Why is it critical for delivery businesses post COVID-19?

 

Post summary: 

  • How the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the retail industry
  • What are delivery route planner apps
  • Why you should start using a delivery route planner
  • The best delivery route planner apps on the market

 

 

The growth of online shopping has been impressive in the last decades, and statistics have predicted a massive increase in the number of online consumers by the year 2021

With the coronavirus pandemic, global e-commerce sales have reached incredible numbers even faster (Statista).

As online shops replace more and more traditional stores, companies are looking for practical solutions to increase their delivery capacity, provide shipment that meets customers’ expectations, and help them stay competitive.

This is the year where delivery routing apps have become a necessity even for smaller enterprises.

But why?

 

How the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the retail industry

The retail industry was severely impacted after the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

As people adapt to new ways of working, living, and even shopping, the question has arisen if the retail industry has been transformed for good.

 

 

Worldwide, businesses had to temporarily close down their shops due to restrictions set by governments. Many of these stores will never be reopened, at least not in the same way.

For example, the Spanish apparel retailer Zara announced the closing of 1,200 stores worldwide by the year 2021. Other brands are expected to close up to a total of 15,000 shops in 2020 in the US alone. Primarily, due to the coronavirus and the effect, it has had on consumer trends (CNBC).

Since people started practicing social distancing and self-isolation, e-commerce purchases across all categories have significantly grown. The most significant leap has probably been made by the food delivery industry. It was already growing in popularity rapidly before the COVID pandemic (EHL).

 

 

The current situation has forced retailers to focus on online sales and contactless on-demand deliveries. However, the latter can cause several problems, mostly associated with high customer expectations, demand-supply, logistics, and workforce.

The need for delivery management and routing solutions to solve these difficulties and remain competitive has become inevitable.

 

What are delivery route planner apps?

Last-mile delivery costs often make up the most substantial part of the total operating budget. Rising labor and fuel prices have created a situation where transport costs are growing 7 times faster than product prices

To cut operational expenses and provide customers with impeccable delivery experience, enterprises must invest in a future-proof delivery management solution. 

Simply put, a route planner app for delivery drivers is a tool that does the job of a human scheduler automatically and more efficiently.

 

 

It computes the most cost-effective route involving several stops while taking into account several important factors, such as the number of vehicles in the fleet, delivery windows, and the number of stops on the route.

Driving route optimizers minimize the travel distance and time and help businesses surpass their competition without placing further strain on existing resources.

 

The best route planner apps include the following possibilities:

  • real-time tracking
  • on-demand dispatching
  • mobile route optimization and automated routing
  • GPS-navigation integration
  • easily customizable routes with drag & drop management
  • collecting driver and/or customer feedback
  • free driver mobile app for iOS/Android
  • a digital proof of delivery and signature/photo capture
  • possibility to add digital documents to tasks
  • integrations with other programs/apps
  • customizable trigger-notifications to customers/drivers
  • delivery and fleet analytics
  • helpful and professional support team 

 

Why now is the time to start using a delivery route planner

The need for advanced software to help companies manage their fleet more efficiently and plan optimal routes faster often arises when businesses grow.

Managing deliveries for a couple of drivers manually might work for some time. As the number of orders increases, manual route planning will inevitably become too complicated and time-consuming, resulting in inefficient routes and loss in revenue.

Post COVID-19, businesses are facing another critical factor that needs to be considered when offering home-delivery services – the increase in demand for contactless delivery options. 

 

 

To mitigate the risk of contagion during the coronavirus pandemic, contactless deliveries have been put in place between the consumer and the delivery person. 

As the delivery process typically involves signing a proof of delivery or some other document, delivery companies need an alternative to the traditional signing of paper or digital documents.

The best route planner apps provide businesses with all the necessary tools to arrange safe and professional delivery of goods without the need for any human contact.

To confirm ordered goods have been handed over, delivery management applications allow drivers to capture photos with their mobile app. This photo is then added as digital proof of delivery, matching the customer with the order ID. 

The delivery industry has reached an era where both large companies and smaller businesses now use route planner apps, both providing a secure and competitive service. 

 

 

 

The best delivery route planner apps on the market

The selection of delivery route planning software is vast, so finding the appropriate one without any guidance can be quite challenging.

We have listed some options on the market that offer the best functionality and quality per price. 

 

Free multi-stop route planners

There are a variety of free delivery route planners available that may be perfectly adequate for basic routing schemes. 

Free of charge options don’t offer as much functionality so delivery companies with multiple drivers and more complex business needs should skip this section.

 

Google Maps Route Planner

Although often confused with a route optimization software, Google Maps is technically a web mapping service. It’s designed to find the shortest path between two or more stops. Still, it does not automatically reorder waypoints in the most efficient way like a route optimization software would.

We’ve compared Google Maps to route optimization apps in a previous blog post that you can read HERE.

Since Google Maps route planner is widely used by the general public and also by smaller companies when starting their delivery business, we have still included it in our list. It is an excellent tool to begin with before advancing to more sophisticated software.

 

Pros: 

  • free
  • very accurate ETA’s
  • easy to use
  • handy drag & drop function to reorder stops
  • can easily be used on smart devices

 

Cons:

  • allows entering only 10 waypoints at a time
  • allows planning routes for 1 driver at a time
  • requires manual address input and route optimization

 

Watch a demo video

 

RouteXL

RouteXL allows planning an unlimited number of trips per day with up to 20 stops per route for free. To plan routes with up to 200 stops, a paid version for €75 ($84.80 / £67.20) a month must be purchased.

Unlike Google Maps, RouteXL uses a route optimization algorithm to minimize the overall duration of the journey and even allows splitting up stops between multiple routes.

 

Pros: 

  • free (paid version also available)
  • automatically optimizes routes
  • allows splitting up orders between multiple drivers
  • can be used to plan unlimited routes per day
  • allows exporting routes to sat-nav devices and navigation apps
  • easy to use

 

Cons:

  • uses free geocoding services (inaccurate addresses might occur)
  • no mobile app for drivers
  • different stops cannot be optimized using various parameters
  • doesn’t allow uploading address spreadsheets

 

Watch a demo video

 

Speedy Route

Speedy Route is a basic route planner suitable for small companies, that permits optimizing a route for multiple delivery vehicles at a time. The free version allows calculating up to 3 routes within 24 hours with up to 10 locations per route. 

A paid version of Speedy Route is also available for €45 a month ($50/ £40). With the paid account users can plan an unlimited number of routes per day with more than ten waypoints per route.

The advantages of Speedy Route include adding time constraints on the routes, and a handy drag & drop location reordering function. This allows tuning the order of the stops to the user’s specific needs.

 

Pros: 

  • free (paid version also available)
  • automatically optimizes routes
  • allows planning routes for up to 10 drivers at a time
  • locations in the route can be timeboxed
  • drag & drop location reordering function
  • allows importing multiple locations from files (.text format)
  • routes can be exported as CSV (spreadsheet) or GPX (TomTom, Garmin)

 

Cons:

  • a very limited number of stops and routes per day can be planned
  • timeboxing available only for up to 25% of the locations on the route
  • no mobile app for drivers

 

Flightmap

Flightmap’s mapping infrastructure was designed by Tookan (a paid delivery management software) and allows planning routes for up to 2 vehicles with the limitation of 200 stops a month. For more prominent companies with up to 500 vehicles, a paid version for $0.10 per stop per month is available. 

Users can upload addresses in bulk via CSV files with additional data or add them manually. 

Optimization objectives like “trip duration limit” or “maximum tasks per vehicle” can be set. Still, these will affect all drivers the same.

 

Pros: 

  • free (paid version also available)
  • automatic route optimization
  • allows viewing optimized route in list and map view
  • enables manual stop re-arrangement with drag & drop function
  • possibility to export routes in CSV files

 

Cons:

  • route optimization only available for 2 drivers at a time
  • separate stops cannot be optimized using different parameters
  • no mobile app for drivers

 

Paid multi-stop route planners

As delivery businesses grow, the need for more complex route planning software will inevitably become necessary. Paid software includes more features and should meet delivery businesses’ unique needs better. 

There are so many options on the market that going through a list of them all would be overwhelming. We’ve taken a look at five software apps that we believe offer the best functionality for their price.

 

GSMtasks

Pricing

 $15.30 / €14 / £12.90 per mo/per user*

*Special offer for bigger companies with more than 50 vehicles

Free trial

14 days (no credit card required)

Support

Available via live chat, email, phone, and helpful articles

 

GSMtasks entered the market in 2015 and is primarily a task management software that offers route planning and optimization in addition to many other features.

Because of the software’s extensive functionality, it’s suitable for many different businesses who want to manage their team in the field more efficiently.

Although GSMtasks’s price is considerably lower compared to others, its features do not lag behind larger competitors. Users can mass-upload addresses with related delivery information via Excel files. Routes are automatically optimized while taking into account different optimization objectives and time-windows that have been set.

With the auto-assignment function, tasks are distributed to the drivers’ mobile app that is used as a navigation device, available for iOS and Android smart-devices. The app also includes a digital proof of delivery. It allows drivers to upload photos as well as collect client signatures. 

 

Additional free features include: 

  • live tracking
  • recurring task scheduling
  • fleet analytics
  • GPS navigation integration
  • custom meta fields
  • customizable push-notifications to clients with a tracking link
  • drag & drop task management
  • API integration
  • real-time updates
  • digital documents
  • full support via live chat inside the software

 

Routific

Pricing

Pro version $59/ €52.4 / £47 per vehicle/mo. (monthly billing)

Pro version $49 / €43.5 / £39 per vehicle/mo. (annual billing)

Free trial

7 days (no credit card required)

Support

Available via live chat, e-mail, phone, helpful articles, and FAQ section

 

Routific is a popular route planning and optimization software that was founded in 2012. It’s a smart logistics platform that optimizes routes for last-mile transportation fleets. 

Their route optimization is based on real-world factors like time windows, vehicle capacities, delivery types, driver shift times, and much more.

Routific also has two driver mobile apps – Routific Driver and Routific Driver Lite. As these are not directly connected to the web application, routes have to be sent to the driver via SMS text message.

 

Other features include:

  • live tracking
  • route management with drag & drop function
  • customer import
  • automatic SMS and email notifications to clients
  • signature capture
  • delivery analytics
  • API integration

 

OptimoRoute

Pricing

Enterprise package $59 / €52.4 / £47 per driver/mo. (monthly billing)

Enterprise package $35.1 / €31.2 / £28 per driver/mo. (annual billing)

Free trial

30 days (no credit card required)

Support

Available via email and helpful articles

 

OptimoRoute was founded in 2012 and offers cloud-based software for delivery drivers and service technicians who need efficient routes and schedules in their daily work. 

One of the advantages of OptimoRoute is that users can set up individual driver profiles. Users can plan their routes while taking into account several factors like drivers’ skills, vehicle types, and shift schedules. 

A free mobile app for drivers is also available for Android and iOS platforms.

 

Additional features include:

  • real-time route modification
  • live tracking and ETA
  • real-time notifications to clients via SMS or email
  • workload balancing
  • analytics
  • weekly planning
  • API integration

 

Onfleet

Pricing

Basic package with route optimization starts at $349 / €310.3 / £278.6 per mo.

Free trial

14 days

Support

Available via email and helpful articles (priority support available for pro users)

 

Onfleet was founded in 2012 to offer businesses a professional delivery management solution. A few years later, they started to focus more on route planning and optimization as well and added the functionality in their software. 

Onfleet’s integrated route optimization engine takes multiple factors, including location, capacity, time, and traffic, into consideration to produce the most efficient routing solutions.

Auto-dispatch sends the routes straight to the drivers’ mobile app, which is available for download both in the App Store and on Google Play.

 

Some extra features include:

  • task, status and driver search
  • live driver tracking and ETA’s
  • integration with different navigation platforms
  • analytics
  • proof of delivery in the driver app
  • driver chat
  • feedback collector
  • CSV and Excel files import
  • automatic notifications to customers via SMS (premium and pro plan)
  • API integration

 

Route4Me

Pricing

Route Optimization Plus starting at $299/ €265.6/ £238.1 per mo.*

*Price includes up to 10 team members ($50/mo. per extra team member)

Free trial

7 days (no credit card required)

Support

Available via email, live chat, phone, and helpful articles

 

Route4Me was founded in 2009 and is probably the most customizable software on our list. They offer a ton of different functions and for that reason, suit almost any type of business. 

The caveat is that almost every feature is a paid add-on that adds to the monthly subscription so that the final price can be quite expensive.

Route4Me offers more information about the optimized routes and allows users to view them in multiple ways. 

A driver mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices that allows tracking their progress live. All the changes made in the web application will be automatically shown on the app as well.

 

Some other features include: 

  • sale and delivery territory set up
  • delivery time windows
  • bulk customer information upload
  • real-time tracking
  • flexible driver and vehicle reassignment
  • business analytics
  • route progress tracking
  • video, note and signature upload in the driver app
  • API integration

  

Conclusion

With the world changing fast and the popularity of eCommerce proliferating, even smaller companies need to transition away from manual route planning and old-fashioned delivery management.

This guide to the most popular delivery route planner apps helps you choose which delivery software to use. 

Related articles

Google Maps Route Optimization – Can You Trust It?

Google Maps route optimization app is one of the best known to plan routes. But is the Google Maps route…

Read More
GSMtasks contact free delivery

Contactless home delivery: Surviving the COVID-19 outbreak

Contactless home delivery: How to survive during the COVID-19 outbreak The COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate their priorities…

Read More
WE TAKE EVERYTHING INTO ACCOUNT

Route optimization gets your drivers from A to B to Z faster

Start using field services management software for free

Workforce management software made easy

Request Free Demo