The number of shoppers turning to online e-commerce sites is growing fast, and naturally, so is the demand for exceptional home deliveries.
To remain competitive, online shops and brick and mortar businesses alike are finding new ways to overcome last mile logistics challenges that are pushing their operating costs up. Companies are now prioritizing the improvement of their overall efficiency in the last mile—which is key to surviving in today's highly competitive landscape.
Unfortunately for businesses, the last mile is the most complex and costly aspect of delivery logistics, making it hard to satisfy modern customers. Simply put, it's increasingly difficult to meet shoppers' expectations these days as they demand fast, cheap, and transparent deliveries. Luckily, truck routing software can help.
The Challenges of Last Mile Last Mile Logistics
Delivery organizations all know by now that adapting is the only way to survive. In many cases, adapting seems to mean absorbing the additional costs of meeting customer demand.
One of the factors that push delivery logistics costs up is that companies don't have the right delivery infrastructure. This means drivers are spending more time on the road than necessary because their routes are inefficiently planned. Poor route planning is usually the result of a lack of the right technological tools.
There are also fuel costs to consider. Drivers are often assigned multiple drop-offs for relatively low-value parcels, while customers are hard to pin down and often miss their deliveries if they’re not right on time. These cause fuel expenses to go up on top of the fact that drivers are using inefficient route plans and have to re-attempt deliveries after missing the delivery window.
So, the question is: what can you do to meet consumers' demand for fast and reliable deliveries while keeping operational costs at manageable levels?
Planning dozens or hundreds of routes manually is simply not feasible if you want to stay efficient. There are long hours of work, and even when done right, conventionally planned routes present too much complexity to enable planners to accurately estimate ETAs for the various stops.
For finding the most efficient and cost-effective route plans, what you really need is route optimization—which is why the right route planning software is one of keys to overcoming delivery logistics challenges. Route optimization minimizes total driving time for routes with multiple stops. It finds the most optimal routes by considering different variables like vehicle land capacity, delivery time windows, driver schedule, traffic congestion, driver location, road accidents, and distance from one stop to another.
Finding optimal routes manually is a cumbersome task even for small fleets. A company that has a couple of trucks with 10 delivery stops each will still be dealing with thousands of possible routes. Truck routing software, on the other hand, calculates the best routes in just a few clicks, allowing fleets to maximize drivers' shifts and ultimately reduce operating costs.
Overcoming Challenges with the Right Truck Routing Software
Truck routing software helps improve your fleet's overall efficiency, cut down operating costs, save time, and increase revenue. Here's how the right software empowers fleets to overcome last mile delivery challenges:
Reduce Delivery Time
Sophisticated routing software uses advanced algorithms to find optimal routes, which can then save fleets anywhere from 20 to 40 percent drive time and fuel usage. An advanced solution also allows route planners to manually adjust routes or input business constraints. Ideally, your software would also allow dispatchers to re-optimize routes in real-time when an unexpected event such as a last minute order change happens.
Providing drivers with the best routes improves their productivity, such that fewer drivers are needed to complete delivery assignments. In this way, companies can save on labor costs and are able to avoid shelling out for new assets to meet demand.
Drivers often have a hard time deciphering routes when they rely on text-only directions or paper or physical maps. Truck routing software translates the routes into visual maps with turn by turn directions, allowing drivers and their dispatchers to view at glance the exact stops. It also lets dispatchers see which drivers are en route to specific delivery drop-off points.
Avoid Bottlenecks via Auto-Dispatch
Planning drivers assignments manually, and printing and handing out driver assignments one by one is time-consuming and inefficient. Luckily, you can ditch all these conventional methods with the right routing software, thanks to auto-dispatch capabilities.
This feature automates dispatching, telling drivers which sequence of stops they should hit on a given route. Once the software has assigned a driver to a task, it then provides the driver with the shortest route to get to the assigned destination. This helps reduce manual effort on the part of dispatchers and ensures seamless connectivity with drivers.
Improve Communication with Customers
Customers want to feel more empowered by having information at their fingertips. They demand to be kept in the loop with what's happening with their orders.
That’s why you need software that empowers you to provide customers with regular updates. Aside from satisfying customer's demand of being informed in real-time, it also helps ensure that customers are available to receive their orders when the truck arrives.
Advanced last mile software should also allow shoppers to track their deliveries in real time. Static tracking numbers requiring customers to call the customer service team won't cut it anymore—not only do customers prefer to get this information without picking up the phone, the constant incoming phone calls are also hugely expensive.
It might not sound like this would be within the strict purview of truck routing software, but in point of fact effective customer communication is hard to get right without accurate, frequently updating ETAs. Without a correctly estimated time window, all the live tracking in the world still won’t give your customers the information they need.
There's a good chance that the last mile delivery will remain the most complicated aspect of the shipping process for the foreseeable. Luckily, businesses that have sophisticated truck routing software can stay ahead of the competition by keeping their customers satisfied while keeping costs low.