Tips for Ecommerce Cycle Time Management

Consumers are growing increasingly impatient when it comes to delivery times. While 28 days was once a readily accepted delivery time in the days of TV shopping channels, next-day delivery is the new norm, and same-day delivery could very well soon eclipse it.

Retailers that want to appease this growing body of customers who want their products right now need to get inventory and order processing just right. Even a slight hold-up during order processing can throw everything off schedule to the point that a customer leaves a bad review or even turns elsewhere next time. How can you ensure that you can deliver in a way that meets this demand?


First, you need to get forecasting right, and that is a lot more difficult than it sounds. You’ll need a firm understanding of what your customers want to buy and when. Besides that, however, you’ll also need a good feeling for what the margin of error is in your forecasting and calculating it into your inventory strategy.

Order processing

An order processing system that is tied into a warehouse management system can help ensure goods are moved within the warehouse efficiently during the picking, packing and dispatching process. These can usually be configured to adjust to the volume of orders received.

Outbound transport

Once you have a solid idea of what you will sell and when and you have everything on the shelves, you’ll start to get orders and pick them and they’ll be ready to be sent to the customer. This is where a third party often comes in: the logistics transport provider. When deciding which one to use, don’t fall into the trap of choosing based on price alone; you also need to find providers who will offer the latest collection time as well as the earliest delivery slot. This can depend on the proximity of your warehouse to the transporter’s distribution hub just as much as the customer’s physical location.

The techniques for monitoring and measuring cycle time might vary, but they all entail mapping and timing each process as well as finding areas that need improved and implementing those improvements. This should be an ongoing process rather than something that takes place every once in a while.

This blog post was based off of an article from Paul Trudgian Consulting. View the original here.