Retailers require a lot of e-commerce management and documentation. From packing slips and delivery notes to picking slips, bills of lading, and purchase order slips, there are many types of documentation to familiarize yourself with within the e-commerce business. So how is a packing slip different from a picking slip? And how do you compare a packing slip to a bill of lading? What exactly is a packing slip anyways? Here at Fiddle , we have rounded up all the information you need to know  in regards to  what packing slips are, what they’re used for, and how it fits with the different documentation e-commerce merchants have to formulate, review, and sign. 

Related: The best documentation practices for every stage of food and beverage manufacturing

What Is A Packing Slip?

A “packing slip” refers to a list of items included in a package or shipment. Also known as a packaging slip, order slip, or shipping slip, a packing slip comprises a shipping document that functions as a record, or paper trail, of what the shipment should contain. Packing slips may also have extra information, like the recipient’s name and address, additional charges, amount due or paid, and a tracking number. The shipping slip often supplements a purchase order or invoice

Why Do You Need A Packing Slip?

As mentioned above, a packing slip basically records everything that the order should include. The shipper can use packing slips to make sure they’ve put everything in the shipment, and the recipient can reference the packing slip to make sure that everything they ordered has been included. For instance, if the order comes in several packages, an order slip can help keep track of what’s been shipped out and what hasn’t. For international orders, customs may also use shipping slips and invoices to calculate what the contents are valued and apply associated charges. However, a packing slip can be used for more than record-keeping and quality assurance. Marketing-savvy brands know that packing slips can be a great branding opportunity. You can convey your voice through a design that relays your brand message. 

What Is A Packing List?

The term “packing list” comprises exactly what the name states: an itemized count of the products that the package includes. Having an itemized list lets the recipient know what they should expect and lets handlers know what’s inside to handle the package appropriately. The packing list details each item’s quantity in the box, along with its general weight and dimensions. The packing list is also known as the bill of parcels or the unpacking list and typically doesn’t display prices. 

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Do You Need A Packing Slip?

Businesses that sell and ship physical products need to use packing slips. Service-based businesses may send invoices since they sell services rather than products. 

ecommerce transaction

Can I Use A Packing Slip As A Shipping Label?

Technically speaking, packing slips can be used as shipping labels. However, the package would have to undergo extra processing through the carrier, who would need to make a shipping label and associated rates of the information on the packing slip. Thus, you can choose not to have separate shipping labels, but it will end up costing you higher shipping rates. There are many tools you can use to automate order slips, shipping labels, and invoice creation when an order is placed. Automating this process may be the most efficient choice, particularly for packed retail operations management teams

Related: Inventory Management and COVID-19: How to weather the pandemic

What To Include In A Packing Slip

There are plenty of free and paid packing slip templates you can download off the internet. If you choose to use an automated tool, it’ll probably give you several templates to choose from. No matter how branded you want your shipping slips to be, we recommend templating them for a consistent look that boosts operations’ efficiency and creates familiarity with repeat customers. Some key components that should go on a packing slip include:

  • Purchaser name
  • Order date
  • Recipient name
  • Purchaser address
  • Recipient address
  • Itemized list of what the shipment includes (your packing list)
  • Itemized list of what was ordered
  • Quantity of items
  • Itemized list of what will ship separately
  • Your company name
  • Weight of items
  • Packing slip/order slip/shipping slip number
  • Your company contact information

What’s The Difference Between A Packing Slip And An Invoice?

So what’s the main difference between a packing slip and an invoice? A packing slip is a document that comes with the shipment, while the invoice is a billing document sent to the individual responsible for paying. In certain situations, the package recipient also receives an invoice. In other cases, the package recipient may not be the same as the person paying for the products. Just like an order slip, the invoice should have an itemized list of what is included in the order, the name and address of the person/company who paid for the order, how much each product costs, and a unique identifying number. The itemized list doesn’t have to include any out-of-stock items that were ordered and not paid for.

Invoices can also state payment terms, such as ways the customer can pay and payment due dates. If the customer has paid already, the invoice will display the payment date and method. There are different sets of standards for international invoices. For example, customers in Europe are required to include a VAT identification number. 

Global merchants selling to U.S. customers may employ a commercial invoice and packing list used for customs declaration to denote value and determine taxes and fees. A commercial invoice needs to be more thorough and include any information necessary to clearly let customs know the package’s value, origin, and destination. 

Other Types Of Documents To Know

Bill Of Lading

A bill of lading, or BOL, is a document that transfers ownership of the package from the seller to the buyer. A BOL confirms that a shipment was delivered and lists the shipment items, such as the quantity, along with an identifier for the carrier. When the shipment is picked up, the carrier signs the BOL, and when it is delivered, the recipient signs it. 

Picking Slip

The picking slip, also known as the pick list, is an internal document sent to the operations team or responsible for putting the order together. The picking slip should list an itemized list of products ordered, the warehouse location, and the SKU number. The picking slip helps streamline and organize your operations team and order management system

Purchase Order Slip

The purchase order is the first document a seller draws up to document the customer’s proposed transaction. The purchase order lists what was ordered, the unit cost and quantity, and payment terms. If the buyer agrees to the purchase order, it functions as a legally binding document for the parties involved.

Delivery Note

The delivery note is what the recipient signs when the shipment is delivered to them. The carrier gives the delivery note to the seller, which serves as proof of delivery. The delivery note should list the product and quantity that was delivered. The delivery note is not as detailed as a shipping slip and emphasizes listing the items and quantity for the carriers and customers to cross-check the actual package with. 

Related: Manufacturing on the Rise: The strength of U.S. domestic production and its future

Automate Your Packing Slips And More With Fiddle

Fiddle offers innovative, scalable software solutions to ensure accurate inventory, develop products, manage purchases and streamline production. Make your inventory and shipping process more efficient with Fiddle today!

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Looking for ways to streamline your inventory and shipping process? Sign up for Fiddle today!