What is Route Optimization? Ultimate Guide in 2022

As a delivery business owner, what is your primary goal? – To make the delivery process faster and safer, right?

But trust me, it’s not an easy task.  You might face many challenges like:

  • How do you make drivers ready to provide faster deliveries?
  • How to provide the fastest & shortest route to the drivers?
  • How to improve business productivity and business growth?

To avoid such challenges, you need to adopt route optimization tools that make it easy for your drivers to make more deliveries on time. However, before adopting any delivery route optimization software solution for optimizing on-ground operations, first, you need to understand “what is route optimization?”

What is Route Optimization?

Route optimization is the process of planning & optimizing routes for your drivers to reach from one stop to another stop is known as route optimization. Route optimization means generating the most efficient route that is time and cost-effective.

For example, if you’re using Google Maps for your delivery route, then you are just limited to creating a route plan for ten stops. But what happens if you’ve more than ten stops? It becomes quite challenging for you to manage such routes and solve the vehicle routing problem using Google Maps.

A route optimization system or delivery route planning software will overcome such challenges. Using analytics and computer algorithms helps you in finding the optimal route for multiple stops by considering the factors like:

  • Traffic congestion;
  • Distance;
  • Time windows;
  • Service time;
  • Vehicle type;
  • Turns and intersections;
  • Nearest drivers.
CTA image

Upper Route Planner

A Simple-to-use route planner that every one is talking about.

  • Save up to 95% of planning time
  • Save up to 40% of time on the road
  • Plan 500 stops at once

No credit card details required

Can You Optimize Routes Manually?

You could, but why would you want to take up so much trouble and still not come up with results?

Unless you are a business that only fulfills a handful of deliveries every week, you need efficient route optimization software to help you save time and resources. 

Planning for more than 8-10 deliveries and more than 1 driver can get extremely complicated for any business. With the increase in the number of stops, routes, and commercial drivers, the complexity of route optimization increases. In that case, you must not plan and optimize routes manually.

Why Do You Need Route Optimization?

Using outdated tools or manual processes for planning your deliveries will make your last mile delivery operations less efficient.

Here are six clues to help you understand the need for route optimization software: 

  1. Growing Demand for High-volume Deliveries

    The deliveries have only been on a rise, even when supply chains are getting leaner. More orders demanded to be delivered frequently and just in time can pose challenges for delivery businesses.

    The initial problem here will arise in the planning and scheduling stage. It will eat up your time and resources. When the first leg of any process is hurt, it affects all the other stages of that process. But routing software can be immensely helpful here. 

  2. Increasing Fuel Costs

    The growing size of your delivery operations can lead to requests for new vehicles and more human resources. This will push your delivery fleet costs higher than your business growth.

    With the increasing fuel costs, it will be difficult for delivery businesses to boost savings and revenue at the same time. But the best way to fulfill your delivery commitments using minimum fleet resources is to make route optimization software a part of your last-mile delivery process.

  3. Meeting Delivery Promises is Challenging

    Manual processes can’t account for all the variables that can affect your delivery times. Delivery promises like strict time windows, driver availability, or priority orders are difficult to fit in manually.

    You will end up having inaccurate ETAs, uninformed drivers, and dissatisfied customers without the support of advanced route optimization software.

  4. Your Route Planning Process Takes Hours

    When the planning tasks occupy a majority of your time and resources, it’s an indication that the rest of the process is only going to be more complicated.

    When you are spending hours in planning, you are robbing time off from other pressing matters like meeting more clients, getting more sales, or having your human resources occupied in basic tasks.

    The planning for delivery routes and schedules shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each day. But that is only possible when you have delivery route planning software at your disposal. 

  5. Driver Shortage

    With sick drivers or driver shortages in most industries, you must find a good way of balancing all your delivery tasks among the commercial drivers you have available. 

    When you fail in proper driver management, your remaining drivers will feel pressured and would want to leave.

    Create predictable and workable shifts for happier drivers and realistic delivery goals for drivers. If your current delivery process is not focusing on this issue, you need to reassess the system.

  6. No Proper Resource Management Functionality

    Without proper updated knowledge of the availability of your commercial truck drivers, you will not be able to plan accurate delivery routes.

    Driver availability is often not considered at the time of constructing a route plan.

    But practically you must plan to consider your driver’s availability, break time, and flexibility of start and end times for a more accurate route schedule.

    This is possible when you have route planning software with resource management functionality to manage multiple drivers.

Benefits of Route Optimization For Your Business

Route optimization provides the most efficient multiple stops. However, there are some significant benefits that you can gain by using route optimization software.

Benefits of Route Optimization
  1. Save Time and Resources

    • It helps you to deliver more orders quickly and improve your overall delivery productivity.
    • Drivers or field sales reps will have a list of route options to perform on a specific day within specific delivery windows; this ensures faster deliveries to more customers.
    • It will give you more chances of having same-day deliveries. You will have happy customers and happy drivers too.
  2. Boost Customer Service

    • It helps you to meet your ever-growing customer expectations.
    • It helps improve customer satisfaction.
    • It makes it easy for you to provide quick and efficient delivery services.
    • It helps you get rid of abandoned shopping carts and reduced revenues.
    • It helps your business deal with increasing shopper demands, improve service levels, and build a competitive advantage.
    • Bring your shipping expectations to a new high.
    • Save your business money, as well as go above and beyond your consumer expectations.
  3. Ensures Driver Safety

    What are the precaution measures you take for your drivers? Have you ever thought about the drivers who work overtime or are on the road for long periods? 

    It might be dangerous for the drivers and other drivers on the road and possible bystanders.

    You can overcome such potential dangers by adopting route optimization software. It can help your drivers avoid working overtime and minimize the total time spent on driving and the distance has driven.

    • Prevent the driver fatigue that leads to possible accidents on the road and injuries while lifting heavy items.
    • Keep track of drivers’ locations with GPS. Route optimization helps lost drivers to get the accurate driver location.
    • Drivers quickly get rid of time-consuming paperwork, saving more time for deliveries and allowing for more successful deliveries.
    • Your business can save time, money, and their drivers from harm.
    • Customers will also be pleased to receive efficient deliveries and will be more likely to become loyal customers.
    • Driving requires skills and attention, so keep your drivers safe and your deliveries efficient with route planning and optimization software.
  4. Cut Costs

    • It provides accurate turn-by-turn directions and makes it easy for the drivers to follow that route. It will reduce the driver’s overtime and fatigue.
    • With the continual rising of fuel and labor costs, it becomes essential for you to consider the factors that help to reduce the overall expenses. And it is made possible if you have optimized routes available with you.
    • With the help of route optimization, all your drivers can efficiently save more fuel on the congested traffic and provide quick delivery to the customers.
  5. Scale Delivery Output

    • Instead of spending hours on scheduling or reorganizing shifts, deliveries, or appointments, your team can focus on other tasks.
    • The planning time can be cut down from hours to minutes with route planning and optimization algorithms.
    • Dispatchers or managers can create delivery schedules up to a few weeks in advance.
    • With long-term planning, businesses can have room for growth. With that, the businesses can easily scale their delivery output. 
  6. Reassign Routes Quickly

    • Instant recalculation is a dynamic requirement for a dynamic delivery environment we’re facing today.
    • Even if things change in the future, dispatchers and managers can quickly re-arrange and fit in the changes to get back on track.
    • For instance, some of your customers cancel their orders, you get new orders just a few hours before heading out for deliveries, or a driver calls in sick. 
    • In such situations, rearranging and re-assigning routes can be easier for dispatchers and managers. 

    Manual Vs. Automated Route Planning

    Manual Route Planning Automated Route Planning (Optimization)
    • Assigning multiple drivers with multiple stops manually is quite a challenging task.
    • Planning routes is easy, and you can quickly get the most efficient routes for your multiple drivers.
    • Unable to identify the road variables like road traffic, diversions, avoiding toll roads, and even freight.
    • You can easily filter your route by considering various road factors to make your route easier.
    • Lack of communication between your customers and delivery drivers.
    • By using route optimization software, it becomes easy for you to share the route with your drivers.
    • Planning routes manually, managing drivers, and vehicles is somewhat tedious that will boost the operational costs of your business.
    • With a route optimization algorithm, you can efficiently make multiple delivery orders and manage delivery routes in a matter of seconds.

    How Route Optimization Works

    Route optimization software makes use of algorithms running on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. 

    Using these smart algorithms, the software quickly compares a bunch of alternate scenarios and presents the most efficient and optimized route for you.

    All you have to do is input all the addresses. A route optimization software will then create and optimize the most efficient route based on time, distance, or both.

    How to Choose a Route Optimization Software

    There are a bunch of route optimization solutions out there. In order to pick the best route optimization solution, you must check if it matches all your delivery routing requirements and helps you meet your optimization goals.

    Here are some points on how to choose a route optimization software:

    Multi-route Planning

    Out of all the route planners available, you must go for the solution that helps you plan routes for multiple drivers simultaneously. This feature is essential when you have multiple drivers going out for deliveries and you have to plan schedules for them on a daily basis. 

    Scheduling in Advance

    Your logistics operations will move smoothly when all the planning can be automated and be done much in advance. A good route optimization solution will help you stay a few steps ahead of your workload by helping you schedule delivery routes in advance.

    Route Management

    Strategic planning is key to successful delivery operations. Any routing software that doesn’t allow you to manage your routes easily is not the right choice for you. Managing multiple routes with their specific quirks help you spend less on gas. 

    Customer Notifications

    Make sure that the routing solution you choose allows you to send notifications through SMS or email according to customer preferences throughout the delivery process to boost the customer experience. It is essential for any business to provide deliveries to their customers, irrespective of the industry.

    Proof of Delivery

    Having a record for each delivery successful or failed delivery is important for the business. Every good route planning and optimization software allows your drivers to capture proof of delivery by way of capturing pictures or recording customer signatures. 

    Reports & Analytics

    Analyzing your delivery operations and the results arising from them is as important as creating efficient routes. These reports help you identify the benefits of efficient routes. Also, this data helps you identify any loopholes that you need to get a hold on and make better decisions.

    The benefits of a route optimization software like Upper Route Planner can only be experienced when you put it to use. 

    But we will still list a few here. Upper Route Planner will:

    • cut down planning time;
    • accommodate changes easily;
    • reduce fuel expenses;
    • boost customer satisfaction; and
    • smoothen your delivery operations.

    Upper Route Planner is an intelligent route planning and optimization software that provides you with all the necessary features and a lot more to successfully run your delivery operations.

    With proper route optimization tools like Upper Route Planner, you can save more and earn more with each delivery you make. 

    CTA image

    Upper Route Planner

    A Simple-to-use route planner that every one is talking about.

    • Save up to 95% of planning time
    • Save up to 40% of time on the road
    • Plan 500 stops at once

    No credit card details required

    Real-World Example of Route Optimization

    Manual route planning and optimization methods drain your time and resources. You will:

    (i) waste precious back-office time

    (ii) waste delivery time on the road due to inefficient route plans

    These inefficiencies can be best tackled using a route planning and optimization system. 

    Software like Upper Route Planner helps you save time and resources by automating delivery route planning activities.

    Route Optimization Success Story: Chef Nicole

    Upper Route Planner Helped Chef Nicole

    View Success Story

    One of our clients – Chef Nicole, a Miami-based meal-kit delivery business, ditched its manual route planning system and decided to adopt Upper Route Planner.

    Chef Nicole spent over 10 hours every week planning routes for multiple drivers. Their manual planning system required a team of two employees spending 5 hours each just to plan routes for meal-kit deliveries. 

    In addition to that, they were unable to factor in the service time for each stop and failed to manage demand due to inefficient routes. 

    After integrating Upper Route Planner in their delivery process, Chef Nicole gained complete control over their deliveries. Chef Nicole managed to:

    • Automate route planning & optimization for multiple drivers simultaneously; 
    • Save 33% time in routing and planning activities;
    • Accommodate 60% more orders;
    • Open up for deliveries in 2 major suburbs;
    • Increase productivity by 40%.

    How Route Optimization Helps Your Industry?

    1. Food Delivery

      Problems: Some of the challenges in the food delivery industry are:

      • Large-volume orders
      • Last-minute changes in the driver schedules
      • Unable to inform the customers about the delivery status

      Solutions offered by routing software: 

      • Dynamic re-planning and optimization provide solutions to last minute changes instantly
      • Preparing optimal routes for high-volume orders can be done in minutes
      • Customers get end-to-end visibility into the process with order tracking, ETAs, and customer notifications
    2. Retail & Distribution


      • Happier customers expect real-time updates
      • Last-mile delivery challenges

      Solutions offered by route optimization:

      • Customers get end-to-end visibility into the process with order tracking, ETAs, and customer notifications
      • Order-based route planning helps with efficient planning for multi-depot deliveries
    3. E-Commerce


      • Customer expect real-time updates
      • No way to capture successful delivery
      • No way to receive instructions directly from customers

      Solutions offered by routing software:

      • Automatic ETAs through SMS and email helps with real-time updates
      • Capture successful delivery of the package by way of proof of delivery
      • Customers can send delivery instructions to delivery agents 
    4. Cannabis Delivery


      • Customers expect real-time updates
      • Time-sensitive deliveries

      Solutions offered by route optimization:

      • Automatic ETAs through SMS and email helps with real-time updates
      • Planning shortest possible routes for priority or time-sensitive deliveries
    5. Field Sales

      Problems: Major problems faced by a field service business:

      • Last-minute changes to the plan
      • Different priority levels
      • Meeting lengths vary

      Solutions offered by route optimization:

      • Dynamic planning helps in easy re-structuring of routes 
      • Focus on priority clients first
      • Set meeting length by allotting for particular stops
    6. Installation & Maintenance


      • Different service time for each stop
      • Last-minute changes
      • Reminders to carry certain tools
      • Difficult to plan in advance

      Solutions offered by routing software: 

      • Dispatchers or managers can allot specific service time for each stop
      • Dynamic planning and re-routing can help with last-minute changes
      • Dispatchers can add notes for drivers to carry certain tools
      • Advanced planning can be really easy with route optimization technology

      Other Industries

      • Post & Couriers
      • Bin cleaning
      • Pharmacy delivery
      • Seafood delivery
      • Gift delivery
      • Logistics company


    Artificial intelligence & machine-learning-backed route optimization software solution is for all businesses whether it is a direct-to-consumer delivery or a door-to-door service. A small business needs route optimization software to take away the stress of manual planning and optimization. By doing this, small business owners can focus on scaling and expanding their services by increasing the number of deliveries.

    If you decide to test a route optimization software like Upper Route Planner, your ROI would look something like this:

    • 8-10 hours per week saved in planning & scheduling;
    • 6-8 hours per week saved in manual routing;
    • 20-25% of the increase in delivery output;
    • Up to 40% of costs saved and revenue boosted.

    Success after implementing route optimization technology can be measured with the following metrics:

    1. Increased in revenue per delivery
    2. Decrease in cost-per-delivery
    3. Scaling delivery teams without extra resources
    4. The number of hours saved every week in planning
    5. The number of customers served per route
    6. Managing last-minute order incidents
    7. Dividing workloads equally among drivers


    In summary, route optimization work will improve your delivery productivity.

    • Drivers will have optimized routes on a daily basis;
    • Your business will perform more deliveries by adding multiple addresses and reaching new customers;
    • You can easily plan multiple stops at once and plan last-mile routes in clicks.

    So, if you are running any kind of delivery business, make sure that you adopt route optimization software that will give you an optimized route, save planning time, and boost overall productivity. In addition to this, you can increase the number of deliveries by up to 40%.

    To try delivery route planning software for your business, you can start your free trial with Upper Route Planner and know how it benefits your business.

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.