One of the most common reasons why buyers desert a brand is frequent delivery delays. To get your customers to rally around your offerings, you need to have a system in place to ensure timely shipping. One of the major reasons why couriers get delayed is bad driving conditions.
Drivers often get stuck in stop-and-go traffic or encounter bad roads that significantly slow them down. Bad road conditions can also result in breakdowns, making matters worse. To address these problems, businesses opt for route optimization solutions.
What is route optimization?
Route optimization involves determining the most cost-effective route and is more than just finding the shortest distance between two points. It must consider important factors, such as the location and number of every stop on the route. Some other variables that can impact the outcome are:
- The number of turns/intersections along the route
- The number of left hand turns that cross the line of traffic
- Best access to a stop, and
- The traffic conditions for different times of day
Route optimization must also account for varying complexities, including customer time windows, driver schedules, and vehicle capacities.
Manual route planning is highly prone to errors and time-consuming. To automate their route planning, many businesses use route optimization software. These automated tools run every possible route scenario through an algorithm. It does this at a much faster speed than a human. Advanced software is capable of identifying the most economical as well as the quickest routes in a matter of seconds.
When a delivery/job is canceled or a new job is added, the route is automatically re-optimized. Such software automatically delivers the re-optimized course to the driver’s compatible device.
Primary routing methods
Before you opt for a route optimization solution, educate yourself on two primary routing methods – standard and dynamic.
Standard routing method
The method is best suited for customer-obsessed companies. In standard routing, every road-of-choice has a specific number of stops in a pre-determined order. This guarantees that your customers have their products delivered to them at a particular time and (in most cases) by the same driver.
Dynamic routing method
Dynamic routing involves picking directions in accordance with real-time logical network changes. Although the predictable element is lost in this method, substantial cost savings help improve business efficiency.
How to optimize routes
When optimizing routes, you need to follow these steps:
- Select the tasks that you wish to optimize
- Choose a date to optimize and select the driver/(s) for whom you want to optimize routes
- After feeding important data and other specifications in the system, it will automatically generate optimal routes and deliver the plan to the driver’s phone.
Route optimization encompasses a range of strategies, which include:
- Collecting and analyzing historical data to improve route efficiency
- Helping dispatchers identify optimum routes
- Sifting through historical and real-time traffic patterns and road-construction updates to plan cost-effective routes
Route optimization benefits
- Helps keep vehicle maintenance and fuel costs low.
- Time-saving as your team won’t have to manually optimize routes.
- Helps improve customer experience.
- Promotes efficiency by a quick response to last-minute changes.
- Prevents drivers from overworking.
- Helps fit more jobs into each day.
Route optimization tips
Getting an advanced route optimization software alone won’t do the trick. You also need to avoid common route optimization mistakes. Here are a few tips that you can follow.
1. Collect and analyze data
Accurate data is the backbone of route optimization. Use your route optimization solution to collect adequate information related to your routes. Data can provide important insights related to delays, so make sure your software considers traffic slowdowns when calculating travel times.
2. Remember to consider stops and stop times
When planning routes, many businesses downplay the importance of accounting for stops and the time they take. Ignoring them can result in your delivery plan getting affected. To address this problem, analyze data related to building designs and consider the driver’s experience and the size and time of the delivery.
3. Be careful with delivery options
To get an edge over the competition, many firms offer a range of options, such as same-day delivery, early morning arrivals, or specific shipping dates. This complicates the process further.
To avoid confusions and last-minute chaos, reduce the number of delivery options. Encourage your customer to choose certain selections. If, for instance, your delivery person will be in their area at a specific time, offer the time slot at a discounted price.
4. Opt for a route optimization software
Optimizing a route can involve millions of permutations and combinations. Even if a human being is able to perform the mammoth task, they will need hours to come up with a plan. A route optimization software, on the other hand, can perform complex calculations in seconds. Look for a software that boasts an accurate geocoder, can examine data on different levels, and can help track operations on a single platform.
5. Use the right transportation mode
You can’t use a truck for delivery in the downtown area of a city. To optimize your routes, you need to choose the right transportation. When picking a mode, the two most important factors to consider are the number of delivery addresses in the given area and the degree of urbanization.
6. Think about how you want to organize your routes
If you want to deliver to the addresses that lies furthest away first, tweak your software to ensure it can optimize routes according to your needs. If your drivers often deliver during peak hours, keep your routes compact.