Which Route Planner is Best?
Deciding whether or not to use a route planner is usually the simple part. That’s because whether you’re just planning a road trip or you operate a logistics business in the delivery or field service space, a route planner will make your life much easier. The hard part is figuring out which route planner is best because the answer varies based on the use case.
Since you’re sitting here reading this, you probably already know you need a route planner. All that’s left is to figure out which are the most popular route planning options on the market and how you can choose the right software for your needs based on price, features, effectiveness, and support. We’ll cover all of that in this comprehensive breakdown, and we’ll even put forward our candidate for “best route planner.”
If you’re looking for specific information within this breakdown, feel free to skip ahead by clicking one of the headers below:
- What is the Best Free Route Planner?
- What is the Best Way to Plan a Route with Multiple Stops?
- How to Choose the Right Software
What is the Best Free Route Planner?
Recreational users who are looking to plan a road trip or get directions around town often turn to popular free mapping solutions like Google Maps or MapQuest. Between the Google Maps driving route planner and the MapQuest route planner, one of the biggest differences is the stop limits. Google Maps offers up to 10 stops while MapQuest offers up to 26.
These tools can also be used by small businesses to accomplish basic route mapping, but since they’re not dedicated route planning solutions, they’re missing many of the key features that most logistics operations require.
What is the Best Way to Plan a Route with Multiple Stops?
Google Maps and MapQuest are user-friendly multi stop route planner solutions, but the limit on the number of stops they offer makes them less than ideal for long-term business use.
The best way for professional logistics operations to plan a route with multiple stops is to use an advanced route planning software like OptimoRoute that takes care of everything involved to create an efficient route. If you’re looking for the best of the best, then check out this detailed deep dive into what we think is the best route planner app.
How to Choose the Right Software
The process of choosing a route planning software tool should begin by analyzing your individual needs. For example, if you only need a tool for infrequent recreational mapping purposes like planning a road trip to visit your grandmother out of state, you’ll probably be able to make do with a free mapping app.
If you’re a professional working in the logistics industry, a basic navigational app likely won’t cut it. That’s because you’ll probably require advanced features like automated planning, time window scheduling, proof of delivery, real-time order tracking, and other options that only dedicated route planning solutions offer.
Of course, there are more factors than just features that go into the decision. Price, effectiveness, and support options are other factors worth considering before making a decision.
Everything comes down to price, and pricing for route planning tools can vary greatly. Some offer flat monthly pricing while others offer per-driver pricing. It’s also possible to request a custom quote from most providers that will take into consideration your unique needs.
Generally speaking, prices can range from as little as $35/month to thousands of dollars per month. Depending on the size of your business, some of these costs might be prohibitive and not make much sense. For example, if you’re a small business with just one or two drivers, you probably won’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month on software.
You probably don’t have to think too hard about whether you want more features or less, but the amount of features available and the quality of those features typically has a large impact on price. With that in mind, you might be willing to sacrifice some features for a cheaper price. Still, there are probably some non-negotiable features that you’ll want for your business, like:
- Real-time order tracking and route modifications: Manage your resources based on real-time data by making route modifications and send your customers up-to-the-minute updates and ETAs.
- Automated planning: Plan your routes faster by importing thousands of orders at once and let the software do the optimization for you so that you get the most efficient routes possible.
- Proof of delivery: Minimize the number of claims you get by giving drivers the ability to document their deliveries with digital signatures, photos, and notes.
- Route optimization: Account for time window requirements, vehicle specifications, driver availability, and more.
There are a lot more features that could be highlighted, but these are some of the core options that many logistics operators look for which is why OptimoRoute has built all of them (and more) into our software.
Effective route planning software should enable you to make more money, save time, reduce your expenses, and create a better customer experience. If it doesn’t accomplish these things, then the verdict is in: It’s not effective software.
The best software on the market will find the shortest route available while simultaneously managing countless other factors like fuel efficiency, driver suitability, vehicle availability, and much more.
When you’re considering route planners, think about what areas of your operation you’re looking to optimize and determine whether the features available within the software will help you accomplish your goals or not.
Although route planning software should be built in a user-friendly way, learning new tools still often comes with challenges whether you’re a fresh-faced twenty-something-year-old or a seasoned professional. That’s why you’ll want to evaluate the support options of the route planners you’re looking into. Not all software solutions include free support. Others have useful self-directed learning libraries with FAQs and detailed instructions available.
The bottom line
The best route planner is simply the one that satisfies all of your needs. If you are planning a road trip, a free tool like Google Maps will get you there. If you run a business and need to plan out routes for multiple drivers or service technicians, you’ll want to find route planning software that accounts for your specific business needs.
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