Meeting customers’ delivery-speed expectations is hard. Surpassing customer expectations is the business equivalent of running an Olympic marathon: it takes a lot of work, and you’ll face fierce competition, but winning means lasting success for your brand.
At OptimoRoute, we’ve helped more than a thousand customers win the delivery race, and we want to help you get a head start. In this article, we’ll share some of the top strategies, tactics, and proven solutions we’ve learned from working with food, product, and service delivery teams all over the world. We’ll show you how to use OptimoRoute to drastically reduce your turnaround time, increase your delivery efficiency, and much more.
Speed of Delivery Is Affecting Your Business
Delivery speed is important for businesses of all sizes, but don’t take our word for it. These statistics clearly illustrate the importance of fast delivery to customers:
- 62% of consumers say fast shipping speed defines a positive experience (eMarketer)
- 61% of consumers want their orders delivered faster (retail Touch Points)
- Over 75% of consumers want same-day shipping (efulfillment service)
- 55% of consumers will switch retailers for faster delivery (Capgemini)
- More than 98% of shoppers say delivery affects how loyal they are to a brand (Convey)
Customers don’t see fast shipping options as a perk—they see it as a requirement. The most successful ecommerce stores are capitalizing on this. Amazon is raising the bar for their Prime members from guaranteed two-day shipping to just one-day shipping, and Walmart is offering free NextDay delivery to online shoppers without charging a membership fee. Smart businesses of all sizes are using fast shipping to attract more buyers during busy holiday shopping seasons.
If you want to compete in today’s industry, you’re going to need a bulletproof strategy and robust technology.
5 Strategies for Faster Deliveries
There are five proven strategies you can use to speed up delivery, and route optimization software is your secret weapon for executing all of them successfully. OptimoRoute was designed to help you do all of the following in a fraction of the time.
1. Optimize delivery routes
If you want to reach top delivery speeds, the first thing you must do is optimize your routing. Optimizing delivery routes means selecting the fastest, most cost-effective routes possible.
It’s difficult to achieve truly optimized routes if you’re relying on manual calculations and basic mapping software. If you have a fleet of more than a couple of vehicles or need to deliver hundreds of orders a day, optimizing routes becomes nearly impossible (and takes a ton of time). This is where route optimization software comes in.
OptimoRoute automatically calculates the most efficient routes, which has helped businesses attain record on-time delivery rates as high as 98%. OptimoRoute calculates up to five weeks’ worth of routes for hundreds of drivers and thousands of orders in a matter of seconds, which increases your overall capacity for delivering to customers. Technology has come a long way, and if you use the right software, your whole team can do their job faster and more effectively — delivery drivers, fleet managers, and leadership teams alike.
2. Plan ahead
Advance planning and scheduling are essential if you want to shorten your delivery times, because the farther out you plan, the better your execution will be. If you’re planning deliveries only one week in advance, you leave yourself with a very tight window to make necessary changes, and you’re more likely to be caught off guard.
Let’s say you get an influx of orders for the holidays that starts two weeks earlier than usual. If you’re planning five weeks in advance, you’ll spot this uptick with plenty of time to schedule additional drivers and successfully meet demand. If you’re only planning five business days in advance, you may not have enough time to react accordingly, which could cost you customers.
OptimoRoute’s advance-planning capabilities help businesses like The Little Posy Co., a flower company in Australia, keep deliveries running smoothly even when their demand increases by 400% around holidays such as Valentine’s Day. The Little Posy Co. is able to scale their fleet up from 20 to 60 drivers quickly and efficiently, so they can capitalize on a rise in holiday demand.
Scheduling drivers further in advance creates a healthier (and more productive) working environment, too. Drivers who know their schedule a month in advance have time to find coverage or request a shift swap, so they can be home for important family events. Promoting a healthy work–life balance fosters happier workers, who are more engaged and productive at work — which means higher on-time delivery rates and increased revenue.
3. Enable real-time route modification
Advance planning is important, but so is the ability to change that plan when unexpected challenges arise. Every adventure has a few surprises, and delivery routes are no different. Drivers may run into traffic, get held up at a delivery helping a customer, or get a flat tire. To keep small hold-ups from turning into hours-long delays, dispatchers need to know immediately when things don’t go as expected.
OptimoRoute uses Breadcrumbs to provide fleet managers with real-time visibility. Breadcrumbs are a visual representation of where a driver is along their route and can even show if they’ve deviated from their route. If a driver gets stuck or is running late, dispatchers can modify routes and send updated plans to drivers’ phones right away.
OptimoRoute also enables you to provide your customers with live tracking, which works sort of like a USPS or FedEx tracking number, except better. Where most shipping companies let customers know if a package is “out for delivery” or a driver is “in your area,” OptimoRoute customers get real-time updates and a live GPS tracking link. OptimoRoute customer notifications show precisely when an order will arrive, down to the minute. Live tracking minimizes customer service complaints and increases overall customer satisfaction without creating extra work for your employees and slowing down the workflow.
4. Prioritize appropriately
Prioritizing and ordering stops appropriately ensures that you reach all of your customers as quickly (and efficiently) as possible. Accurately setting priorities for stops along your delivery route is vital, and there are a lot of factors to consider. If a customer pays extra for next-day delivery, that order is going to be a higher priority than a package purchased with standard delivery. On the flip side, if the rush order customer is five miles away, and there are three standard delivery orders on the route there, it will make sense to stop and drop off those non-rush orders first.
You’ll also need to consider how orders are assigned across multiple drivers. Territories that are evenly divided, as far as square footage per driver, may result in completely uneven workloads. You can wind up with one driver working overtime to barely meet delivery deadlines and another driver sitting around for half of their shift with nothing to do. On top of that, some stops may require drivers with a specific skill set, particularly if you offer installation along with your deliveries.
Achieving the highest overall delivery speed across your entire team takes a lot more thought than simply dividing up the map and having drivers work their way across the board. It requires a full-spectrum approach, along with software that can adapt to your unique business. OptimoRoute gives fleet managers the power to prioritize routing for the lowest cost, evenly distributed workloads, or a combination of the two. You can adjust routes to meet your priorities, even if those priorities change from week to week.
5. Combine forward and reverse logistics
Combining reverse logistics pick-up routes with forward logistics drop-off routes cuts your travel time and your planning time in half. If you already have a delivery driver going to a certain area to drop off products, it doesn’t make sense to send another driver to a nearby destination to pick something up.
At OptimoRoute, we’ve helped businesses from many different sectors combine both forward and reverse logistics planning to increase their efficiency and turnaround times. Our software can simultaneously plan drop-offs and pick-ups while factoring in each vehicle’s unique capacity. CLEAResult uses this capability to plan pick-up and drop-off schedules for their used-appliance recycling program. Other businesses, such as Local Roots NYC and Oco Meals, combine forward and reverse logistics to drop off meals while picking up empty food containers for reuse.
Ramp up Your Delivery Speed Today
Medvedgrad Brewery had drivers in the field utilizing OptimoRoute the same day they started using the software, and you can, too. Just follow these steps:
- Register for an account here. (No credit card required.)
- Upload your orders from an Excel spreadsheet or from another document. We provided a sample template here.
- Input driver constraints (if you have any).
- Set your priority by balancing workloads for lowest cost, evenly distributed workload, or both.
- Click “Plan routes,” and make any manual adjustments you want.
- Have your drivers download the OptimoRoute Driver App, and send routes to drivers.
- Start delivering to your customers in record time.
If you have any questions or need assistance using OptimoRoute, our customer service team is available to help.
Enjoy a Free Trial
Like most skills, you’ll get better at delivery planning the more you do it, and OptimoRoute helps flatten the learning curve by automating the most time-consuming processes. Whether you’re planning routes for next week or working on high-level capacity planning for next season, you’ll get actionable data you can use to improve your delivery speed and much more.
Ready to take OptimoRoute for a spin? Sign up for a 30-day free trial.