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Planning Delivery Slots with Software
Learn about the benefits of planning delivery slots using software, and how effective delivery slotting can help to optimize your last-mile delivery.
In this post, we’re going to show you the benefits of planning delivery slots with software.
- What are delivery slots?
- How can companies improve delivery slotting with software?
- How can this optimized slotting improve your delivery schedule?
So if you want to raise your order volumes and their fulfillment efficiency, you’ll enjoy this article.
What Is a Delivery Slot?
A delivery slot is a specific date and time that customers can choose when booking their orders.
Delivery slots are also time windows that help you to plan delivery schedules and fulfill each order on time, according to customer requests and the efficiency of your operations.
Why Is Delivery Slotting Important?
There are two HUGE reasons why delivery slots are crucial for deliveries.
Delivery slots let customers choose when they want YOU to deliver their orders to them.
This improves the shopping experience.
In fact, according to these delivery statistics, 80% of consumers want to choose the date and time because it’s more convenient for them to order products online.
Delivery slots help you to avoid failed deliveries and delays.
If the customer knows the delivery time, it’s less likely that they’ll miss the order when it arrives.
But there are other reasons why delivery slotting is key for fulfillment:
#1 Connecting Data and Physical Operations
Delivery slot management data helps you to implement predictive resource planning.
Your staff can then plan the capacity utilization with more accuracy. And sync its availability with the arrival and dispatch of products.
There is plenty of data that you need to share along the supply chain.
So booking a proposed delivery slot facilitates data connection across points of entry.
And that’s what improves the speed of the physical operations.
#2 Higher Order Accuracy Rate
When you book delivery slots in advance, it’s easier to process orders and plan drop-offs to finalize them.
It also limits the number of deliveries you can schedule per driver or day.
So there is less of a chance to overbook a date or for deliveries to overlap.
This helps you to increase order accuracy.
You also have more time to check the order information.
And that helps you to prevent the number of failed or missed deliveries, as well as returns.
#3 Fewer Errors and Mistakes
Offering customers to book a delivery slot prevents you from overbooking dates.
That helps you to stop raising demand beyond delivery capacity.
In fact, it determines the required activities necessary to complete the daily order volume instead of you.
Which gives you greater visibility over what you need to do, and when you need to do it.
So there is less need for interference and less room for human error.
But mistakes can happen:
You still have to coordinate the various teams and tasks according to the schedule.
Introducing priority delivery slots solves this problem.
It streamlines workflow by setting the priority for each order. And so each activity, as well.
Reducing the number of errors also leads to fewer returns.
And when 25% of shoppers) return between 5% and 15% of the products ordered online, this is a cost-saving opportunity you can’t afford to miss on.
#4 Faster Fulfillment Speed
Another reason why delivery slots are important is that they raise your delivery speed.
With time slots in place, you have a set number of deliveries that you have to drop off.
You can’t go over that limit because you won’t have the resources to complete them.
But you also want to drop off as many deliveries as you can.
Delivery slotting helps you to establish a drop-off minimum per driver per day.
And in doing so, limit pick-up times, drive time to destination, and time with customers.
#5 Greater Efficiency When Scheduling
Delivery slotting is an alternative to creating fulfillment schedules based on performance that also has an extra feature:
It makes it easier to avoid resource downtime regardless of the size of your order volumes.
First, you maximize the availability of your fleet.
If a driver typically completes, for example, five deliveries per hour, opening five fulfillment slots maximizes the productivity of the whole fleet.
This, in turn, makes it easier to schedule pick-ups from storage and inventory.
You can cut wait periods at the loading area by organizing drivers to arrive in consecutive order.
Fleet dispatching is also easier to do since you assign deliveries for each driver until you fill out all of his slots.
Because of this, some drivers may have free delivery slots. But you can use them to assign other vital tasks such as:
- Making supply runs
- Fulfilling faster delivery options
- Handling returns and reverse logistics
It’s also easier to introduce scheduled delivery and let customers choose the arrival time.
This can significantly reduce the number of failed and missed deliveries because you can plan assignments ahead of time.
How Do Customers Book Shopping Slots?
Businesses that support booking shopping slots have online systems in place that guide customers through the process:
First, the customers can see a list of available delivery slots for a specific date.
Here they can select a shopping slot that works for them, usually by ticking a box next to it.
The number of days when a customer can book a specific delivery slot is different from store to store.
It depends on the speed of your fulfillment service, and whether you offer fast options like same-day delivery.
Next to that, customers need to enter relevant information required for the delivery.
After, the shopper needs to complete the checkout and confirm the order. Otherwise, the temporarily held time slot will go to another customer who may book it.
This kind of delivery booking process isn’t anything new.
But due to the impact of COVID-19 on last-mile delivery, supermarket delivery slots have been in high demand recently, as well as food delivery slots in contactless delivery.
Essential Data for Accurate Delivery Slots
For accurate insight over delivery slot availability, you need data.
You have to collect, analyze, and connect various data entry points across your physical operations.
So what kind of data do you need to gather?
In this part of the article, we’re going to show you the essential information necessary for delivery slotting to work.
Customer Information and Order History
Functional delivery slotting depends on correct customer information and order history data.
This includes such information as:
- Customer’s physical address
- Contact details
- Payment details
- Shipping updates and preferences
All of this enables you to organize and assign the slots to specific drivers. And provide them with accurate information about each delivery.
Order history is also essential here because it helps you to:
- Import data faster
- Check past information against new data (for greater accuracy)
- Track past and current orders and ordered items
- Review payment history and shipping status
Keeping track of customer information can also help improve customer satisfaction.
A total of 32% of customers would stop ordering from a business that they like after a single bad experience.
Delivery Date and Time of Arrival
Delivery date and time of arrival are another key piece of information for planning accurate delivery slots.
The entire slotting process starts when the customer is presented with a list of delivery slots available and chooses one.
Then it is up to the company’s logistics operations to create an efficient schedule for all the requested orders and organize deliveries that respect the estimated time of arrival, without delays.
In fact, 13% of customers would never repeat the purchase with an online business if their order was late.
Currently, no more than 15% of online shoppers in the US feel like their delivery speed expectations are met.
Product Profiles and Information
When managing each delivery time slot, it’s crucial to know the characteristics about the ordered product.
Products can vary in size, weight, and shape, and may come with specific shipping requirements.
Some products even require special handling and unique packaging materials. While other orders require custom packaging.
Order size directly affects vehicle capacity and the cost of shipping.
Creating product shipping profiles with all relevant product information can help achieve faster delivery and more functional slotting.
The profiles should contain preferred delivery methods and shipping rates for each product.
Order Priority Based on Delivery Option
Customers will always wish to have their orders prioritized and shipped as soon as possible.
But businesses need to consider multiple factors before they prioritize orders.
For example, a same-day or next-day order will have a priority delivery slot over a standard shipment.
If a customer opts for a free delivery slot, you may want to push back that shipment as a lower priority.
It also makes sense to prioritize orders based on their destination.
Orders closest to depot locations will have a higher priority over long-distance drop-offs because they have:
- Lower fulfillment costs
- Shorter transport times
- Lower return rates
- Higher order frequency
All of this means that you’ll need to have a system that can make these distinctions between different orders. And set order priority based on real-world operational requirements.
The Role of an Order Management System (OMS)
Order management system (OMS) is crucial when planning delivery slots.
It automates how customers request orders.
But also how you receive and use that information to plan deliveries.
When it comes to slotting, it’s main role is to manage the delivery slot availability.
But there are at least three other features that an OMS can help you with:
Collecting Order Request Data
An order management system is connected to the checkout on your website.
After a customer places an order and completes payment, the OMS collects information about the order. This includes:
- Personal information about the customer
- Destination of the delivery
- Delivery date and time
- Payment information
- Items ordered for shipping
It then stores this data into a database. Which allows you to export the data, send it to various teams, and use it to plan deliveries.
Organizing Order Requests
Based on the gathered data, the OMS organizes order requests into groups.
For example, it can group orders by date, destination, type of fulfillment, or priority.
This helps you to complete other tasks, like sourcing items from inventory or scheduling and routing vehicles.
The OMS then closes the used delivery slot and makes it unavailable for other customers.
Sending Order Information
Once the OMS collects and organizes the order requests, it automatically stores the data into a database.
You can then export the information and send it to various teams across your organization.
And use it to plan your deliveries, from picking and packing items at the warehouse, to scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs.
A key feature of modern OMS is that they can connect to other apps via API integration.
You can use this feature to automate how you plan deliveries.
And transfer data directly to a delivery management software that turns it into an assignment.
How Does Delivery Software Improve Delivery Slots?
Since delivery software handles all aspects of logistical operations such as receiving orders, dispatching orders, route management, and more, it also affects delivery slotting.
Let’s go through some of the ways delivery software improves delivery slots:
Integrates with OMS and WMS
By integrating the order management system (OMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) with the delivery software, businesses can experience the following benefits:
- More flexibility
- Faster and more efficient slotting with fewer mistakes
- Reduced operational costs
- Seamless omnichannel experience
Such integration enables flawless data accumulation from all three sources.
This provides invaluable insight into all segments of order management, warehousing, and delivery operations.
Analyzing data from different channels helps businesses measure delivery performance.
Uploads Order Requests Faster
Managing order requests manually is a daunting task.
The use of delivery software eliminates the need for endless sheets and documents.
Delivery software collects order requests and organizes them in a way that’s easy to understand.
The software uploads the orders and creates quick overviews with all key pieces of information like the customer’s name, email address, receipt date, etc.
Changes Orders into Tasks Automatically
Delivery software will take all the information about the orders received and convert them into actionable steps.
It will create an efficient working schedule that improves order processing by eliminating idle times.
Delivery software is able to take the information, reorganize its content and distribute the tasks across the time by taking team members’ duties and schedules into consideration.
Assigns Tasks Based on Priority and Efficiency
Delivery software does not only distribute the tasks to the staff, but it also creates reasonable priorities based on real data and makes sure the tasks are done in a logical order.
It creates a schedule that maximizes productivity and automates repetitive tasks that would otherwise have to be done manually.
The software groups and prioritizes the tasks with higher urgency and assigns those to be done first.
It also determines which tasks must precede other ones and creates a logical schedule that eliminates blockages.
Provides More Visibility Over Scheduling
Delivery software creates schedules based on real data that comes from order information, workforce availability, vehicle capacity, and other segments of logistical operations.
When the scheduling process is automated, the software allows the users to look into the details of every scheduled task.
Managers can access all the tasks in one place and keep track of who does what, the status of every task, and the overall success rate.
Greater visibility also means more valuable data that can be analyzed for the purpose of further optimization of delivery operations.
Helps You to Plan Better Schedules
Business owners and managers no longer have to juggle between new delivery requests, changes to old requests, finding staff to fulfill the orders, and other time-consuming tasks.
Switching to delivery software provides businesses with high-quality schedules that could never be matched by manual labor.
Delivery software helps businesses plan more efficient delivery schedules designed to save time and money and to improve customer experience.
The use of delivery software will provide the following benefits:
- Route planning and optimization
- Automated logistics
- Frictionless delivery
- Real-time tracking
- And more
If you’d like to know more about how to improve your delivery operations, we can help.