Blog > Last mile delivery
Blog > Last mile delivery
13 December 2022 | 7 min read
If you run a small business that relies on delivering goods, you will appreciate that managing delivery times can be challenging. Not only do you need to ensure you can meet customer expectations, but you also have to manage stock levels, orders, processing and packaging to ensure your deliveries arrive at their end destination on time and in perfect condition.
At AntsRoute, we’re heavily invested in providing the best possible solutions to our customers to help them take the stress out of the delivery process and improve their delivery times. We have what we believe to be the best software in the industry to drive our customers’ small businesses forward, optimising delivery times and both making and saving them money in the process.
There is nothing to stop you organising your delivery routes manually but doing so is time-consuming and often inefficient. Particularly if there are real-time issues, replanning routes can seem impossible. Problems often only arise in the final stages of delivery, at which point quick decisions are needed to get everything back on track. If this is out of hours, or if you can’t reach the person in charge of route-planning, you will face a big problem.
With an online software solution like ours here at AntsRoute, managing routes more effectively is simple, making it easy to improve delivery times for small businesses.
Delivery is the final stage in getting your products to your customers. Route management software can make a huge difference to how smoothly this occurs, but there are also a number of steps you can take beforehand that increase the likelihood of a straightforward delivery.
Effective stock management is essential for managing delivery times. Keeping track of your inventory levels and developing a system to quickly restock when necessary will help you avoid delays caused by customers requesting out-of-stock items. This will also improve customer confidence in your ability to supply them with what they need, when they need it.
Streamlining the process of taking orders and getting them ready for shipment by automating as many steps as possible will get your products out the door quicker. In addition, making sure staff are trained on how to handle orders efficiently will give them the confidence in their ability to perform their role and reduce time that would be wasted if they were unsure of what to do, or physically unavailable to do it.
We always advise our customers to invest in quality packaging materials. Durable boxes, bubble wrap, foam cushioning and other suitable packing materials will ensure that products arrive safely and intact. We also recommend using labels to indicate which way up packages should be stored during transit to minimise the risk of damage. Ensuring that products are packaged properly is key to them arriving in perfect condition. This leads to greater customer satisfaction, which can increase brand loyalty, repeat business and referrals. It also reduces the likelihood of having to pay for returns, replacements and repeat orders to rectify any issues. Damaged goods take longer to replace than goods shipped correctly in the first place, so it’s essential to invest in quality shipping supplies up front. This investment will pay off over time by reducing returns and complaints.
You can never be too prepared. It’s always better to plan ahead for what you know will be busy periods, such as Christmas holidays or peak shopping occasions like Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. To ensure timely delivery of goods when demand increases significantly, stock up on packaging materials in advance and plan out additional shifts if necessary to accommodate the increased workload during these peak periods. Even if you sell a product that isn’t affected by seasonal changes, other businesses will be using the same roads and routes that you will, making everything busier. Planning your delivery routes in advance or using software such as ours at AntsRoute to plan them for you, will make everything much more straightforward.
Once you have done all you can to ensure that your product starts its journey in the best condition, a route-optimising software solution can further provide the best possible experience to your customers, ensuring that they receive their packages promptly while providing valuable insight into where improvements can be made to increase efficiency. Route management software can assist with improving the delivery times for small businesses in a number of ways:
Customers can book an appointment online at any time of day, negating the need for there to be a physical person present to accept their order. Not only does this mean there is time to be saved by your staff, but there is also a potential for orders to be placed at any time, including evenings, weekends and out-of-hours.
Your operations manager or dispatcher can easily schedule, optimise, track and analyse your delivery from a single dashboard. Orders are assigned to field workers in a matter of seconds, factoring in the deliveries already planned, the time slots selected by customers and the skills and availability of your drivers. The advanced algorithms that optimise your driver’s routes also consider the usual traffic conditions on a route and can reorder the steps of a route or assign a work order to another driver if needed. Performance can be tracked to show the average miles travelled per order and the average cost per route and order, to assess whether any time or cost savings could be made.
Drivers don’t have to worry about printed roadmaps or paperwork as everything is managed via the mobile app. From here they can see exactly where they need to go and the route they should take to get there. Waze or Google maps can help navigate them to their next stop and orders can be accessed even if offline, meaning there is no downtime should your driver enter an area where mobile or WIFI signals are poor.
Using our geolocation system, you have a real-time awareness of where your drivers are, enabling you to respond to unforeseen events or emergencies quickly. Routes can be updated anytime, even if they have already begun. Live status updates allow you to inform your customers whether their delivery is on time or delayed and when changes are made, recalculated routes are seen instantly.
Our software can be integrated with WooCommerce, Prestashop, or your other CRM or ERP system so that customers can arrange delivery at a time to suit them as soon as they place an order. As customers can book an appointment online 24/7 with no manual input required, there is a great potential for time-saving with orders being placed outside of business hours, getting them out the door and into your customers’ hands quicker. Availability is updated in real time meaning that all order slots booked by customers will be pre-approved with no possibility of double booking.
AntsRoute is paperless to support your workers in the field. Drivers confirm delivery without worrying about getting signed delivery notes, saving time for both them and the customer by avoiding paperwork and unnecessary disputes. Once the driver has validated a work order, proof of delivery is sent to the web interface and the customer is sent a PDF delivery note or work order report via email around 30 minutes later.
As route optimisation software works in real-time and factors in traffic conditions and geographical distance, it is easier to successfully reassign stops to a colleague in case of staff absence or in the event of an unplanned delay. By creating the most efficient routes possible, your drivers can make fewer stops while still delivering all of their packages on time.
Customers being out or unavailable when their goods are delivered wastes time as an attempt at redelivery is then required. Route planning software that allows these customers to book slots at a suitable time, and that keeps them informed and reminded of their delivery via SMS or email, makes them more likely to be available at the planned time or able to reschedule in ample time should their plans change. This is better for both the customer wishing to schedule the rest of their day around their delivery, and for your driver who’s time will not have been wasted.
The benefits of using route-optimisation software are clear and there are many advantages over manual route planning methods. From time spent planning routes, increased visibility into the entire process from start to finish, and the ability to handle unforeseen events, organising delivery routes through our easy route management software will improve delivery times for small businesses, making their day-to-day work easier, while providing their customers with a top-level service.
Did this article make you want to know more about AntsRoute, our comprehensive delivery optimisation solution for SMEs? To test it for free for 7 days, go to this page!