How to Choose the Best Multi-Stop Route Planner: 6 Key Things to Consider

The evolution of eCommerce platforms globally has boosted the delivery ecosystem. 

Many businesses across the U.S. rely on route planners to complete their last-mile deliveries. A multiple-stop route planner app makes it convenient to plan and discover efficient routes considering on-road obstacles like avoidance zones, live traffic, or road closures.

According to reports, U.S. eCommerce sales were expected to make a revenue of $674.88 billion before the pandemic. But, the COVID-19 pandemic drove sales to $799.18 billion during the same year. 

Not only the number of online orders risen but so has the demand for excellent delivery services. Many customers are also impatient about any delivery delays or complications. To counter all the bottlenecks of delivery operation, a multi-stop route planner is important. 

In this article, we will discuss how to choose the best multi-stop route planner for your business.

6 Key Things to Consider When Choosing a Multi-Stop Route Planner

A multi-stop route plan reduces the route planning time and increases operational efficiency. Now that we have understood how a delivery routing software can help any business. Let’s look at six key things to consider when choosing a multi-stop route planner. 

1. Understanding business needs

It’s important to understand your business’s current needs when it comes to multi-stop route planning. Many planning software solutions offer a subscription model, allowing businesses to opt-in at the level that suits their needs and move to the next tier if/when their needs increase.

To determine your business needs, take some time to gather the following information:

  • How many stops or addresses do you currently serve?
  • How many routes does your courier company currently need to plan?
  • How many delivery or truck drivers or field service workers (i.e., # users) do you currently employ?
  • What information would be of the highest value in your planning (e.g., current traffic incidents & conditions, time constraints, road closures, fuel savings, etc.)?
  • What operating system(s) do you currently use in your business? Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPad, Android, etc.

2. Defining business goals

Knowing your current business needs is a good first step to choosing a multi-stop route planner, but it’s equally important to have a solid idea of your future business goals. 

For example, if your business goals include an aggressive expansion plan in the coming months, you’ll need to take this into account when shopping for a multi-stop route planner. On the other hand, if your business is a side hustle and you intend to keep it as such, you’ll want to bear this in mind when shopping.

You’ll want to consider your short-term and medium-term business goals while also keeping those longer-term goals in mind as you search for the right multi-stop route planning complete solution. Remember that some route planners are designed specifically to serve small and medium-sized businesses, while other route planners offer enterprise solutions.

Here are a few things to take into consideration when shopping for a route-planning software solution that’s going to best suit your future business goals:

  • Do you anticipate significant growth in the number of stops and users (i.e., delivery drivers/field service workers) that will use the software?
  • Do you anticipate significant growth in the number of multiple addresses and/or stops you will be serving?
  • How do you plan to remain competitive in your industry? For example, will you compete on costs, customer service, etc.?

3. Time constraints

It’s important to have a sense of how much time it currently takes to manage your routes, so you can determine the time savings that a multi-stop mapping software will provide.

Take stock of your current process:

  • Who is responsible for planning each route order? Do you leave it up to your drivers to plan their delivery routes, or have you assigned responsibility to one of your managers?
  • How are your staff gathering their stops? And planning their delivery routes or courier delivery operation? Are they relying on their ‘gut,’ using Googe maps, or using a combination of experience and technology?
  • Where is time being lost due to manual planning and related errors? For example, how often are deliveries made to the faulty addresses, and how much time is spent correcting these human errors? What are the time constraints?

If your current process is ad hoc, you might want to consider collecting some data from your staff so that you have a sense of how much time is being spent on route planning. Even a ballpark figure will help you determine a baseline so that you can estimate the time savings you’ll incur from investing in a route planning software solution.

4. Cost factors

Cost factors

You’ll also want to get a sense of the cost savings you could enjoy by investing in a route planning software solution for your courier business.

There are many costs related to inefficient manual planning, including:

  • Labor costs – inefficient routes mean your delivery drivers or field service workers are on road trips for longer, thus unable to complete as many deliveries or service calls. You’ll also be incurring more labor costs if your drivers are expected to plan their routes manually or if you are assigning the task of route planning to one of your managers.
  • Fuel costs – the more inefficient your routes, the more your fuel costs will tend to be. Route optimization software can calculate the most fuel-efficient routes based on real-time information so that your delivery driver can avoid traffic incidents, road conditions, etc.
  • Vehicle wear and tear – the more miles your vehicles spend on the road, the more repairs and maintenance they’ll require. When deliveries or field service workers are a cornerstone of your business model, these costs can add up quickly and impact your bottom line significantly.

It may not be possible to determine exactly how much money you’ll save by investing in a route planning app until you use it and can compare pre-app and post-app costs. By collecting data on your current deliveries’ costs, you should get a sense of how much opportunity to cut costs and how the costs could impact your bottom line.

5. Pricing of route planner

Multiple stop route optimization apps and software solutions can vary significantly in cost, depending on the features they offer. Ideally, you want to find one that meets your business needs and saves you the most amount of money.

It may be tempting to opt for a free or low-budget route planning app, but you’ll want to consider the above-noted factors when choosing your route planner. In other words, you want to invest in a route planner that will grow along with your business needs. Luckily, most of the top-rated route planning apps offer a tiered pricing model, so you can invest at the lower range and upgrade as your business needs change.

So what can you expect to pay for a route-planning app? Well, it all depends on your needs. For example, OptimoRoute has monthly plans starting at USD 17.10 per driver, while Routific’s monthly plans start at $39/vehicle, and OnTime 360 offers monthly plans starting at $39 for two users. Upper Route Planner, on the other hand, starts at $9.99 per user.

6. User-friendly

Route optimization apps are supposed to make life easier, so when you’re shopping for one to use in your business, make sure the user interface is easy. Furthermore, make sure it includes all the features your team of drivers will need to optimize routes.

A few key questions to consider when shopping for an easy-to-use route planning solution:

  • Does the route planner offer easy-to-read directions? You want to move beyond spreadsheets and ideally provide your drives with an easy-to-read map with driving directions that are up-to-date and clear.
  • Does the software provide live driver tracking? This feature is precious to the fleet manager and keeps customers updated on when they can expect their delivery or field service visit.
  • Does the software optimize routes for the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient options? When planning a route with multiple stops, finding the most cost-effective route becomes more important. While Google Maps may work just fine when planning a trip from Point A to Point B, it lacks the sophistication to optimize a multi-stop route. You will find the optimization options in route planners like Upper Route Planner, Circuit, SpeedyRoute, and RouteXL.

Depending on your business, there may be other key features you want to watch for. Do some research to determine if there are route planning apps specifically designed to suit your industry’s needs and what features are considered essential for your industry and better user experience. 

Advantages of Using a Multi-Stop Route Planner

A well-designed route planner will calculate the best route (e.g., shortest distance between the stops, fastest time) in mere seconds. Importantly, a good route planner will rely on the most up-to-date traffic and road information and optimize routes to all the stops according to this real-time data. 

So, let us explore the advantages of a multi-stop route planner:

1. Save time and money

A route planner app will save your business two essential things: time and money. 

It helps to eliminate human errors that are not possible in the manual planning process. Access to real-time data and software algorithms ensures that your multi-stop routes are optimized. The optimized routes can help to make on-time delivery customer locations. 

Hence, reduced delivery errors and improved delivery times are likely to meet customers’ expectations. This can help you position your business effectively against your competition and grow your client base or serve more quickly.

2. Increase productivity and profitability

Using a multi-stop route planner can give a more accurate picture of your daily tasks. It will help to plan your deliveries by considering traffic conditions and last-minute changes. 

Drivers who don’t use a multi-stop route planner might get stuck in traffic congestion. They also have to constantly go back and forth between multiple locations, using more time and fuel. 

One of the most significant benefits of using a multi-stop route planner is increased profit margin. Faster deliveries will give you more free time to plan your round trip and save miles and fuel costs with every delivery. You can complete more deliveries in a day, possibly earning more money.

Furthermore, quality services to customers will increase the quantity and size of sales.  

3. Boost customer experience

As per a report, 69% of people don’t want to wait for their deliveries for more than two days. This is the reason same-day delivery is showing an annual growth rate. 

The delivery services need to ensure that they meet customer expectations to stay on top of the competition. Quicker deliveries mean better customer ratings and can equal better customer satisfaction.  It will not simply increase the number of sales but, more importantly, client satisfaction.

Furthermore, you can strengthen your connection with existing clients and increase customer retention.

4. Reduce carbon footprint

Last-mile deliveries greatly contribute to carbon emissions. According to a report in 2020, the worldwide transportation industry is emitting over 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). And this is expected to see a rise of over 30% by 2030.

Being a delivery driver, you must be wondering how to go greener simply by using a multi-stop route planner. Route optimization will help to save money on gas and thus reduce the carbon footprint.

For example: If you have several stops across the city, manual planning will make it difficult to save money on gas. On the other hand, if you import these stops into the route planner the app’s algorithm will help you to plan the most optimized routes. It can reduce sitting in traffic or backtracking with less fuel usage and thus reducing your carbon footprint (and costs).

Plan Routes and Perform Instant Deliveries with Upper

Upper Route Planner is an advanced route planning and optimization software. It can help businesses focus on their core operations by reducing manual planning and scheduling. 

Upper is capable of finding the best routes for your multi-stop deliveries. It is a completely automated delivery process and does not rely on manually calculated routes.  The route planner aims to reduce working hours and delivery costs irrespective of the number of deliveries. 

The features of Upper can help you save time, deliver more packages to customers, and increase profitability. Its delivery scheduling feature allows you to plan deliveries months in advance. Custom notifications are sent via email or text to notify the customers about the actual time of delivery. It means customer communication will be open-ended. 

Upper also offers some additional features like customer SMS notifications and proof of delivery. The delivery managers can also get insights into delivery operations via reports & analytics and also look after driver management. 

Try the 7-day free trial and plan your deliveries to improve the efficiency of your business.

Generate Unlimited Multi-stop Routes on Upper

Want a route planner for your multi-stop deliveries? Switch to Upper’s fully automated process and get rid of frequent call-ups.

FAQs

A route planner is an app or software solution that relies on sophisticated algorithms to plot route mapping to accurate directions for multiple shipping addresses and stops. Route planners are most often used by businesses or freelance couriers that offer last-mile delivery and businesses that manage field service workers (e.g., lawnmowing companies, internet installation businesses. etc.). Typically, the user wants to find either the shortest route plan in terms of distance or the quickest route plan to complete all the stops.

A multi-stop route planning app will help to plan routes quickly and efficiently. It can help to plan routes for multiple vehicles and multiple stops at a time. It can also help you optimize your routes efficiently, even for limited vehicles. The automation process helps to distribute routes easily to drivers. The planner can also re-optimize routes making your driving more productive and efficient.

The best way to plan a route with multiple locations is to use route planning apps. This is because the manual planning of routes can sometimes be inefficient.

Yes, Google Maps is a frequently used free route optimizer with their team to handle route order logistics or delivery services. It is always recommended to examine delivery management solutions before choosing the right software.

Summary

Fast and efficient deliveries are important for any delivery company to stay competitive in today’s market. We can see that multi-drop delivery is showing rapid growth. Therefore, the right software for delivery and route planning can be a breeze. 

The software can be ideal for both small and large delivery businesses. It aims to simplify the delivery process no matter how many number of stops you add. 

Upper, being advanced routing software, helps businesses to improve deliveries and keep their customers satisfied. Considering business owners’ requirements, Upper has all in-built routing features for performing multi-stop deliveries. 

To know more about our route planner, start your 7-day trial today.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

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