Applying the Lean Six Sigma Principles to Order Fulfilment

Finding ways to enhance your e-commerce business can be hard. Without knowing where you’re wasting time and resources, it can be difficult to improve. If your order fulfilment isn’t up to standard, your customers may have a negative experience – which, in turn, could impact negatively on you.

Luckily, there are methods out there to help. One such approach is called Lean Six Sigma – a management strategy to improve your business. When applied across your business this can enhance the efficiency of your production, management, and order fulfilment.

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What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is a leadership approach that can be applied to the management of small businesses, such as e-commerce, to help eliminate waste from the production process.

This set of principles encompasses the idea of “motion” and the need to prevent wasted transportation of goods – a theme which ties in nicely when you’re thinking about introducing efficient logistics services for your order fulfilment.

By applying the Lean Six Sigma approach to your e-commerce business, you can eliminate waste and ensure your customers get the best experience when ordering from you. When applying it to your management at large, you could see significant improvements across the board.

Why Should I Use the Lean Six Sigma Approach?

Some of the key benefits of using the Lean Six Sigma approach are:

  • Reduced waste for materials, effort, and time
  • Increased profitability
  • Shorter delivery times for customers
  • Streamlined management
  • Smoother order fulfilment

The principles behind the Lean Six Sigma approach can provide benefits to your e-commerce business and its customers. They’re applicable to a wide range of activities from management, production, order fulfilment, and more.

What are the Principles of Lean Six Sigma?

With extensive hands-on experience with e-commerce fulfilment, a chain of trusted courier partners, and impressive facilities, Allegro Logistics can help you achieve a cost-effective, speedy and efficient shipping strategy. We use modern fulfilment software to keep you and your customers updated every step of the way, from stock arrival in our warehouse, to pick and pack then shipping.

It all begins with a phone call! Get in touch today and discuss your e-commerce business with us. Let us help you make customers happy with quick delivery, great customer service and good-looking packages.

Benefits of Ecommerce Fulfilment

The main drive behind Lean Six Sigma is a push to eliminate waste. This includes resources, time, and effort. In practice, Lean Six Sigma helps to cut down on waste in these fields while ensuring goods are held to high standards and are of good quality.

There are three main principles behind the Lean Six Sigma approach:

  1. Phases. There are five phases, known as DMAIC, that make up the method for optimising the business, manufacturing, and order fulfilment processes.
  2.  DOWNTIME. This is an acronym that outlines the different types of waste covered by the Lean Six Sigma approach.
  3. Belt Levels. Five different belt levels indicate the hierarchy in the Lean Six Sigma structure, each corresponding to a respective level of understanding and expertise. This system runs from white to master-black and is a nod to the Japanese origins of the Lean Six Sigma approach.

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The Five Phases of Lean Six Sigma

The five phases of the Lean Six Sigma approach, shortened to DMAIC, are: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control. These steps are used to identify problems in current management, production, and order fulfilment processes, helping you find the root cause.

Define. This step involves defining the problem and expectations from three perspectives: company, stakeholder, and customer. An example issue could be delivery times – an issue that could be solved by streamlined e-commerce fulfilment.

Measure. Next comes measuring the extent of the problem, examining the current process, and determining whether the process can meet the expectations of each of the three perspectives. This should involve measurable data and careful consideration.

Analyse. In this step, finalise your understanding of the problem with regards to its extent and the root cause. For order fulfilment, this could be due to subpar platform integrations or stock management resulting in incomplete orders or long waiting times.

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Improve. Using the gathered data, provide a solution to the problem. Confirm that an improvement has taken place, and ensure your solution eliminates the problem while preventing its cause. Test your solution, produce measurable data, and compare this data to your results from the “Measure” stage.

Control. The final step of DMAIC is to continue monitoring your systems. Improve them where possible and create managerial infrastructure for the future to make dealing with other problems a smoother process.

At Allegro Logistics, we incorporate cutting edge technologies with excellent services and streamlined e-commerce fulfilment, providing the solution to your order fulfilment issues. Receive a quote by contacting us today.

What does Lean Six Sigma’s “DOWNTIME” Mean for E-Commerce?

The acronym “DOWNTIME” breaks down into eight different words pertaining to waste sources that should be modified and optimised under the Lean Six Sigma approach. These methods are:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-utilised Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Extra-processing

By carefully considering each of these eight aspects of your manufacturing, leadership, and order fulfilment approaches, you can cut down on the amount of wasted time, effort, and materials your business produces – resulting in more profitable endeavours and smoother delivery of goods for your customers.

A logistics provider can offer support in reducing many of the waste categories outlined in Lean Six Sigma’s “DOWNTIME”. This can include reduced wait times for customers, efficient transportation, detailed inventory management, and streamlined motion processes.

Reduce the waste in your supply chain by utilising a logistics provider. Get in touch with Allegro Logistics today.

How to Apply Lean Six Sigma “Belt Levels” to Order Fulfilment

There are five different “belt levels” which make up the structure of the Lean Six Sigma’s hierarchy.

At the top are master black belts. These employees will have extensive expertise with the Lean Six Sigma system and are typically responsible for its implementation. They should act as mentors to employees with lower belt levels and work with leaders in the company to identify and resolve gaps in efficiency.

Below that is the black belt level. These people are also experts with the Lean Six Sigma system and are typically responsible for ensuring its principles are put in place.

Third comes green belts, who have some expertise with the approach – enough to manage their own Lean Six Sigma projects through the DMAIC process.

The penultimate tier is made up of yellow belts. These employees should understand the essential workings of Lean Six Sigma and can be utilised to make up the teams to carry out Lean Six Sigma projects.

Finally comes the white belts. They should understand what the goals and principles of the Lean Six Sigma approach are, but usually not to the extent they can carry them out in a live project. These employees may require further training by someone with a higher belt level.

While not intrinsically necessary to operating the order fulfilment for your business, the Lean Six Sigma approach can be a great way to enhance your management and identify problems which need resolution. At Allegro Logistics, we provide a simple solution to e-commerce fulfilment issues – contact us to find out more.

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Manage Your Order Fulfilment with Support from Allegro

By following the Lean Six Sigma approach, you can identify the problems and waste sources present in your current methods. Once you’ve found the issue, find the best solution – such as incorporating logistics services into your order fulfilment.

Define, measure, and analyse your issues – then improve them today, with e-commerce fulfilment and streamlined support from Allegro. Get in touch to request a quote or check out our services to see a full overview of our offering.

Check out our case studies to see how we’ve helped customers like you achieve success in e-commerce >

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