Are you looking for a better way to manage your deliveries?
Routing software improves last-mile logistics and can help you optimize your delivery routes, saving time and money.
With the right routing software, you can improve your customer service and make your business more efficient.
Keep reading to learn more.
What is Routing Software?
Routing software, also known as a route planner or delivery management solution, helps you improve your dispatch processes. It does this by automating the process of creating a plan for a one-time shipment from either multiple pick-up and drop-off locations, or from a central location to several end destinations.
In addition, some routing systems can also help you optimize your routes according to criteria such as time of day or traffic.
Routing software is appropriate for any business that transports goods from one location to another. For example, a trucking company might use it to plan the best way to deliver freight from a warehouse in California to a retail yard hundreds of miles away.
Why Do I Need Routing Software?
While routing software fills a very specific need, it can help make a difference for your business. Here are a few of the ways you might benefit from it:
- Better customer service – Routing software can make it easier to predict delivery times and manage expectations. For example, if your company’s route planner takes account of traffic patterns on certain roads, customers will be better able to estimate when their appointments will happen. In general, routing software makes the logistics of transportation easier for everyone involved.
- Improved efficiency – Routing software not only helps you save time by reducing the amount of manual planning required, but it can also help increase your overall productivity. For example, if you have to switch vehicles or drivers during a long haul, routing software will let you pick the best way to make the switch.
- Reduced costs – Routing software can also help reduce fuel and vehicle wear-and-tear in a number of ways. For example, a route planner that takes traffic into account when creating routes will let you avoid unnecessary time on the road. In addition, proper routing software might mean that you’ll use just the right kind of vehicle for each delivery. Finally, routing software can also help reduce your company’s carbon footprint by reducing idle time.
- Increasing the size of your fleet and revenue – While you might not think of your vehicles as part of your “fleet,” they are probably the largest investment you make in your business. Route planners can help you get more out of your existing vehicle fleet by matching drivers to the most efficient routes at the best times.
What Industries Use Routing Software?
Routing and delivery management software is used by a wide variety of businesses, including:
- Manufacturing and distribution companies
- Transportation and logistics providers (e.g., trucking companies)
- Courier services, such as FedEx or UPS Ground
- Healthcare, such as pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Grocery delivery
Here’s how each of these industries use routing software:
How the Retail Industry Uses Routing Software
Retailers and e-commerce companies rely on routing and delivery software to manage the warehouse-to-customer supply chain. Once an order is placed, a retailer can use routing software to plan how it should be routed for fulfillment.
Smaller retailers may only generate one or two deliveries per day, while larger ones might get hundreds of deliveries in a day.
For example, a retailer that only handles in-house orders (i.e., no e-commerce) may need to generate a route for each order it gets, if there are multiple pick-up and drop-off locations involved. If the same business also uses an e-commerce service such as Amazon or eBay, then those routes will likely be consolidated.
Retailers can use routing software to determine whether it makes more sense for the deliveries to be done in one go or if they should be broken up into multiple loads.
Additionally, retailers may also use routing software to optimize their routes according to time of day, day of week or tolls/congestion charges that need to be paid.
How the Manufacturing and Distribution Industry Uses Routing Software
Just like retailers, manufacturers use routing software to plan the most efficient routes for their shipments. This software can also help you optimize existing routes or create new ones even if there are multiple pick-up and/or drop-off locations involved for each order. It can also help you create a route that minimizes time or distance traveled, or takes into account traffic conditions.
For distribution companies that ship products to stores, routing software can help them plan the most efficient routes for all their daily deliveries. It can also be used to optimize existing routes and create new ones if needed.
Additionally, some delivery management solutions can help you track your fleet, so you always know where your vehicles are.
Manufacturing and distribution businesses can also use routing software to plan delivery routes for multiple locations.
For example, if a manufacturer is sending products to each of its retail customers, it may need to generate one route per customer. If the business uses an e-commerce platform, such as Amazon, it may only need to create one route for all orders (i.e., consolidated shipments and deliveries).
Having dedicated routing software can help you generate more efficient routes while minimizing shipment costs.
How the Transportation and Logistics Industry Uses Routing Software
Trucking companies often use routing software in order to plan expedient routes for their drivers. They can also optimize existing routes based on traffic conditions or tolls/congestion charges.
Additionally, trucking companies can use routing software to plan the most efficient routes for multiple deliveries.
For example, a trucking company might have to deliver goods to different parts of the country. By using routing software, they can create a route that takes into account the best way to get to each destination while minimizing mileage and time on the road.
The best routing software for transportation and logistics also takes into account planning for Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FT) shipments. This means that the software can help you create routes that are specific to your needs and that meets the required delivery timeframes.
Here’s another concrete example for you:
Let’s say you need to send a package and it needs to go from LA to Denver. If there are multiple locations involved (e.g., San Diego, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City) the software will plan the route that takes into account traffic conditions, tolls/congestion charges as well as any time windows that need to be met. This information will then be presented to the driver who will follow the route with his/her GPS device.
For transportation and logistics companies, it can be useful to have a software that allows them to track where every shipment is at every moment . For example, if a package is delayed or lost, they’ll know exactly where it was last located.
How the Healthcare Industry Uses Routing Software
As a pharmaceutical manufacturer, you may require deliveries for your products from various suppliers across the country or even internationally. In this case, it make make sense to consolidate all these routes into one, or use a centralized warehouse from which to ship your products.
If you’re a pharmaceutical distributor that delivers prescriptions directly to customers’ doors, then the routing software can be used to generate routes for each order received from each customer. The software can also help create optimal routes based on whether multiple orders have been placed at the same time and whether each order is being sent to a different location.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that Sue lives in New Jersey and has ordered the following items from ePharmacy:
- One bottle of pain reliever
- One box of allergy medicine
- Two bottles of vitamins
With routing software, a pharmacy can generate a route for their courier to take Sue’s order. This route could be generated based on the courier’s GPS location or by inputting specific addresses into the software.
How the Grocery Delivery Industry Uses Routing Software
Grocery delivery companies plan routes for their drivers based on the orders they receive from customers.
In some cases, these routes can be extremely time-sensitive and may require deliveries to be completed within a specific timeframe. For example, if a customer places an order during lunchtime on a weekday, this route may need to get delivered before the end of the business day.
In other cases, a grocery delivery route can be planned in advance and may not have a set timeframe. For example, if a customer places an order for Saturday delivery, this route is unlikely to have consequences if it’s delivered slightly later than expected.
This is important because the way in which a route is planned can affect the price you offer.
For example, if it takes a driver an extra 20 minutes to get from location A to location B, this may be factored into your pricing. Other costs that may be included in your quoted price include:
- Distance traveled (i.e., how far away is the furthest location from the pick-up point?)
- Number of locations (i.e., how many stops are in the route?)
- Whether or not a driver needs to make an additional stop at his/her home base after completing deliveries
It’s worth noting that some routing software providers specialize in certain industries, such as express delivery, grocery delivery, manufacturing/distribution, etc. If you’re in the transportation industry and are interested in running reports or applying for jobs with this type of software, then it’s best to contact the provider directly instead of trying to find out pricing information online.
How Much Does Routing Software Cost?
Routing software varies in cost — from free solutions that give you the basics, to enterprise solutions that could cost several thousands of dollars per month. It really depends on the size of your company and the types of problems you are trying to solve with routing software.
Some of the factors that affect pricing include:
- Number of stops or deliveries
- Number of vehicles that you want to plan routes for
- Complexity of the routing problem, including constraints such as time windows, driver availability and customer preferences. This can be particularly difficult to manage if your drivers have tight delivery schedules.
We actually broke down the best free and paid routing software solutions, so you don’t have to do the work. Check it out here.
What Are the Benefits?
Routing software saves time and fuel by giving your drivers optimal routes to take with the least traffic and using low-traffic roads. This helps improve customer satisfaction, which can lead to increased business.
Among other things, routing software also has features that allow you to:
- Improve cost efficiencies
- Eliminate unnecessary vehicle movements (e.g., driver starts and stops)
- Increase transparency
- Allow for real-time changes to routes
- Provide an overview of the status of deliveries in your system.
As a business owner, route planner, or warehouse manager, these benefits can have a significant impact on your bottom line, giving you more time to focus on what’s most important: growing and maintaining your business.
Is There a Free Route Planner?
Some routing software is only available as part of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other business management solution. But there are some free alternatives you can try. Google Maps, for example.
How do I plan routes with Google Maps?
Google Maps provides a route planning tool that allows you to enter your start and end locations as well as the number of stops.
You can then choose whether or not certain roads should be avoided, which will give you an optimized solution based on the information that you provide.
Something important to remember is that free route planning tools will not be able to provide you with all the capabilities of a paid product – such as automatic optimization and optimization in real-time. Here are a few examples:
- Limited Stops: In Google Maps, you are limited to the number of stops you can input. This means that if you want to plan a route with several stops, it could take some time because you’ll have to do your planning in much smaller segments.
- Limited driver constraints: In Google Maps, you can optimize for time, and toggle constraints like toll roads and highways — but not much else. This means that you are not factoring in delivery time windows, available drivers, vehicle capacity, and some other basic information that can affect the quality of your routes.
However, if your business isn’t ready for a full subscription, they might help you get started on finding a solution.
Well, there you have it. You should have a better understanding of the benefits of routing software, what you can expect to pay for it, an idea of which free route planner is right for your business needs, and why you might want to switch from Google Maps.
Although there are some limitations associated with free solutions like Google Maps, they are suitable if your company isn’t ready for a full subscription. But if your business is growing and you want to take advantage of routing software’s full capabilities, you might consider a paid solution.
If you are looking for a free solution because you’re on a tight budget, it’s worth noting that some paid routing software providers offer free trials. These can help give you an idea of how the product works and whether or not it will be able to meet your needs before making any decisions.
You can try Less Platform for free here.