5 Tips for Scheduling Deliveries Efficiently

Updated on May 14, 2024 by Andrey Baturin

Scheduling Deliveries Efficiently

Whether you’re an eCommerce store or run a major B2B delivery operation, scheduling deliveries is one of the most important aspects of your business. Offering efficient delivery service is vital for business growth and customer satisfaction. Good delivery scheduling helps you stay organized and better manage your orders and deliveries.

The scheduling process can present significant challenges. Many factors must be considered when putting together your delivery schedule, which can cause complications and difficulties.

In this article, we’ll discuss the process of scheduling deliveries and share four tips that your organization can use to make scheduling easier.

Table of content

What is delivery scheduling

How does delivery scheduling work?

Scheduling deliveries in bigger vs smaller organizations

Challenges of scheduling deliveries

5 tips for scheduling deliveries efficiently

Main variables affecting delivery schedules of your orders

How delivery schedules improve business operations

What is delivery scheduling?

Delivery scheduling is the process of planning your business’ deliveries in advance. To run smooth operations, you need to have a coherent delivery plan.

This is somewhat similar to how social media automation tools are used to execute a content plan.

You can’t just load up a delivery vehicle and head out without a plan and schedule. Skipping this step in your delivery process results in wasted time and money. It can also lead to risky driving from drivers trying to deliver on time, late deliveries, and dissatisfied customers.

A good delivery scheduling process affects supply chain operations and customer demand. This allows you to deal with issues quickly, preventing delays. This helps improve the overall efficiency of your operations and ensures that your deliveries remain profitable. Effective delivery scheduling also plays a big role in customer satisfaction.

How does delivery scheduling work?

Building an effective delivery schedule is essential for businesses that require timely and efficient transport of goods, especially in sectors like food delivery or housekeeping services. Below are the steps to building a delivery schedule.

1. Define Your Delivery Objectives

Start by clarifying what you aim to achieve with your delivery schedule. You need to consider multiple factors, including delivery speed, cost-efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Also, clear objectives are necessary. These will help guide the scheduling process and ensure it aligns with your business goals.

2. Collect and Analyze Delivery Data

Gather data relevant to your deliveries, including delivery volumes, delivery locations, customer availability, and vehicle capacity. Use delivery scheduling systems to analyze this data for patterns and bottlenecks. This step is crucial for creating a more informed and effective schedule.

3. Choose Appropriate Scheduling and Route Optimization Software

Select route scheduling software that fits your business needs. Look for features like route planning and scheduling, scheduling delivery route optimization, and routing and scheduling deliveries. These tools are designed to optimize the order of stops and travel paths, saving time and reducing costs.

4. Design the Delivery Schedule Template

Create a delivery schedule template that can be easily adapted each day or week. This template should include slots for different times of the day, considering peak hours, and should be flexible to accommodate changes or emergency deliveries.

5. Plan and Optimize Routes

Utilize your route scheduling software to plan and optimize delivery routes. The software can help address questions like "Are you scheduling a new delivery route?" by providing data-driven insights to enhance efficiency. For specialized services, such as housekeeping, look for scheduling and route optimization software that caters specifically to industry needs.

6. Schedule Deliveries

With the routes planned, start scheduling deliveries. Allocate timeslots and vehicles to each delivery in your schedule. For instance, if scheduling food delivery, ensure the routes are optimized for speed to maintain food quality.

7. Communicate the Schedule

Ensure all stakeholders, including delivery personnel and customers, are informed about the delivery schedule. Effective communication helps in managing expectations and improves service reliability.

8. Monitor and Adjust

Monitor the performance of your delivery schedules and routes. Use feedback and new data to refine and adjust your routes and schedules continually. This ongoing process will help you to adapt to changes in demand, traffic conditions, and other variables.

9. Evaluate Software and Tools

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your routing and scheduling software. Technology evolves rapidly and staying updated with the latest enhancements can further optimize your delivery operations.

Delivery scheduling

Scheduling deliveries in bigger vs smaller organizations

When planning a delivery schedule, the more routes and drops you have, the more complicated it becomes. With this in mind, delivery planning becomes harder as your business expands. This is especially true if you schedule deliveries manually, as there will be more stops and orders to fit into the delivery schedule.

However, the process behind scheduling deliveries remains the same. It doesn’t matter how many delivery orders you have, the planning process will still follow the same procedure. It doesn’t matter if your delivery route has 4 or 40 drops. You will still need to calculate all the same constraints to optimize the route.

You can do this manually or use a digital delivery route planner. However, manual scheduling is a time- and resource-consuming process that leaves room for human error and delays. You would need specialist knowledge to plan delivery routes manually adequately. Even with tons of experience, you have to account for human error.

Investing in brilliant delivery software is the best thing to do for your delivery scheduling. The right route planning software does all the work for you. Plus, it can better adjust to larger scales of operation with no additional work. This makes scheduling deliveries at any scale a fast and easy process.

Challenges of scheduling deliveries

When managing your delivery schedule, there are many moving parts that are difficult to keep track of. Here are some of the main operational challenges involved in scheduling deliveries.

Lack of processes

One of the biggest issues businesses face with their delivery schedule is that they don’t have a clear system. Instead of following strict processes, many organizations say “we’ll deliver it when we can”. This approach can cause all kinds of problems.

Not having proper processes and systems in place can lead to various operational issues. It can delay deliveries or result in no-show deliveries. This has a major effect on customers and your brand reputation. Today, consumer demands around deliveries are at an all-time high. Having solid processes in place will help to keep up with consumer demands and stay customer-centric.

Lack of flexibility

No matter how well-organized your delivery schedule is, issues can always arise. This includes cancellations, product recalls, or last-minute orders. Unexpected shifts are particularly common if your business offers same-day delivery.

In such situations, you must adjust your planned delivery schedules and routes. This can challenge delivery managers who spend significant time and effort optimizing those delivery routes.

Surprise delays

Unlike last-minute orders, some delays remain out of your control. Several unplanned delays can affect delivery time. This includes external factors like road closures, weather, serious traffic, or roadworks.

These conditions are more difficult to preempt and address than internal order changes. Delivery drivers must adapt quickly to changes or delays while taking the most optimal route possible. This could involve revising an entire delivery schedule, which can be stressful and time-consuming. However, delivery software and route optimization features can update routes immediately.

Tight timeframes

The most important aspect of any delivery operation is efficiency. Deliveries need to be as quick as possible and flow continuously. Delivery managers are always working against the clock, and deliveries must arrive at the scheduled time.

This means you must coordinate every step and process in the delivery schedule. Drivers must pick up deliveries seamlessly and use the best route to reach their destinations. You also need to ensure that there are minimal to no delays between processes. This is one of the main reasons why optimized delivery scheduling is so important.

Coordinating pickups

Many organizations that offer deliveries find dropping off orders challenging. They also often have to plan for collections and reverse logistics, including collecting goods that the customer was not satisfied with or reusing packaging from existing customers.

This adds an additional element to the delivery schedule and requires managing collections and drop-offs. This adds another layer to your scheduling. Both customer interactions must be coordinated perfectly to fit into the driver's existing schedule. You also need to account for the storage of returned goods.

5 tips for scheduling deliveries efficiently

You might have a question about how to improve delivery scheduling. Here are some of the best things that delivery managers can do.

5 tips for scheduling deliveries efficiently will include the following tips:

1. Use the right software

2. Optimize your routes

3. Analyze delivery performance data

4. Make sure your routing tool is mobile-friendly

5. Track your vehicles

1. Use the right software

All delivery organizations need to use multi-stop route planners.

This is the most essential tip for efficient delivery scheduling because the software will handle your complicated processes. The software can automatically plan and schedule routes for you. Instead of sitting down and manually adding in each delivery stop, this will save time and effort.

Beyond the initial route scheduling, the software allows you to remain flexible. If any last-minute delays or surprises arise, the software can reschedule the route for you automatically. This means drivers always have updated delivery routes, and managers won’t have to rush to respond by creating alternative routes at the last moment.

Route planning software will also help to improve communication. The route will automatically update automatically if you add or remove any new stops. The system keeps the delivery driver updated, and there is no need for phone calls and manual communication (which can also be a major challenge with delivery scheduling).

See below a video of manual map-based route scheduling using the Track-POD delivery management solution:

2. Optimize your routes

The software can plan and map out the delivery routes. You can also use it to optimize your routes. Logistics managers can create efficient and effective delivery schedules with the right route optimization tool. 

These route optimization tools can assign the most suitable orders to the right vehicles and plan a delivery schedule that maximizes time. These schedules are automatically planned to ensure minimal driving between each stop. They take various factors into account, such as the size and limitations of each vehicle, to plan out the best possible routes.

Optimizing routes like this saves loads of time and reduces unnecessary driving. Your business can enjoy significant fuel savings and fulfill customers’ orders as quickly as possible. 

Check the video below to see how routes can be optimized using Track-POD delivery management software:

3. Analyze Delivery Performance Data

One way delivery managers can improve delivery schedules is by regularly analyzing delivery performance data. This involves collecting data on delivery times, customer satisfaction scores, and driver efficiency.  

Furthermore, managers should be able to understand these and make informed decisions about adjusting schedules and routes. Analyzing data helps you understand which parts of the delivery process are working well and which need improvement. This approach leads to continuous improvements, smoothing operations, and improving service quality.

See the video below on the possibilities of predictive analytics through Track-POD:

4. Make sure your routing tool is mobile-friendly

Ensuring your routing tool is mobile-friendly is essential for maintaining optimal delivery efficiency. A mobile-friendly route scheduling app gives drivers immediate access to accurate, optimized routes. They can swiftly adapt to changes, which is crucial for efficiently scheduling delivery routes and managing on-the-go adjustments. 

The app displays up-to-date route information and real-time notifications about modifications, like traffic updates or last-minute delivery changes. This enhanced communication reduces the need for manual calls and texts. Being mobile-friendly also means drivers can use the route scheduling software while in transit.

5. Track your vehicles

Staying up to date with your vehicles' whereabouts is an important part of improving your delivery schedule. Delivery scheduling takes place before the trips, but knowing where your vehicles are and tracking their progress is still important. This will help you adjust your routes and understand how your scheduled routes perform. Tracking your vehicles also plays a big role in improving communications.

To improve delivery scheduling, use a delivery scheduling app and delivery driver scheduling software that automatically plans and updates routes. This helps schedule a new delivery route efficiently, saving time and reducing manual effort. Check out this video to see how it works:  

Real-life example

A local pizza shop decided to improve its food delivery schedule to enhance customer satisfaction. It implemented a system that includes real-time tracking and notifications. When customers order, they get instant delivery updates. If they're not home for delivery, the system alerts them. 

They can then reschedule or redirect the delivery to a neighbor or a secure spot. This system reduces the chances of missed deliveries and ensures that the pizza arrives hot and fresh. Maintaining the integrity of the delivery schedule also improves the overall customer experience.

Main variables affecting delivery schedules of your orders

The main variables affecting the delivery schedules include:

Traffic

Traffic can significantly slow down delivery times. When roads are congested, delivery drivers may need to find alternate routes. This can disrupt the planned schedule, requiring updates in real-time to ensure deliveries remain on time.

Available Vehicles

The number of available vehicles directly affects the number of deliveries that can be made simultaneously. If there are not enough vehicles or some are out of service due to maintenance issues, the delivery capacity is reduced. This requires careful planning and backup options to handle unexpected shortages and keep deliveries flowing smoothly.

Delivery Time Preferences

Customers often have specific times they prefer their deliveries to occur, which can complicate scheduling. Coordinating these preferences with the overall delivery schedule requires flexibility. Managing this effectively ensures that all customers receive their orders when expected, maximizing satisfaction.

Customer Availability

If a customer isn't home when their delivery arrives, it can cause delays and might require trying to deliver again, complicating the delivery process. Systems like real-time tracking and notifications help keep customers updated on their delivery status. This allows them to be there to receive it or set up a different drop-off location if necessary. This approach reduces missed deliveries and helps keep the delivery schedule on track.

How delivery schedules improve business operations

A well-planned delivery schedule will completely transform your business. Here are some of the primary advantages of scheduling deliveries.

  • Scheduled deliveries save logistics managers loads of time.

  • Scheduled deliveries ensure your drivers aren’t taking on more deliveries than they can manage.

  • Well-planned deliveries result in faster, more efficient deliveries.

  • Scheduled deliveries can reduce fuel costs.

  • Scheduled deliveries help improve customer satisfaction.

  • Well-planned deliveries make it easier to respond to last-minute changes and adjustments.

  • Delivery schedules can make it easier to scale your deliveries as your business grows.

  • Planning deliveries in advance helps you to offer accurate ETAs.

Conclusion

Scheduling deliveries efficiently will greatly benefit your operations and bottom line. Scheduled deliveries allow you to deliver faster and eliminate any potential delays, which helps keep customers happy. They also allow your business to handle a lot of deliveries efficiently, which can help boost your profitability.

Delivery managers must use the right delivery scheduling tools to stay on top of their deliveries. In today’s high customer demands, getting this process right could be the secret to your business’s success.