What is interactive wave picking, and how's it different from picking?

Interactive wave picking is, at its core, paperless picking. The “interactive” part derives from the fact that it’s:

  • Digital rather than on paper
  • Able to change picking order in real-time based on quantity changes in locations
This accommodates for issues like products not being in the locations they’re supposed to be in, products being removed from locations after a picker has begun a picking session but before they've reached the location, etc.


The “wave picking” part refers to the short interval nature of scheduling the picking sessions, which allows the assignment of orders into sessions (waves) by date, SKU, shipping method, etc.

Interactive wave picking leads your pickers around the warehouse in the most efficient way possible, by targeting which items to pick next, rather than which orders. This makes interactive wave picking ideal for multiple multi-item orders, because pickers won't waste time backtracking and zig-zagging across the warehouse to fulfill orders one-by-one. This whole shebang of interactive wave picking is very different from standard picking, which generates a physical pick list. Due to the nature of being on paper, standard picking is not able to account for issues that arise during picking.



The Interactive Wave Picking process in more detail: for managers


When you begin creating a wave picking session, you’ll start by selecting the sales to be included in the session, which you can do in a few ways. You can just go through the list and select which sales to add, or you can filter your sales to reveal only the ones of interest to you.

You can filter by order status, shipping carrier or class, SKUs or codes, kit & item count, order date, and more. A session preview shows you the total weight, number of orders, line items, and sold quantity, which can help you determine which pickers are most able to handle this picklist - for example, perhaps this will require a picker with a forklift, or maybe a picker with a cart will be enough to handle the picking session.

After you’ve added all the orders you want to your session, you’ll be able to assign it to a user. Once it’s been assigned, you’ll be able to check in on the session queue at any time to see the status of all sessions past, future, and in progress, as well as see how far along the picker is in their progress.



The Interactive Wave Picking process in more detail: for pickers


When a user is assigned a wave picking session, it will appear in the session queue under that user's list. The picker can sort the sessions in a number of ways, including by created date, to get a feel for which wave picking session they should target first.

When the picker selects a session, a session overview will appear that stays to the right of the screen, to show the cart spots and products within those spots, to give the picker a sense of their progress. The next pick is displayed right at the top of the screen, with all relevant info (SKU, description, Location, Quantity, etc.), laid out simply to avoid confusion, with a photo of the product so it’s easy for the picker to stave off miss-picks.

The picker simply needs to scan in the product code, SKU, or part #, and then scan in the location. The quantity is set to “1” by default, but a custom quantity can of course be entered. The pick will register and be placed in the pick history, at the bottom of the screen, and then the “next pick” section at the top will change to direct the picker to the next location or item on their list.

Should any issues arise while picking (item quantity in location is not enough to satisfy order, item in location is damaged, etc.) SkuVault has a number of settings built in that you can choose from to manage what the picker is prompted to do next.