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7 Minute Read

What's the Right Logistics Software for Your Last Mile?


The only thing worse than choosing logistics software is not choosing logistics software. In spite of all the technological advances that have made in the world of logistics in the past few years, there are still plenty of delivery organizations who are using homegrown solutions that are difficult to maintain—or who are using no solutions at all. logistics software

It’s not that hard to see why this might be the case. Many of the solutions with the most name recognition don’t have a reputation for keeping pace with the ever-changing last mile delivery market. And deliveries were managed manually for a long time before the concept of “the cloud” meant anything other than frozen water and dust suspended in the air. 

But here’s the rub: the industry has evolved to the point where the old ways of doing things aren’t cutting it. This includes not just manual processes but legacy solutions that slow down fulfillment and create complexity that your teams have to grapple with. 

Simply put, the right logistics software solution is one that simplifies processes rather than making them more complex—all while keeping pace with modern cost realities and customer experience realities. Exactly what that looks like is precisely what we’ll dive into in this post. 

The Modern Logistics Technology Stack 

The modern logistics technology stack is more complicated than ever. Most organizations have an ERP system at their foundation, but beyond that there’s any number of configurations that you might see in terms of the combination of technology being used. Getting the right goods to the right place at the right time isn’t as simple as it sounds—and it doesn’t even tell the whole story. 

A modern delivery organization might need to have software to cover the following functions:

  • Warehouse management
  • Asset management
  • Delivery routing
  • Delivery tracking
  • Customer communication
  • Customer surveys/feedback requests
  • Driver management/proof of delivery
  • Business intelligence/analytics
  • Transportation management (TMS)
  • Client billing
  • Driver settlement
  • Carrier rating/management

The list can continue beyond this, but it should give you a decent idea of just how much goes into the fulfillment process. Crucially, all of these functions are closely related to one another—each one depends on what happens elsewhere in the fulfillment process. This means that connectivity is key. 

That’s part of the reason that virtually no organizations are going to have separate individual solutions for each of these functions. You might bundle your client billing and driver settlement together. You might have routing, tracking, and asset management in the same solution. You want to minimize the number of solutions that all have to connect to each other and share data, but you also want to make sure you’re getting the functionality that you need.

Traditionally, a lot of the functionality that we talked about above might come from a TMS platform or telematics solution. But those platforms do have their limitations. If you’re getting your route optimization for the last mile from a TMS solution, it’s unlikely to be able to handle as many use cases as a solution that was built specifically with routing in mind. 

These tradeoffs are everywhere, and delivery organizations need to ask themselves which tradeoffs are worth it and which aren’t.   

What to Look for in Logistics Software

In the next section, we’ll argue that a lot of the functionality that’s historically lived in separate solutions or more monolithic TMS platforms should be housed within your last mile delivery software. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the must-haves for logistics software that apply beyond specific individual technology deployments. 

SaaS Technology

Like we saw above, different logistics functions require connectivity if you’re going to effectively coordinate across the fulfillment process. That means finding solutions that work nicely together—and can continue to work nicely together over time. 

That second part is crucial. SaaS technology already has the upper hand when it comes to connectivity, but the real value comes down the line when the software provider takes on the onus of ensuring ongoing updates, patches, improvements, and enhancements over time. 

Ease of Use

Any given software solution is only as valuable as the use you’re able to get out of it—and that depends largely on how effectively your people can utilize the features and functionality you’re paying for. 

If you have a software solution deployed that requires the help of outside specialists in order for your team to do what it needs to do, you’ll never really be able to get your money’s worth out if. Obviously, some solutions are going to be complex and solve complex problems, but that doesn’t mean UX and UI don’t matter.

Scalability

This one is related to SaaS technology. After all, on-premise deployments are much harder to scale up—whether it’s because your business is growing or simply because it’s the holiday rush. A SaaS solution that’s architected to scale will give you a lot more freedom to up the number of trucks you’re routing, for instance.

But scaling isn’t just about software architecture. It’s also about empowering scalable processes, including software deployment. You want technology that can be rolled out to new branches without requiring months and months of frustration. By the same token, you want to know that when you deploy software to new branches they’ll be using in the approved way and running the most up-to-date version of the software. 

Capabilities to Look for in Last Mile Logistics Software

Okay, let’s take a quick step back. How does the last mile figure into all of this? Many of the functions we’re talking about, again, could fall under the umbrella of a TMS or similar—and much of what a TMS does isn't going to come standard in your last mile solution.

And yet, so much depends upon the last mile. What you pay drivers and what you bill to customers are going to be determined by what actually transpires on the road. Did the customer receive their order in full? How many hours did the driver take to finish their route?

That’s a big part of why we recommend leveraging last mile delivery technology for a significant chunk of your logistics software needs. Specifically, we recommend finding a last mile solution that can offer:

  • Route optimization
  • Strategic route planning
  • Shuttle route planning
  • Customer communications via email and text
  • 2-way customer chatting
  • Real-time delivery visibility
  • Driver mobile app
  • Electronic proof of delivery capture
  • Sales/merchandising app
  • Billing and settlement capabilities
  • Visibility across roles and functions

If that sounds like a lot of things for one solution to do well, you’re not wrong. But by consolidating all of these within your last mile technology, you do more than just decrease your IT spending. You actually create visibility and connectivity across the entire process. 

By way of example: 

Let’s say you’ve got a slate of orders to deliver. You send out customer communications to confirm delivery schedules, then you route the ones that haven’t canceled, and send out another notification that includes an accurate ETA derived by the routing engine.

The routes are dispatched to the drivers via the mobile app, and as they start and finish deliveries those updates are reflected on the solution’s dashboard. Dispatchers, managers, customer service staff, and even sales can see which deliveries are underway, which are running on time, and which have exceptions.

For deliveries with exceptions, the team can jump on them right away to smooth the situation over. The salesperson can call the customer directly after logging into the system and seeing that their order is going to be late based on the ETA being projected by the routing engine. For deliveries that go off without a hitch, you can send a delivery receipt with proof of delivery, and based on the information collected at the job site (e.g. for extra time or accessorial charges) you can invoice the customer and pay the driver or carrier. 

When all that’s through, you can send a survey to the customer via text to capture a CSAT score along with all your other analytics. 

Sure, there’s a lot that has to happen before and after this process that will require interconnection with other solutions. But you can see how housing different functions under one umbrella—within a platform that’s purpose built for the last mile—can create efficiencies, boost visibility, and ultimately reduce costs and improve customer experience. 

What’s the right logistics software for your operation? If the example above resonates with you at all, then it’s probably a comprehensive, highly-connected last mile delivery solution.


DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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