Packing Slips: What Are They and How Do You Use Them?
Many people, whether they have sent packages or received them, have most likely come into contact with a packing slip. What is a packing slip? Often a simple piece of paper and mistaken for a receipt, it shows an itemized list of products that lets the customer know what to expect while waiting for their package. Obviously, the packing slip is only meant for physical goods. The packing slip also describes how much of each item is in the box, as well as the general dimensions and weight which can help business owners apply the correct shipping rates.
It’s important to note that a packing slip is required if there are products being shipped and received for sale. This is to ensure there is no miscommunication between the buyer and seller.
Packing slips are typically printed out and put inside the packages. They can either be for a single order, or for a batch or group, depending on the warehouse picking order. While some may view packing slips as unnecessary waste, they play an important role in e-commerce stores.
The Purpose of a Packing Slip
A packing slip keeps track of the contents inside the package. It shows helpful information, including:
- Product descriptions
- Product quantities
- Product weight
- And the stock-keeping unit (SKU) number
Shipping is a critical part of the sales process. Throughout the shipping process, there are many checkpoints that the package must pass through. A packing slip can keep these different departments on the same page.
For example, the shipping department will use the packing slip to ensure that everything that needs to be in the package is included. On the other end, the receiving department will double-check to make sure all contents of the package arrives. If there are discrepancies or damaged items, the packing slip can be used as verification.
Packing slips also help handlers understand the contents of the package so they can appropriately handle the various items inside. This gives the package a higher chance of reaching the customer undamaged.
Why Are Packing Slips Important?
In a recent study by the National Retail Federation (NRF), many retail businesses are victims of return fraud, which is the act of purchasing an item, using it, then returning it to the store. While the NRF states that only 5% of all returns are fraudulent, returns of any kind can have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line. It’s important for online business owners to pack their shipments correctly to ensure customer satisfaction, which is where a packing slip can come in handy.
Though packing slips seem simple in concept, they serve many important purposes, including:
- Ensuring the whole shipment is packaged
- Distinguishing multiple orders from one another
- Easily tracking the shipped items
- Identifying damaged items and missing items
- Confirming all items were received
- Estimating the value of a shipment at customs
- And allowing warehouses to better manage their inventory
- Delivery note from the customer
Packing Slip Template
A packing slip includes many pieces of information, all of which are important to the different aspects of a business. A packing slip should include the following information:
- An order date
- The purchaser’s name
- The purchaser’s address
- The recipient’s name
- The recipient’s address
- An itemized list of what was ordered
- An itemized list of what’s included in the shipment
- An itemized list of what will ship separately
- Order quantity
- The weight of items
- The company name
- The company contact information
- And the packing slip/order slip/shipping slip number/purchase order number
Packing Slip vs. Invoice
Although a packing slip and an invoice sound very similar, there are a few key differences between the two.
A packing slip is included with the package while the invoice is a billing statement that is sent to the person responsible for paying the amount due. While a packing slip can help keep businesses accountable for their shipped goods, invoices make sure customers stay accountable for their payment terms.
An invoice will include the name and address of the person who paid for the ordered item, an itemized list, and how much each product costs. It will also include a statement of payment terms, including when the payment is due or how it was paid if it was already fulfilled.
Make Your Packing Slip Count
Though packing slips are mostly uncomplicated, there are various ways to make them more efficient for a business.
Companies with multiple shipments daily can greatly benefit from using packing slips to keep track of multiple order details. Miscommunication in a business can be frustrating, especially at the shipping level. This is because there are many people who need to be on the same page, and processes that are manually created, like packing slips, can have data entry errors which can cause a chain reaction.
Smarter tools like inventory management software and inventory management software analytics can streamline the shipping process. Instead of manually checking a package against a packing slip, warehouse workers can scan an order, verify the contents, and package them up safely to be distributed. There is also the added benefit of helping businesses keep better track of their inventory solutions. Investing in asset tracking software can help a business increase efficiency while dispelling the need for another printout.
Increase Brand Awareness
A packing slip can help to solidify a brand’s presence with the customer. Often, brands are looking to reinforce positive awareness with their customers, and packaging details are an overlooked medium. In fact, seven out of ten consumers say that seeing a packing slip made a positive impact on their impression of a company.
Often, packing slips have room for:
- Discount codes
- And ads for related products
These added delights can create a unique customer experience.
Many businesses are rolling out initiatives to reduce packaging waste, including digitizing their packing slips and minimizing the use of print packing slips. Customers are holding more brands accountable in terms of sustainable and eco-friendly packaging and packing materials. In fact, many consumers state that carton, cardboard and paper packaging is more attractive than plastic.
Why should you eliminate printed packing slips? Not only would digital packing slips eliminate paper waste, but they can also be sent immediately to the buyer — which could have a positive impact on the customer experience.
Though packing slips may seem obsolete, they are an important part of the shipping process. By understanding how they work and what they are used for, businesses can help their customers receive their shipments with all items intact while minimizing returns.