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Lean Six Sigma Retail Consulting

Lean Six Sigma Retail Consulting

What is Lean Six Sigma?

The term ‘Lean Six Sigma’ is a combination of two concepts – Lean and Six Sigma. Herein, we will refer to it as LSS. The thread that binds them together is process improvisation. The focus of Six Sigma is to reduce the deficiencies and variations in the business processes for achieving the best output in the best possible way. The objective is to chalk out process redundancies and defects. Driving out ‘what is not necessary’ is associated with the concept of ‘Lean’. With both the concepts combined, we get processes that are fit – just and exactly as they need to be – while retaining their objectivity. For instance, no matter what kind of grievance a customer comes up with, the complaint resolution process in place should be able to address it in the best possible way. If it is within the defined framework, it helps save resources by eliminating ‘what need not be done’ and defining ‘what needs to be done’. If a customer comes up with a complaint that is not mapped within the process, the customer support team will not know what to do and what not. It is something common to see even in big retail stores. More than a concept, LSS is an approach and a way of thinking to enhance the process and operational capabilities.

Lean Six Sigma in Retail Industry

The concept of Lean Six Sigma finds its roots in Japan and the USA. Because of its universal utility, numerous industries have embraced LSS since its inception. This includes the retail industry as well. When processes get involved, process improvisation becomes a necessity. And when process improvisation is sought, LSS is a powerful solution. Today, retailing is a complex value chain. There is hardly any profitable way left to do it mediocre. It is fast, technology-driven, and needs the agility to constantly align itself with the external environment. For instance, if a competitor drops prices, a suitable response must find its way. If the response is a reciprocated one, it would call for changes in the software systems and the packaging function. What does a process have to do here? The answer is – nearly everything. The relevant processes must have room to incorporate such changes in a predefined format. If the processes are not designed accordingly, making sudden changes to them could be chaotic and resourcefully expensive.

Lean Six Sigma for retail businesses

Optimal space utilisation

With space as a constraint for most small and medium-scale retail businesses, retailers often struggle to merchandise at the full demand potential. Somewhere customer experience and maximising stocking capabilities are traded for one another. Can LSS help here? Retailers should know the maximum floor and shelf space available at any time. Then they need to realign their SKU merchandising strategy with this constraint. Multiple processes or operations like demand forecasting, merchandising planning, purchasing, staffing, logistical planning, etc. get involved here. The space constraint affects how these processes are designed and executed. Optimal space utilisation may seem like a routine business goal, but the thinking required for the workaround emanates from LSS.

Inventory optimisation

The three big objectives of inventory management are timely availability of stock, no over or under-stocking, and preventing undue investment into inventory. Timely availability of stock requires that reorders are placed on time. Avoiding under or overstocking calls for the determination of the right ROQs (Re-Order Quantities). To prevent any unnecessary investment into inventory, retail businesses need to ensure that demand and sales forecasts are highly accurate if not exactly. These decisions are all part of various processes. The application of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy seeks to achieve accuracy in making these decisions and planning for the same.

Logistics optimisation

Whether logistical facilities are internal or hired, there are costs attached. If it is a case of hired services, the goal should be to limit the number of orders per supplier within a cycle. If logistics is an in-house department, the goal should be to optimise the usage of logistical resources. Since logistics are primarily driven by purchase and reorder requirements, the process is co-dependent. Applying Lean Six Sigma necessitates that the use of logistical services or resources is optimised to prevent unplanned and low-value trips. We can use the instance of a water jar delivery business. To-and-fro trips cost more than a linear up-and-down trip. With Lean Six Sigma in focus, the movement has to be planned and orders received in advance.

Team Management

Unlike in production, gauging staffing requirements in the service industry is a tricky area of work. Should you have four sales staff or five? Additional staffing means an additional burden on the salary budget. It costs heavily for small and medium-sized retail businesses. This is where planning and processes come into the picture. From manpower assessment to exit formalities, having lean and high-quality processes ensure that all HR activities take place in sync with the organisational and functional prerogatives. If three suitable candidates made it for two vacant positions, you need not feel tempted to hire all three of them in anticipation of finding a role for the extra hire that already does not exist in the organisation structure. Decide in advance what should be in the process and then do not deviate from the process.

Focused marketing

Retail businesses can no longer shy away from digital marketing. At the same time, they also cannot ignore the ROI of their digital marketing efforts. That makes digital marketing an area of work requiring perpetual fine-tuning. But this fine-tuning of planning and strategies requires better insights. And after we have a better plan and strategy, we are better equipped to improvise the processes to execute them. LSS approach leads to the consideration of implementing advanced analytical solutions for effective and efficient digital marketing management.

Customer Experience

The efficiency of outbound processes and operations carry a major impact on customer experience. The goal is to make the shopping journey convenient for customers at any touchpoint or transaction. Take the example of a retail grocery store offering on-call ordering facility. Customers should be able to easily access the contact numbers provided to place the orders. There should be a sufficient number of lines available. The call waiting should be activated so that callbacks can be made. This order receiving process must be designed keeping in mind the constraints and customer experience. When the process planning is meticulous, the chances of missing out on orders or disappointing customers are reduced to a great extent. Furthermore, the management should be able to track the call list. The application of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy lends a strong intent to eliminate errors and make processes more accurate.

Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is built over years. It comes with long-held consistency and improvisations in the quality of the products and services and customer experience. And achieving this consistency requires strong processes and perpetual process improvisations. LSS philosophy provides the required vision and tools to maintain processes in their superlative forms. For example, if a supermarket store is consistently able to stock a wide variety of packaged frozen foods, in the long run, it partly becomes a part of its brand perception and aids in building customer loyalty.

Becoming growth-ready

The existing operational system plays a critical role in the growth and expansion projects of a retail business. The tested and proven processes, with or without improvisations, can be replicated with more confidence. But if the current working systems are not well-defined and streamlined, replicating them would mean replicating the same operational problems in the new branches. Robust processes validate themselves for successful replication for growth and expansion purposes.

Who we are & how we can help

We are a boutique retail and eCommerce business consultancy brand. With more than ten years of experience in delivering unique and diversified business solutions, we have worked with over 500 clients in 20+ industries. Process management and SOP solutions have been our undisputed ‘sphere of expertise’. We deploy expert process consultants in service design and delivery. For more information on our Lean Six Sigma retail consulting services, please visit our website to speak to an expert.

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We work only for Visionaries.


The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.


No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.