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Route Optimization Apps for Android and iOS
The driver app is a principal feature of route optimization software. Today, we’ll discuss why the app has to support both Android and iPhone (iOS).
One of the principal features of route optimization software is the delivery or driver app.
Today, we’ll discuss why route optimization apps have to support both Android and iPhone (iOS).
And why exactly your teams need to have them on their phones.
Plus, you’ll see bonus features you should keep an eye on.
So you get the best bang for your buck from the software you end up choosing.
What is route optimization software?
We’ve already discussed this question in length in our guide to route optimization software.
But simply put, route optimization software is an innovative digital solution. It lets you automatically plan, manage, and optimize delivery routes (with multiple stops) for all of your drivers and agents.
What’s unique about this tool is that it goes beyond route planning and navigation. And that makes it more advanced than trying to handle route optimization using Google Maps.
Technically, it’s a way to manage the entire delivery from end to end, and across the supply chain.
So, besides routing, you can use it to plan better delivery schedules, track drivers in real-time, handle reverse logistics, and much more.
That means you automate the last mile. Which enables you to reduce operating costs while increasing revenue, performance, and key metrics in delivery logistics.
The best route optimization software has two main components:
- A dashboard - a central control panel where you organize and manage operations, and;
- A driver app - a smartphone application delivery agents can use in the field.
Today, we’ll focus on the driver app.
What is the route optimization app?
Route optimization app refers to the driver app. It’s a smartphone app that teams in the field use to access information necessary to complete their tasks. But also for reporting and to collect various data from the field, such as proof of delivery.
How does the route optimization app work?
All of the information about tasks, routes, customers, pick-up and drop-off locations is available via the app to your drivers. While you generate it using the dashboard.
Once you map the routes and stops for a driver, the system uploads them directly to the app.
The drivers can only access that data. They can’t change it using the app. The only way you can change any of that data is by using the dashboard.
But with this type of software, route planning is dynamic and works in real-time thanks to cloud computing technology.
Adopting a cloud-first approach to delivery logistics means the system makes up to the second updates of all dynamic data. (For example, the location of your drivers)
The app relies on geocoding, mobile data, and GPS positioning to locate the device on the map. While the systems integration makes that data available on the dashboard.
The link between these two separate components allows dispatchers to have total visibility over progress and performance. But also complete control to create and assign new tasks in real-time.
At the same time, drivers use the route optimization app as a roadmap when completing their tasks. When a driver opens the app on their phone, and he has access to information about:
- Drop-off locations (customer address)
- Pick-up locations (e.g. depot sites)
- Routes (paths to those locations)
- The task list (all of the orders he has to fulfil)
- Map of all the stops on his route
- Date and time of the delivery
- Time per delivery (time at drop-off)
- Orders (e.g. type of order)
- Customers (e.g. name of the customer)
- Lunch breaks and rest stops
But drivers can use the app to collect valuable information from the field, as well. Typically, this involves sending:
- Progress reports
- Delays en route
- Proof of delivery
- Traffic information
- Customer feedback
- And more
Drivers can also use in-app messaging to communicate with internal teams, as well as customers.
For example, if they encounter a problem with their vehicle on the road, they quickly inform dispatch who can reschedule their deliveries. But also send out a call to the maintenance crew.
On the other hand, they can send reminders to customers about their deliveries, or send a courtesy message telling them they’re on their way.
Why do teams need to have a route optimization app on their phone?
Two types of teams can use the route optimization app:
- Teams on the ground (drivers, delivery and field service agents, or couriers), and;
- Teams at the office (operations and delivery managers, planners, or dispatchers).
There are a lot of benefits of route optimization apps. To take advantage of all of them, the app should benefit both of your teams. Here’s why:
A route optimization app translates the delivery route into a visual map. Think of it as an advanced GPS.
That allows the teams in the field to see what they need to do, and where they have to go. And how they can get there efficiently and as fast as possible.
On the other hand, teams at the office can see where the drivers are, where they’re going, and whether they’re following instructions.
That gives them complete visibility over all available resources. Not to mention insight into how to best use them to reduce operational waste and achieve maximum output performance.
And that can be the difference between losing money and building an agile delivery operation that’s sustainable.
But there are other ways teams benefit from delivery route optimization apps.
Let’s take a look.
Task management is a crucial feature of using route optimization apps with multiple stops. Here, each task represents a delivery, drop-off, or stop.
The software should allow planners to create any number of tasks and assign them to any driver in the fleet. And build optimized routes around them.
At the same time, it should allow you to customize each task. So drivers have access to relevant information regarding ETAs, the customer name and address, etc.
The app should enable drivers to report on their progress. Specifically, it should allow them to mark completed tasks, log schedules, and attach relevant data to each task.
Not to mention, using the app to report any problems that prevent them from delivering an order according to the assignment details.
Along with task management, navigation is the other must-have feature of a driver app.
Navigation enables teams on the ground (your drivers and delivery agents) to see where they are going. And what paths they should use to reach their destinations using planned routes.
The app should have a familiar map display. Typically, one that resembles most GPS and telematics systems.
And like those tools, the app can automatically adjust routes and redirect the driver to the most optimal path if, for some reason, he diverts from it.
Using the route optimization software API to integrate with a traffic monitoring system can allow the app to take traffic patterns into account. So drivers can make more useful adjustments on the go.
Finally, the app should automatically calculate ETAs. It should be able to take into account travel time by tracking and collecting vehicle performance data.
Based on that information, it can compare planned and actual performance to provide more accurate ETAs to both teams and customers.
Proof of delivery
Are you still manually planning your delivery? Removing the need to plan routes by hand and using pen and paper is the main benefit of using the software.
That’s why route optimization apps have to have electronic proof of delivery (ePOD).
But having ePOD as part of the driver app not only removes the need to use paper, it also speeds up and simplifies the process.
And drivers can use several ways to collect and verify PODs:
- Electronic signatures
- Custom code scans
- QR codes
- And more
The process is also less frustrating since drivers spend less time at the customer’s doorstep.
While still ensuring a safe and secure way to transfer the chain of custody, and confirmation.
And once a driver uploads a POD, it’s available across the systems. Which means dispatch teams can check whether a delivery is actually successful or not.
Visibility over operations is one of the most significant last-mile delivery challenges you’ll have to overcome.
Once teams set off on their routes, you’ll need to make sure you stay in the loop about their progress.
The app should allow you to track this in real-time. And connect with the devices inside the vehicle or on your drivers’ person.
Typically, it can achieve this via geocoding and some connection. Either through the app itself (using geolocation and mobile data). Or using an API to link the app with an onboard telematics unit.
Either way, that can tell teams at the office when drivers have completed their tasks. Whether they are following their planned routes. And to check if they are performing assignments according to their schedules.
In 2020, this was crucial if you struggled to keep up with the rising order volumes. So you could improve last-mile delivery when demand exceeds your capacity.
Scheduling deliveries on the go
Extra visibility and control also come in handy when you want to schedule deliveries on the go.
As new orders arrive, you can use the route optimization software to add new stops to existing routes straight away via the dashboard. And it adjusts the routes and schedules to include the new drop-off locations and delivery times.
The driver app then instantly updates the data on the app. And it can even notify the drivers about the change. So, the drivers can see the data at a glance exactly when they need to.
Because the entire delivery process is visible and automated, you can use route optimization apps to capture and collect data. That allows you to analyze the performance of your delivery with greater precision and accuracy.
For example, you can use the information to check how many deliveries each driver completes during a day, week, or month. Or how many orders your organization fulfils as a whole.
But you can also analyze how accurate those orders are, and whether they arrive on time, as well as how much time it takes on average to deliver them. Not to mention, calculate the cost per delivery.
At the same time, you can use the app to create driver accounts and analyze behaviour.
For example, you can identify driver idle times over a set period. That can help you reduce waste by downsizing the fleet and optimizing how many drivers you have on the payroll. (Regardless of whether you use an internal vs external delivery fleet)
But you also collect data about customers.
On the one hand, you can set up rating systems. So, customers can directly give you actionable feedback and input about driver behaviour and your service.
On the other hand, as you handle more orders, the system stores more information. It can then use machine learning to optimize the operation beyond the default parameters.
For example, it can match drivers with specific customers. Or map out new roads that aren’t visible to you before your drivers use them.
Most modern route optimization apps have in-messaging and notifications functionalities. These features help you to streamline communication inside and outside of your organization.
Instead of using external apps, all team members can use the internal chat to send text messages to anyone within the organization.
On the other hand, drivers can send reminders to customers or inform them about their arrival times.
At the same time, you can set up custom notifications and alerts. And that can automate and streamline this process further.
How do teams use route optimization apps over the phone?
Route optimization software usually has a driver app to accompany the main dashboard. So, how do you use it?
The driver app works like any other app on your phone. Then you have to download and install it based on the type of phone you have.
Once on your phone, you have to set it up. You do this by inputting the user login information. The same way when you access the dashboard via the browser on the desktop.
After that, the app is ready for you to use.
You set up the user accounts via the main account. There, you can set up the functionality for each user depending on their role in the organization.
All user devices that have the app connect to the main account. They are both visible via the dashboard and automatically receive data updates as you assign tasks and activities to users.
Why do route optimization apps have to support iOS and Android?
Route optimization software has to be available on multiple devices. That means it has to support different operating systems.
On desktop devices, the software has to support various versions of Mac and Windows. While on mobile devices, the driver app primarily has to support Android and iOS.
It’s a key feature of route optimization apps for several practical reasons.
First, it’s unlikely that your organization uses the same type of device across the entire workforce. In fact, you probably have and rely on multiple different devices and brands.
That means you rely on different operating systems, despite the brand (Apple, Google, or Windows).
And you won’t have to worry about whether or not the devices can connect to the system as a whole.
At the same time, it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about when you’re choosing vehicle route optimization software.
Instead, you quickly ask the provider whether it supports both Android and iOS. And move on to more pressing matters.
But that’s not the only thing that you should look for. Here’s what else the app should have.
Other features you should consider:
Quality design lowers the learning curve and raises the rate of adoption of an app. So, a good route optimization app should have a good user interface (UI) design.
UI design makes it easier for employees to use the app since it likely resembles other apps that they have on their phones and use every day.
In turn, this cuts costs on training and generally makes the transition to route optimization software much more efficient.
Easy to download and install
Simplifying the download and installation process saves time. So, downloading it from the Apple Store and Google Play should be straightforward.
As for the installation, it should be as simple as possible. So that even the least tech-savvy person in the company can easily do it without too much support.
Works online and offline
The route optimization app should work online and offline, without any issues. That doesn’t mean that it should have the same functionality. And that all of the features should work.
But if a driver finds himself without a stable internet connection, he should still be able to use the app and access the data necessary to complete his tasks.
We have everything you need to start improving your delivery.