What’s a Packing Slip?

Types of purchase orders

In the contemporary digital landscape we inhabit, an increasing number of consumers are opting to purchase products online, with the support of efficient purchasing software. When a customer buys a product from an e-commerce store, it's commonplace for them to receive an email containing the receipt for their order.

So, why should you even bother with packing slips? Are they even necessary?

In this post, we’ll discuss what a packing slip is in the first place, how you can create one, and why it’s a critical part of your shipping process.

What Is a Packing Slip? Why Is It Necessary?

A packing slip is a document that contains essential information about a package, such as a customer’s name and address. It also lists all items shipped in a package. In fact, a packing slip is usually a single piece of paper that accompanies the products in your shipment. 

When your shipping department prepares a package, they’ll use the packing slip to determine the inventory they need to fulfill the order. So, the purpose of a packing slip is to streamline the order receiving and fulfillment process and avoid costly mistakes. For example, if an order is split into multiple shipments, a packing slip can help you stay organized.

Is There a Difference Between a Packing Slip and an Invoice?

When looking at a packing slip and invoice, they might seem similar at first glance. Both types of documents typically include an itemized list and the price of each item. But they serve two different purposes for purchase orders. A packing slip outlines the physical goods a customer receives, while an invoice is a financial document of the order. An invoice contains information about how much money each product was sold for, the payment terms, payment method, and date.
When evaluating the difference between a packing slip and invoice, here’s a more simple way to look at it:

  • A packing slip is for the person who receives the package.
  • An invoice is the bill sent to the person responsible for payment.

So, if a customer orders an item for themselves, they’ll get a packing slip along with their shipment as well as an invoice. But if they’re buying a product for someone else, they’ll receive the invoice, and the person they’re sending the item to will get a packing slip.

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What About a Shipping Label?

While both the packing slip and shipping label are important for making sure the shipment is transported and delivered to the right recipient, each document is different. 

For example, the shipping label is usually pasted on the outside of the package, while the packing slip is on the inside. The shipping label is mainly for the carrier or delivery service. It’s also important for keeping track of and identifying packages. 

A customer will only receive one packing slip even if an entire order comes in multiple packages, On the other hand, they might get multiple shipping labels.

So, to sum up, a shipping label helps prevent a package from getting lost or stolen, while a packing slip ensures all products are in the shipment. 

Why Packing Slips Are Important

Packing slips are important to your e-commerce operations for many reasons. Beyond ensuring everything is in the shipment, packing slips also help you:

  • Identify damaged items: A packing slip helps to identify damaged items if they break during transit. Having a packing slip as a backup can help you speed up the refund or replacement process. That’s because with a packing slip, you can easily identify the product with the issue.
  • Track orders easily: There are times when a customer has a big order, or your logistics team, for some reason, can’t fulfill the order in one shipment. As a result, you may have to split the order up into multiple shipments. This means certain items are sent in different packages, even though they’re all under one order. A packing slip can help you and your customer stay organized.
  • Estimate the value of a shipment: If your company fulfills international orders, it must pass through customs. A packing slip can help customs authorities estimate shipment value

Optimizing Your Shipping Operation

A packing slip may seem like such a miniscule detail, but they have the power to streamline your entire fulfillment process.

When you print packing slips, always make sure they include your business’s information, customer shipping and billing information, the purchase order number, an itemized list of products, product SKUs, and product quantities. 

To speed up the process, it can help to use a packing slip template. Instead of creating a packing slip from scratch, you can build your own using a packing slip template. 

You can print packing slips with a labeling service or generate them from inventory management software. But no matter what solution you choose, make sure your packing slips are simple, detailed, and clear. 

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