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Pitfalls to Avoid When Selecting Building Products Logistics Software

There’s any number of reasons why building products logistics is a challenge. Labor shortages in the construction industry make job schedules a lot tighter and put a lot more pressure on building materials delivery organizations. Fluctuations in prices and inflation make it hard to keep delivery costs stable. And, all the while, the inherent complexity that comes with delivering to your average job site means that getting everything right and delivering at the right time is a challenge even under the best of circumstances. construction material delivery app

That’s why having the right tools and technology for delivering building products is more important now than ever. But not all building products logistics software solutions are created equal. To get the most out of your delivery capacity, keep your most demanding customers satisfied, and maintain cost-efficiency, you need to choose the right platform for your needs—which means avoiding all of the pitfalls that can crop up when selecting new software. 

Getting On-Prem Building Products Logistics Software

In many ways the building products industry can be fairly old-school. It’s not an industry that chases trends or makes a point of adopting the absolute newest and shiniest technologies just for their own sake. Unfortunately, this can lead to our first pitfall: selecting on-prem technology instead of SaaS.  

Cloud technology isn’t really a new concept anymore, but there are certainly areas where it’s less commonly deployed. If you’re considering upgrading your technology, now is the time to make the move to the cloud if you haven’t already. Why? Because it means that you’ll always be running the most up-to-date version of the solution (no internal IT effort required). This means you’ll be able to connect more easily to other logistics technology within your tech stack, and it means you don’t have to worry about the security and functionality problems that come with running outdated logistics software

Beyond that, the cloud makes it easy to use the processing power you need, when you need—so you can route thousands of stops in a few minutes without breaking a sweat. At the end of the day, avoiding on-prem deployments is a savvy way to future-proof your technology. 

Ignoring Pickup Logistics

Delivery is crucially important to your business—but it’s not the only way that the right materials make their way to the right customer. For many building products suppliers, the ability to offer store and warehouse pickups is an important complement to more delivery-centric fulfillment strategies. Unfortunately, most building products logistics software doesn’t handle this use case especially well. 

What does handling pickup logistics well actually look like? In point of fact, it looks a lot like managing deliveries. You need to be able to:

  • Offer customers multiple scheduling and self-scheduling options
  • Manage store/warehouse capacity so you’re not trying to fulfill more orders than your associates can handle
  • Find ways to accommodate last-minute requests within those capacity limitations
  • Notify customers when their orders are ready to be picked up
  • Notify associates when it’s time to pick a particular order or when a customer has arrived at the pickup site
  • Capture proof of pickup via pictures, signatures, and notes
  • Track pickups in real time in order to spot potential delays or exceptions 

If you can find logistics software that empowers you to do all that on top of managing deliveries, you can much more easily avoid the parking lot traffic jams and overworked associates that are typical of pickup logistics processes that haven’t been optimized. Here, it’s worth noting that leveraging two separate solutions for these use cases isn’t a great option, since you run the risk of data and decision-making silos within the fulfillment chain. 

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Limiting Your Customer Experience Options

Customer delivery experience isn’t one-size-fits-all. The ideal customer experience varies significantly from industry to industry, but it can even vary a lot customer to customer. For instance, if you’re installing a piece of machinery after you’ve delivered it to the job site, you’ll want your  communications with that customer to reference that installation. Maybe you’ll want to set expectations about how long the install process could take, or maybe you’ll just want to make sure they know that the installation is included. Conversely, if you’re just dropping off some pipe, your messages to the customer won’t mention installation at all. 

Of course, there are certain standards that all modern customers are going to expect your delivery experience to meet. Whatever solution you choose should give you the ability to send schedule confirmations, ETA notifications, and delivery alerts—not to mention offering real-time delivery tracking via a dedicated customer portal. No matter what the particulars are, it’s important to roll out a customer experience that provides transparency and inspires trust. Not only does it boost customer satisfaction, it also reduces where’s-my-order calls significantly. 

Look for a solution that enables you to easily configure multiple customer communication cadences for multiple different use cases. For instance, different text and email sequences for different products, services, or customers. You’ll also want the ability to configure all of these communication touchpoints with your branding and messaging, so every successful delivery strengthens your company’s brand even further. 

Customer communication isn’t a one way street, either. That’s why you should seek out a solution that enables two-way communication between customers and dispatchers. When your customers can directly communicate questions or concerns just by responding to the texts and emails that your system, you can build trust and strengthen the customer experience even further. 

Settling for Slow Route Optimization

When it comes to managing last-minute delivery requests—not an uncommon request in the building products sphere—your routing capabilities can make a huge difference. Specifically, the speed of your routing engine can make the difference between easily accommodating late requests and having to scramble to meet customer needs at the last minute. 

Why is this so important? In part, because the speed of your routing engine impacts your order cutoff time. If your software has to run overnight to generate the next day’s route plans, you’re stuck with an order cutoff time that’s relatively early in the day. If one of your biggest customer calls in a rush order after the cutoff time, you’ll have to scramble to figure out how to accommodate them—knowing all the while that when the route plans are have been produced by the system they’ll effectively already be out of date. 

Conversely, when your route optimization engine can handle thousands of stops in a matter of seconds, the calculus is completely different. You can have a much later order cutoff, meaning your routes will need much less adjusting after they’ve been generated. At the same time, you can run last minute reroutes if last-minute orders come in and have newly-optimized plans in minutes. In this way, you make it much easier to handle next-day and same-day requests from customers, all while decreasing the overall amount of disruption to your plans throughout the day. 

At the end of the day, your just of building products logistics software can make a big difference in terms of how effectively you’re able to serve your customers. By avoiding some of the most common software pitfalls—e.g. not opting for the cloud or limiting your customer communication options—you can ensure that you’ve got the right features and capabilities to enable you to delivery on-time, every time with full transparency across the board. Not only will your customers thank you, your bottom line will too. 

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