4 Best Tools for Last-Mile Delivery Notifications
July 05, 2021
There are many ways to look at last-mile delivery tools. You can look at route planning & optimization features, live vehicle tracking, or Proof of Delivery on mobile - and all would be valid reasons to invest or not invest. One thing that stands out of all the aspects of a last-mile delivery tool is customer satisfaction. How good is your last-mile software at serving customers? Will it help you establish yourself as a trustworthy business? What are the consumer demands you can meet with the tool?
Amid the many challenges of last-mile delivery, customers have their own expectations that need to be considered. Instant communication is one of them. Your delivery services are only as good as customers think of them, and you need to make sure your last-mile delivery tool has robust customer notification features.
In this article, we look at some of the best last-mile delivery tools used by logistics companies to support the supply chain and order fulfillment process through communication with customers.
Delivery notifications use cases
Before looking at specific last-mile logistics tools that offer notifications to customers, we need to understand the use cases. When do you need to notify customers? What features to look out for? Let's break it down.
As soon as an order has been placed, customers expect a confirmation in the form of an email or SMS notification. You might not have a delivery date or estimated time of arrival for them yet; still, it's important to notify the buyer of their order having been placed.
Last-mile delivery tools, especially when connected to an order placement system or directly to an eCommerce store like Shopify, notify customers whenever an order has been placed. This is the market standard in retail, and you can have it at no additional costs when you've invested in a last-mile logistics tool.
Once in the system, the order can be put on a delivery route to later be dispatched and delivered to the destination. This is when your customers can receive a notification that contains order data like the day delivery will take place and a time window when the buyer can expect their order. The key here is to make sure customers are expecting the service on the delivery day.
The delivery process is complicated. Sometimes, there will be changes to the order of delivery addresses because of priority, traffic, navigation issues, weather conditions, or anything else. Being able to provide a timely update to customers is key to remaining customer-centric.
Last-mile logistics software also enables real-time communication between drivers and customers in case some changes come up while the delivery is in progress. Regardless, having logistics management software that powers delivery updates is a big help in order fulfillment.
On the day of delivery, last-mile software will notify the customer when the driver has departed for the warehouse or storage. The customer can see their number in line, estimated time of arrival, as well as the driver's contact details. Probably the best part - this type of notification will include a real-time tracking link for the buyer to follow their package carrier on the mobile phone.
Real-time shipping communication is an efficient way to up the rate of successful deliveries as the buyer is at the center of the whole process. It makes delivery management easier as the customer is less likely to call or text for package updates, in addition to remaining on location.
About to arrive
To further improve the rate of successful deliveries, you can use your last-mile logistics software to send updates on the driver's whereabouts. For example, you can have the driver trigger an SMS or email saying they've left the previous stop and are about to deliver the package. Alternatively, you can set the system to send these updates on deliveries automatically.
Proof of Delivery
Proof of Delivery is a key feature in last-mile logistics tools. On the one hand, the driver's mobile app should have capabilities to collect POD data on location. On the other hand, it's the customer's demand to have a Proof of Delivery document available to them as soon as the service has been rendered. To stand out from other retailers and providers of similar services, you can customize your PODs to reflect your company voice and communicate a consistent brand image.
4 best tools for delivery notifications
Now that you know about the use cases of customer updates, we'll look at some of the best last-mile delivery tools that power order fulfillment through instant communication.
Track-POD is a last-mile logistics tool that covers everything from route planning & fleet optimization to real-time order tracking and Proof of Delivery. The software consists of two parts: a web dashboard for the dispatcher and an app for the driver. The technology behind Track-POD is cloud-based, with all order data synced across the web dashboard and mobile driver app online and offline.
Track-POD covers the entirety of order fulfillment and supports the supply chain for businesses of all calibers: from local zero-emissions delivery operations to Enterprise-level logistics companies. Among Track-POD's services and features are email and SMS notifications that can be sent to customers at any point along the last mile.
Below are the types of customer updates that you can share via Track-POD.
- Delivery scheduled - can be shared at any time.
- Route start - sent when the driver begins the route, can have a live tracking link.
- En route - triggered by the driver manually or sent automatically upon the driver's departure from the previous location, can have a live tracking link + ETA.
- Post-delivery - contains a PDF version of Proof of Delivery.
All notifications powered by Track-POD, including the Proof of Delivery document, come in various templates and are fully customizable. Email updates are free of charge, SMS costs vary from country to country depending on the local carrier.
Track-POD's pricing model is flexible: you can choose to pay per vehicle/driver or per number of tasks a month. The cheapest plan comes at $29/mo per driver. You can test the tool by grabbing a 7-day free trial.
Route4Me is a route planning and dispatching tool well-known across the industry. It powers deliveries and provides last-mile solutions to businesses that require dynamic and recurring routing. This means that you can run a shuttle service or same-day delivery - whatever your company is focused on, you can use Route4Me solutions to get the job done.
Route4Me is a popular choice among eCommerce retailers as well as any commercial vehicle operations. The tool has built-in integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce, and Magento, making it a neat solution for online retailers.
Route4Me offers three types of email alerts for customers.
- Scheduled - sent when a delivery has been dispatched to one of the drivers.
- You are next - sent when the driver is in close vicinity of the delivery address.
- Completed - sent when the package has been delivered.
SMS notifications correspond to the same order delivery stages but come at an additional cost. All customer alerts are geofence-triggered, i.e. based on the parameters you've indicated for each stop, the system determines when to send a timely notification to each customer. Like Track-POD, Route4Me offers updates triggered manually by the driver, as well as lets you customize the text to better reflect your brand voice.
Route4Me's minimum flat fee is $149/mo, which covers either dynamic or recurring routing for up to 10 team members. You can also make use of Route4Me's free trial option that covers 7 days.
Tookan is a last-mile delivery tool that supports efficient delivery management for businesses serving consumers in many industries. It helps address many of the challenges of last-mile delivery. Tookan is a big help for retail businesses, as it covers everything from automated order management to real-time delivery tracking and even marketing campaigns.
Similar to Track-POD, Tookan's mobile app and web dashboard rely on cloud technology, which means your drivers can use their app not only online but also offline. This flexibility is essential for smooth order fulfillment in hard-to-reach areas.
Tookan offers five types of user notifications that fall under the Pickup & Delivery workflow.
- Request received - triggered when an order has been created.
- Agent started - triggered when the driver is heading towards the delivery destination.
- Agent arrived - triggered when the driver has made it to the destination.
- Successful pickup/delivery - triggered when the service has been completed successfully.
- Failed pickup/delivery - triggered when the service has been unsuccessful.
Similar to other last-mile delivery tools, Tookan automates customer updates via email and SMS while allowing you to customize the messages until they meet every demand of consumers.
Tookan prices per number of tasks a month, which means you can have however many drivers under all subscription plans. The cheapest plan covers 250 tasks and comes at $24/mo. If you want to try Tookan out before investing in it, there's a 14-day free trial available. Please keep in mind that some features like ETA or route optimization come as add-ons and entail additional costs.
Onfleet is a popular last-mile delivery tool used to support many parts of the supply chain. Like other last-mile management tools, it consists of a web dashboard and an app for drivers packed full of features for efficient order fulfillment. Onfleet relies on technology built for larger Enterprise operations but it also supports varied fleet solutions, e.g. in addition to vehicles you can run routing for on-foot deliveries.
Onfleet allows you to alert customers with SMS messages only. Email notifications are available via an integration with Zapier. For pickup and dropoff tasks, Onfleet offers the following notifications shared with customers via SMS messages.
- Task started - triggered when the driver starts the task on their app.
- Driver arriving - triggered when the driver is within 150 m of the delivery address.
- ETA is - triggered when the estimated time of arrival is less than a certain number of minutes.
- Dependency started - triggered when the driver has completed a task linked to the task in question.
- Task completed/failed - triggered when the service has been rendered, successfully or unsuccessfully.
All automatic SMS notifications sent by Onfleet are inherently anonymous, customizable, and versatile meaning they can be fully automated or based on the actions drivers perform in their apps online.
Onfleet prices per number of tasks a month with unlimited drivers. The smallest plan that covers 1,000 tasks monthly comes at $149/mo if paid yearly. You have 14 days to test drive Onfleet by making use of its free trial option.
Instant communication throughout the last mile is one of the industry trends that's here to stay. Customers demand transparency and involvement in the shipping process, and retailers have to deliver if they want to work towards customer satisfaction. Luckily, consumer communication services come as part of last-mile technology utilized by companies in eCommerce and beyond.
I hope this last-mile intro to delivery notifications gives you enough context to make cost-efficient decisions and choose the best last-mile technology providers for your business. If you have any questions about last-mile delivery as part of the supply chain or order fulfillment in eCommerce, don't hesitate to get in touch and see an example of the last-mile process.