How delivery route optimization can benefit your business
Delivering multiple orders every week is more complex than people think. Planning routes, dispatching orders, and delivering packages while honouring delivery window times can be a real challenge.
We live in a world where everything happens quickly, and customers have gotten used to receiving their orders as soon as possible. However, logistics can affect delivery speed as many elements, not always in your control, can cause delays.
This is why many businesses now rely on delivery route optimization to not only reduce delivery time but also minimize costs and enhance their customers’ delivery experiences.
Learn more about how delivery route optimization can benefit your business.
What is delivery route optimization?
First, let’s define delivery route optimization. It refers to the methods used to ensure delivery drivers are always using the fastest and most cost-effective route to complete deliveries.
How does it work?
With a powerful system, delivery route optimization takes into account a number of elements to minimize the time spent on the route. Among those elements we find the following:
Delivery window time (the timeframe that you give to your customers to let them know when they should expect their delivery)
Delivery handling and installation time (the time necessary to deliver each order at the location. This might vary depending on the type of delivery. Dropping off a box will be significantly faster than delivering a couch that has to be unloaded and installed.)
Traffic and incidents
The number of stops
Maximum hours set for the route (the maximum hours you allow the route to be)
When it comes to delivery route planning, there are endless possible routes even if you only have a few deliveries scheduled every day. So many possibilities often mean it is too complicated to plan it manually and still hope for optimized routes.
Delivery routing software is now a must and is considered a logistics manager's new best friend. Here's why:
#1 Save time on delivery route planning
Planning and optimizing routes when you don’t have a powerful delivery route planner can be quite laborious and often ends up not being very cost-effective. On the other hand, using delivery routing software allows you to gather important elements that could impact your drivers’ route in order to create the best route.
A powerful route builder will be able to create routes in a few seconds to a few minutes maximum. Logistics managers are often surprised to discover that some delivery route planners are faster than the system they are currently using.
#2 Optimization in real-time
Route optimization uses real-time data in order to create the most cost-effective route. It considers real-time traffic and accidents, so if there is exceptional traffic on a certain route, it will reorganize the route while still considering delivery window time, warehouse location, number of stops, etc.
The driver will have to follow the instructions given by the routing software.
#3 Reduce delivery costs
Not only does delivery route optimization save a considerable amount of time when planning routes, but it also reduces delivery costs. As your routes are optimized, it will take less time between each delivery, so your drivers will be able to deliver their orders faster.
Shorter routes can reduce costs in two ways:
Less gas: As your drivers will spend less time on the route for the same number of deliveries, it can significantly reduce the cost of gas, something that is not negligible during those times.
Fewer maintenance expenses: The less time your trucks spend on the road, the less maintenance they will require.
#4 Reduce downtime and increase productivity
As drivers will spend less time stuck in traffic and will take shorter paths to deliver all of their orders, they will likely finish their deliveries earlier, so they could deliver more orders per hour.
#5 Happier customers
Reducing time spent on the road for each delivery will have a positive effect not only on your costs but also on the customer’s delivery experience. If your drivers take less time between deliveries and manage to deliver more orders because of delivery route optimization, your customers will likely receive their parcels earlier than expected.
We all love it when something we’ve ordered arrives faster than expected. Chances are your customers will find your delivery service efficient, which will enhance their impression of your brand.
#6 Fewer errors
Still planning routes manually? Your drivers might have experienced a few errors along the way already. We are all human, and sometimes we enter the wrong information because we’re not paying attention.
While errors are not the end of the world, they can cause delays in your drivers’ deliveries, which will cost you some time and therefore money without mentioning the fact that your customers might be upset if it causes your drivers to go beyond the delivery window time.
So how do you optimize your delivery routes?
What if I do it manually?
While it is possible to plan your delivery routes manually, it is not recommended as it is very time consuming and often results in human errors.
If you have a decent amount of deliveries planned each week, let’s say 100 and more, it could take you hours to create your routes, while the right delivery route planner will only take a few minutes to do the same.
Plus, as we mentioned, manual planning can lead to errors that wouldn’t occur with delivery route software. Those errors can be time consuming and can affect the customer’s delivery experience.
What about free delivery planning app?
You might be tempted to use Google Maps or Waze, as they are famous for planning routes. However, they might not be the best option while planning delivery routes.
Free but not necessarily cost-saving. While it might seem enticing since these apps are free, it could end up being more expensive in the long run as it will affect the productivity of your drivers. Although people like to use those apps to plan their routes for their personal use, it is not necessarily recommended for multiple stops.
In fact, those apps do not take into consideration the orders your drivers will have to deliver after the initial one. They will lead them from point A to point B without considering points C, D, E, etc.
Apps like Google Maps or Waze will give them the fastest route to go to the first destination even though there might be a more cost-effective order of delivery.
Time-consuming and error prone. Also, it will require your drivers to enter each delivery address every time they want to deliver the next order, which is not ideal as they could easily make a mistake that will cost them even more time.
Fully optimizing routes will require the use of delivery routing software, equipped with a powerful route builder. This software will create routes using real-time data to make sure your drivers always take the most cost-effective route.
Choose the right delivery software for your business needs
The choice of a delivery route software is an important one. While there are many on the market, not all of them will fit your company’s needs. Be mindful of the ones that are extremely cheap as they can end up being more costly in the long run.
Instead, pay attention to the speed of the delivery route planner. Some can be pretty slow, taking half an hour to plan routes even if you only have a thousand stops per month. In order to increase your productivity, you will want a delivery route planner that will only take a few seconds to a few minutes to create your routes.
Don’t be afraid to ask to run a test with a few of your orders to see how easy-to-use the platform is and how fast it can create your routes. It is important that your team find it interactive and user-friendly so that it can help them be more productive.
Make sure to choose a platform that is interactive and user-friendly in order to make it easier for your dispatchers to create routes.