Magento: Doesn't Work Well For Warehouse Processing

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I had a long phone conversation with a gentleman that handles the warehouse processing for one of our Magento clients. They are quite disappointed with the way Magento handles the order fulfillment process. Perhaps there is a better method than what this guy is suggesting, but perhaps Magento needs to be able to flexible in terms of how orders are processed.

Here is the problem: The warehouse tells me that they need to print of the packing slips so that they can go and put the order together. Apparently that’s how they’ve always done things. Magento considers the packing slip printing to be the last step in the process, and therefore marks the order complete. However, that is not the end of the process for this warehouse. There are plenty of times that they need to go in and edit or cancel an order after the packing slip has been printed out, but once an order is completed in Magento, that is no longer possible.

I’d like to think that they aren’t the only warehouse out there that does things this way, and according to the guy I talked with, that’s the way most people do it. If that is the case, I’m going to have to try and write a module that allows you to print off a packing slip at any time for an order, without changing the status of the order. If this guy is right though, I think Magento needs to add in some flexibility for different types of order processing.

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19 Responses to Magento: Doesn't Work Well For Warehouse Processing

  1. shary says:

    Hi Guys,

    We are operating a ware house for our online women fashion store, we are looking for a very enhanced and nicely coded picking, packing, labeling extension.

    We want that our pickers will take multiple batches for picking, go to the locations and pick in the baskets. Next step, packing team will pack and put return labels inside. Thats it.

    Attributes for picking list we need are:

    Item code
    Item Name
    Qty
    Location
    Size
    Color

    and within same sheet return label should be there along with reasons for return etc.

    Please suggest something.

    Cheers,

    Shary

  2. I think the reality is Magento is great at the front-end for making sales and taking payment but it is intended to be used with a proper back-end system.

    In the past this typically meant an ERP for businesses but what we are finding is that online retailers are now logistics businesses.

    What this means is that the way they handle their inventory and warehouse is at the core of their business. In order to do this in a scalable way they need to automate.

    You can get a quick overview of how this works here: http://www.peoplevox.co.uk/magento

    We have been made to rethink the way warehouse systems operate because eCommerce fulfilment is very different to traditional processes. For example picking many single item orders for Amazon and eBay creates a unique challenge. How do we go and pick all of the orders together to save travel time but make it easy to match items to the correct shipping label?

    Regards,

    Oliver

  3. Ana says:

    Hello! thanks for the posts, we are facing the same problem, we do not want to complete orders because we need to edit them for changes ans returns. We are looking for an extension that not only give us the picking and packing pdf but also that helps us manging stocks while processing the orders: like this extension http://saas.smartosc.com/extensions/x-barcode-rma.html
    But without needing to invoice the order before shipping.
    Any advise?

  4. Quentin says:

    Good post this. I recently purchased and installed the PDFCustomiser extension http://store.fooman.co.nz/magento-extension-pdf-customiser.html – apart from being able to print nice PDF’s, it also allows you to optionally print packing slips before the order has actually been shipped.

  5. David says:

    Hello,

    We have a client that does it the same way. They need the packing slips before anything else. Even before invoicing.

    I’m not sure if you made any progress with this module? Is there a workaround?

    Thank you

  6. moogento says:

    Hi, a quick update for everyone. We’ve just released a new version of the Magento Pick List.

    This one works with all order statuses, has options to show out-of-stock warnings and shelving information, and has 3 pick list variants:

    – Order-seperated Pick List, showing all selected orders separately, including a barcode of each order ID, the shipping method (so you can prioritize express-shipped orders), stock warnings (if your pick takes your stock below your stock warning level).

    – Order-combined Pick List, showing all SKUs from all selected orders, grouped together for easy picking. Also shows shelving information and stock warnings, as well as a total count of all items, and a total cost (if you are purchasing from external supplier).

    – Out-of-stock Pick List. This shows all items that will be taken below your stock warning level by the currently-selected picks, as well as the Qty needed to fulfill all orders, and the Qty needed to return your stock to the warning level. This is aimed at people that carry stock locally, but restock from an external supplier – you will know exactly what you need to buy to restock from each group of orders.

    We also have a few Packing Slips, which can also be printed no matter what the order status is. They look much better than the default Magento ones, and can be customized easily in the Config.

    It seems this fulfills what everyone here is looking for – if anyone has any suggestions for improvements, please get in touch.

    You can see the extension in Magento Connect:
    Magento Pick List and Packing Slips

  7. Moogento says:

    Hi, we’ve just made an extension for Magento which covers all the points mentioned here.

    Magento Pick List

    It has 2 types of Pick List, one separated by order ID, one combined by SKU. It also has simplified packing sheets…

    Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions.

  8. Chadd says:

    I wonder if ver 1.4 has made progress on this? I am just now setting up a new client, and looking to use magento. At my day job (manufacturing company with large warehouse) we use a pick list. This can be printed out independently of a packing list. Just adding my thoughts to this process.

    • Josh Pratt says:

      Chadd,

      I haven’t actually checked this in 1.4, but my assumption is that it hasn’t changed. I too have worked with people who really want to be able to print out a pick list. Unfortunately, Magento requires you to complete and invoice and a shipment before you can do that.

      I am quite surprised that Magento hasn’t accounted for this yet. There are many people that just want to be able to change the status of orders and print out a shipment list without having to walk through the whole fulfilment process of creating invoices and shipments. You would think by now that there would be a config option to change that by now… Hopefully soon.

  9. Chris says:

    This is an issue coming up for my client as well (including many other pesky issues). Their usual process is to print the packing slip, fill the order, and then complete the order. Sometimes they find that changes need to be made to the order, but if they print out the packing slip, all they can do is add products, they can’t edit or remove products. The only suggestion I’ve got is for them to make screen prints, which is a terrible work around.

    Magento won’t support us, even if we offer to pay for the support unless we spend $11k per year on the Enterprise version, and then pay for support on top of that! Why on earth would I pay $11k for software that I am losing confidence in on a daily basis?! Magento is at the top of everyone’s list for ecommerce platforms, but every day I find yet another bug or weird piece of logic that I don’t see in ANY other CMS. I’m embarrassed that I suggested this system.

    Sorry for the rant, but this system has cause a lot of needless problems.

  10. Penny Magas says:

    Hi, all! I’m a small retailer now, but I’ve worked in lots of environments and it’s pretty typical to use the Packing Slip to pull the items and prepare the shipment. It generally accompanies the shipment, as well – which means it needs to be included with products, weighed and labelled before it actually ships. So, yes, it is an issue/

    Mila’s idea is a great workaround that I’ll probably use. But it seems to me that in the Reports area, you ought to be able to ‘batch’ print all of the new orders or all of the open orders. (A way to choose which orders would be nice as well.)

    Magento is great – I’m just getting started with it However I suspect that the folks who designed it haven’t handled the flow in a retail or manufacturing environment. Please don’t take that as criticism – we all have different ways of looking at processes and if someone hasn’t been in that environment, they can’t know.

    I’d be interested to find out if this change could be made. I have enough coding skills to be dangerous but I have worked in several environments and would be willing to assist in looking at the flow of information, paperwork and product.

  11. Jess says:

    Hello Josh, have you had any movement on this? We are a warehouse shipping business that is thinking about moving to Magento but the packing slip issue is huge for us. We definitely use it to pull the order from the warehouse before we ship so if you would like any further info on how our process works to help you out, please feel free to contact me. Thanks very much for your time.

  12. Mila says:

    We need to print the orders, as well. What I’ve suggested our product people do is click on “Ship”, then print the page LANDSCAPE. Everything fits very well that way, especially if you select the necessary part of the page (basically everything but the header), and “print selection”

  13. Vinai says:

    This is, indeed, a Problem.
    I solved it by creating the invoice and the shipping, attached the pdf’s to the email to the warehouse, and then *not* saving the invoices/shipping entities.

  14. Ian says:

    This is indeed a problem and one I’m encountering at the moment with a client where I’m using Magento for the first time. The order processing does seem a little flawed. If you make any progress on a module to address this then I’d certainly be interested. Keep me posted.

    Another issue I’ve discovered is the lack of provision for customs declaration forms. The client wants to print the invoice off onto a sheet of paper with an customs form (which as a peel off sticker at the bottom) but needs to print the totals and order details on this sticker. I have no idea on how to go about that and there doesn’t seem to be any modules out there for it either. Have you come across this before?

    • Josh Pratt says:

      If I can figure something out, I will certainly be posting it.

      I haven’t had to deal with your other issue that you talked about.

    • moogento says:

      That’s a great idea – do you know the legality behind printing your own? Would you need a scan of the form, or just text?

      Also practically would your customer be using an integrated packing sheet, with the sticker at the base, and if so, where do they print the Shipping label?

      I’ve seen dual-sticker integrated sheets, which we currently have the shipping address in one, and the return address in the other. I guess it would be easy enough to print a sheet of return addresses, and include the customs info in the other one. They need item names (or type?), numbers, and values right?
      What happens if there is a large number of items – can they be ‘summed up’? I guess the usual customs form is a set size, so should be able to.

      Thanks!

  15. Chris Norton says:

    I think that situations like the one described fall into a difficult area, where more flexibility may be useful but not necessary in most cases. For smaller retailers, the default order process will work perfectly well, and larger retailers will have a separate ERP system or similar that will handle processing instead of Magento.

    It would be nice if Magento’s order processing was more flexible, and with the newly available Magento Contributor Agreement, patches could be submitted by the community to do this.

    • Josh Pratt says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. I guess I just don’t know enough in general about the different ways people want to process orders. But it seems that flexibility would certainly make sense. But, there are so may people out there saying, “Magento sucks cause it doesn’t do this or that”, so I definitely don’t want to approach the situation like that. I think Magento is amazing. It is just difficult when your client comes to you and says that Magento isn’t working for them and they want you to fix it. Some things are easy to fix, but there are things like re-defining how the order fulfillment process works that are quite difficult.