How businesses can deal with delivery and distribution overwhelm

How businesses can deal with delivery and distribution overwhelm

As many businesses have been faced with a global pandemic unprecedented in modern times, many businesses are seeing a steep decline in purchases and orders, whereas others are having to close doors completely for an unknown period.

Other businesses, however, are being faced with overwhelming demand.

Some bricks and mortar shops have seen their shelves stripped bare, and are having to take measures to manage eCommerce as demand has soared far beyond their capacity to meet it.

The crush of demand has hit online grocery delivery companies particularly hard. Ocado, for example, had to suspend all access to its website for a period of time to prepare for the distribution of products and ensure fair delivery slots.

“The amount of demand is simply unprecedented,” Ocado chief financial officer Duncan Tatton-Brown commented, likening the surge in website traffic to a “denial-of-service attack.” He said if the company “didn’t have capacity limits, it would be doing five to 10 times its sales volume.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you and your business, here are some tips which we have been sharing with many of our new customers who we are supporting through a period of increased orders and pivoting of business models.

Implement dynamic routes

Our very first recommendation is for businesses to implement dynamic route optimisation, if they haven’t already.

Many businesses work on a fixed route basis – which raises significant challenges and limitations for those dealing with overwhelm or pivoting from B2B to B2C.

Dynamic routes allow businesses to plan routes daily, weekly, monthly, or however frequently they require a dynamic schedule. Systems such as MaxOptra utilise algorithms which produce efficient and reliable routes, fast. Taking into account traffic conditions and known roadworks, as well as vehicle capacities, live order volumes and delivery time windows.

All of this supports businesses in avoiding any potential inefficiencies of fixed routes, reduces excess mileage, keeps customers happy and, as a result, cuts operational costs by up to 20%.

Track your routes and deliveries

One of the results of an overwhelming increase in orders is losing track of where deliveries are, or how delivery routes are performing.

For any business who is running a distribution fleet, it’s important to know what’s going on once the vehicles have left the depot.

Businesses can either link route optimisation systems to a vehicle telematics device, or utilise a driver app, such as what MaxOptra offers, to monitor what is going on in real time via track & trace functionality.

This on-the-day visibility enables businesses to proactively deal with any delays or issues as soon as they occur. At the end of the day this valuable data aids driver debriefing, route refinement, and management KPI reporting.

Automated email & SMS updates for customers

Another result of order overwhelm for businesses is having to communicate with a larger group of customers, which can quickly become complicated.

Keeping customers happy is a key goal for any business, and automated email and SMS updates can help businesses to do this without an increase in workload.

These updates can include when a delivery is scheduled to arrive, when it’s on its way and even when it’s nearby. Not only does this reduce the workload for businesses who often have to deal with customer enquiries, it’s also incredibly beneficial for the end-customer.

Implement a driver app

For paper-based operations, an increase in orders can result in an increase in documentation. This can quickly get messy.

We recommend that any business facing delivery overwhelm implements a driver app, such as the MaxOptra iOS and Android app. This will allow businesses to run a paperless operation whilst automatically pushing jobs to their drivers.

Businesses will also be able to track delivery and driver progress, whilst dealing with any issues and amends in real time.

For added peace of mind, our driver apps which incorporate ePod functionality allows drivers to log proof of delivery signatures, photos and comments.

Overall, a driver app will streamline the entire delivery process – ensuring businesses can keep on top of their routes, drivers, deliveries and documentation.

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