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Pre-manifesting and why it matters

4 years ago
Rita K

Manifesting can be defined as printing documents that are specific to a particular order, such as packing lists, shipping labels, or invoices.

Normally, these documents are created after a picking order is created. So, after your warehouse personnel has taken the product out of inventory and delivered it to the shipping department, the documents needed for shipping and invoicing are created.

Pre-manifesting can be defined at creating these documents prior to creating the pick order.

Why would we want to do that? Marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay monitor seller performance according to a variety of metrics, but one is how quickly a seller can ship an order. By pre-manifesting, you are able to submit shipping information to the marketplace that makes it appear that the item has already shipped.

For example, a UPS tracking number can be assigned to the shipment, even though the item has not yet been picked. Additionally, it may be possible to charge the customer’s credit card earlier in the process. Should the credit card be declined, you know before you have actually shipped the product.Of course, you can be too aggressive in this regard and it is inadvisable to pre-manifest if you have a time-consuming activity (such as customization or repackaging) to attend to prior to shipment. But, for standard products that have a predictable order-to-shipment timeframe, it can be a great way to improve rankings on the marketplace and get your invoice paid faster.

There are many practical considerations about pre-manifesting. You have to have excellent systems in place to monitor inventory levels and shipment efficiency. It would be terrible to pre-manifest and find out the item you told Amazon had already shipped was, in fact, out of stock. Document and information flow must be functioning at a high level. You must have a very effective and dependable OMS (Order Management System) in place before even considering pre-manifesting.

Assuming you have a solid OMS and your processes are predictable and well regulated, there are plenty of other reasons why pre-manifesting can be a good idea.

Your operations can be more efficient. Individual manifesting documents can be assigned to individually picked items at the shipping station, rather than having documents on the warehouse floor with the pickers.You can avoid double handling of picked items and documents.With a good WMS (Warehouse Management System) you can have a paperless warehouse, with your shipping label created only as the product is finally packaged and ready to go out the shipping door.

 All warehouse / picking processes happen before paper is created, although the records that will create that paperwork (e.g., the USP tracking number) will be virtually in existence and ready for printing at the shipping station.These efficiencies will increase profit because you have fewer pieces of paper floating around the warehouse, which can often get lost or intentionally avoided and you can take full advantage of batch picking techniques. Batch picking is where you can send a single warehouse picker to get all of the green widgets to fill a large number of individual orders. The green widgets are associated with particular sales orders only when they hit the shipping department. 

The profit impact of increased accuracy and more efficient picking makes a tremendous contribution to warehouse efficiency, and therefore, profit.Of course there are things you ought to plan for when moving to a pre-manifesting system. An automated (RF technology) method of scanning the picked items to associate them with the paperwork for a particular order is critical. You must have an excellent WMS (Warehouse Management System) to accomplish this.You will have to purchase RF guns and other hardware to support the system, but these costs are minimal when compared to the efficiency benefit.Order accuracy must be monitored and systematized. Again, an excellent WMS is necessary to ensure that picked items are associated with the correct paperwork at the shipping station.On occasion, even the best system has a problem.

 In those exceptional instances (e.g., a stock-out created by erroneous inventory records) the paperwork will have to be recreated.Additionally, orders bound for export must be identified and segregated at the shipping department, but this is accomplishable because all of the information required to pre-manifest a shipment is contained in the order entry information. If repackaging or kitting is required, these challenges must be evaluated and assessed prior to embarking on a pre-manifesting procedure for all orders, but even those procedures can be anticipated in most cases. 

Where pre-manifesting might not work is where the shape or size of an item isn’t known prior to picking. Agricultural items might have limited pre-manifesting possibilities.Some systems use pre-manifesting for certain items and post-manifesting (creating the packing, shipping and invoicing information after the item has been picked) together in one system. Once again, a quality WMS will provide automated instructions to picking staff, so they know which is which. Picking instructions as to items, route of travel through the warehouse, equipment to be used in fulfilling a batch picking order, etc., will provided wirelessly, via RF handheld equipment.

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