The demand for last-mile delivery services has multiplied in recent years in tandem with exponential growth in online business and technological advances. For companies and independent delivery drivers that offer last-mile courier services, such as FedEx, UPS, and DoorDashers, they must make deliveries most cost-effectively and efficiently possible. In other words, they must find ways to save time and money if they hope to remain competitive. One of the best tools to assist couriers in their last-mile deliveries is a route planner. When used properly, a well-designed route planning app can help delivery drivers find the best route(s) to save fuel costs and time. It can also help decrease human errors and increase customer satisfaction. Forget manually planning delivery routes with pen and paper, today a route planning app can do all the heavy lifting and then some.
In this article, we’ll look at the tips to some of the critical challenges delivery drivers face when it comes to a driving route planner. We’ll also reveal top hacks they use to save time and money. Whether you’re thinking of earning some extra cash as an independent delivery driver (e.g., a DoorDasher) or you’re running a business that employs last-mile couriers, these hacks will help you remain competitive.
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Route Planning Challenges for Delivery Drivers
Efficient route planning is essential to any business that relies on last-mile delivery. This is because last-mile distribution can account for up to 53% of a business’s total shipping costs. It’s also at this stage that errors and inefficiencies (e.g., delivering to the wrong address, delayed delivery) tend to impact customer satisfaction levels the most. For most people, it’s imperative to ditch the spreadsheet.
For freelancing delivery drivers, such as those who partner with UberEats, DoorDash, etc., effective planning of driving routes are equally crucial to managing their time and costs (e.g., fuel consumption, vehicle wear, and tear).
Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical challenges that face delivery drivers when it comes to route planning:
Complexity is one of the biggest challenges delivery drivers face when it comes to route planning. There are innumerable factors and variables to take into account. Key considerations include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Managing route options such as border crossings, new territories, toll roads, toll costs, ferries, and other locations;
- Managing up-to-date traffic information, such as traffic conditions and roadwork;
- Incorporating algorithms and best practices;
- Types of roads such as highways, one-way streets, city streets, roads with weight restrictions, etc.
- Managing customer relations, contact information, and phone number;
- Avoiding route errors, such as delivery to the wrong address; and
- Mileage or gas data and allowance.
The Travelling Salesman Problem –
Another huge impediment to route planning that’s related to complexity is what is most commonly known as the Travelling Salesman Problem or TSP.
The TSP posits that a traveling salesman, much like a delivery driver, needs to make multiple stops within their sales region. They don’t typically care about the order of their stops, but rather that they make the most of their time and money. In other words, they want to find the quickest route and the least expensive route. Driving time, driving distance, and costs of transport (e.g., fuel, tolls, etc.) are the key considerations.
Even taking into account only one of these factors – distance, the TSP dilemma quickly becomes evident when you look at the math. What seems simple enough when you only have two variables (Point A and Point B) becomes exponentially more complicated when you add even a few more stops to the route.
Don’t believe it? Here are the numbers:
- A route with two stops has only two different route options.
- A route with four stops has 24 different route options.
- A route with ten stops has 3,628,800 different route options.
Yes, you read that correctly. A route with a mere ten stops along it has over 3 million different route combinations!
That’s way too many routes to map out manually, let along calculate the varying distances, fuel costs, etc. associated with each. This is where the logistics algorithms of a route planning app can save the day (and your bottom line)!
Ever-changing Information –
Another challenge for the delivery person or field service person is the ever-changing nature of traffic and road conditions. Without access to up-to-date information, they can find themselves relying on driving directions that might have been efficient last month or even yesterday, but are no longer the best option.
These are just a few of the many challenges couriers, delivery drivers, and field service workers face when trying to plan the best route.
For a more in-depth look at the TSP and route planning,
Check out this article
Top 3 Tips to Save Time and Money Using a Driving Route Planner
A route planning app can help last-mile couriers save a significant amount of time and money when they are trying to map their routes. Here are three top hacks that fleet managers and delivery drivers use to get the most from a route planning app:
#1. Cut Down on Idling Time
Use a route planning app to get up-to-date driving directions based on real-time traffic reports and live vehicle tracking. Even as you complete your route, you can set the app to re-route your stops if it will result in a more efficient route. By avoiding heavy traffic, road construction, etc. you can cut down the amount of time you’re idling in your vehicle, which saves fuel and enables you to complete your route quicker. Several tools will be useful, for example, Mapquest, Waze, and Google Maps all have traffic details.
#2. Use Route Optimization to Find the Quickest Route
A well-designed tool will solve the classic Traveling Salesman Problem. Its logistics algorithms are designed to do just that, providing you with the quickest route and driving directions in mere moments. Don’t make a mistake, however, of thinking that you can use Google Maps as a route optimizer. While Google Maps is excellent for viewing a map with two stops (starting address and destination), it isn’t great at optimizing multi-stop routes. So, unless your routes contain eight stops or fewer, Google Maps isn’t the best option if you want to save time.
#3. Split Deliveries Between Multiple Drivers
This hack is for fleet managers tasked with planning routes for multiple drivers. Again, a driving route planner can come to the rescue, assigning stops to two or more drivers such that it optimizes each driver’s route and the overall efficiency of the last-mile deliveries. In addition to costs saved in completing the deliveries (e.g., fuel costs, vehicle wear, and tear), the route planner can save fleet managers a lot of time, which translates to savings in human resource costs for the business.
The main features of a route planning app are ultimately designed to help you do one key thing: cut down the costs per delivery. Costs of delivery are typically determined by two factors: the driver’s wage and fuel costs. Effectively, any optimization that reduces the amount of time spent on a route will reduce labor costs. And any optimization that reduces the amount of distance traveled will most likely reduce fuel costs. In many cases, the time and distance variables are both reduced, thus saving the business both labor costs and fuel costs. Before you know it, you’ll have recouped the costs of purchasing the route planner and begin enjoying bottom-line savings.
For more information:
What is Fleet Management: Systems, Challenges, and Trends
Does Google Maps have a Route Planner?
Yes, it certainly does. It can be used to map one or multiple routes. It will show all these routes on a map. All you need to do is enter the starting address or click a point on the map, and you can get driving directions to that point.
What is the Best Way to Create a Route with Multiple Stops?
The best way to create a route for driving directions with multiple stops is to use a driving route planner. You will input your starting address and the rest of the addresses. The tool will then automatically calculate driving distance, driving routes, driving time, and much more.
We hope this article was useful to you. Our most precious resource is time, and our second most valuable resource is money. We hope that this article gives you some answers to questions about getting users to their destinations as quickly as possible. As always, please let us know if there’s any question we can help solve for you. We are always there to help you, our user, drive the type of change you want to see in your business, and of course, solve your problems.