Delivery time is the length of time between the preparation of a product for shipping and the delivery of the product to the end consumer. It is also sometimes referred to as the delivery period. Companies keep track of their delivery times for the purpose of being able to provide accurate estimates when orders are placed so that consumers know when to expect a delivery. This tracking is also used internally to monitor efficiency.
When customers place an order, they are usually provided with information about the estimated delivery time. They may be told that a product “takes two to four weeks for delivery,” for example, or that a product “can be delivered by Friday if you order in the next 12 hours.” This is designed to create a frame of reference for the customer.
Customers usually prefer rapid delivery times and if they have a choice between several companies with similar pricing, they are more likely to go with the company that offers the quickest delivery time. In addition, consumers like to know when to expect products. It may be necessary to make preparations or to be present to sign for a delivery. In the case of things like product components, timing deliveries is crucial to avoid work stoppages caused by not having enough materials.
Delivery time can include the time needed to fabricate a product, get a product from a warehouse, package it, and then to ship it to the final destination. The shipping method used has a significant effect on delivery time. Consumers can opt to pay a priority for next day or two day delivery, for example, to guarantee arrival by a set date. Other factors may not be so controllable. A company may not have an item in stock or may have a backlog of orders; even though an order can be filled, it may be behind a long line of orders that need to be processed first.
Internally, delivery time information is used by companies to help employees enact improvements. Companies track their delivery times and compare them with estimates to identify problems in the process of preparing items for delivery. A company may use this data to streamline part of the process or to monitor packaging processes in different departments. If estimates are consistently wrong, the company may adjust the system used for estimates or do some investigation to see if it is possible to get departments back on track and delivering products within the estimated delivery window.