So, what is a packing slip and what sorts of information needs to be on it?
Read on to learn all about packing slips and the information they should contain. We've even included a few free templates for you to use in your own business.
What Is a Packing Slip?
A packing slip is a document included in a shipment that lists all the items in the package. The packing slip is usually a single piece of paper that accompanies the products. It can be used by both the shipper and customer to verify the contents.
What Is the Purpose of a Packing Slip?
Packing slips are multi-functional documents that help streamline the order receiving and fulfillment business process flow and avoid costly mistakes.
Here are three reasons to use packing slips:
First, packing slips ensure all products are in the shipment. Before the package is sealed up and labeled, your warehouse team can use the packing slip to double-check their work. This will let them know if they've picked an incorrect SKU number, have the wrong quantity, or have mixed orders together. By catching these mistakes early, you can avoid unnecessary shipping and handling expenses and upsetting customers.
Second, they're great for tracking shipments. If an order from your online marketplace is split into multiple shipments, packing slips are a valuable tool to stay organized and locate all packages. A packing slip can help both the seller and customer account for all products and packages. This is especially helpful if you've sent a large batch of shipments out via bulk shipping.
Third, they're useful for returns. Packing slips can help if a product gets damaged in transit, lost, or the customer isn't happy with what they received. They can easily identify which product the issue is with and help speed up the return process. Pair the packing slip with an RMA form (see RMA meaning) and returns couldn't get any easier. You should also make sure to get eCommerce business insurance to avoid any additional expenses related to these issues.
Packing Slip vs Invoice
Both a packing slip and an invoice template look similar. However, a packing slip lists the items in a shipment. An Invoice on the other hand states the amount a customer owes along with all ordered items. An invoice is used to request and accept payments online from customers for delivered goods.
The packing slip is usually the first thing the customer sees after opening the eCommerce packaging box. Like an invoice, you can customize your packing slip with your logo and brand colors. Invoicing tools and Invoice management solutions can help streamline your invoice processing.
Packing Slip Template
Packing slips contain quite a bit of information, so they can feel overwhelming to create. To help, we've created two packing slip templates for you to use.
We included the most commonly used fields in the template, but you may need additional ones to suit your business's unique needs.
Packing Slip Template Word
Instead of starting from scratch, you can build your packing slips using a downloadable free packing slip template Word.
Once you download it, give it a look through. You’ll see fields for shipping and billing addresses, product information, and comments.
Feel free to edit the cells that you need and remove the rest. You can also easily add new rows and columns as needed for your own product offerings and business needs.
Don't forget to add your contact info, so your customers know how to get in touch with questions about their purchase. You'll also want to replace the logo with your own for branding and some easy, free marketing.
Excel Packing Slip Template
If you regularly send products via bulk shipping, or you just need more flexibility, we've also created a template for Excel. This template is nearly identical to the Word version, but offers more room for editing and adjusting to suit your needs.
Download a free Excel packing slip template and start using it for your eCommerce shipping needs.
Packing Slip Example
If any of this has been confusing, let's look at an example of a few of the things to include on your packing slip. These are all included in the templates above, but you may make your own or use eCommerce software that automatically generates one.
Here are the most common fields you'll want to include on your packing slip:
- Your business info. A packing slip is no different from any other document your business sends out. It should include your business name, address, and logo to ensure the customer knows who they purchased the products from. It's also a very easy way to supplement your eCommerce marketing strategy and increase the chance of reordering from your business.
- Customer shipping and billing info. Many customers, especially a B2B business, have different billing and shipping addresses. Make sure to include fields for both so there's no confusion for your shipping staff (see what is a warehouse associate). This will also prevent orders from being delivered to the wrong address.
- Purchase order number. A purchase order, or PO number, is a unique number assigned to an order for internal tracking purposes. It can be cross-referenced with other tracking numbers to ensure the right order was delivered. It's also useful for customers who need assistance, as it will be saved in your order management system and easy to search.
- Itemized list of products. The most obvious thing you'll need on your packing slip is a list of the products in the package. Your warehouse staff can use this list to check all items have been picked and included in the shipment. The customer will also use it when they receive the shipments to verify all products arrived safely.
- Product SKUs. Product names and descriptions are good for the customer, but SKU numbers are essential for your own tracking. These numbers are unique to each product type and are scanned before the product is sent. This will automatically update your inventory tracking system and ensure all inventory reports are accurate.
- Product quantities. It's also important to include a field for product quantities to ensure you pack the correct amount of each product. You can quickly run into issues with shrinkage and rising costs if these numbers are incorrect.
- Additional notes. A notes or comments field is an often overlooked, but useful section of a packing slip. Here you can communicate any special circumstances with your customer. They may have purchased backordered products (see backorder meaning), have multiple shipments to track, or their products have unique requirements to operate or open.
Frequently Asked Questions About Packing Slip
Packing slips are a small, often-overlooked element of shipping and handling. They’re easy to implement and save time running back and forth between warehouse office spaces and product shelving.
If you’re ready to implement packing slips in your warehouse distribution, you probably have some questions. Learn more from our answers to frequently asked questions below:
Is a packing slip necessary?
Packing slips are generally necessary for any business that sends high demand products and physical products. You can technically ship out orders without packing slips, but this increases the likelihood of mistakes.
A packing slip offers pickers and packers the opportunity to verify orders before boxes are sealed and labeled. It also gives customers the chance to check that all components of their order arrived intact.
What is the difference between a packing list and a packing slip?
A packing list and packing slip are the same thing, just by two different names. In some cases, a packing list may detail the information for multiple packing slips. Most of the time, the difference in title simply depends on personal preference.
What is a packing slip return form?
A packing slip return form is a set of fields on a packing slip used when customers return orders. The customer provides information like the reason for return and the type of refund requested (cash or in-store credit).
Customers then provide the completed return form and the product to the company. Return forms are often formatted in a manner that simplifies the work necessary after receiving the product.
Let It Slip
Packing slips are relatively simple documents that offer a lot of value to your business. Create your own or use the templates above to create a packing slip and avoid costly mistakes, like not having common box sizes. Make sure to include branding on the packing slips and train your staff to use them correctly to get the most out of them. You can also use a shipping label printer to print packing slips if it works for your warehousing setup.