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6 Best Practices for Your Delivery Route Optimization System

The competition is becoming increasingly intense among companies offering last mile delivery services. Dealing with driver shortages, customer demands, and harsh economic conditions are constant challenges—to overcome them, companies need to keep an eye on all facets of their distribution operations, including customer experience, delivery efficiency, cost, fleet productivity, and vehicle and driver performance.

delivery route optimization system

When it comes to controlling distribution costs and providing outstanding delivery services to customers, it’s important to evaluate the latest best practices in last mile delivery. Using the right best practices, businesses can streamline and improve their delivery processes, attract and retain customers, and develop a competitive advantage.

The key is to invest in an advanced delivery route optimization system that empowers you to take greater control of your deliveries from end to end.

What Is a Delivery Route Optimization System?

Delivery route optimization increases route planning efficiency by maximizing routing capacity and deliveries along a route as quickly as possible. In today's delivery environment, optimizing routes allows companies to make more deliveries per day, which is a critical capability.

Usually, dispatchers or fleet managers map out routes so that drivers can deliver as many orders as possible, as quickly as possible. But last mile delivery logistics processes become more complex as order volumes grow and customer time window requests and other parameters enter the equations. It becomes even more complicated if same-day or next-day delivery are involved.

This complexity is the reason that the right route optimization solution is an absolute necessity today for empowering more efficient and cost-effective route planning.

Advanced delivery route optimization software offers the following benefits:

  • Accurate expected times of arrival (ETAs) can increase shipper and customer satisfaction by cutting out late deliveries.
  • Your current drivers and fleet can be used to scale up delivery operations in a more cost-effective way.
  • Increasing drop density and reducing fuel costs will lower the cost of delivery.

Best Practices for Delivery Route Optimization

Different markets and organizations have different best practices, but businesses with delivery operations can benefit from several approaches. Below are the top best practices for using your commercial truck routing software to delight customers and gain an advantage.

1. Invest in the right tools

The majority of today's leading last mile delivery strategies can only be achieved with the help of advanced routing, communications, driver management, and visibility technologies. Beginning at the point of sale all the way to the delivery and beyond, robust delivery route scheduling software solutions can enhance the customer experience, cut down delivery costs and boost revenue. The advanced capabilities not only make an immediate difference on customer experience, but the data they generate can also help improve distribution operations over time.

2. Develop a comprehensive plan

In the last decade, there has been a significant evolution in last mile delivery tactics and technological tools. The capabilities that were considered exceptional five years ago are now regarded as standard.

World-class last mile delivery operations go beyond delivering goods to the end customers—they contribute to a company's revenue generation and competitive differentiation. To develop an innovative plan that actually speaks to your business goals, it’s important to assess your current delivery operations and find areas for potential improvements. Asking the right questions will help you assess your goals and needs effectively:

  • What are our competitors doing with their deliveries to try and win business?
  • How can we help our customers by improving delivery?
  • How are modern customer expectations around delivery changing? 
  • What strategies are other industries leveraging to improve last mile delivery?

Answering these questions will help you understand how traditional operational plans for enhancing productivity and improving customer service can be used in conjunction with newer, more technology driven approaches to transforming final mile delivery services.

3. Automate and standardize

To implement best practices and technology effectively, it is important to understand that efficient planning is more of a science than an art. The more automation you can introduce into the process, the more you can leverage your planners and other back-office staff for solving problems that arise during the delivery process, e.g. by focusing on exceptions and continuous improvement.

Luckily, with advanced planning solutions, the optimization and planning process can be automated such that you can plan efficient delivery routes with the click of a button. This way, all planners can produce more consistent, higher-quality results.

4. Set up the right metrics

Your last mile delivery operation's value is often hard to quantify using solely traditional logistics metrics such as on-time-in-full and cost. By capturing other data like customer satisfaction, voice of the customer, planning vs actual, revenue contribution, etc, you can measure the true impact of their performance. Today's top delivery organizations—from distributors and wholesalers to retailers—rely on metrics like these to implement strategic plans.

That’s why it’s a best practice to find a last mile delivery solution that can capture and generate a lot of valuable data, which, when combined with analytics technology, provide a much broader and deeper understanding of your business. 

Analytical tools within your truck route optimization software can help organizations spot trends so they can make adjustments before problems arise or spin out of control. The right delivery route optimization system can also look across the entire operation or at granular details to discover areas of improvement for the entire operation or for a specific driver or area of operation.

5. Empower your drivers

The driver plays an integral role in the execution process. As with planners, drivers vary in performance. The best-performing drivers follow route plans, limit the number of delivery stops, and communicate immediately when things don't go according to plan.

With the ability to track, alert, provide route information, and communicate in real time, every driver can be the best driver. Managers can track real-time GPS data and order status updates to spot potential disruptions and exceptions as they unfold. 

Here, mobile apps can be used to help drivers stay on schedule and manage their deliveries effectively. During the execution of the route, drivers provide the majority of the data, so the top delivery companies also encourage drivers to quickly and accurately capture data on delivery operations.

6. Manage your customers

Customer behavior also plays an important role in delivery performance. From managing delayed deliveries to last minute changes and handling variable service times, customer engagement can make a big impact on a delivery’s run success. 

There are effective ways to ensure that each customer is ready for delivery. The best delivery operations keep customers in the loop at all times with texts, emails, calls, and live ETA tracking via a dedicated customer portal. 

With real-time notifications and accurate estimated arrival times (ETAs), customers can be notified well in advance. Real-time delivery information can also be used to ensure that the right unloading area is available, gates are unlocked, etc. Customers and delivery operations alike benefit from these proactive approaches, as they reduce delays and help the customer prepare to receive the delivery at the right time.

At the end of the day, the right delivery route optimization system is key for logistics providers and shippers who are looking to scale up their delivery operations and provide excellent customer service. Utilizing data-driven delivery and fulfillment strategies and tools, companies can increase customer satisfaction, optimize operations, and scale their businesses quickly and efficiently.

route optimization guide

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