Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA): Updated Live for Dispatchers and Customers

Updated on March 08, 2023 by Yulia Miashkova

Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA): Updated Live for Dispatchers and Customers image

Dynamic ETA is available to dispatchers and customers under the Advanced+ and Enterprise plans. Dispatchers will see a separate column in their web dashboard and customers will see a dynamic estimated time of arrival in their live tracking window.

Anyone who's ever shopped online and had the purchase delivered to their doorstep knows how useful estimated time of arrival (ETA) is. Anyone who's been on the dispatcher side of things knows this too. The more accurate ETA is, the better customer experience you end up providing, and this is good both for the business and clients.

Users of Track-POD have long been relying on estimated time of arrival and estimated time of departure to plan their logistics. Back in the day, ETA was only available as a scheduled time that remained unchanged. Now, users of Advanced+ and Enterprise plans can implement dynamic ETA. It's updated every 5 minutes as the delivery vehicle approaches the destination.

Let's see what estimated time of arrival is in relation to estimated time of departure (ETD), when it makes sense to use planned vs live ETA for customers, and what difference dynamic estimated time of arrival can make to how you deliver.

What is estimated time of arrival?

First off, the definition.

Estimated time of arrival is the time on a particular date when a vehicle, rider, or package is expected to arrive.

To calculate ETA, you need to account for the overall distance the driver needs to travel to get to the destination, the average speed of the vehicle, certain cargo parameters, etc.

What is estimated time of departure?

Estimated time of departure, as the name suggests, is the time when the delivery vehicle is expected to start its journey towards the destination. To calculate ETD, we need to consider everything that goes into estimated time of arrival + service time, i.e. an estimate of how long it takes the driver to complete a delivery.

Based on whether you've enabled dynamic departure time in the settings, Track-POD will or won't update departure time with regard to the time slot of the first site to visit.

Please note: enabling dynamic departure time is available only when your optimization strategy is Time.

Planned vs dynamic ETA

Depending on how you look at it, both fixed and dynamic ETAs have their benefits. Let's look at how this works.

Benefits of fixed ETA

Sometimes, knowing the approximate of when the driver is expected to arrive is enough. Here's why.

1. Consistency

Here's an example: you have a route optimized for every stop in the driver's trip. At the optimization stage, ETA is calculated for each address. Your delivery company sends email notifications to customers saying that the order will arrive on a certain date within a specified time window.

Estimated time of arrival is shared with the customers as soon as the journey has been laid out. It's fixed because so many things can change. For example, the route can be altered by the dispatcher, order sequence can be rearranged, or a new address may be added.

Giving customers a new estimated time of arrival whenever something changes can get messy.

2. Better planning

When estimated time of arrival (ETA) remains unchanged, the driver's journey, i.e. the distance they travel, the speed they go with, the actual time of arrival at the destination, etc., can all be valuable insights for fleet managers.

By benchmarking the expected time of arrival against the actual time of arrival, you can identify gaps in planning and pinpoint performance issues. For example, the vehicle may not be performing up to the speed indicated for it in the settings because of traffic, speed limitations, or idling.

Another reason why estimated time of arrival is different from the actual time of arrival is service time.

Because of the cargo and any transportation issues related to it, drivers may need to spend more time at each destination. Having a fixed arrival time highlights this important information and lets you plan routes up to the minute.

3. Optimization

Route optimization and fleet optimization are always a priority when improving your delivery operation per se. More often than not, much of what's holding your performance back can be addressed in a series of specific steps. The challenge is to let these steps be seen and share them with everyone involved in the delivery workflow.

Cutting fuel costs, being on the same page with your drivers in terms of how much they work per day, getting accurate cargo information, and many other things are the result of specific optimization steps. Based on estimated time of arrival that stays fixed from the start and the actual arrival time, you can draw valuable performance insights and stay up to date with all issues.

Knowing the difficulties that arise from carrying specific cargo in specific areas, you make smart optimization decisions based on average performance insights.

Benefits of dynamic ETA

The more accurate the estimated time of arrival you share is, the more trust customers have in your logistics operation. Let's dig deeper.

1. Transparency

Who doesn't love a delivery business that's transparent and precise up to the minute? Even in case of an emergency like weather conditions or navigation issues, customers see updated information on the time of arrival, which enhances their trust in the business.

Since the entire driver trip is visible on the customer's live tracking page, they can see exactly how close the driver is to the destination. When there's clearly a delay but estimated arrival time stays unchanged, customers may feel frustrated.

2. Performance

The track and trace feature that lets customers open a live tracking window in one click was built precisely because of how important it is to stay customer-centric. A part of being customer-centric is working to provide the best performance your operation can possibly deliver.

When estimated arrival time is updated live, the driver is conscious of their performance as the minutes go by. On these terms, you're likely to see better performance from individual drivers which you can even give incentives for.

3. Accuracy

Accuracy is always a bonus for any business providing a transportation service. Especially when the accuracy is directly related to delivery success.

On average, the customer is more likely to be at home when they know exactly when their order will be delivered.

Not to mention the cargo may be time-sensitive. Generally speaking, it's always better to give customers the most accurate estimates you can.

Live ETA: everything you need to know

Usually, users of Track-POD would configure estimated time of arrival settings only in the Advance Notifications tab. There, you can set delivery time windows for ETA and adjust the message you want to share with customers via email and/or SMS.

Letting your customers know when the delivery vehicles arrive, even at the point when it's preliminary ETA, even when it's a time window, is the first step you can take to grow your rate of on time delivery (OTD).

Users of Track-POD Advanced+ and Enterprise plans have estimated time of arrival recalculated every 5 minutes.

Based on the driver's actual location every minute en route, Track-POD will use coordinates to estimate when the distance to the delivery address will equal zero. To configure this, you need to head over to the Live Tracking tab in the settings.

Because each route is divided into smaller distance pieces among addresses, estimated time of arrival is recalculated when the driver started the route as well as when they left the previous location.

Depending on how you've configured dynamic ETA for customers, they will either get a notification with their number in line as well as a time dynamic window - this happens as soon as the driver has started the route.

Another option is for customers to receive a notification with a live tracking link and a dynamic ETA after the driver left the previous stop.

How you configure your estimated time of arrival settings depends on what kind of expectations your customers have. With dynamic ETA, you have an additional tool to grow customer satisfaction and your rate of successful deliveries. If things like weather, traffic, or any other force majeure cause a delay, the customer will see updated information, which offers much greater transparency.

Wrapping up

Estimated time of arrival (ETA) is a key feature in last-mile delivery tools. As a user of Track-POD, you can be sure this metric will be accurate and calculated to the minute, with both your dispatchers and customers seeing a dynamic estimated arrival time.

If you have questions about upgrading to Advanced+ or Enterprise plan to use the new feature, don't hesitate to book a demo.