When you run a business that requires excellent, efficient, and productive last-mile logistics, delivery route planner software is becoming a necessity rather than a nice tool to have. Delivery route planning software means that you can determine the best route plan for hundreds of multi-stop deliveries to save mileage and delivery time.
There is a misconception that route planning software helps find the best route between 2 or more locations on the map. People usually imagine google navigation or other navigation software that helps you to decide which route to take. How strange may it sound, the route planning for last-mile operations generally has little to do with maps or navigation. It is rather a complex process of deciding the number of vehicles needed to implement the job, the number of orders in each vehicle, and the sequence of stops so that total mileage or driving time will be the minimum. This is becoming more complex when stops have tight delivery windows and variables service times. Juggling between fitting everything into time constraints, keeping costs down and drivers happy seems an impossible task.
So, using a route planner rather than attempting to plan your deliveries manually will save time, money and ensure that each driver is fully aware of what they should be doing and when. To be the best in business, you need to be the most efficient, you need to work hard, and you need to make use of as many tools as possible – a delivery route planning tool is exactly what any business linked to logistics needs to get ahead.
There are a number of different reasons why a delivery route planner app could be the ultimate piece of software for your business; read on to find out what some of those reasons are, and set up your delivery route planner as soon as you can.
Industries For Which efficient Last-Mile Logistics Is Crucial
The delivery route planner is one of the very best investments a business can make. For small-scale operations, you can sign up to delivery route planners free of charge – there’s really no reason at all not to start using this technology when you’re in an industry for which last-mile logistics is crucial.
1. Wholesale Distribution
Wholesale distribution is all about logistics; transporting large loads, whether food and beverages, paper products, building materials, electrical products, medical supplies, and plenty of other products, is the backbone of this sector. A small distributor can have 100-300 stops to make a day, while for large distributors, thousands of deliveries from tens of distribution centers could be made. A proper route planner for these businesses should be able to create route plans in minutes and save mileage and time.
Wholesale trade is definitely big business. It makes up around six percent of the US GDP and can generally be separated into two categories – durable and non-durable. As time passes, both of these groups of commodities are growing, but non-durable goods have a higher profit margin, probably because they can travel further. In 2020, $5.824 trillion worth of wholesale distribution goods were sold.
It is estimated that total retail sales in the US will be around $5.94 trillion in 2024. In 2019, the amount was $5.47 trillion. Of course, in 2020 retail sales fell due to the global pandemic, and the amount was $4.89 trillion.
The importance of the final mile deliveries is skyrocketing in the retail sector. Customers request quicker deliveries in tight delivery windows. There are a number of operational models that retailers are currently using, which we can combine into 1) deliveries using their own fleet of vehicles 2) outsourced deliveries. Some retailers might also have mixed delivery models.
The last-mile logistics are also split between journeys from the distribution centers to the stores and the stores to the final customer. In most cases, the former is a more extensive operation than the latter, but it might be argued that, since customer service is so crucial to get right, the final delivery to the customer has at least as much importance as the initial delivery to the store.
So, multiple legs to plan and different delivery models make it a really complex task to have it done in a short amount of time, keep tight delivery windows and in the meantime, try to keep costs under control.
3. Logistic Service Providers
Logistic service providers such as package delivery companies, fleet-based delivery companies, and other delivery services will find that last-mile logistics are crucial. Parcel transportation sales in the US amounted to $114.4 billion in 2019 and are only set to increase. With more and more people working from home and buying online, these kinds of logistic service providers are sure to only increase their hold, and the last-mile logistics required to ensure that all deliveries go as smoothly as possible is a vital step in this growth.
LSPs also may opt to use joint route planning and delivery management with their customers, especially when customers want to be in charge or participate in route planning and stop sequencing activities.
Why And How Does A Delivery Route Planner Help?
Now let’s see how a delivery route planner can help to improve your last mile logistic experience. There are many ways a good delivery route planner can help your last-mile logistics. In this post, we have presented three of them:
– Saving panning time
– Cutting costs
– Improving visibility
We have demonstrated mentioned benefits on the example of Less Platform route planning and delivery management functionals.
In business, time is money. The more time you can save, the more money you can make. A good route planner app should have planners to implement the daunting task of route planning and sequencing in minutes.
Rather than the planner having to manually look into each drop-off point and plan a route from one to another, something which, when done correctly, can take many hours, you can simply upload the data into Less Platform and you’ll have the optimum route plan. This comes in handy when your orders or stop locations are different from day today. It also helps you to factor in tight delivery windows and variable service times (see the video).
Consolidation of a planning process can also save time and resources, especially in companies with multiple distribution centers. Currently, many companies have different planning teams in different distribution centers, making sense to consolidate these operations. Less Platform can help to manage multi-depo route planning in one place.
Having been able to plan multiple types of movements such as pickups and deliveries or outbound and inbound together helps avoid havoc during the planning process.
2. Cost Cutting
Cutting distribution costs without losing service quality is the ultimate improvement all business owners will want to make, and yet it’s not as easy as it might sound. Trying to cut costs in logistics can often lead to understaffing, high mileage, and unhappy customers.
So the major question in improving efficiency is: how to fulfill increasing deliveries with existing resources so the company won’t miss delivery windows and, in the meantime, assuring that transportation costs won’t go over the roof. There are two major sources of cutting costs of your last-mile logistics:
– to decrease mileage for the existing fleet,
– to use fewer vehicles by optimizing the number and the sequencing of the stops.
There are other obstacles for different industries that add complexity to the planning process. These are variable sizes of orders, especially in the case of wholesale and big-and-bulky distributors, variable driver skills, different priority needs, traffic, etc. A good route planner should allow such flexibility by in the meantime minimizing total mileage and the number of vehicles used (see the video).
3. Improving Visibility
Once you dispatch your loads, many things can affect the delivery process. So, real-time information about the delivery process helps to manage the delivery process and also provides an opportunity to do dynamic routing. Three processes are important when the dispatch process has begun:
– Accurate estimated time of Arravilas (ETA)
– Digital proof of delivery
– Customer notifications
Logistics should never be a reactive industry, and you should leave nothing until the very last moment. Regular updates of ETAs and information about potential late delivery will help to implement dynamic planning and decrease late deliveries. Less Platform allows you to have updated ETA when you are using Less Platform Mobile APP or are connected to telematic hardware such as Samsara, Geotab, etc. The driver app helps update the statuses of stops and save them in the system.
Digital proof of delivery for every stop is installed on both android and ios mobile apps. When a driver captures the signature, our route planner generates a proof of delivery file and saves it for the appropriate order for later inspection. Updated stops’ statues also help you to focus on what has left.
Customer notifications are an integral part of visibility. You can set up notifications both at the scheduling and actual delivery stages and automate them to be sent to customers’ email, phones or both. A Geofencing functional will also help to send notifications at the different stages of delivery.
Whether you are working in wholesale distribution, retail, or you’re a logistics service provider, utilizing the technology that saves your time and money is essential. There is no way that free route planning apps can serve decent last-mile logistics operations – they’re simply built for different use. To be able to keep up with the growing pressure, any company involved in a last-mile delivery should start using a proper route planning solution. Less Platform is at the forefront of the route planning and delivery management for last-mile logistics offering cutting-edge solutions to any of the above-mentioned industries.