In a world obsessed with eCommerce and near-immediate purchases, advanced delivery services are becoming increasingly popular.
However, many businesses have yet to catch up, and are struggling with managing their delivery operations and communications to meet consumers’ increasing demands.
With numerous factors to consider, such as traffic, driver availability, and delivery windows, delivery route planning can be a daunting task. Fortunately, certain technology has advanced to provide businesses with an option that can simplify and streamline their delivery processes. From route planning through to delivery communications.
In this guide, we will explain what a delivery route planner is, the pros and cons, and how your business can use one to improve efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction.
If you haven’t heard of a delivery route planner before, then we’re about to blow your mind.
Simply put, a delivery route planner is a tool, system, or platform that helps businesses to efficiently plan and optimise their routes.
Utilised by both the back-office and delivery drivers, the system uses complex algorithms to calculate the best possible routes, taking into account a variety of factors such as locations, real time traffic conditions, time constraints, driver breaks, and delivery slots.
The main goal of a delivery route planner is to reduce the time and costs associated with the delivery process, whilst also making significant improvements to customer satisfaction through reliable, timely deliveries.
Sounds good, right?
Well, the benefits don’t stop there. Read on to learn even more pros of implementing a delivery route planner.
Ensuring a smooth delivery process is crucial to ensure everyone involved, from the Logistics Manager through to the end customer, are kept happy. To achieve this, it’s essential to streamline the entire delivery operation, from loading vehicles to enabling drivers to reach their destinations promptly.
Utilising a delivery route planner can assist with streamlining your delivery operations, ensuring that deliveries are made via the most efficient and cost-effective route, helping businesses identify areas for improvement, and being hosted on an easily accessible, cloud-based platform.
Moreover, cutting-edge route planning software incorporates electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD) functionality, offering an app for delivery drivers that allows them to scan items on and off their vehicles and obtain electronic signatures. This feature provides peace of mind for both you and your customers, reducing the need for customer service enquiries.
The most obvious advantage of using a delivery route planner is the time savings it provides.
By calculating the most efficient route to take, businesses and drivers can save miles and therefore a significant amount of time on their delivery routes. This can be especially beneficial for companies that have a large number of deliveries to make, in a short amount of time.
In fact, at MaxOptra we have found that route optimisation reduces our customers’ daily mileage by an impressive average of 20%!
There are several ways that delivery route planners can help businesses to reduce costs.
By providing the most efficient routes for deliveries, businesses can make more drives in a shorter time period. This in turn means fewer vehicles and drivers are needed, reducing the associated costs such as fuel, insurance, and salaries.
Additionally, by ensuring that the most efficient routes are taken, vehicle wear and tear can be reduced through vehicle checks functionality, leading to lower maintenance costs. This also helps businesses to keep on top of vehicle maintenance, resulting in fewer breakdowns and repairs, which can be costly both in terms of time and money.
In today’s competitive market, keeping customers informed about the status and delivery time of their orders is crucial to keeping them happy. Customers expect timely updates and flexible delivery schedules that align with their daily routine. Or else will have no issue turning to a competitor.
To meet these expectations, businesses can utilise route planning software to proactively send out customer communications, such as email and SMS notifications with estimated time of arrival (ETA). This feature not only provides customers with immediate updates, it also reduces the amount of time that customer service representatives spend firefighting and dealing with queries.
Delivery route planners can help businesses to be more sustainable by reducing their carbon footprint. By using the most efficient routes, companies can reduce distance travelled and therefore fuel consumed.
Additionally, being cloud-based, this technology helps to reduce reliance on paperwork and unnecessary physical documentation.
Delivery route planners aren’t only available to larger businesses. In fact, they are commonplace in small to medium businesses too.
With fewer resources and employees, small businesses can benefit from spending less time and resource on managing delivery planning. Instead, focusing their resource on building their business, improving brand awareness, and increasing sales.
Meanwhile, larger businesses can leverage route planning software to handle large volumes of orders, delivery times, teams of drivers, and fleets of vehicles. Advanced systems like MaxOptra can process all of this information, taking into account any constraints, to provide the most efficient and streamlined route possible.
Being a route optimisation provider, it might seem strange that we want to talk about cons of this technology.
To be honest, there aren’t many. But we believe in being transparent from the start. Ensuring potential customers are aware of any potential issues from the get-go.
One concern many businesses have when considering route planning software is the associated costs, such as hardware, software, and training.
However, with the right system, these initial costs don’t have to be significant.
Platforms, such as MaxOptra, take a system-agnostic approach, providing an open API to make it an ideal complement to any telematics, ePOD, SOP, ERP, WMS and CRM solutions.
In addition, systems such as MaxOptra offer a range of implementation and training solutions to suit each business and budget.
Delivery route planners can be complex to use, or may feel alien to businesses that are used to more traditional, paper based operations.
Therefore, it’s important for businesses to choose a supplier that offers adequate implementation, training and support options to ensure the software is fully bedded into the company. And that everyone is using the technology to its full potential.
Like any software, delivery route planners can experience occasional technical issues, both system and user generated.
This is why it is important to work with a supplier that has a robust technical support offering.
For instance, systems such as MaxOptra will offer first class implementation and post-go live support. This includes regular email support, a 24/7 emergency hotline, support documentation and videos, and a dedicated customer management team.
Wellocks, a high-end food delivery company, had set up a new delivery service called Wellocks At Home. Delivering the same ingredients, but straight to customers’ homes.
However, Wellocks were running on a fixed route, reactive basis which they knew was not going to be efficient for their new service.
Wellocks decided to contact MaxOptra for advice and support. Using MaxOptra’s dynamic routing capabilities, Wellocks was able to set up their new service in just two days, putting 9,000 orders per day through the system at their busiest period.
Since using MaxOptra, Wellocks has been able to keep drivers on rota and on time, improve customer service levels, identify cost and carbon saving opportunities, and manage their fleet and resources more effectively.
And, they are so happy with the results that they have also begun exploring more functionality in MaxOptra.
Sofology, a UK-based specialist sofa retailer, implemented MaxOptra to improve the visibility and flexibility of its delivery operations.
Prior to the implementation of MaxOptra, Sofology used a centralised planning system, which did not allow customisation of routes. MaxOptra was chosen for its cost-effectiveness and compatibility with Sofology’s existing telematics solution, TomTom.
MaxOptra enabled Sofology to reduce operational costs and improve customer service levels. And the software is integrated with TomTom’s telematics WEBFLEET, allowing for real-time information sharing.
Champion Timber, a UK-based timber supplier, chose MaxOptra’s real-time dynamic scheduling and routing system to improve the delivery of its products.
Before using MaxOptra, the company scheduled and routed jobs manually according to postal codes.
The new system, integrated with TomTom telematics, allowed the customer service team to spot delivery issues and delays and keep customers updated through SMS messaging.
The implementation of MaxOptra has enabled Champion Timber to improve customer service, streamline order planning, and optimise scheduling, leading to improved bottom-line results.
SwiftUK, one of the biggest distributors of electrical appliances and sinks in the UK, partnered with MaxOptra to improve its delivery process.
Before implementing MaxOptra, SwiftUK used an outdated postcode matrix delivery system that offered little flexibility, resulting in empty vehicles and inefficient drops.
With MaxOptra’s dynamic route optimisation system, SwiftUK was able to save costs, maintain its turnover, and improve its customer service by offering more frequent deliveries to more areas and communicating delivery times and delays via email and SMS.
SwiftUK plans to build its home delivery customer base and offer different levels of delivery service to different customer types in the future.
Choosing to implement a delivery route planner could be the key to streamlining your logistics operations, improving efficiency, keeping customers happy, and reducing costs.
By considering the pros and cons, technological capabilities, customer support, and proven successes of a supplier, you can make a well-informed decision that will positively impact your business’s growth and performance.
Investing time in thorough research and assessment will ensure a fruitful partnership with a provider that values your organisation’s unique needs and commitment to efficient and cost-effective logistics management.
And of course, if you’d like a little help from our experts, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Feel free to contact us, or book a demonstration bespoke to your business.