Marshalling: The important last mile in warehouse management

Marshalling: The important last mile in warehouse management

Marshalling in warehouse management refers to the process of arranging and preparing items for outbound shipment according to their destination and delivery schedule, as well as verifying their accuracy and completeness. It is an essential part of warehouse management, ensuring that the right products are delivered to the right customers at the right time. With marshalling, warehouses can improve their order accuracy and fulfilment efficiency, reduce errors and delays, and enhance customer satisfaction.

What is marshalling in warehouse management?

A marshalling area is a location in the warehouse where outbound shipments are managed. This area is typically located near the loading docks to facilitate the efficient loading and unloading of trucks.

Marshalling and dispatch are two different functions. Dispatch is the process of sending material to a destination while marshalling is the process of assembling, arranging and organizing the material in order to check for errors and omissions. Marshalling ensures that the right goods, people and equipment are in place before dispatch occurs.

Warehouse outbound activities

Pick goods Marshalling Dispatch of shipment
Location of goods must be known and accessible

Goods are generally picked from storage or pick face locations

Goods are brought to the marshalling area

Goods are brought together to:

• check for missing items

• check quality

• change picked items for Lots and Serials if required

• Packaging of orders and printing of manifests


Goods are loaded onto transport and shipped to the customer


Not all warehouses need marshalling. For small warehouses, or warehouses which do not have a high volume of shipments, marshalling may not be necessary. However, when warehouse operations grow beyond a certain point, marshalling will be needed.

Key metrics that will indicate if marshalling is needed relate to picking and shipping.

  • Picking completeness
  • Quality of items picked
  • On-time shipment
  • Orders shipped damage-free
  • Number of returns

As benchmarks, the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), has noted that the average is 3-4 percent for miss-picks, and 98 percent for on-time shipments. The importance of improving the warehouse outbound function is supported by the figures showing that 7 percent of consumers will cancel a whole order rather than wait for a replacement, and 81 percent of consumers will stop using a supplier if they receive an incorrect order.

The role of marshalling

Most warehouses perform multiple workflows on each item. But if a workflow isn’t well organized, the same operation may be accidentally performed more than once, creating redundancies. The role of marshalling is to reduce redundancies that add time, costs and additional labor if an operation has to be repeated to reverse a mistake.

Marshalling can reduce returns caused by either the incorrect goods being shipped or the goods being faulty. It includes pick quality to ensure that the quality of the goods being dispatched meets standards and that what has been picked is correct to what was ordered. It also includes pick confirmation to make sure that the items allocated to the order are the ones being shipped. This can help with inventory accuracy.

Since labor can be a significant expense for some warehouses, marshalling can help by allocating space in a staging area so that labour efficiency is optimized in the final preparation allowing for separation, or consolidation of picks, as well as packing.

Benefits of marshalling include:

  • reduction in transport costs by up to 15 percent
  • improved on-time delivery performance
  • significant reduction in errors
  • reduction in time to process and ship orders by up to 50 percent
  • reduction in labor costs by up to 20 percent

Integrating marshalling in your warehouse management system

Like other areas of manufacturing where integration of functions is important, integrating marshalling in the overall warehouse management system can bring benefits. This means marshalling is not an isolated operation that works without reference to the rest of the warehouse or the business. With an integrated ERP system, staff in the marshalling area have easy access to information about orders and fulfilment requirements. If the picked items are rejected for shipping during the marshalling process, the items can be quarantined, and the pick returned to an open status so that it can be fulfilled.  This in turn will update available stock quantities within the Warehouse.

With an integrated warehouse management system, metrics can help to show if marshalling is causing a bottleneck in terms of dispatch. Metrics such as orders shipped will indicate if marshalling is working efficiently in consolidating and shipping items.

Marshalling — the last mile in warehouse management

Warehouse management involves organizing, managing, and maintaining all the processes that occur in a warehouse so that they run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. As the critical last mile in outbound operations, marshalling organizes and consolidates shipments into a more manageable form for transport. By minimizing the need for re-work and ensuring that goods are dispatched on time, it can help to improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs. As such, it is a key part of supply chain management and can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of shipments.


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