Struggling to plan efficient delivery routes?
You’re not alone. Many business owners find it difficult to create an efficient delivery route that takes into account traffic, time, and distance. That’s where a delivery route planning solution comes in handy.
A good delivery route planner can save you time and money while making your business more productive. It can also help you stay organized and on schedule.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about delivery route planning.
What is Delivery Route Planning?
Delivery route planning is the process of creating an efficient delivery or pick-up route to serve customers.
A typical business owner will choose several options for each customer, then use a route planner to create the most efficient route that meets all requirements. Some of these requirements include:
- Distance and travel time
- Vehicle size and weight (for delivery trucks)
- Customer location
- Time of day (can affect traffic flow)
Each of these elements adds a layer of complexity to the delivery route planning process.
For example, if your business delivers small packages in a large metropolitan area, that means taking into account traffic for each option. Vehicles traveling at lower speeds can still cause congestion when there are high volumes of cars on the road.
This becomes more complicated when you factor in time and distance for deliveries that must be made at a specific time.
The delivery route planning process becomes even more complicated when you’re dealing with both large and small vehicles. Businesses that offer deliveries and home pick-ups must create several options to ensure that their customers can choose what works best for them.
Delivery Route Planning vs. Driving Routes
It’s important to understand the difference between a delivery route and a driving route.
Almost every business uses some type of spreadsheet or Gantt chart to track deliveries. These documents can help you keep track of shipments, invoices, and your daily schedule – but they don’t create an efficient delivery route for you.
A typical spreadsheet doesn’t take into account traffic, travel time, distance, and other elements that can affect how long it takes for a vehicle to complete a route.
A delivery route planning solution will account for these variables, then use satellite mapping technology to create the most efficient route based on those calculations.
Why Delivery Route Planning is Important
In business – just as in life – time is money. No business owner wants to waste time and resources on delivering goods to customers in the least efficient way possible.
There are several benefits for creating an efficient delivery route:
Increased productivity – When your employees know where to go and how long it will take, they can work more efficiently and stay on schedule.
Customer satisfaction – Customers expect deliveries to arrive on time. If you’re able to meet that expectation, your business will gain customer loyalty.
Improved cash flow – By creating an efficient route that’s designed to save you time and money, you’ll be able to see an improvement in your cash flow.
Customer retention – One of the best ways to retain customers is by meeting their expectations. If you’re able to deliver on time, your customers will be more likely to continue doing business with you.
Improved safety – When drivers have a clear idea of where they’re going and how long it will take, they can drive at a safe speed. This means fewer accidents and increased safety for everyone involved in the delivery process.
Industries That Benefit from Delivery Route Planning
The industries that benefit most from delivery route planning are any type of business that makes deliveries or pickups. In fact, any business that provides a service can benefit from route planning.
Some of the most common types of businesses with routes to plan include:
- Construction companies
- Public transportation companies
- Courier and messenger services
- Logistics companies (trucking/shipping)
- Transportation businesses (taxi, limo, Uber)
- Food delivery services
- Medical supply companies
- Inventory logistics companies/warehousing operations
- Distribution centers for large retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. Large warehouses and distribution centers can create and track dozens (if not hundreds) of deliveries and pick-ups per day.
Who Uses Delivery Route Planning?
Delivery route planning software is used by businesses of all sizes, including small businesses that have a few employees and large organizations with hundreds or thousands of delivery/pick-up routes to manage.
To determine if your business needs route planning software, think about what you would do without it. How many phone calls are you making each day to track the status of your deliveries and pickups? How much time is spent trying to determine the best route to take through multiple stops?
If you find yourself spending up to 5 hours per day creating delivery routes, it might be time for you to look into a delivery route planning solution. Not only will this save you time each morning when you create your daily routes, but you’ll also have more time to spend growing your business.
What to Look for in a Delivery Route Planning Tool
Delivery route planners come in many shapes and sizes. Some are extremely simple and easy for employees, while others offer more advanced features that you can use to track your entire supply chain.
If you’re evaluating different products, here are some of the most important factors to take into consideration:
1. What does it cost?
The first thing you should do is calculate how much your business will be willing to pay for the solution. Look at what types of features are available, then consider whether or not they’re necessary for your business operation.
2. Does it integrate with other apps?
One of the most important things for any business is to make sure their apps work together. For example, if you run an e-commerce website and process orders online, you’ll want to look for a delivery route planner that integrates with your web app.
3. Is there training available?
If it’s unclear how to use the product or if you need help setting things up, you might want to look for a product with training videos or tutorials.
4. What features are available?
Different products offer different features, so it’s important to not only look at the price of the solution but also what types of capabilities you need to manage your business operations.
Do You Need Delivery Route Planning Tools?
Every business can benefit from having a delivery route planner in place. Even if you’re just making deliveries to customers, an automated solution will save time and ensure all your drivers are working efficiently.
If your business makes deliveries or pickups, has multiple employees that use their own vehicles, or operates in an industry where the delivery process is complex (such as shipping, wholesale, retail), having a route planner is extremely beneficial.
Route planning solutions are available for companies of all sizes – big or small. If you’re not sure if it’s necessary for your business, the best option is to simply give one a try and see how much time you could free up by automating your process.