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Are You Still Struggling with Map Updates?

Last mile delivery is a challenge without the right technology—but businesses have been making it work for many years using whatever tools that they happened to have access to. There will never be a perfect solution that magically turns last mile deliveries into something you can set and forget and just assume will be efficient. At the same time, technology has improved in recent years, especially as advances in AI, machine learning, and cloud computing have made their way into the logistics space. map updates

This state of affairs can make it difficult to tell whether any given challenge is inherent to managing last mile logistics, on the one hand, or something that technology can solve for you, on the other. There are plenty of items in the former category—but more and more in the latter as technology advances.

One prime example here is managing map updates. For years, manually updating your maps in order to ensure accurate routing was simply a fact of life. This tends to be a painstaking and time consuming process. But with modern route optimization and delivery management technology, delivery businesses should be able to skip this process entirely. 

Mapping Challenges in Legacy Last Mile Solution

At this point, mapping and geocoding are painful processes mostly for on-prem and legacy technology deployments. If you’re running your own servers with last mile software installed in a number of individual branches, you’re essentially stuck performing map updates by hand at each individual deployment site whenever there’s an update. This means that it’s difficult to ensure that every branch or depot is working with the most up-to-date information. This slows down the process of taking on new customers, making changes to your network, or simply responding to changes in road networks. 

In the case of the kinds of on-prem deployments we’re talking about, you may also have to take on a slow, tedious matrix generation process for every new batch of customers you import. Geocoding typically has to be done by hand for new customers, which slows down the process even further. In many cases, the result is that more dynamic businesses (e.g. retailers who deliver to a completely new mix of customers each day) can’t work quickly and flexibly to respond to customer needs. 

Because travel time and distances can’t be calculated on the fly during the routing process, route optimization can’t get started until all of these manual updates have been concluded. That means that efficiently routing a same-day or next-day order might require teams to work through the night to grapple with these challenges—or it might simply not be possible. This puts businesses in a tough position when it comes to keeping their customers happy, to say nothing of maintaining efficiency in their back office processes.  

How SaaS Solutions Handle Mapping and Geocoding

Like we said above, sometimes painstaking processes are just a part of getting the job done. But in the case of mapping and geocoding, true SaaS solutions can solve the problem wholesale. 

With a cloud-native solution that’s built to simplify last mile logistics, maps can be updated automatically on a periodic basis (e.g. every two weeks). With a cloud software provider, this is something that happens in the background with your team ever having to think about it. And, because there aren’t individual on-premise deployments to grapple with, updates can be pushed out to your entire network all at once. The result is that everyone is always working with the most up-to-date maps. 

The same logic applies to geocoding. A true SaaS solution should be able to automatically geocode new customers on import, e.g. via Google API, to ensure accuracy without a lot of manual effort. Here, you should be able to find a solution that leverages multiple sources in order to ensure accuracy. Some solutions even have AI and machine learning capabilities to enable even greater accuracy over time. 

Because cloud solutions are generally architected to scale their processing power up and down seamlessly as needed, there’s also no need for extensive matrix generation. Your solution should be able to calculate distances on the fly as you’re routing and generate ETAs based on AI-enabled time drive and service time estimates. 

How Smarter Mapping Translates into ROI

It’s not too hard to imagine how the cloud-based approach to mapping and geocoding translates into easier last mile delivery management all around. The most obvious source of added value here is simply the decreased amount of manual effort for your IT staff, planners, dispatchers, etc. Where users of on-prem solutions might run teams overnight and potentially pay significant overtime just to get all the day’s orders routed in time, businesses with the right SaaS solution can generate routes in a matter of minutes. 

There’s also the potential to reduce IT spending. If you’re being charged for map updates, for instance, you can strike that line item off the balance sheet when you move to SaaS. Some of the solutions that you use to support the blind spots in the legacy software may also become redundant when you find a cloud-based last mile optimization platform. 

Perhaps most importantly, the ability to cut out all of the manual mapping and geocoding effort and get to delivery routing and execution process faster means that you’re able to provide better delivery service to your customers. When you can calculate distance and time for routes on the fly, instead of waiting for matrix generation to be completed, you can more easily handle next day and even same day orders. A true SaaS last mile solution will be architected to route thousands of stops in minutes, meaning you can even take in new orders on the day of delivery and incorporate them efficiently into existing because you’re able to adjust routes so quickly. 

At the same time, AI-powered technology can enable you to produce highly accurate delivery ETAs through the routing process. These aren’t just nice-to-haves. In many industries, the ability to provide a faster delivery turnaround time can make or break a sale. Likewise, on-time deliveries can be extremely important for businesses and consumers alike—especially when it comes to items that require the recipient to be on-site. Studies have consistently shown that on-time performance is one of the most important priorities for many delivery customers. 

In the era of SaaS technology, there’s no reason to let map updates and geocoding slow down your delivery processes and potentially impact your relationships with customers. While it may once have been the cost of doing business, it’s something that modern solutions can handle in the background without requiring your team’s active effort. The result of cutting out this manual effort on your part? Increased efficiency, decreased frustration, and improved delivery management all around. 

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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