Order Process

Order processing includes five main steps from order placement to delivery — and sometimes continues on if a customer starts a return process. But what is actually happening while an order is processing? Here’s a breakdown of the typical workflow:

Order Processing Factors

Steps in Order Processing

Order placement

When the business receives a customer order, order details (including items, item quantities, shipping details and delivery addresses) are typically sent to an order management system. If the company has several fulfillment centers or warehouse locations, the OMS will automatically determine the appropriate warehouse location to ship from, based on the delivery address and item availability. This helps reduce transit times and delivery costs. In some instances, one order with multiple items may be fulfilled from several warehouse locations to ensure faster delivery. For example, if one fulfillment center does not stock a certain item or that item is out of stock, the customer may receive two shipments from two different locations so they do not have to wait for items to be re-stocked.

Picking inventory

The process of collecting a specified quantity of items from inventory to satisfy customer orders. Order picking must be a highly controlled process because it directly influences the productivity of the overall order processing workflow — the sooner orders are accurately picked, the sooner they can be packed and shipped


This is when picked items are separated according to their destination. If zone or batch picking strategies are used, for instance, each item must be sorted into its respective order before it can be packed and shipped. Sorting is an essential step toward accuracy and customer satisfaction because it’s the perfect time for workers to ensure all ordered items are present and in good condition for shipping.


The process of protectively packing items into appropriate shipping boxes. The packing process also includes weighing the packages and labeling them with recipients’ addresses and any necessary delivery instructions. Whether items are packed in custom packaging or plain corrugated shipping boxes, it’s important to prioritize dimensions and weights that can be easily handled and are cost-effective.


The process of transporting orders to their final destination. Orders can either be shipped directly to the customer, or they might first be consolidated with other orders going to nearby locations to cut costs and minimize the total number of shipments. If orders are consolidated, multiple orders are usually shipped with the same carrier and then forwarded to specific locales as necessary. When shipping, it’s important to use a reliable tracking system so you — and your customers — can monitor orders.