What You Need to Know About Route Optimization
Before explaining everything you need to know about route optimization software, let’s take a step back and reflect on your business’ delivery or transport management needs.
You might be looking into including delivery in your business services to meet the growing customer demand for convenient shopping. Or perhaps you already have an internal delivery system that you’re looking to expand and improve? Want to make your truck driver trips more efficient, fast, and safe? Or you’ve just had way too many customers complain about their delivery delays or other delivery issues?
As a manager in the transportation industry, you’re always worried about perfecting the art of routing as it impacts all the above areas and more. Route optimization can help you shave off some of these responsibilities so you can focus on the areas that really need you.
What is route optimization?
Route optimization is the practice used to identify and plan highly effective, efficient, and money-saving delivery trips. With route optimization, you have the ability to map out the best path between multiple stops with a variety of factors like cost, driving time, and safety in mind.
Essentially, route optimization helps you cut the amount of time taken between stops. However, it is about more than just minimizing the distance between two stops as it also optimizes important factors such as the following.
Package weight and volume.
These are just a few of the things you need to keep in mind when you’re optimizing routes. Of course, these can be too much for just one person which is what makes route optimization such a difficult task to handle manually.
Leverage the benefits of route optimization software
The software in question can be tremendously advantageous to your business. Here are some of the benefits that you can leverage.
Reduce costs, including fuel, vehicle maintenance, and drivers’ labor.
Improve efficiency with immediate response to changes or updates.
Save time and boost productivity as workers don’t have to optimize or plan routes manually.
Maximize driver schedules and prevent overworking.
Fulfill more orders in a day but in an efficient manner.
These benefits can make a world of difference to your delivery system, helping you organize orders and trips better, and give your drivers and team the support they need. They also contribute to your ability to give your customers the experience and service they deserve. Overall, these boosts to your productivity, efficiency, budget, and customer service all lead to your organization’s stellar service reputation, which is always great for business.
Why is route optimization software important?
Mapping out delivery paths manually can eat into important employee hours as it is very time-consuming. With manual routing, there is also a larger possibility of errors as humans can make more mistakes than the route optimization software’s automation. Route optimization software prepares and picks through all the possible routes using an algorithm. This is an automated process, occurring at a much faster pace than it would manually, and offering the cheapest and fastest option in mere seconds.
Furthermore, when there are changes in the trips or stops, the system automatically adjusts the route so that it remains optimized, sending the updated route to the relevant driver instantly.
Thus, route optimization reduces employee workload, minimizes routing mistakes and issues, and cuts delivery delays. You also get amazing automation benefits that ensure efficiency and more affordable, shorter routes.
5 common route optimization mistakes to avoid
While good route optimization software will help lighten your routing load substantially, you should still keep these factors in mind when evaluating routed trips.
1. Consider your delivery options carefully
It can be tempting to offer all the possible delivery options to your customers, but you shouldn’t. Most companies think this is the best way to give customers the best delivery experience, offering same-day, early-morning, or custom delivery options. Unfortunately, doing so can make delivery management more difficult… and isn’t it challenging enough already?
Rather, cut back on the number of delivery options you give to your customers. Prompt customers to opt for delivery options that allow for heightened efficiency on your end. For example, you may already have a driver in a specific area and you still have space to load more packages on that vehicle. Offer this slot to your customers with an incentive like a coupon or discounted delivery price. That way, you make more drop-offs in less time.
2. Factor in stop times
Another mistake that organizations tend to make with deliveries is ignoring stopping time. When your delivery person arrives at the drop-off location, they have to wait for the customer. For some goods, the customer may have to sign off on the delivery or they may have a few complaints to air about the delivery.
Ignoring the time it takes to complete these interactions can make your planning inaccurate. Long, or unplanned stop times affect your next deliveries. You can account for stop times by considering past delivery data, the building design, and previous drivers’ experiences.
3. Pick the right vehicle for the trip
There’s nothing worse than finding a gigantic truck clogging up traffic in a downtown area with teeny roads. Now, imagine how the driver of that truck feels about trying to navigate the vehicle in that mess.
For route optimization, you must also optimize your vehicle choice. Think about the location of the delivery, and also consider how many packages need to be delivered to that specific area and its surroundings. The right route optimization software will also factor in things like weight and volume when helping you choose the most appropriate vehicle from your fleet.
4. Use data for improvement
Data can completely transform your delivery operations. Through your route optimization software, you can gather route data and analytics, and use them to gain insight into your trips and how you can improve them.
5. Choose your route optimization software carefully
It’s quite clear that route optimization software is a necessity if you’re planning to get the most out of each delivery trip. The software considers more combinations in seconds than a human being could do in hours. However, you can’t just choose any route optimization software you come across. You must ensure that the software meets your organization’s needs and serves to improve your delivery operations.
How to choose the right route optimization software
As you can imagine, choosing the right software solution for your business is no easy task. It is extremely important to make sure that the solution you go with actually does its job well. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that you get what you need from the software you pick.
Identify your goals and needs
To select the best solution, you need to clearly decide on your goals in using route optimization software. Ask yourself the following questions to identify your goals and your audience.
What do I want to get out of this software? What are my goals?
How do these goals connect to my overarching company goals and values? In other words, how do they feed into my business’ bigger picture?
What features or software capabilities would best promote my goals?
Who are these products or services designed for? What are my drivers’ needs? What are my customers’ needs?
These five questions help you define your route optimization goals. They will also help you understand what every actor can get out of route optimization software implementation.
Define your musts and nice-to-haves
With these goals in mind, you can make a list of important features that your solution should have. These are features that play an important role in helping you meet your goals and make the improvements you desire. Try and write these features according to priority as you will use them to make a decision on which software solution best suits your needs.
Research and compare
There is a range of different route optimization solutions available for you to pick from. This makes it important to do a little research on your options. Compare different prices, features, and other factors. You may also want to read reviews of the systems from customers and digital experts. You want to compare the different solutions and their offering and narrow it down to your top three choices.
Choose three and try them out
Once you have three choices in mind, you can move to try them out. Some software companies offer a trial period and you can test out the solutions. Others have demo implementation options. Alternatively, you can just organize a meeting with a representative from each solution and have a chat with them about their implementation processes and reasons why you should choose their solution.
This step allows you to really see which solution can work with your organization right now and in the future.
Reflect and revise
Once you’ve selected the right platform for your business, you need to have a maintenance strategy in place. For constant improvement, you need a plan for reflection on the data collected by your solution. With insights and analytics, you can see where you’re happy with the solution’s performance and where it may be insufficient. Use data to reflect and improve operations where necessary.
This reflection process includes setting up key performance indicators or metrics to help you monitor whether you’re meeting your initial goals or not. Thus, you must go back to the beginning of your selection process and consider whether you’re getting what you wanted out of the solution.
Features of Track-POD’s route optimization software
Track-POD’s route optimization solution can reduce route planning and delivery times by approximately 35% and these amazing features.
Often, drivers have more than one stop in a trip, moving from one location to another to drop goods off. When these locations are far apart, massive delays can happen. Track-POD plans delivery routes to factor in multi-drops, creating routes with the shortest distance between each stop. Track-POD’s route optimization solution will determine the best way to combine deliveries for cost reduction and time-saving.
Track-POD’s solutions have automation capabilities, including automated route-planning and automated route updates.
Your route optimization platform works hand-in-hand with a driver dashboard where drivers can receive real-time updates. With this connectivity, you can better communicate with drivers when they’re already on the road. This allows for better management and support of drivers even after they’ve left the warehouse.
Real-time route updates
Track-POD driver app enables route optimization software to provide real-time updates to drivers. Through the app, the software delivers updates straight to drivers’ smartphones. The software and app adjust routes along the way to help delivery drivers avoid on-the-road issues like roadworks and traffic jams.
Track-POD offers a cloud database with all its solutions. The database gathers all delivery-related information and stores it for later use and instant access. With this stored data, the platform can also create insight or analytics reports that help you reflect on the implementation of the software and make improvements where necessary.
It should be clear to you by now that route optimization software is absolutely essential for the smooth running of your organization. Route optimization allows you to improve your operations, assist your employees and drivers, and ensure that your customer service is top tier.
With route optimization software, you don’t just improve operations, you also cut back on the cost of these operations. Your vehicles travel shorter and safer trips which curtails fuel and maintenance spending, enhancing your bottom line. Route optimization caters to your employee and customer needs, as well as your own – a fantastic way to get deliveries just right.