What Is Delivery Reliability?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Delivery reliability (DR) is a term that is used to describe the number of deliveries to customers that are considered free of any type of error on the part of the vendor or shipper in comparison to the total number of deliveries that take place within a specified period of time. The idea is to determine the ratio of successful deliveries and deliveries that did not meet the standards set by the company operation. Periodic review to determine the current ratio of delivery reliability can help a company identify flaws in the delivery process and make changes that help to minimize the number of errors that occur during the delivery process.

When calculating delivery reliability, several factors are taken into consideration. The quantity of units included in the delivery must match the total number of units ordered by the customer, even if the order is being filled in multiple shipments. When this is the case, the cumulative totals of those shipments must agree with the customer order. In addition, the quality of the goods ordered must meet the standards set by the company. Factors such as meeting shipment and delivery deadlines are also taken into consideration, as well as the successful delivery of the shipment to the customer at the designated address.


Another key element of delivery reliability has to do with the date that the order is placed into the possession of the customer. To that end, the date should either be before or on the date promised to that client. Should the delivery be delayed for any reason, even due to an act of nature, the usual approach is to consider that delivery to be flawed. While the conditions of the error are taken into account when evaluating the underlying reasons for the decrease in delivery reliability, the listing of the late delivery as an exception to company standards is still noted and addressed as part of the ongoing customer relations effort.

The goal of any company is to have the highest percentage of delivery reliability as possible. While unforeseen circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions that cause delays, can lead to errors, damage to the packaging and contents en route, or even an error at a fulfillment house, the results of analyzing deliveries and arriving at the delivery reliability for a given period provide the opportunity to fine-tune policies and procedures so that at least some of the errors can be avoided in the future. Depending on the percentage of successful deliveries that occur within a period, actions ranging from remedial training for employees to changing shippers to even overhauling the entire fulfillment process may be necessary.


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