Delivery Efficiency: What it is and How to Improve?

The demand for delivery is booming, with online sales projected to grow to $7 trillion globally by 2025, as suggested by Statista. 

However, increased demand comes with its own unique set of challenges. These challenges include tighter delivery timelines, rising customer expectations, and increased operational complexities.

Also, according to a recent Storyblok survey, 60% of customers have abandoned purchases due to unsatisfactory delivery options.

So, how can you tackle mounting delivery volumes while enhancing customer experiences?

Don’t you worry! This blog shares actionable strategies on how to improve delivery efficiency. From optimizing route planning to integrating technology for real-time tracking and personalizing delivery options, we’ll explore how businesses can transform delivery challenges into opportunities for growth and customer satisfaction.

What is Delivery Efficiency?

Delivery efficiency measures how fast, accurate, and economical the process of delivering orders to customers is. To measure the efficiency, you need to look at the entire delivery process from point A to point B closely. Through this, you get to know how well a delivery service provider is able to fulfill and dispatch orders in an optimal, productive manner with regard to cost, speed, and precision. 

When it comes to improving delivery efficiency, it directly translates into minimizing costs, maximizing customer satisfaction, and higher profitability for logistics-reliant businesses. 

Delivery efficiency may be increased by emphasizing on-time deliveries, cost-effective route planning, a streamlined delivery system, training, and effective use of technology. It even involves continuously improving processes and utilizing data and analytics to make informed decisions that contribute to a smoother, faster, and more reliable delivery experience.

Why is Delivery Efficiency Important?

Here are some key reasons why delivery efficiency is important:

  • Customer satisfaction: Performing efficient deliveries helps you provide timely and reliable service. This results in meeting customer expectations and enhancing satisfaction. It even builds customer loyalty and drives repeat purchase behavior.
  • Cost optimization: Streamlining delivery processes, optimizing routes, and maximizing vehicle utilization reduce operational costs related to fuel, driver payments, and order processing costs per delivery.
  • Increases order processing capacity: Streamlined systems and processes improve productivity and output volume. More orders can be delivered in shorter durations, meeting the increase in delivery demands.
  • Competitive advantage: Efficient delivery services contribute to a positive brand image, providing a competitive edge in the market.
  • Resource utilization: Proper planning, route optimization, cross-docking techniques, and efficient vehicle capacity use help in utilizing resources effectively, minimizing wastage of time, fuel, space, and manpower.

Reduced environmental impact: Optimized routes and fuel-efficient practices contribute to a lower carbon footprint, aligning with sustainability goals.

What are the Challenges that Prevent Businesses from Delivering Efficiently?

Navigating the delivery landscape isn’t always smooth. Here are the common challenges that often prevent businesses from delivering efficiently:

  • Inaccurate demand forecasting: Predicting the future isn’t easy, but inaccurate demand forecasts can lead to chaos. Failing to anticipate order volumes and plan delivery capacity accurately can result in inconsistent operations.
  • Lack of delivery route optimization: A direct route isn’t always the best route. Lack of delivery route optimization, especially in real-time conditions, can extend delivery times, leaving customers dissatisfied and increasing fuel consumption.
  • Improper allocation of resources: Inefficient allocation of delivery resources, such as imbalanced driver workloads, ineffective packing station setups, etc., diminishes productivity.
  • Delivery tracking and visibility issues: Ever lost track of a package? Lack of real-time order tracking and location visibility makes it challenging to proactively address issues, leading to delivery failures.
  • Workforce performance gaps: The backbone of delivery services is a reliable workforce. Inadequate hiring evaluations, insufficient training, and a lack of driver performance appraisals can result in subpar human resource output.
  • Communication gaps: Smooth operations rely on seamless communication. Internal miscommunication between teams and a lack of customer communication during deliveries can create process gaps and delays.
  • Data and technology inadequacies: In the age of data, underutilizing technology can be a setback. Insufficient use of delivery analytics, GPS systems, and warehouse management systems can impede operational intelligence and optimal planning.

Recognizing these challenges is the first step toward overcoming them. Keep reading, as in the next section, we’ll delve into practical strategies to overcome each challenge and pave the way for efficient deliveries.

10 Proven Strategies to Improve Delivery Efficiency

As online shopping is becoming a preferable choice for most individuals, delivery demands are on the rise too. That’s why improving delivery efficiency has now become the key to success for businesses. 

Here are 10 proven strategies to improve delivery efficiency:

1. Tracking delivery metrics for actionable insights

What gets measured, gets improved, right? When optimizing delivery operations, prioritizing these key metrics is crucial:

  • On-time delivery rate: Monitor the percentage of deliveries reaching customers by the expected date/time. Benchmark and aim for at least 97%.
  • Average time per delivery: Track how long, on average, each delivery leg takes from pickup to drop-off. Lower times are better.
  • Average time at stop: Ever wonder what happens between pulling up to a stop and speeding away? It’s not just a delivery stop; it’s an opportunity. Make every moment count by minimizing the average time at each stop.
  • Delivery accuracy: Calculate the percentage of accurate orders in terms of items, quantities, and addresses. Strive for 100%.
  • Cost per delivery: Determine the total expenditure on deliveries divided by volume. Reduce costs through route optimization.
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score: Gauge the overall delivery experience rating on a scale. The industry average is around 90%.

Now that we’ve pinpointed the metrics, analyze them and set targets accordingly.

Setting targets is your roadmap for improvement. Where do you want your delivery metrics to be? What’s the benchmark for success? Setting measurable targets transforms aspirations into achievements. 

2. Strategic order prioritization

When it comes to delivery services, not all orders are top priorities. Some are urgent, some can wait, and mastering the art of strategic order prioritization can help you optimize resources and make your customers happy. 

So, how do you go about it? 

Create delivery sequences, focusing on:

  • Expected date: Get those close-to-expiry deliveries out pronto! Then schedule orders by committed delivery date.
  • First In, First Out (FIFO): The FIFO rule isn’t just for groceries; it’s a golden rule of delivery too. It’s simple—first ordered, first shipped. Prioritizing based on order placement ensures that no package is left waiting in the shadows.
  • Processing time: Are some orders slowing down the assembly line? Group orders with the shortest prep times to get moving fast
  • Preferred customers: VIP clients first before the general pool. You shouldn’t keep your daily customers waiting! Reward them for repeat purchases.

Keep monitoring and shuffling the delivery schedule based on new orders and evolving constraints. Also, coordinate routes with delivery agents to align based on sequence and timing. It’ll also help if you provide support to adjust last-minute changes.

With all these order prioritization efforts, you’ll soon be able to reduce delivery times and increase customer satisfaction.

3. Realistic time-window commitments

Imagine a scenario where a customer eagerly awaits a package, his eyes glancing at the clock. Will it arrive in the promised time window? Here lies the essence of setting realistic time window commitments.

Customers aren’t just tracking packages; they’re counting moments. Setting realistic delivery time windows is basically a commitment to respecting your customer’s time. 

So, let’s explore practical strategies for setting realistic time-windows:

  • Leverage historical data to predict delivery times with precision. The more accurate your predictions, the more realistic your time windows will be.
  • It’s always wise to expect the unexpected. Build buffers in your time windows to shield against traffic congestion and unforeseen delays.
  • Clearly communicate the expected delivery time to your customers. Is it a morning delivery or an afternoon surprise? The clearer the communication, the better the customer can plan their day around the arrival.
  • Proactively notify customers via calls, texts, or in-app alerts if delays seem inevitable.

By committing to accurate ETAs, you can create delightful experiences. That “just in time” doorbell ring always brings smiles!

4. Strategic route planning and delivery management

Lengthy routes drain time, fuel budgets, and driver energy. Determining the efficient transit route is crucial for prompt order delivery. Here comes the role of route planning. 

Strategic route planning is not only about finding the shortest path; it’s also about unlocking the potential to reduce travel time. And as we all know, time saved is money saved.

But analyzing different routes and factoring in various distance and time constraints to plan an efficient route seems like a cumbersome task, right?

What if I say you can easily do this task?

By leveraging route optimization software, you can effortlessly create time and fuel-efficient delivery plans. Platforms like Upper use advanced route optimization algorithms that factor in key constraints, like:

  • Delivery addresses
  • Road networks
  • Vehicle type
  • Assigned drivers
  • Priority stops
  • Service times
  • Time windows
  • Other distance & time-based constraints

By considering all these constraints, Upper can help you determine the best delivery route in just a few minutes, minimizing travel distance and time.

As an added bonus, Upper serves as delivery management software too. It seamlessly integrates route planning, scheduling, GPS tracking, automated customer notifications, and proof of delivery, all within a single platform.

As you steer towards delivery excellence, remember to optimize routes strategically, as every turn matters and every mile counts. 

5. Optimal vehicle selection

In the world of deliveries, the vehicle you choose isn’t just a mode of transport; it’s a strategic asset that can redefine and increase delivery efficiency.

What’s the ideal vehicle for completing 100 delivery drops a day? How about moving 5000 boxes a week? 

Choosing the best wheels for operations is vital.

Here are a few things that you need to consider to select the right vehicle and improve its utilization:

  • What types of deliveries dominate your business—small packages, bulky items, or a mix of both? Knowing your delivery needs sets the framework for optimal vehicle selection.
  • Size matters. A fleet of trucks might be overkill for local deliveries, just as the bikes won’t cut it for large-scale shipments. Tailor your vehicle size to the volume and nature of your deliveries. 
  • Maximize every inch of space. Can your delivery vehicle accommodate more packages without compromising safety? From optimizing cargo areas to exploring creative storage solutions, every inch counts toward efficiency.
  • Fuel efficiency matters too. If your vehicle can cover more miles per gallon, then it’ll lower the delivery cost in the long run.

6. Real-time order tracking and visibility

Clear visibility into order status provides comfort amidst uncertainty. Real-time order tracking allows you to know where your packages are, how they’re progressing, and when they’ll reach their destination.

  • Real-time tracking offers a proactive approach to issue resolution. If a delivery hits a hiccup, address it before the customer even notices. It’s not just about tracking; it’s about steering clear of potential roadblocks.
  • Through order tracking, you can even keep your customers in the loop with real-time updates. From “Your order is out for delivery” to “It’s just around the corner,” each update builds anticipation and satisfaction.
  • You can make things easier for the customers by giving them control of real-time order tracking in their hands. Let them track packages on their own, make informed decisions, and anticipate their package’s imminent arrival.

7. Warehouse operations enhancement

A well-organized warehouse is the backbone of delivery services. So, let’s break down the essentials of warehouse operations to improve delivery efficiency and keep deliveries flowing seamlessly.

First, implement holistic Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to optimize stock and streamline workflows. It helps organize inventory, streamline processes, and keep everything running smoothly. Here are some key WMS features:

  • Inventory organization for quick access
  • Digital order processing and tracking
  • Picking optimization to cut fulfillment time
  • Integration with delivery management tools

 Additionally, embrace cross-docking techniques to minimize storage time. In this technique, as soon as the inbound inventory arrives, directly move it to the outbound vehicles with minimal dwell time in the warehouse. This eliminates storage delays and shipment hand-off issues.

With streamlined flows inside the warehouse, costs are reduced while customer service improves significantly.

8. Boosting driver performance

Drivers are the unsung heroes, navigating the roads to ensure packages reach their destination.

How can you improve the delivery performance of your drivers?

  • Recruit right: Look for experienced drivers with a track record of dependability. Assess essential skills – navigation, technology usage, and customer orientation.
  • Train well: Provide your drivers with ongoing training on delivery best practices, ensuring they’re equipped to handle any challenge on the road. The road is ever-evolving, and so should your drivers. So, offer continuous skill enhancement programs too.
  • Incentivize smart: Everyone loves a pat on the back. Incentivize excellence by recognizing and rewarding outstanding performance. You can tie monthly bonuses to KPIs like on-time ratings and 5-star efficient deliveries.
  • Seek feedback: Fix issues flagged instead of blaming the drivers. Is the vehicle uncomfortable? Do customers delay handovers? Establish open channels for feedback, allowing your drivers to share their insights, suggestions, and concerns.

By supporting drivers sincerely and systemically, you can unlock their best.

9. Improving customer experience

Customer experience impacts lifetime value. But how can delivery operations wow clients? 

Let’s explore how you can elevate your customer service game, turning each delivery into a delightful experience.

  • Share accurate ETAs: Imagine ordering a meal and knowing exactly when it will arrive. Provide customers with precise estimated times of arrival (ETAs), setting the stage for a reliable and stress-free experience.
  • Regular delivery updates: Keep your customers in the loop. Regular updates on the status of their delivery build trust and anticipation.
  • Offer delivery flexibility: One size doesn’t fit all. Offer flexible delivery options to cater to varied customer schedules. Whether it’s evening deliveries, weekend options, or specific time slots, tailor your service to their lifestyle.
  • Resolve issues immediately: Keep the channels open for customers to voice concerns and feedback. When issues arise, resolve them swiftly and graciously. A collaborative approach to problem-solving strengthens the bond between your service and its patrons.
  • Customer feedback metrics: Track and analyze customer feedback metrics to understand what’s working, what needs improvement, and where you can innovate.

10. Continual improvement

An efficient delivery service requires more than just a roadmap; it demands a commitment to continual improvement.  

So, let’s discuss some practical strategies for continual improvement of delivery services that can turn every delivery into a success story. 

  • Assess key delivery performance indicators to identify areas for improvement. 
  • Continuously optimize last-mile delivery routes and vehicle mixes for increased delivery route efficiency.
  • Respond to customer feedback instantly. Listen to what your customers are saying. Their insights can help you improve your delivery services
  • Encourage your team to think beyond the ordinary to seek solutions where others see challenges.
  • Markets are dynamic, and so should be your approach. Adapt delivery processes based on market trends.

Experience Faster, More Efficient Deliveries With Upper

Optimize your delivery routes with Upper and lead to more streamlined deliveries.

FAQs

To reduce delivery costs, focus on route optimization, efficient vehicle utilization, and continuous improvement of the delivery process. Implementing technology solutions like route planning software can also contribute to cost savings.

Small businesses can enhance delivery services by prioritizing key metrics, leveraging affordable technology solutions, and focusing on strategic order prioritization. Implementing cost-effective measures, such as optimizing routes, can also make a substantial impact.

Common challenges in delivery services include meeting tight delivery timelines, traffic bottlenecks, managing rising customer expectations, optimizing routes for efficiency, addressing issues like delays and damaged goods, and ensuring the security of delivered packages.

To improve service delivery, businesses should focus on tracking key delivery metrics, strategically prioritizing orders, employing efficient route planning, choosing optimal delivery vehicles, implementing technology solutions, boosting driver performance, and continually improving customer experience.

Learn The Art of Delivering Exceptional Service

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide on ways to improve delivery services from good to exceptional. By now, you understand the pivotal role of tracking delivery metrics, strategically prioritizing orders, route planning, vehicle selection, and improving the customer experience.

Remember, it’s not just about getting the package from point A to point B; it’s about crafting an experience that resonates with your customers.

And here’s a recommendation to give an added boost to your delivery operations – use Upper to improve your delivery experience. The route planning and optimization software offers the ease of creating most efficient routes, real-time tracking, and seamless delivery management all in one place.So, take the plunge with Upper – your awaits. Happy delivering!

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.