Route optimization

How to Choose the Best Route Optimization Software?

How to Choose the Best Route Optimization Software?

In this new post, we show you how to choose the best route optimization software for your business.

You’ll see what route optimization software is, and fifteen things to consider when doing your research.

Plus, we’ll show you a solution you can try straight away. (But more on that later)

Right now, if you’re looking to find the best routes for your drivers, save money by boosting efficiency, or an easier way to plan and manage your operations, we have you covered.

Let’s get started.

What is route optimization software?

Route optimization software is a digital tool used to automatically calculate the best and most efficient paths (or routes) between multiple stops (or deliveries) for various vehicles and drivers.

But how does route optimization software work?

To do that route optimization software uses a set of complex algorithms to factor in more than just the distance between two stops.

It calculates the best route based on multiple constraints, like:

  • Types of roads (urban roads vs highways; single vs double vs multi lanes; one-way vs two-way streets);
  • Traffic patterns (daily (rush hours) or seasonal (Christmas rush) traffic congestion, detours, roadworks, closed roads);
  • Number of road crossings, roundabouts, traffic junctions, and stop lights en route;
  • Crossing the line of traffic (left-hand (US) or right-hand (UK) turns);
  • Pick-ups (wait time to pick up products, supplies, equipment, or field service workers);
  • Depot locations (mapping multiple pick-ups at multiple depot sites);
  • Determining the best access points (to enter or exit a street, road, or highway);
  • Driver schedules (rest stops, lunch breaks, shifts);
  • Vehicle type (speed, fuel consumption, cargo capacity);
  • Delivery windows (exact deadlines, dates, times of delivery, urgent deliveries, fixed deliveries, regular weekly deliveries);

So isn’t just about finding the shortest route between point A and point B.

Route optimization is also about determining the most efficient route based on the demands of your customers and operations.

Now you know what route optimization software is.

So let’s see what you need to look for when you want to choose the best option for your SMB.

How to choose route optimization software?

Now that you know what it is, how do you choose route optimization software?

To answer that question, ask yourself: What do you want? And what do you need?

Take a moment to evaluate your operations. See how many vehicles you have in your fleet, and how many will you add in the next couple of years.

How many deliveries do you handle per week, month, or year? Calculate delivery order volumes to get a better understanding of how many tasks you’ll enter on any given day into the system.

What about the delivery area which you cover? See how many kilometres your drivers cover daily. Is there room for improvement?

Or do you want to cut the costs of operations? In that case, you might want to calculate the average cost of your delivery. Here’s a quick formula to help you:

average-cost-of-delivery

Read this post to see how delivery management software cuts costs and saves you money.

Besides this and the obvious things you typically look at like price and functionality, there are some features every routing software should have.

If it’s your first time researching this type of solution, you have to be aware of them.

Luckily, we’re here to help.

Here are 15 features of route optimization software should have:

1. Online route optimization software (web-based)

The route optimization software you choose should be accessible via the web.

But what does that mean?

Using route optimization software online means that users can log in straight into their accounts when they access the software via their browser.

Simply put, all you have to do is go to the provider’s website using your browser (Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox), input the username and password in the login screen, and you are all set.

That’s it.

It may seem intuitive to you, but without web-based software, it is almost impossible to achieve pure real-time tracking.

It also makes it simpler to keep the software up-to-date.

Many legacy or on-premise solutions can’t support this feature. So, it’s up to you to install and update the app manually from your desktop or smartphone.

Adopting a cloud-first approach to delivery management means that the provider automatically updates the software.

As soon as you sign up and log in, you can access the dashboard and start using the software.

2. Multi-drop route planning

Make sure the software you choose has a multi-drop route planning feature. That capability is the backbone of any successful route planning.

But what is it?

Multi-drop route planning is a term in last-mile delivery logistics that describes the process of planning multiple routes with multiple delivery stops (or drop-offs).

route-optimization-software

If you’ve ever used Google Maps to create a travel itinerary of all the sites you want to visit on your trip, it’s a similar process.

But unlike making a travel plan, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Mapping multiple delivery stops is impossible to do without route optimization software. So it’s a crucial feature you should seek out.

If you are unable to add automatically or manually multiple drop-offs to your route, you won’t be able to plan or manage many deliveries.

Your drivers will have to move back and forth between the supply depot and the customer’s address after each drop-off is complete.

On the other hand, you won’t be able to increase the route density of your delivery. And that can prevent you from using other delivery tactics to grow your operations.

3. Multi-route and multi-vehicle routing

When you want to manage a field service operation or last-mile delivery, usually you have more than one vehicle in your fleet.

So, it’s safe to assume that you need a tool that can map multiple routes for all of those vehicles.

Having route optimization software that can map multiple routes for multiple vehicles allows you to plan deliveries for the entire fleet. And from one dashboard.

So, it’s also a question of whether to centralize or not to centralize delivery operations.

A centralized software solution can raise the visibility over your operation and makes it easier to optimize the fleet, end to end.

It also means that you cut the time it takes your route planners to assign deliveries to drivers. That leaves a lot more room in their schedules to focus on other tasks.

At the same time, route optimization software automates this process.

Fleet managers can assign, re-assign, and re-route drivers at a moment’s notice and according to demand.

So you can cut the time it takes to fulfil requests and increase the speed of delivery. Maybe even to the extent that you start offering same-day delivery.

But this brings us to another point.

4. Fast processing of route optimization

The rise of Amazon fulfilment has changed the status quo of last-mile delivery.

If you want to know how to compete with Amazon delivery and other last-mile delivery giants, you need to raise the speed of your operations. And that includes how fast you plan routes.

Route planning and route optimization have to be fast.

That’s why you need to route optimization software in the first place.

But not all software is alike. So, when choosing a provider, the process of optimizing routes has to happen rapidly and in real-time.

Without this feature, it’s impossible to plan and schedule deliveries as orders arrive. But neither can you efficiently manage drivers once they set off on their routes.

Read this article if you want to find out how to plan better delivery schedules.

If you are considering software that takes a few minutes to find an optimal route per request, then that solution is of no use, and you should look elsewhere.

5. Import & export route data

Are you still planning manually routes?

If you’re out to buy route optimization software, then your delivery is probably growing. And your route planner can’t keep up with the increase in order volumes.

When demand exceeds your capacity, route optimization software can help you automate the process.

Read How to improve last-mile delivery when demand exceeds capacity.

Route optimization software allows you to handle multiple order requests at once without the need to import deliveries manually; or export route data by hand.

So, when evaluating different solutions, it’s crucial to check with the provider whether the software can easily import and export route data.

Usually, this means that you can upload files directly into the system.

The software can then automatically transfer order requests into tasks, and you can assign deliveries to drivers.

Make sure that the software you choose can support universal formats:

  • .xls files
  • .pdf files
  • .csv files

At the same time, the software should also allow you to manually import or export tasks, as well.

In case of unexpected situations or unplanned deliveries, you always want to have a back-up plan.

So even with full automation, your route planners can achieve maximum efficiency through their insight, experience, and know-how.

6. API integration

The state of delivery in time of the coronavirus has prompted many companies to move their offers online.

Now, you too may also have several different sales channels open to consumers including:

  • your website
  • a web store (Shopify account)
  • social media networks
  • a marketplace account (Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.)

If you provide delivery with each sale, it’s safe to say that you use an order management tool to handle all of these requests.

At the same time, if you own and operate the delivery yourself (vs using a 3PL company), you may be using other solutions to manage inventory, dispatch drivers or manage the supply chain.

It’s safe to assume that adding route optimization software to the list would make it harder to keep track of operations.

That’s why you have to check whether the software you are considering has API integration.

Simply put, APIs let you connect one piece of software with another.

For example, if you’re on Shopify, you can integrate the account and order management system with a route optimization platform.

shopify-order-management-system

In this scenario, the Shopify OMS can add orders to the dashboard of the delivery management system as tasks. While your teams assign them to drivers and plan routes based on that data.

And when you can do this with all your tools, you can plan, route, manage and dispatch the entire last-mile delivery from one central platform.

Make sure that the software provider has all of the API documentation prepared, as well. And that they provide support during the implementation. (But more on that later)

7. Live map updates

live-map-updates

Live delivery tracking and management are one of the biggest delivery challenges in eCommerce.

It’s impossible to achieve real-time visibility without live map updates.

On the one hand, live map updates let you track drivers and deliveries once they set off on their routes.

That makes it easier to monitor progress, and keep track of key metrics in delivery logistics.

On the other hand, you can connect routing software with a third-party traffic monitoring system.

Up-to-date mapping allows you to foresee conditions that are out of your control so you can plan for them ahead of time.

So make sure that this capability is available to you.

8. Geocoding

What is geocoding?

Geocoding is the main component of all route optimization software. It’s what enables routing software to map the precise latitude and longitude when mapping coordinates. While at the same time, understanding imprecise addresses and local contexts of the delivery area.

Geocoding is what enables you to accurately locate and convert any address into a particular point on the map when using route planning software.

If geocoding isn’t accurate, the software will struggle to map the best route for your drivers.

Having a database of local addresses, and adding them to the system helps with greater accuracy.

But speak to the provider about geocoding on their software. And check how accurate it is.

9. Historical data tracing

The software you choose should support historical data tracing.

Historical data tracing allows you to collect data from past experiences and examine them and further improve the performance of your teams.

With quality data tracing, you should be able to collect:

  • Driver histories
  • Completed deliveries
  • Past delivery locations
  • Preferred time windows
  • Special customer instructions
  • Prevailing traffic patterns
  • Driver workloads
  • Open-close hours
  • And more.

10. Auto-save functionality

Some things are beyond your control. Systems can fail, and technical errors can occur when you least expect it. And that can seriously interfere with your ability to effectively plan routes.

Any reliable route optimization software must have auto-save functionality.

If something unexpected happens to the system, for example, a power outage or a cyber attack, autosave ensures that the current work isn’t lost.

This removes a lot of the stress from your route planners.

Because the data is frequently saved, your professionals can rest assured that it’s secure and accessible once the system goes back online.

Make sure that the SaaS company you choose provides suitable storage space. And that all the data is encrypted and stored securely via the cloud.

11. Automated reporting

Automated reporting is a must-have feature of any apt route optimization system.

First, it removes the need for any paperwork. No need to print receipts, order confirmations, or proof of delivery.

All solid routing platforms have built-in electronic proof of delivery (ePOD).

Once orders are delivered, customers can confirm it and the software can automatically update the status on those tasks.

At the same time, the need to improve customer experience has become the new battleground in which to compete in recent years. So quality solutions should be able to report to customers, as well.

This means that the software dashboard allows you to set up automatic confirmations, alerts, and notifications.

For example, when an order is packaged for delivery, or when a driver is en route to the customer’s address, the system should automatically send out this information.

Lastly, check how and where all reports are stored; whether they are accessible later; can they be exported into a file (i.e. .pdf file); and can they be printed out if necessary.

12. Driver app

The modern last-mile delivery is all about mobility. And the key to building an agile delivery operation is communication.

A driver app allows drivers, delivery agents, couriers, or field service agents to stay in constant contact with your teams at the office while on their routes.

delivery-driver-app

Having a driver app that’s directly connected to the routing platform makes it easy for drivers to access relevant data, including information about:

  • Routes
  • Delivery windows
  • Addresses
  • Orders
  • Customers
  • Specific demands
  • And more

A driver app streamlines internal communication between teams, as well.

Dispatchers can seamlessly add tasks and manage delivery schedules without talking to drivers. While the app notifies drivers about new tasks and impending deliveries.

Everyone remains on point and in the loop without the need to relay information back and forth.

That means more time to complete tasks, more tasks get done, and greater productivity across the board.

So make sure the software comes with a driver app. And that it’s a route optimization app for Android and iOS.

13. User-friendly interface

Besides its many capabilities, route optimization software should also have a quality design.

UI design makes the software visually accessible and easier to use.

Standard UI features on the dashboard, like drag-and-drop and one-click to select, lower the learning curve.

Employees can learn how to use route optimization software sooner because they are already familiar with its functionalities through the various other apps that they have on their phones and desktops.

Because of a quality UI interface, time to adoption is lower, which reduces turnaround so you can achieve ROI much sooner.

And when it’s easier to master a route optimization tool, you can train more employees to use it.

You won’t have to rely on a dedicated professional. Instead, anyone on your team can plan the routes.

So that daily tasks continue per schedule, even when your route planner is unavailable.

14. Price

We know that the price of the solution you are considering will largely influence your decision to buy it.

How much does route optimization software cost?

The standard cost of feature-rich route optimization software for small business is no more than $10 per driver per month. For higher tier and enterprise-grade solutions, the price can be over $100 per driver per month.

There is a lot that depends on how much you will actually end up paying.

Most of the time, SaaS companies set the cost of route optimization software based on a few key parameters.

Usually, this includes the number of tasks, drivers, or vehicles you want to manage per month, as well as the complexity (number of features) of the solution.

Likewise, the price depends on the payment plan you choose, as well as the features you want to subscribe to.

For example, SaaS companies offer special discounts if you subscribe to their software for more than 12 months. The same principles apply when you want them to bill you annually vs monthly.

On the other hand, what many companies, especially smaller businesses, fail to realize is that you can reduce or increase the price based on the features you add or remove from your plan.

If you know that you don’t want or don’t need a specific function, be sure to ask for a discount.

15. Support

After you settle on a route planning solution, you still have to implement the software, train staff, and integrate it with your other tools.

Even with a tech-savvy in-house developer, you will need help navigating the maze of systems configuration before you can set up the software and get it online.

It’s vital that you have access to the right technical support.

That is a crucial part of choosing a delivery route planner. Without assistance from the tech team, you can’t take full advantage of all of its advanced functionality.

Before you sign a contract with a software provider, make sure that they:

  • Offer a free trial (with support)
  • Provide a demo of the software
  • Provide access to tech staff
  • Provide technical documentation
  • Answer all of your questions
  • Help with the integration
  • Provide unlimited and ongoing support

If the software provider is ready to meet you on all of these accounts, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t place your trust in them.

***

Those are the fifteen things you need to consider when choosing route optimization software.

And now when you know what to look for, consider this:

eLogii

eLogii is more than route optimization software. Our delivery management platform is one of the most powerful cloud-based end-to-end solutions on the market.

We provide you with a feature-rich ecosystem to route, plan, manage, and optimize the entire delivery operation (or field service), including all of the capabilities we’ve mentioned in this post.

Our solution is the ideal fit for any business or fleet size, and for any industry, including:

But we know that it’s not only about functionality. You are also looking for a good deal.

So, how much does eLogii cost?

Price

Depending on the size and shape of your delivery, we have the right plan for your business.

You can pay as little as $8 per driver per month. Or $0.24 per task per month.

Please see our full pricing page for more detailed information.

Support

The eLogii technical staff is always on hand to help you and answer any questions that you have.

If you want to see how our software works, please BOOK A DEMO and one of our professionals can walk you through all the features and capabilities we have on offer.

Expertise

We’ve built our software from the ground up.

Based on our years of experience in the last-mile delivery business, we fully understand all of the challenges of managing delivery in this day and age.

That’s why every line of code for our software was written from the viewpoint of the operator.

We’ve used our know-how to create a tool that can help you overcome all of the complexities and nuances of modern delivery, distribution, and field service.

And we’re not afraid to share what we know. That’s why we share it all.

Here are the nine free guides that will show you exactly what we do to optimize the last mile and dominate delivery logistics.

1. The definitive and complete guide to Route Optimization Software

2. Why mapping multiple delivery stops is impossible without software

3. How to leverage Route Planning Software to drive delivery excellence

4. What is Delivery Management Software?

5. How we crush customer experience with delivery management software

6. Where to find and how to choose delivery management software

7. Delivery Management Platforms

8. How we dominate reverse logistics and eCommerce returns

9. How teams dominate remote work using nothing but Field Service Software

Try it out for FREE

eLogii is an end-to-end delivery management platform that operates on the cloud. Our powerful solution can overcome all the challenges of modern delivery including route optimization.

That’s why we offer you to START A FREE TRIAL right now by clicking on the link, no questions asked except one:

What’s stopping you from taking that first step in the next step of the evolution of your delivery?