A packing slip is a document that includes the complete list of items included in a package. Packing slips include SKU numbers, weights, dimensions, and the number of units that are used by shipping departments to determine what inventory needs to be sent out to accurately complete an order.
Distinction between a packing slip & invoice
A packing slip may look similar to an invoice, but it is used for different purposes. A packing slip helps to identify goods that are physically received while an invoice refers to a financial document that contains information such as the selling price of each product, payment method, date, and terms of payment.
Though both documents emanate from the store, a packing slip is initiated by the shipment technology, while an invoice is initiated by the platform responsible for payment.
Importance of packing slips to e-commerce businesses
Packing slips play an important role in e-commerce because they help to identify everything that was ordered by your customer. Most e-commerce business owners make use of packing slips for several reasons so that they can effectively connect the physical to the digital world.
- Packing slips helps to ensure that the shipment is complete and accurate
A packing slip is used as a checklist to make sure that all orders are included in the shipment before labeling and sealing. All orders, including the exact number of several SKUs, have to be verified and cross-checked by the packer before authorizing shipment. The packing slip is placed in the box before shipment.
- A packing list allows for easy tracking of all orders
There may be the need for a single order to be split into several boxes depending on the order size, product quantity, and SKU location, which may be in different warehouses. When orders are packaged in several boxes, a packing slip may help both the recipient and seller to be organized.
- Identification of damaged items
With the aid of packing slips, damaged items can be easily identified and sorted out. Whether a single fragile item got broken during transit or there was damage to the entire package, a packing slip will help to speed up the process of refund or resend of the package.
- A packing list serves as a confirmation that all items were duly received
To avoid a situation where an item is missing after delivery of the package, a packing list is used to check all items before they are shipped out. You can think of packing slips as a record or paper trail that allows you to keep a tab of all that you shipped. For orders that are shipped in more than one package, a packing slip may help identify any discrepancy in the package when received.
- Packing slips gives customers the ability to estimate the value of their shipment
For those who may be shipping a product to other countries, a packing list may be used by customs in estimating the shipment value. However, a commercial invoice may be preferable by customs and must contain goods description, value, payment terms, and destination of the shipment.
What should be included in a packing slip?
A packing slip should include information such as SKU, itemized list, and price. However, the added details are dependent on the products and business, but an ideal packing slip should provide the following information:
- Order date, contact info, and shipping address
Just as is found in an invoice, these details are crucial in the event of an issue that may arise during shipment. Though shipping carriers use the shipment label, having a packing slip may be helpful as an alternative option.
- An itemized list of all shipping items
Many buyers often check their items received by comparing them with what they ordered to ascertain that everything was delivered as requested and paid for. Purchasers can also make use of their confirmation email as a reference, though some people prefer the use of packing slips for verification.
- An itemized list of unavailable items
Along with the use of an invoice, a packing slip may include those items that were ordered but were not shipped out due to the unavailability of the products. However, such occurrences are rare as the availability of products is verified before any order is fulfilled or submitted. If such occurs, then it would be stated in the packing slip.
- Quantity of each item
To check each item in a packing slip, the SKU or the name of the product would not suffice because most sellers do place orders for multiple items of the same product. The packing slip may contain a column for quantity so that the list would not be too long.
- UPC or SKU of each of the item
UPCs or SKUs are unique codes or identifiers. They may not have much meaning to purchasers, but these codes enable the seller to identify and organize their inventory easily. These unique numbers will serve as a source of reference for you when there is a need for you to contact the seller because that is what will be used in tracing the issue.
- PO number or Slip number
With the slip or PO number contained in the packing slip, customers or sellers may use this to make sure that the accurate order was received or shipped. Moreover, this may be dependent on the number of reference numbers that you have for all your orders.