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How to Scale Your Delivery Processes in Building Supplies Delivery


Dropping a couple of stacks of 2x4s and a case of joist hangers at a home builder’s site is all in a day’s work, but what happens when you need to do that for hundreds of sites—and deliver everything from HVAC systems to air tools to commercial water heaters? Building supplies don’t always come in neat cubic bundles, and you can’t just put down the package and ring a doorbell, so scaling their delivery can be daunting. It’s more than simply routing orders sequentially to a list of stops. It requires accuracy, speed, and efficiency that only a highly capable delivery platform can achieve. How to Scale Your Delivery Processes in Building Supplies Delivery

If business growth and competition demand more than your current routing solution delivers, it’s time to look at systems that leverage the power of AI and ML to coordinate operations from order-in to done-and-delivered. Here are some of the capabilities you should look for:

SaaS vs On-Prem

When the first routing systems appeared a few decades back, they ran on servers installed at the delivery organization’s office. And they were better than the paper-and-clipboard models that preceded them. However, the technological arms race has put those solutions in the rear view mirror. As with much of our current computing infrastructure, delivery solutions based in the cloud have proven more flexible, faster, safer, and more efficient than on-prem applications. Your spreadsheets, documents, and databases probably live in the cloud already. Your delivery system should too. Here’s what to look for in a SaaS solution:

  • Available: A SaaS system is available to anyone with a login and the right permissions. 
  • Up to Date: Cloud-based systems can be updated for all users instantly with no need for local admins to download and install patches. New features and capabilities can be created and rolled out to users frequently.
  • Lower IT Costs: There’s no need for a large IT staff to maintain and backup servers 24/7.
  • Safer: The system is monitored and maintained by the provider’s staff and your data is backed up in multiple data centers. 

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All in One Is How It’s Done

Some routing platforms were cobbled together from separate software packages over time. While the new packages did add capabilities, they didn’t necessarily make it easy to find the right information at the right time. Botched data handoffs between modules creates operational friction from inaccurate or dropped orders, missed driver assignments, and unfeasible ETAs. 

Your routing solution should be integrated and able to receive orders from and post results to your ERP, with a smooth, uninterrupted data flow all the way to proof of delivery—and beyond. 

A highly capable mobile app is also essential. The information needs to go where your deliveries are happening—your trucks. Manifests with full details of each stop and each order along with turn-by-turn directions delivery instructions should be sent to the driver’s mobile device—and updated—automatically. 

Fast, Intuitive, Accurate

Route optimization that relies on AI and ML will be both faster and more accurate, both initially and especially over time, as its algorithms learn about traffic flows and the skills and service times of your drivers. 

Your routing system should be able to import orders and route quickly—laying out hundreds of stops on multiple service units in seconds—according to a variety of parameters that you can set quickly. And you should be able to see all of the vital statistics for each route—cost, distance, time, weight, pallets/cubes and more—at a glance. You should be able to intuitively adjust the routes, moving stops between them or re-sequencing with a simple click-and-drag and see the impact on costs instantly. 

Your customers rely on you to get the materials they need to them on time. Accurate ETAs that account for different kinds of service times are critical. 

Same Day/Next Day Dilemma

It’s also critical that your routing system handle same day/next day orders efficiently, without throwing your operation into chaos or blowing up your costs. Fulfilling orders that drop in throughout the day can be a nightmare, but if your routing system is talking to your ERP, even online orders can be queued up on the next available service unit and delivered—with the most efficient possible routing—that day. 

For urgent needs, contractors may send someone to pick up items. This can cause chaos as trucks converge on your distribution centers expecting to walk out with product in minutes. Your system needs to be able to take in remote orders, queue them up for associates to prepare them and guide customers to the right place to pick them up. 

Talking Business: Customer Communications

Your customers need to know where the truck with the 2x4s is and when the HVAC will arrive. And your crew needs to know where to unload when they reach the site. Integrated and automated two-way communications increase efficiency and boost customer satisfaction. The ability to push out automated messages to an entire route—that an ice storm has delayed shipments—or to a single customer—your truck is one stop away—can dramatically reduce where-is-my-order phone calls and help customers better manage time schedules at their sites. 

Prove It

Building sites can be chaotic, and you’re often delivering very expensive loads. If materials get moved after delivery, or if they’re stolen, the customer may dispute a charge. Having digital proof of delivery keeps the missing goods from coming off your balance sheet. When the proof includes item scans, signatures, notes, and especially photographs, it can also protect you against false claims for damage to premises or the goods themselves. 

DispatchTrack: The SaaS Delivery Platform for Building Supplies Distribution

With all of the options available, finding the one that’s the best fit for your operation might seem confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. While most of the available solutions have some of the capabilities you need, DispatchTrack has them all. It’s in use by many building supplies vendors, including Ferguson Enterprises and SiteOne

  • SaaS: DispatchTrack was born as a SaaS product and always has been. With more than a decade of experience providing reliable routing from the cloud, our engineers keep the system running 24/7 so you can keep running without dropouts or delays. 
  • Integrated: With its flexible and powerful API, DispatchTrack smoothly integrates with other parts of your tech ecosystem pairing easily with industry leading platforms including NetSuite, Samsara, GeoTab and others.
  • Fast, Intuitive, Accurate: Orders are ingested from your ERP or PoS so same day or next day deliveries can be up for routing in minutes. The system uses powerful AI and ML algorithms that learn and improve over time. DispatchTrack customers report that the ETAs it generates can be met by drivers 98% of the time. 
  • Configurable Communications: DispatchTrack has a powerful communications suite with real-time two-way communications that can be configured to carry your branding. Send route start, ETAs and one-stop-away messages and text with drivers and customers en route. 
  • Click and Collect: DispatchTrack has a purpose-built process for handling orders that will be picked up from your distribution centers or stores. Once the pickup order is scheduled, the customer automatically receives a message telling them when they can pick up their order and specifically where to park at the warehouse to receive it. The warehouse crew assembles the order. When the customer arrives, the crew meets them, helps load, takes photos of the completed order, and gets a signature. The customer never needs to go inside to a counter, and associates don’t have to stop what they’re doing to look at a computer. 
  • Proof Positive: The driver mobile app also collects robust proof of delivery. Drivers take photos of the deliveries, write notes and get signatures. And everything is time and geo-stamped and uploaded to the cloud immediately, so your dispatchers likely know the delivery was completed accurately before the site foreman does.
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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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