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Think Outside the Big Box

This month we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the many uses and advantages of carton flow. One of the biggest power users of carton flow are big box stores. In distribution centers, website fulfillment centers, and even backrooms of the stores themselves, these big box stores have a variety of different storage needs. Because carton flow is so versatile, it makes this a natural marriage. Below are the three most common uses for carton flow for these major chains.

Distribution Centers

Think about how many SKUs you see in a typical trip to Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Now imagine the amount of storage that must be required to keep those shelves full and those SKUs in stock. The distribution centers for these big box chains are mind bogglingly enormous. And because the products in these stores are so diverse, there are several different storage requirements. Boxes of product are often sold as individual pieces, meaning that they aren’t shipping as full cases. These slow moving products are ideal for carton flow. To consolidate space in these warehouses, our Pickologists will integrate pallet picking, shelving and carton flow into one rack structure that is set up as a module in one area.



A fact of life in big box stores is that returns happen- and they happen quite often. Maybe customers decide that they don’t need a product, they bought the wrong product, or one of a hundred other reasons and decide to return the product to the store. An efficient returns area will actually run a reverse carton flow system. The associate takes the returns item, sorts it into a box or a tote and then once that tote is full can feed it down the carton flow lane to be returned and restocked. This makes the stocking easy because the goods have been presorted.

Website Fulfillment

As more and more people eschew a day at the store in favor of online shopping, many fulfillment centers have created a separate area for web orders to be picked from away from the store storage. Many times these areas are even in the back rooms of the stores. These orders are often smaller, sometimes as small as one or two individual items, and are an ideal fit for carton flow.


Carton flow is a very versatile solution and is especially useful in ensuring an efficient floor plan. If you're in need of a flexible carton flow solution, you can contact one of our expert Pickologists to explore the options that will best fit your needs.