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6 Minute Read

The Best Routing Software Has These Features

Are you looking for route optimization software but worried that the options on the market can’t meet your business’s specific needs? You’ve come to the right place. image (25)

It’s an understandable feeling. The routing software market is a mixed bag of solutions that are designed for personal use by those with only one vehicle, commercial solutions aimed more at tracking or dispatching than at solving complex routing challenges, and other options that might not inspire confidence if your needs are more complex than the average school bus route. 

Luckily, there are also solutions that can match the complexity that comes with robust last mile delivery operations. Here’s some helpful info on how to cut through the noise to find the kinds of solutions that can actually move the needle for your organization in terms of delivery costs, delivery efficiencies, and customer satisfaction. 

Who Needs Route Optimization Software? 

First things first, what types of businesses need the kind of route optimization technology we’re talking about? 

For personal use, most people get away with Google Maps or Waze, and those solutions can even be jerry-rigged for use cases more complicated than a simple point a to point b route. For the next level up in complexity, where you might be dispatching those routes to other drivers and tracking their progress over the course of the route, there’s a slew of different software platforms you could use. 

This includes a number of providers of other solution types—such as telematics software, transportation management solutions, and other logistics-related platforms—who will provide route planning as an add-on or an additional module. For some use cases, this is plenty, 

But what if you need to create route plans for each day of the week that can accommodate a mix of new and recurring customer orders with varying time window requirements? What if you offer a mix of white glove deliveries, over the threshold deliveries, and complex installations and need to be sure you’re scheduling the right personnel to the right jobs while still maintaining cost-efficiency? What if your business wants to offer customer self-scheduling for big and bulky but still needs to maintain high capacity utilization?

wismettac case study

For these use cases and many others, the lightweight routing software options on the market aren’t going to cut it. They may be able to help you get from point a to point b efficiently—and even provide some tracking while you do so—but they aren’t necessarily built to handle complexity in a scalable way. 

If you fall into one of these use cases, you need powerful  route optimization software if you’re going to effectively manage delivery costs while keeping your customers happy. 

What Do The Best Routing Software Options All Have in Common?

So how do you sift through all of the routing software options to find the options that can best meet your needs? Here are few things that robust route optimization solutions will offer:

Equipment/personnel matching and skill-based routing

Since you’ve made it this far into the article, there’s a decent chance that your operation’s routing challenges include matching the right equipment to the right jobs—or matching the right personnel to the right deliveries/services. This is an area where creating efficient routes is more complex than simply minimizing the number of miles driven. The best routing software will offer you the ability to automatically find the right assets for the right deliveries. By the same token, they’ll enable you to factor driver skill into your route plans, so that you err on the side of sending skilled technicians to the jobs where their skill sets are needed. This saves you time when you’re routing, and saves you money by ensuring that you don’t use expensive skilled labor in situations when other delivery personnel would do just fine. 

Support for multiple time windows

If you’re making recurring deliveries to customers each week, you need to juggle those customers’ preferred time windows. (If you’re not, skip down to the next section.) If you make a route adjustment that moves Customer A out their preferred time slot, you have to find a way to fit them into one of their other preferred slots. If you’re trying to do this by hand for a large number of customers, you’re going to lose out on route efficiency pretty quickly. The right route optimization software will make it easier to manage, and the resulting routes will be denser and more cost-effective. 

Capacity-aware self-scheduling

For many big and bulky delivery scenarios, a big part of providing a great delivery experience comes from enabling customers to self-schedule their own deliveries. Particularly for consumers, this extra level of agency over their deliveries can go a long way towards boosting brand loyalty. 

Unfortunately, when customers are given total freedom to schedule their own deliveries, most consumers will select Saturday mornings—making life impossible for your fleet. Simply put, you need to be able to offer choices to your customers while enforcing scheduling rules that ensure your capacity is being considered. Lightweight routing options won’t really be able to help you with this use case—but the best of the routing software options will enable you to do that easily.  

Delivery costing

One of the most important factors to consider in any route is cost. Most of the cost will typically come down to mileage and driver hours, so there are plenty of cases where the basic assumption is that the shorter the route, the better. But for more complex operations, understanding your total cost to serve is more important and more difficult than just calculating mileage. 

That’s why you want a platform that can perform those cost-to-serve calculations automatically in the planning stage. This gives you the visibility into expected costs that you need in order to make data-driven decisions about how to approach your routes, your fleet management, and other aspects of your logistics operations.  

AI-powered ETA estimates

Google Maps and Waze are pretty good at predicting travel ETAs on the routes they suggest. They’ve got live traffic updates and can dynamically adjust their ETAs as you travel along a route—they can even suggest new routes when conditions change and travel times are likely to exceed the original estimate. 

But delivery routes aren’t just comprised of driving. They also include the time it takes to unload the truck at each stop, which can vary significantly depending on whether you’re dropping a parcel on a doorstep or installing a washing machine. Even drive times (to say nothing of the routes themselves) can vary depending on what type of vehicle you’re driving. Trucks will progress along a route more slowly than cars, and you need to factor that into your ETAs.

Ultimately, getting delivery ETAs right is a huge part of successful last mile operations. But it’s a difficult thing to get right by hand, in part because of the huge number of variables that go into them. If you’re in a position where you need to offer customers more specific time windows than “between 10 and 4,” you need to leverage smart, AI-powered technology that can generate ETAs that are highly accurate. With the right tools, you can deliver to your customers at the right time, every time—no matter the level of complexity involved. 

Different delivery organizations will have different routing needs—and the variety of routing software options on the market reflects those different needs. Still, it can be discouraging to see so many options that don’t handle the complexity of your last mile operations. If this rings true for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our routing experts at DispatchTrack to learn more about how to bring your routing capabilities into the next generation.  

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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