Route planning is key when it comes to ensuring on-time and cost-effective deliveries. But planning efficient routes is not easy. Hence, enterprises across verticles are embracing advanced route planning software. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of a such software, let’s quickly understand what it is and why it’s important.
What is route planning software?
Such software is a solution that empowers businesses to plan and generate the most efficient route when executing a delivery. Route efficiency reduces fuel costs, improves driver productivity, minimizes risks, cuts delays, boosts customer experience and makes every delivery profitable. It helps enterprises optimize routes in real-time and ensure better adherence to SLAs and on-time in-full (OTIF) compliance.
Why businesses need route planning software?
Providing a delightful delivery service and making supply chain and logistics operations cost-effective are two major challenges that enterprises today are grappling with. Balancing these two deliverables isn’t easy. Hence surfaces the need to embrace technologies like routing software. By optimizing routes in real-time it significantly minimizes chances of delays.
It provides real-time visibility of delivery fleet thereby helping enterprises gain better control of logistics processes and hence ensures better SLA adherence. A routing software reduces miles that need to be traveled to complete a delivery and therefore shrinks fuel consumption costs and carbon footprint.
What are the industries that will benefit the most from route planning software and why?
Businesses that are heavily dependent on logistics operations to increase customer satisfaction are the ones that should embrace such software. These businesses can belong to industries like eCommerce, healthcare, manufacturing, home goods, post and parcel, and others.
eCommerce has transformed the way people all over the world buy products and it’s evolving fast. For eCommerce businesses, what was perceived as yesterday's ‘good-to-have’ has now become a ‘must-have’. Savvy customers want their orders to be delivered on extremely short time windows. The need to deliver on-time is gathering immense significance with the growing popularity of same-day deliveries.
In fact, eCommerce businesses will be rigorously competing based on their ability to deliver fast and with no added costs. According to studies, 56 percent of online buyers, between the ages 18-34, expect same-day delivery service and 49 percent of shoppers say that same-day delivery makes them buy more online.
To balance cost and customer expectations, it’s imperative for businesses to implement a route planning software. A routing software empowers eCommerce businesses to make every delivery cost-effective. It can intelligently plan multiple deliveries based on proximity, driver productivity, one-way windows and more. It continuously optimizes routes to minimize delays and deliver on customer expectations.
Businesses manufacturing healthcare equipment need to ensure timely deliveries of the same to hospitals and clinics. As failing to do so will negatively impact the quality of healthcare. A common challenge that plagues the healthcare industry with regards to timely delivery of equipment is poor visibility and control of third-party logistics, something that can be addressed with a route planning software.
Software like this helps businesses pro-actively plan efficient routes and empower their customers and other logistics stakeholders gain end-to-end visibility of freight movement. A route planning software can seamlessly integrate with 3PL logistics systems and improve visibility, transparency and performance monitoring.
Poor visibility of logistics processes has been weighing down the manufacturing industry for decades. As much as 89 percent of manufacturers perceive a single view of the supply chain as a key priority, but 70 percent have no end-to-end visibility. With regard to the manufacturing industry, lack of logistics visibility fuel challenges like theft and pilferage and poor OTIF adherence.
An advanced routing software is powered by machine learning capabilities that can analyze historical data of routes previously traveled and generate critical insights on routes that are prone to thefts. Manufacturing businesses can minimize the chances of theft by 57 percent by leveraging advanced routing software. Such software updates ETAs in real-time and helps drivers avoid routes with potential delays, thus ensuring timely deliveries.
With user penetration of more than 18%, the revenue in the furniture and homeware segment amounts to US$44,483m in 2019 in the US. The online home goods marketplace is quite the battleground now. It’s no secret that to ensure competitive advantage, eCommerce businesses, like online home goods sellers, need to not only be sensitive towards price but also deliver high levels of customer experience. To achieve this twin goal, optimizing logistics operations is imperative. An easy way to do so is by embracing route planning software.
By leveraging a software like this businesses selling home goods can ensure that disparate parts of a single furniture set, like a sofa-set, are delivered to a customer in one go without delays. A unique advantage that an advanced route planning platform brings to the table is booking delivery service slots dynamically. The platform automatically allocates delivery tasks to executives based on availability, distance, route efficiency and the number of deliveries needed to be completed.
Customers, on the other hand, can easily select the slots for delivery. Such a platform also make managing returns proactive by helping delivery stakeholders identify damaged goods before it goes out for delivery. All these drastically improve online home goods sellers' last-mile productivity and operations. Also, an advanced routing platform accurately locates customers’ addresses and generates a single route with multiple delivery stops to optimize the cost incurred per delivery. This helps businesses plan deliveries based on urgency or type of delivery.
Post and Parcel
Logistics is the backbone of the post and parcel industry. Poor logistics planning will make serious dents on businesses resulting in increasing delivery expenses, delays, repeated delivery attempts, and more. A routing software can generate ETAs accurately and increase customer satisfaction by 2-times. By optimizing routes in real-time it can improve fleet productivity by 15% and ensure faster postal deliveries.
What are the key features of a route planning software?
From automating route planning, scaling delivery operations to gaining real-time visibility, such software empowers enterprises across verticles to boost logistics operations. Here are some features of the same.
Automated Route Planning
Traffic, no-entry windows, and tonnage are only a few of the factors that impact the speed of your deliveries. Consequently, the shortest route between your warehouse and the recipient’s place may not be the best, as it could be riddled with traffic or other conditions that impact the movement of your vehicles.
A route mapping software is powered by machine learning algorithms that sift through historical data to suggest the most efficient routes for delivery as opposed to the shortest ones – saving time, as well as fuel costs in most cases.
The average American driver spends over 16 minutes a day idling their vehicle. Not only does this cost your business gas but it also slows down your delivery schedule. A route optimization software overcomes this hurdle by giving you real-time updates regarding your vehicle’s position. You also have the option to contact the driver directly and ensure they do not take any unnecessary breaks on the way.
Intelligent Allocation and Dispatch
A route optimization software is capable of smart allocation, which saves precious time for your fleet. As the system is automated, there is no scope for mistakes. Shipments are allocated to agents in a logical order to ensure maximum work in minimal time. Such planning also reduces the burden on your last-mile delivery partners, leading to happier employees.
A modern route optimization solution improves fleet utilization and reduces miles per driver by drastically improving routing and execution through proprietary routing algorithm.
Pick up and Return
Such software empowers delivery executives with an intuitive and powerful mobile app through which logistics stakeholders can manage and control job allocation, routing, sequence and also facilitate real-time communication with customers.
By leveraging digital control towers, routing software empowers enterprises to get real-time visibility of fleet movement. This helps businesses to act upon things like pick-up and drop, route-wise performance, etc. for all orders on a single screen. It ensures timely fulfillment with actionable alerts and notifications.
Electronic Proof of Delivery
Modern routing software equips your delivery partners to collect electronic proof of delivery as an image, signature, or timestamp while also providing an easy way to collect feedback for your business.
During peak business hours and holiday seasons, some businesses might find it difficult to scale delivery operations. Modern route planning and optimization software can quickly outsource delivery tasks to third parties and scale operations according to demand.
Powered by advanced technologies like machine learning, a route optimization software empowers businesses to quickly analyze historical data regarding route performance and in turn helps reduce the chances of theft, pilferage, and delays.
Advanced route optimization software powered by machine learning algorithms (ML) has the ability to self-learn the ‘correct’ address just from delivery addresses, successes, and failures in the past. In lighter terms, it converts lexical addresses into geographic coordinates (geocoding) as simple as latitudes and longitudes, which are used to mark positions on a map. Once delivery is done successfully on any address, next time, the system can fetch the address internally, so that the last mile connectivity will be faster and more accurate. By accurately mapping customer addresses businesses can shrink 28-32 percent of logistics costs by reducing miles per delivery.
In the face of evolving customer expectations and rising logistics expenses, it makes absolute sense to invest in a modern route optimization software. Savvy businesses across industries are rapidly embracing such software to balance customer expectations and costs.