description of products
Product names and descriptions are not alfaays included on a packing slip, but they can be a useful tool for making sure that shipments are complete and accurate.
6. Product weight and dimensions
Weight and dimensions of the products being shipped are useful for storage, warehouse use, and logistics.
7. Sender information
The top of each packing slip should include key information such as the company name, contact details, shipping address, and any logos or branding.
8. Recipient information
Key information about the recipient is also necessary, including the receiver’s name, address, and order date.
9. Special instructions
If a shipment requires special handling, that information should be clearly marked on the packing slip.
5 Reasons to Shift to Digital Packing Slips
Even in an increasingly digital era of shipping and procurement, a surprising number of organizations continue to rely on physical documents like paper packing slips. As shipping technology continues to advance, making the move to digital packing slips becomes more and more essential. Just a few key reasons that digitizing packing slips makes sense include:
Improved customer experience
Shifting to digital packing slips makes it easier for a customer to tell at a glance whether a shipment is complete and accurate, and also makes it easier to identify and address any issues that arise.
Smaller environmental impact
For a high-volume enterprise organization, using physical packing slips can add up to a lot of paper. Not only does a digital packing slip reduce your environmental footprint by cutting down on the need for paper, it also reduces costs for paper, printer ink, and maintenance.
Trackable document creation process
Being able to get real-time insights into your document creation process makes it easier for your team to get shipments out on time, identify bottlenecks and slowdowns, and make corrections and adjustments as needed.
Less storage space
Physical documents take up physical space. Switching to a software-based solution for producing, recording, and storing packing slips means not having to dig through file cabinets and folders to track down information.
Simpler regulatory compliance
The consistency and accuracy that comes with digitizing your packing slips removes the risk of human error and makes it much easier to ensure that all required information is included with every shipment and that your shipment is compliant with all applicable regulations. In the event of audits, digital documentation makes the relevant data faster and easier to access.
What is the difference between a packing slip and an invoice?
A packing slip is a list of key details about the goods or services being purchased and shipped. An invoice is an order of payment for that purchase.
What is the difference between a packing slip and a bill of lading?
A packing slip is intended as a record of the physical goods or services included in a shipped order. The bill of lading is a legal document used to confirm that a shipment has been delivered.
What is the difference between a packing slip and a picking slip?
While they sound very similar, a packing slip and picking slip serve distinct functions. A picking slip, or picking list, consolidates multiple customers’ orders into a single document that makes it more efficient for pickers to locate items in a warehouse.
What is the difference between a packing slip and a sales order?
A packing slip is a list of goods or services that is included with a shipment. A sales order is sent from a business to a customer before a shipment is sent out. They are often compared against packing slips to ensure completeness.
What is the difference between a packing slip and a receipt?
A packing slip is intended as a record of the items included in a shipping transaction. A receipt is a financial record of the transaction itself.
How to Create a Packing Slip Using Document Automation
Automating supply chain document creation and processing with MHC software solutions makes it easy to create a packing slip template that will save your business time and money in the shipping process. Automating packing slips improves visibility, boosts compliance, reduces costs, and speeds up processing.
MHC’s document automation software allows your team to craft a personalized packing slip template that leverages your business’s logo, colors, slogan, visuals, and other branding assets that help you stand out. That level of template personalization also improves your customer experience by ensuring greater consistency and accuracy in your overall shipping process.
If your business is looking to digitize more of your shipping and packing process, MHC solutions also provide options for creating a smart document format. Interactive document design allows you to craft digital packing slips personalized to meet your specific needs, as well as your customers’. Include clickable hyperlinks and buttons, add video and audio files, attach PDF forms, and otherwise personalize your packing slips in ways that work best for you.
Ready to learn more about the ways automating document creation can speed up and streamline your shipping process? Contact us today to schedule a demonstration of MHC’s efficient and effective software solutions.
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