Visibility is one of the most valuable things that a delivery organization can prioritize—but it can be difficult to define precisely. Is it about the ability to see where your trucks are when they’re out making deliveries? The ability to track customer order statuses and activity before, during, and after the delivery? Simply being able to find exactly the data you want exactly when you want it?
True delivery visibility can—and should—encompass all of those elements. But true strategic visibility amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Visibility that provides a window into any one aspect of your operation can be valuable, but when you have end-to-end visibility it can transform your processes and enable you to provide better service to your customers and find new cost efficiencies within your delivery operations.
All that being the case, choosing the right delivery tracking software becomes a serious opportunity to grow your capabilities. By implementing a solution that has the right features, functionalities, and integrations, you can turn delivery tracking into the foundation for broader strategic visibility.
But how do you spot the right solution?
What Is Delivery Tracking Software?
Delivery tracking software means different things to different people. Generally speaking, however, it means software that enables you to keep tabs on your deliveries from the loading dock to the customer’s door. Often, there will be a customer-facing element as well—i.e. enabling customers to track their orders in real time from the comfort of their own devices.
In some peoples’ minds, this kind of tracking is more or less synonymous with GPS. In other words, it’s something that a telematics system could easily offer—but real delivery tracking software can offer something more than that. When deliveries are planned and executed within the same solution, your application can constantly be taking in status updates and order information from drivers out in the field and comparing that against your expected order completion times.
In this way, you’re able to do more than just see where in the world a given delivery is. Rather, you’re able to put that location data in context by combining it with order information and predictive ETAs to determine whether you’re on track to deliver at the right time or not. This puts you in a position to spot exceptions before they occur and ultimately reduce missed and failed deliveries and the costs and negative customer sentiments that come with them.
That’s why the most valuable delivery tracking software offers a lot more than just simple tracking. Instead, they offer connected processes that cover the entire customer journey from end to end.
What to Look For in Delivery Tracking Software
The kind of solution we’re talking about here needs to do a lot more than show you (and your customers) the location of a truck on a map. They need to put you in the driver’s seat so you can manage the entire delivery process with a minimum of disruptions and with a focus on what matters: keeping the customer happy.
To that end, here are a few things to look out for when you’re on the hunt for the right solution:
- Total connectivity: You want your delivery management and tracking solution to provide data from a host of different sources as needed, from your order management system to the mobile apps that drivers are using out in the field to your telematics systems and other solutions. That means your platforms need to integrate easily and share data in real-time or near-real-time if needed.
- Intuitive UI: UI is something that’s often spun as a nice-to-have, but the usability of a platform can actually have real strategic value. When it takes your sales reps, customer service staff, or even planners too long to find the piece of information they need in any given situation, it can result in slowdowns and disruptions. When you can take in the most important data about your deliveries at a glance and drill down to further details as needed, you can actually reap the benefits of delivery tracking in real time.
- AI-powered routing: Like we said, tracking and planning are processes that need to be integrated, and route optimization falls squarely within the category of things that need to be closely tied to other workflows. When you’re tracking a delivery, you’re not just interested in where the truck is—you’re interested in whether it will reach the customer within the window you promised. That means you need to be able to estimate based on the latest data whether you’re actually on pace to do that—and to take action if not.
- Customer experience tools: Like we said above, delivery tracking is something that it pays to think of from the customer’s perspective. When you have the capabilities to get live information about deliveries as they unfold, it’s only a few extra steps to turn that around and offer it to customers to improve their delivery experience. This will depend on your industry and your customers, but generally speaking it’s nice to be able to provide scheduling and pre-routing notifications, confirmation emails, text alerts, and live tracking via a dedicated portal.
Obviously, there’s a lot of nuance here, and different businesses will have different needs. But if you can prioritize these four elements, you can be sure you’re on the right track towards strategic visibility.
How Strategic Visibility Impacts Delivery Efficiency
Getting excited about the idea of strategic visibility is one thing, but actually investing in it is another. If you’re evaluating delivery tracking software solutions with this concept in mind, how do you actually go from a powerful concept to powerful ROI?
Here are a few of the areas where you can translate smarter, more comprehensive delivery tracking into dollars and cents:
- Improved customer retention: Especially in industries like food or beverage distribution, showing up at the right time—especially for your top clients—is crucial. When it looks like your delivery might slip outside the agreed upon-window, the speed of your response can have a direct impact on whether your customer walks away from the experience fed up and looking for a new vendor or not.
- Faster planning and replanning: When you don’t have visibility into your processes—including live delivery data—planning simply takes a lot more person-hours. This means it costs you a lot more in back-office labor. Conversely, when finding the right data takes no time at all, you can free up time for more valuable tasks. This is true both before the delivery, when you want to roll out efficient plans as quickly as possible, and during the delivery, when you may need to make minute adjustments on the fly.
- Increased capacity utilization: Simply put, the right delivery tracking software should empower you to get more out of your vehicles and drivers. By tracking deliveries in real time, you do more than just gain visibility—you also gain data that can be leveraged by AI and machine learning to more effectively predict arrival times for future deliveries. When you can make that happen, you can use your capacity more efficiently and deliver more per day with the same number of trucks and drivers.
Every delivery organization has different needs and different ideas of what the ideal technology stack looks like. But the kind of strategic visibility we’re talking about applies across the board—it can be a powerful tool for reducing costs, improving customer experience, and boosting efficiency. The right delivery tracking software paves the way for exactly that.