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6 Minute Read

Why You Need a Single Platform for Managing B2B Deliveries

If you handle B2B deliveries at scale, your technology stack is likely to be fairly complex. You need solutions for ingesting orders and customer information, for tracking and managing what’s in your warehouse, for sourcing, for operational planning, for managing your fleet, and for actually planning and executing deliveries. Different functions—such as sales and delivery—may have totally different solutions, even when the functionality between those solutions is overlapping or the same.

b2b deliveriesThis complexity isn’t surprising—it just reflects the reality that delivering to B2B is often quite complex. In food and beverage distribution, for instance, the sheer number of moving parts that go into delivering to your accounts in an efficient way is huge, and your distribution plans have to reflect that. That means that creating those distribution plans is a high wire act involving many different departments and technology solutions. 

So how are delivery businesses supposed to balance this complexity with the need for efficiency in their own processes? After all, the more technology solutions you have, the more opportunities there are for disconnect across different processes. When each individual planning or execution puzzle piece happens in its own solution, it can easily wind up becoming a silo. You need the right tools for the job, but you also need a clean workbench that isn’t cluttered with unnecessary tools. 

When it comes to managing deliveries, this balancing act between streamlining IT and ensuring you have the right capabilities is extremely important. Simply put, it can determine whether you’re able to efficiently meet the demands of a changing market or not. And that’s precisely why modern B2B delivery organizations need to prioritize investing in a single solution for managing deliveries. 

Powering the Entire Delivery Journey

What exactly do we mean we say that businesses like food distributors, beer wholesalers, and other B2B delivery organizations need a single solution for delivery management? Obviously, we’re not suggesting that any one platform can replace all of the various solution types that touch a given delivery. But we are saying that it’s possible—and preferable—to plan, manage, and execute deliveries with one single platform. 

Such a platform might cover a handful of different processes:

  • Strategic territory planning
  • Base route planning
  • Daily route planning
  • Route execution (driver management)
  • Delivery visibility
  • Customer communication
  • Reporting and analysis

This doesn’t mean that no other systems will touch your deliveries. You might leverage telematics to enhance your tracking capabilities on the day of delivery, for instance. But compare what this hypothetical platform offers to what you would get in a world where it took three or four separate solutions to manage all of those aspects of the delivery process.

For one thing, it would be difficult to ensure that your territory plans were constructed in such a way as to actually result in efficient route plans. You might wind up spending valuable time generating territories, trying and failing to create base routes based on them, then going back to the territory planner to make tweaks. Here, you’re essentially flying blind as you try to make these two closely related processes work together. 

To take another example, imagine using separate solutions for planning your routes and tracking your drivers. Sure, it’s not uncommon for businesses to rely solely on telematics and GPS tracking for keeping tabs on drivers in the field—but that doesn’t tell the full story. To get true visibility, you want to see drivers updating their delivery statuses as they complete deliveries. Their locations can only tell you so much. 

When your drivers are equipped with a mobile app that’s connected to your routing, visibility, and customer communication functionality, you can turn live data streams from drivers in the field into true strategic visibility. Your route optimization functionality can turn status updates into live ETAs, which in turn can help you spot delivery disruptions. This gives you the ability to manage by exception in a way that GPS simply doesn’t offer. 

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Synchronizing Across All Crucial Roles

Different functions within a given beer distributor, food vendor, or even janitorial and sanitation businesses will have different IT needs. But that doesn’t mean that visibility and connectivity between different functions isn’t important. Quite the reverse: connectivity between different functions is crucial to offering your customers cohesive, flexible wraparound service.

That’s another area where a single delivery platform can be a huge boon. A solution designed specifically for delivery management will never replace the software that, say, sales and merchandising teams use to organize their own schedules and manage their accounts. At the same time, the right solution can build in some functionality that those teams need in their interactions with delivery teams. 

What would this look like in practice? There’s a few things that a holistic solution could offer:

  • Salesperson visibility functionality: A delivery solution designed with bridging the gaps between functions in mind could offer up a dedicated salesperson application to enable visibility into deliveries. This might be a mobile app where they can access real-time statuses of deliveries to their clients. 
  • Salesperson routing: By the same token, you could leverage your route optimization capabilities to empower sales teams with more efficient routes as they make visits to their customers. This can help save time and boost efficiency, letting sales personnel spend less time driving and more time on what matters.
  • Merchandiser coordination: Much like the salesperson app we discussed above, a holistic solution can give merchandising teams real-time visibility into deliveries. This way, they can coordinate with delivery schedules more effectively. That might mean arriving at the customer location at the same time as the delivery truck, for instance.

These are just a few examples. Speaking more broadly, having a single source of truth for the entire delivery process makes it much easier to provide other functions with the data they need to coordinate with deliveries. Plus, the fewer solutions you’re using to manage your deliveries, the fewer integrations you need to sort out to create data flows between teams. 

Ultimately, leveraging a single delivery solution in this way makes it much easier for everyone—no matter what function—to get the delivery data they need, when they need it, without having to hunt for it.  

How a Single Solution Impacts Costs and Efficiency

So far, we’ve talked about the benefits of delivery technology in terms that are a little bit abstract. But how do these factors—like connectivity, flexibility, and cohesive workflows—come together to power results? How does leveraging a holistic delivery solution actually save money and improve customer satisfaction? There are plenty of concrete ways we can point to:

For starters, there’s reduced costs spent on redundant IT solutions. There’s also significant time and labor savings when planners don’t have to switch between territory planning and routing solutions to create workable plans. The same goes for the time and labor savings that come when route planners can generate weekly route plans and daily tactical routes within the same solution. Not only can this power direct time savings, it can also speed up planning at every level—providing the opportunity for a host of new efficiencies. 

At the same time, streamlining delivery planning and execution within a single solution can have a big impact on customer satisfaction. When you can make sure that your delivery plans are actually feasible and drivers can carry them out successfully, you can decrease delivery exceptions across the board. That means fewer late deliveries, fewer failed deliveries, and fewer situations that the sales team ultimately has to go and smooth over. 

Then, there’s all of the efficiency gains that compound upon one another when your processes all work together seamlessly. By combining territory planning and route optimization, you can significantly decrease the number of miles you’re driving per route. By incorporating customer communications into that process, you can boost customer satisfaction and thereby improve customer retention. When your routing is faster and can actually be translated into executable plans, you can be more flexible and adapt more quickly (and cost-effectively) to changing situations).

The list goes on. At the end of the day, there is no magic bullet for solving all of the challenges that come with B2B deliveries. But finding an all-in-one platform that can cover the entire delivery process from end to end comes pretty darn close. 


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