Lead time: What it is and 5 strategies to reduce it

Learn how lead time helps your organization better serve its customers, enhance its reputation, and optimize its revenue.

Jonny Parker
February 20, 2024

When customers can purchase with one click, they want the product just as fast. But complications often arise, impacting your lead time — the time it takes from order placement to delivery.

Understanding lead time helps you identify potential friction points in your supply chain. This knowledge also lets you proactively implement new strategies that increase efficiency, reduce waste, and get your products into the hands of paying customers sooner.

What’s lead time?

Lead time refers to the interval between the initiation and completion of a process. In the manufacturing world, the term refers to:

  • The time it takes to get inventory to your warehouse
  • The time it takes to get an order in the hands of customers 

You can look at lead times holistically, considering how long it takes to receive an order, manufacture the goods, and ship them to the customer. Or you can use various lead times to understand how efficient specific parts of your supply chain are (or aren’