Are you looking for a way to make your customers stick around, rave about your brand, leave great reviews, and keep coming back to buy more? Of course you are because retaining customers is the secret to sustained business growth.
The question is, what is the hidden key to optimizing customer retention? It’s not a new marketing gimmick or a fancy loyalty program (although those things can certainly help). Retaining customers is all about lead time. Learn about why lead time matters and how you can win the race to minimize lead time.
Why Does Lead Time Matter?
The easy answer is that customers expect short lead times. While lots of factors have played a role in shifting consumer expectations regarding lead time, Amazon and its Prime delivery services are largely to blame.
According to McKinsey, Amazon’s free delivery offering has gotten 75% faster since the early 2000s, reaching two-day shipping in 2015. Retailers in key niches like hard goods, apparel, and specialty products have followed suit. The same McKinsey report found that retailers in these spaces are aiming for two-day or faster delivery.
The bottom line is that customers expect short lead times. If your company doesn’t offer condensed lead times, customers are likely to take their business (and their money) elsewhere.
How Can You Master Lead Time?
There is no single solution to the lead time equation. Instead, you need to leverage a few tried and true tactics. Here are some tips to jumpstart your efforts.
Be Realistic—Don’t Over-Promise
The last thing you want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. While it’s tempting to promise next-day delivery or super-fast lead times, it’s essential to set realistic goals. If you can’t consistently follow through, it’s better not to make those promises. Your customers will appreciate honesty and consistency over empty, fast promises.
Remember That Communication Is Key
Lots of things can go wrong in the world of logistics—suppliers can get delayed, and shipments can get lost. If there’s a change in lead times, let your customers know as soon as possible. A simple email or SMS explaining that the package is delayed can make the difference between a patient customer and one who vows never to do business with you again.
Invest in Tech
There are tons of tools out there that help you monitor and manage lead times. From warehouse management systems (WMS) to transportation management solutions (TMS), these tools provide the insights you need to eliminate bottlenecks and maximize efficiency.
Continuously Review and Optimize
The business world doesn’t stand still. So keep an eye on your lead times and be willing to pivot if your plan isn’t working out like you had hoped. Check for bottlenecks, find ways to speed things up without compromising quality, and remain adaptable.
Connect With a 3PL
A third-party logistics provider (3PL) offers comprehensive supply chain management solutions. A great 3PL partner will take the hassle out of managing your inventory, save you money, and use its industry connections to cut your lead times.
Make Lead Times Your Key Differentiator
Lead time might seem like a small cog in the vast machinery of your business, but it has the power to make or break your customer relationships. Optimizing your lead times will boost customer loyalty, help you attract new buyers, and increase your sales volume.
Want to reduce your lead times? R2 Logistics can ensure they are at a minimum. Contact our team today, and let’s discuss your supply chain management needs.