5 Ways to Reduce Inventory Lead Times

No one likes delays. Especially when they pop up unexpectedly. Time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted on extended lead times. So what do we do? We make them shorter! How, you ask? Here are 5 ways you can reduce your lead times and save those precious minutes:


Kitting is the process of grouping, packaging, and shipping various items together in order to offer them as one unit. Rather than sending each individual item separately, items are bundled together as a kit. This technique is often used for different products that are related and have the potential to be sold collectively. Not only are lead times reduced, but tracking and transportation is easier because everything gets shipped together.

Use Sales Data

Share your sales data with suppliers to calculate the best estimate for your lead times. This can help you with forecasting by better anticipating needs and identifying where things could be sped up. Sales data can help you gain more insight into the process and help you work alongside your vendors efficiently.

Supply Domestically

Finding a local can reduce your lead times drastically. With less transportation time, fees and complications it can save you money and time. Plus, supporting domestic vendors and suppliers benefits your local economy as well.

Offer (realistic) Incentives

Incentives are a good way to boost motivation, and in this case, shorten lead times. Offer a tiered bonus to vendors for completing orders on time or even ahead of schedule. This increases productivity and boosts motivation. However, do this sparingly as to not overwork your vendors. Remember to make your goals realistic. For example, recently Amazon has come under fire for overworking their employees with unrealistically high quotas and goal expectation.

Include lead time in contracts 

Having a clear time line for any project is important, and lead times are no exception. It’s important to know if there’s going to be a disruption so you can plan accordingly. Though delays happen, it doesn’t have to be something you settle for. Having a set lead times in writing helps your vendors be more accountable. Vendors can easily brag about their short lead times but having this statement in a legal binding contract may push them to give you a more realistic timeline.