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Delivery Logistics

11 Signs Your Delivery Needs a Route Planner

This article will reveal why you should start using a route planner to plan delivery routes and the eleven signs that your business really needs it.


This article will show you why you need to start using a route planner RIGHT NOW.

You’ll see eleven signs that it’s time to upgrade your delivery with routing software.

And how a route planner can help you to:

Plan better delivery routes in minutes.

Dispatch vehicles with a click of a button.

Manage all drivers from one central point.

Optimize all routes for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

So if you’re unsure about investing your time or your money into a route planner, this article will help settle all your doubts.

And reveal why it’s time to get in on automation.

But first…

What Is a Route Planner?

A route planner is software that enables you to automatically map, manage, and optimize delivery routes with multiple stops for multiple drivers, vehicles, and fleets.

Route Planner vs. Route Planning Apps vs. Route Optimization Software

Route planner is an umbrella term. People often use it interchangeably with route planning apps and route optimization software.

That’s why route planners are both simple and complex routing tools.

Depending on what you need the software to do, you’ll choose the one that suits your needs.

For example, you may use simple tools such as Google Maps and Here Maps to plan routes when travelling. Or to find customer locations or plan basic delivery routes for your couriers.

But these tools have limits.

This is why it isn’t practical to optimize routes with Google Maps.

(Especially for large fleets of vehicles.)

Instead you would opt for specialized route optimization software.

This is a logistics tool that’s designed to help you plan, optimize, and manage routes in real time, regardless of the number of stops, routes, or vehicles you want to create.

That’s why it’s ideal for various industries, from distribution and last-mile delivery, to HVAC and field service operations.

How Does a Route Planner Work?

Route planners typically use algorithms to automatically generate the best route from point A to point B.

The complexity of a route depends on the number of stops you want to add. But also how many routes you want to map, and for how many vehicles.

This is also what separates simple and complex route planners:

Basic Route Planners

Simple route planning tools have limits. With Google Maps, for example, you can only plan ten stops per route for just one vehicle.

Google maps also factors only a few parameters when mapping optimal routes. Typically, only distance and traffic.

Advanced Route Planners

Advanced route planning tools use similar route-generating algorithms.

But they are also fully developed software solutions specialized for delivery planning and route optimization.

This means that they come with multiple additional features and capabilities.

But what does this mean exactly?

First:

Professional route planners enable you to plan routes with multiple stops for all vehicles in your fleet. You can plan hundreds of routes with as many drop-off sites for every single car, van, or truck that you own.

Second:

These route planners let you map routes based on other factors besides distance and traffic. This includes everything from time of delivery and access to drop-off, to cost per delivery, and other key metrics in delivery logistics.

Third:

Advanced route planners are part of a larger logistics ecosystem. With these solutions, route planning and route optimization are modules on the delivery management platform.

So you don’t just get to plan routes. You can use them to dispatch drivers and fleets, plan depot locations, collect proof of delivery, and complete many other tasks.

Thanks to API integration, you can connect routing software to other apps that you use, as well. For example, your order management system or inventory software.

All of these are reasons to invest in a professional route planner.

Get started with automated route planning

But if you’re still unsure, here are eleven clear signs that you’re business needs one:

11 Signs Your Business Needs a Route Planner

  1. You fail to meet customer delivery deadlines
  2. You have a high order return rate
  3. You have low order volumes
  4. You’re spending too much time planning routes
  5. Relying too much on fixed routes
  6. Drivers can’t easily find drop-off destinations
  7. You experience too many delays at pick-up
  8. Poor visibility over the last mile of delivery
  9. Transportation costs make it impossible to balance the books
  10. Drivers are unhappy with their workloads
  11. You generate way too many bad customer reviews

1. You fail to meet customer delivery deadlines

Let’s face it:

Failing to meet deadlines is a serious problem in any industry.

In delivery, distribution, and supply chain logistics, it’s even more crucial.

That’s because a lot of your success rides on customer experience.

Be it B2C or B2B, people choose to have their goods delivered because it’s convenient.

In fact, a recent study found that convenience accounts for 80% of what customers expect from a delivery service besides speed, price, and efficiency.

And if you want to provide a better experience, it’s crucial to align your values with what customers actually value in last-mile delivery.

And that means delivering goods and services by the promised date and time, every time.

2. You have a high order return rate

There’s no nice way of saying this:

A high order return rate is a disease.

It aggressively guts profit margins and raises operational expenditure to astronomical levels.

In 2020, consumers collectively returned $428 billion of products. That’s just over 10% of total retail sales.

Are you ready to throw away 10% of your earnings? Or spend it on more fuel and overhead?

Probably, not.

However, returns are always going to happen.

But with a better route planner you can cut your losses.

One the one side, you’ll raise your order accuracy and on-time delivery. That’s going to reduce the amount of returns.

On the other hand, when customers do want to return their orders, you’ll have a system in place that can efficiently handle reverse logistics.

And that will lower your operating expenses. (So that it doesn’t affect what matters most: your profit margins.)

3. You have low order volumes

According to delivery statistics, there were 15.05 billion deliveries worldwide in 2020.

That’s a lot of potential profit.

And with more and more people using delivery to get goods due to COVID, that last-mile delivery trend will only continue to rise.

So if your order volumes are low in this market, you’re unfortunately doing something wrong. And it’s time for change.

By automating how you plan drop-offs and routes, you can make your delivery operations more efficient.

And that means you can handle more deliveries despite a limited capacity.

The demand is there. All you have to do is seize it.

4. You’re spending too much time planning routes

How much time do you spend planning routes? Did you ever calculate it?

Do you or your planners spend hours? Or does it feel more like days?

Whatever the case, it’s TOO MUCH.

The fact is:

Manually planning routes is a HUGE waste of time.

With a map route planner, this process takes minutes.

Once you set up your virtual delivery operation on the software, all you have to do is:

1. Upload your order requests.

2. Click a button to generate the routes.

3. And you’re done.

All that extra time on your hands will be better spent on more important tasks, like scaling your delivery.

5. Relying too much on fixed routes

Fixed routes are a sequence of recurring drop-offs or pick-ups on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.)

It’s also a BIG waste of your valuable resources.

Sometimes customers won’t require a visit from you.

And more often than not, you can slot other activities into your routes.

Don’t get us wrong, you can use a multi-route planner to easily plan fixed routes.

But you can also use it to plan better delivery schedules, and make more efficient use of your drivers’ time.

And because it’s a dynamic tool, you can adjust routes on the go.

So every time there’s an available slot, you can plan a delivery.

Or if you’re using an external fleet, cancel a pick-up and reduce overhead.

6. Drivers can’t easily find drop-off destinations

If you’re using a GPS or basic route planners, your drivers have two big problems:

First, it’s difficult to find an access point to the drop-offs.

Often, this means they’ll have trouble finding a parking spot. Or a street that allows them to unload the delivery.

Also, without routing software, drivers have a hard time to find the exact customer address.

Drivers need to find the right building entrance, floor, office, or apartment door. Which may be difficult with new customers, especially if they live in a high-rise or office complex.

This will affect their delivery speed. Which has a domino effect, and drivers may:

  • Fail to deliver the order on time
  • Miss the customer
  • Fail to reach their next delivery on time
  • Disrupt their schedule
  • Annoy or upset the customer

Using route optimization software takes care of this. That’s because the software has two components: a dashboard and a delivery driver app.

While the dashboard lets you map out the route with a suitable access point, the app lets drivers access data to find the customer once they reach the right address.

This ensures on-time delivery. But also that drivers don’t have to rush the drop-off. And that they have enough time to win over new customers with your delivery service.

7. You experience too many delays at pick-up

Any kind of delay has a serious impact on your ability to fulfill orders on time.

The same is true when you’re planning pick-ups.

Despite the size of your fleet, you have a limited access area and loading dock at your depot or warehouse.

If vehicles arrive all at once, you risk creating bottlenecks. Or you’ll have idle drivers on the clock. Or delayed schedules.

So what do you have to do?

You have to plan pick-ups in sequential order.

But that raises the complexity of your schedules and routes, especially if you have multiple depot sites.

That’s why route planners and optimizers let you plan pick-ups at a single depot level and centralized multi-depot planning.

You can also factor in arrival times at depot locations, as well as driver shifts and work hours.

That allows you to sequence pick-ups fast and simple. And, more importantly, avoid delays.

8. Poor visibility over the last mile of delivery

Once drivers leave on their route, it’s impossible to keep track of them.

This creates several problems:

  • Dispatchers have to maintain consistent communication with drivers. Tracking drivers like this doesn’t give them real-time visibility. It only endangers drivers’ safety.

  • Drivers have to manually report their activities. This takes a lot of time. Drivers may also forget to report tasks and can disrupt other operations.

  • Dispatchers have to rely on drivers to follow plans. This leaves a lot of room for error and inefficiency. Which they can’t back up if challenged by managers.

  • Delivery managers can’t make good decisions. Without a clear overview of each task and person, they have no control over the supply chain or the delivery process.

  • The delivery isn’t agile or dynamic. If something happens which isn’t according to plans, it’s difficult to make adjustments to overcome these challenges.

To learn more about this, read our guide to building an agile delivery using software.

9. Transportation costs make it impossible to balance the books

A while back, we did a breakdown of transportation costs in last-mile delivery.

In it, we found that transportation amounts to 50.3% of all OpEx spending.

The biggest reason why it’s so high is because of fuel.

But what we found is that inefficient routes contribute to higher fuel consumption.

Companies which optimize routes (using route planners) cut fuel consumption by 50%.

And there are at least ten other ways software helps you to cover your losses when it comes to transportation expenditure.

10 Drivers are unhappy with their workloads

How often do you have to replace drivers?

Do they leave because they’re unhappy?

If you have a small business, you may not be able to provide them with many benefits.

But what you can do is to prevent burnout and balance drivers’ workload.

A multiple destination route planner can help you:

First, you can create schedules that include rests and breaks.

You can also set how much time each driver spends with customers.

This means that you can calculate the optimal amount of stops for each driver.

And evenly distribute deliveries among different drivers.

(Without risking burnout or efficiency)

11. You generate way too many bad customer reviews

You can’t please everyone. That’s why it’s okay to get a few bad reviews.

But if you have too many negative reviews, it’s a tell-tale sign that you don’t operate a good delivery. And that something isn’t right.

Luckily, you can pinpoint the problem to:

BAD CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

In fact, 59% of customers won’t do repeat business if they have a negative experience with a brand.

And 13% of all customers won’t do another purchase if they’re delivery doesn’t arrive on time.

That means you’ll lose a lot of money if you don’t fix any issues customers may have with your delivery.

A better route planner can help you with this.

And we can help you with that.

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