Blog > Last mile delivery
Blog > Last mile delivery
Published on 26 July 2021 • Reading time: 9 min read
Transport companies are faced with a persistent shortage of delivery drivers, despite many permanent positions on offer. To deal with this, they are looking at all the solutions available to them, starting with route optimisation applications.
Against all odds, these planning software applications represent a preferred solution for improving drivers’ working conditions and reducing their stress levels.
Thanks to such applications, operations managers can create more accurate routes, while drivers can be sure of receiving the right information at the right time to carry out their route successfully.
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Mobile applications make life easier for delivery drivers. These tools enable realistic and balanced route planning. For transport companies, this is a guarantee of employee loyalty.
The delivery and road haulage sectors are currently suffering from a serious lack of attractiveness. Persistent clichés cling to these jobs: long working hours, stress, work risks, low pay, and so on. And the health crisis hasn’t helped!
In its 2020 report, the Observatoire Prospectif des Transports et de la Logistique (OPTL) lists 42,230 vacancies registered with France Travail (English: France Work), previously Pôle emploi, for positions in “short-distance driving and delivery routes”. It is an increase of 8% compare to the previous year.
But the most revealing figure for this lack of attractiveness is the proportion of recruitments judged to be difficult. Operations managers found it difficult to recruit 60% of drivers and short-haul delivery staff. The figure was even 73% for lorry drivers!
The result: while business is growing, boosted in particular by the explosion in e-commerce, companies are not managing to recruit enough drivers to meet demand.
Some transport companies are forced to refuse contracts or postpone delivery dates, at the risk of upsetting their customers.
To avoid such situations, most companies try to implement strategies to prevent problems and build loyalty among delivery drivers. Improving the level of driver satisfaction and strengthening the bond with them is therefore now one of the missions of the logistics manager.
The routes that are considered unfeasible or unrealistic are among the most common reasons for dissatisfaction. The advantage of online route optimisation software is that it calculates the best route, taking into account a number of constraints:
By taking into account the many constraints inherent to the business, you limit the risk of unforeseen events, and therefore of unplanned overtime at the end of the route.
This is an essential step in relieving the pressure on drivers’ shoulders, and gradually re-establishing trust and communication…
All route optimisation software works in connection with navigation applications such as Waze or Google Maps. The advantage of a route-planning application like AntsRoute is that you can set the precise parameters for the type of vehicle assigned to each driver: heavy goods vehicle (HGV), refrigerated lorry, light commercial vehicle, scooter, natural gas vehicle, electric car or bicycle, etc.
From the AntsRoute interface, the route plans are then created according to this information. For example, if you choose the “HGV” type, certain routes are modified to take account of traffic restrictions or the height of the vehicle (tunnel, bridge, etc.).
Similarly, you can set the maximum battery life of an electric vehicle. The application then calculates the optimum route based on the location of the charging stations.
By extracting data from GPS applications such as Google Maps or Waze, your delivery drivers and couriers also benefit from real-time route updates. The application, which works on any mobile device, tells the driver his estimated time of arrival, with the number of minutes in advance or late in relation to the planned arrival time.
In the event of unexpected events, delays or traffic problems, the driver is automatically alerted, and his route is recalculated accordingly. If, for example, you ask a driver to make an extra stop to pick-up a parcel, the route is updated in real time on his smartphone, which also works as his GPS and route map.
Keeping your drivers loyal means improving in-house communication wherever possible. Transmitting useful information to drivers helps them feel involved and in control of the situation.
The objective of a route optimisation app is precisely to provide each operator with all the relevant data at any given moment. By logging on to the mobile application, drivers should be able to get answers to their main questions in the blink of an eye. Where should I load packages? How many stops should I do during my route? Which truck should I use? What’s the best route for delivering my customers?
In practical terms, with the AntsRoute app, drivers can view all the relevant information about their delivery route in real time:
Thanks to this precise, concise overview of his route, there’s no longer any need to enter the various addresses one by one into his GPS. The driver has as much information as possible to ensure that his deliveries are successful at the first presentation, and to limit no-shows that are as time-consuming as they are stressful. In the event of a difficult delivery, he also feels less helpless when dealing with the customer, since he has more data to “clear up” the complaint beforehand.
The use of a mobile application also improves exchanges, and therefore the relationship between the delivery driver and the end customer. These apps make it possible to communicate a great deal of information to the customer to be delivered, quickly and without the risk of missing data:
Informed and reassured, end customers can more easily organise themselves to receive their parcels on first presentation. In the event of a problem, they will also be less tempted to blame the driver, as the “bad news” will have been delivered beforehand…
The last, but not least, reason for adopting a route optimisation application like AntsRoute is to eliminate paperwork. This is a crucial argument, given the amount of red tape involved in route management that some logistics professionals find daunting.
All the driver has to do, for example, is tap on the screen of his smartphone or tablet to find his route plan and delivery notes online in the mobile application. If the operations manager so wishes, he can also attach various documents relating to the route in electronic format (order forms, invoices, etc.).
Finally, the electronic signature and digitisation of proof of delivery are highly effective in preventing disputes and facilitating their handling. To certify the condition of parcels on arrival, the driver can, for example, take photos of them. This is an invaluable way of dealing with customers who are not always acting in good faith…
Similarly, if the customer is absent, the delivery driver can capture photos of the message displayed on the door, or enter a few words in the application to explain why the delivery failed.
Finally, this paperless proof of delivery eliminates the risk of delivery documents being lost or stolen.
If you decide to equip your delivery drivers with a mobile application, you’ll find that there are several free solutions, such as Google Maps or Waze. Particularly popular, these applications offer many advantages, but they also have some potential drawbacks.
To help you understand better, here’s an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of these free applications to consider when making your choice.
💡 In the end, it’s an analysis of your needs and your budget that will determine whether you can be satisfied with equipping your delivery drivers with a free application..
The AntsRoute application, available on Android smartphones, iPhones and iPads, is a highly effective tool for improving your drivers’ working conditions on a daily basis and preventing them from leaving the company. To enable you to measure the benefits for 7 days, we are offering you a free trial, with no commitment and no credit card number required. Click here to sign up!