multi-carrier shipping softwareorder fulfillmentreduce shipping costsshipping softwareHow Shipment Pre-Manifesting Can Reduce Warehouse Labor Costs

July 29, 2021by CLS0

How Shipment Pre-Manifesting Can Reduce Warehouse Labor Costs

Posted by CLSon Jul 29, 2021

Eliminate Unnecessary Shipping Processes & Reduce Labor Costs with Pre-Manifesting ~

Do you increase your staff to get through your peak shipping season when order volumes surge? If your products can be shipped in their original packaging, they're ideal for pre-manifesting, an efficient shipping process that can dramatically reduce warehouse labor costs.

What is Shipment Pre-Manifesting?

In pre-manifesting, the carrier shipping labels are printed in a batch before the orders are picked. The order pickers take the shipping labels with them and apply them to the items as they are picked, and they're ready to ship. This workflow eliminates the step of sending picked items to a shipping station.

shipping labels applied to boxes

To leverage this process, several data elements must be known upfront and combined into a pre-manifest or batch shipping file including:

  1. Ship-to name & address
  2. Package weights & (ideally) dimensions
  3. Shipping service
  4. Content details (i.e. SKU(s), pick/slotting location(s), etc.

Pre-manifesting yields two significant labor savings by eliminating extra touches in shipment processing:

  1. The shipping labels are applied to packages during order picking, eliminating the need to have them handled by workers at the packing and shipping stations.
  2. Since pre-manifested packages are diverted directly to the carrier staging areas, your packing and shipping workers are freed up to process higher volumes of orders that require traditional processing.

If you can identify and group the orders that fit the pre-manifesting profile from your traditional shipping process, you can significantly reduce overall warehouse labor costs.


For example, if you ship 2,500 packages/day and can save 30 seconds of processing time per package with pre-manifesting, you save more than 20 hours of labor per day. At $15.00/hour, that’s a savings of over $75,000.00 per year.


Which Orders Are Best for Pre-Manifesting Benefits?

Pre-manifesting does not apply to all order types. It is ideal for orders in which the package contents, weight, package dimensions, and customer addresses are known at the beginning of the fulfillment process. Here are a few examples:

  • Example 1 -  Full case orders
  • Example 2 – Single item orders 
  • Example 3 – Subscription Orders – Everyone gets the same thing

Full Case Orders

For example, a company that sells printing paper by the 4,000-page case receives 100 or more orders a day for the same full-case product. As orders are received, the host system stores the customer names and addresses, product names, weights, dimensions, and carrier service. 

  • The host system sends a request for the 100 orders to be shipped to the shipping software.
  • The group of 100 shipping labels is printed in a batch and assigned to the pickers before they begin.
  • The shipping details are logged and updated in the host system.
  • The picking team takes the batch of labels, applies each to the cases as they are picked, and places them onto pallets to be moved to the carrier trailer(s).
  • The need for sending the packages to a shipping station just to print carrier labels is eliminated.

Single Item Orders

Pre-manifesting is also highly efficient if you ship single items with a known weight and known dimensions of the shipping packaging. In this scenario, parcel shipping software such as InfoShip®\Vx can print shipping labels to include pick location & item on them, so the pickers can either label them at the pick location (if the merchandise is in a shippable box) or take the items to an overpack station and label them. Since these items have already been shipped during the pre-manifest process, they do not need to go through the typical step of moving on to the UPS/FedEx parcel shipping software station.  

Subscription or Pack and Hold Orders 

Pre-manifesting can also be used in a pack and hold environment or for subscription boxes all containing the same merchandise or other known weight items.

For example, a company shipping a monthly skincare kit has 5,000 packages that need to be released on the same day. These orders can be processed in batches as they are being packaged and released on a date convenient in the future.

In effect, workers apply the shipping label to items as they are picked rather than at the shipping station. Standard or branded shipping labels and packing lists can be printed on the same label stock to optimize warehouse work and eliminate unnecessary staff “touches” to faster fulfill orders.

Since the order is already packaged and labeled, it can skip the step of moving to the traditional UPS and FedEx parcel shipping station and move directly to the carrier pickup area. 

How to Set Up the Pre-Manifesting Process

Successful pre-manifesting requires the right combination of technology and workflow, including the following criteria:

  • Your order management or inventory system will need to have sufficient database fields to capture product names, item numbers, weights, etc.
  • Your ERP or WMS system must be able to decrement inventory levels as items are picked and replenished to ensure the orders in the queue can be fulfilled.
  • A well-defined, two-way systems integration plan to exchange data between the order management, WMS and shipping systems.
  • A flexible multi-carrier shipping software system that meets pre-manifesting data requirements.

The InfoShip/Vx multi-carrier shipping system offers the flexibility and configuration tools to:

  • Receive order and item details from the host system;
  • Calculate the shipping weight;
  • Select the optimal delivery method based on embedded business rules;
  • Produce carrier-compliant shipping labels; and
  • Release processed orders/shipments back to the host.

CLS shipping system experts can help you configure InfoShip/Vx for pre-manifest processing.

Can Pre-manifesting Deliver Time and Labor Savings for You?

Pre-manifesting yields significant labor cost savings if your order profile includes the item weight for the majority of items that are shipped.

If this is the case, you can move shipping document and label production upstream in the order fulfillment workflow and reduce the number of packages the staff will be required to weigh and label at the shipping station.

If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of pre-manifesting, Creative Logistics Solutions can help. Please contact us today.

Rick Williams is a parcel transportation management expert with 40 years of experience in shipping and supply chain operations and technology. CLS has worked with many companies to streamline workflow and improve productivity in the warehouse through the combination of streamlined workflows integrated with multi-carrier shipping software, integrated pack/ship stations, data collection solutions and more.

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