Blog > Last mile delivery
Blog > Last mile delivery
Published on 19 December 2023 • Reading time: 8 min read
Innovative logistics solutions, such as route management, are not just for large companies.
As a small or medium-sized enterprise ( SME ), you also need:
The good news is that it’s possible, even without having to pay thousands of dollars, and without having to use complicated software with unnecessary functions.
The route management software solutions, such as AntsRoute, allow you to do all this at once.
But to make sure it’s relevant to you, you need to know what’s behind these terms and features. In particular, you need answers to the following questions:
In this article, we answer all these questions, and give you some real-life examples of how some of our customers are using our solutions.
The logistics innovation provides SMEs with key solutions for their growth. These advanced tools are now accessible and adaptable. They turn logistics challenges into business opportunities.
Its main objective is to optimise travel and itineraries.
More precisely, the aim is to increase the efficiency of routes, by minimising costs, distances, waiting times and delivery or field service deadlines.
A route can be defined as a series of successive stops, with an action to be carried out at each stop. These actions vary depending on the context. They may involve the delivery or pick-up of products, maintenance operations, or even medical care.
By optimising routes, these stages can be planned and ordered in the most effective way.
A number of factors need to be taken into account:
If you prepare fresh products for the catering sector, you will need to deliver them before the meals are prepared. This is particularly the case for our customer Margain Marée.
If you repair and deliver bulky and technical medical equipment, you need to ensure that the skills of your technicians match the tasks to be carried out and the load capacity of the vehicles. Our customer FBP Médical can testify about this on our website.
There are many examples, depending on your activity.
The route planning software is often based on advanced technologies such as optimisation algorithms, geographic information systems (GIS) and real-time data. These tools enable dynamic planning, taking into account emergencies and actual traffic conditions.
It’s hard to answer this question: what sector of activity doesn’t need to optimise its trips? It’s difficult to find one: most sectors can be concerned.
Let’s ask the question differently:
This question is already easier to answer.
Here is the first, but not exhaustive, list of sectors identified:
But it can also involve cleaning routes, managing deliveries to construction sites, and taking back hire cars.
In short, all regular transport activities could be optimised in terms of time and efficiency.
The SMEs that contact us do not all have the same needs.
Some companies are facing an increase in delivery volumes, particularly during certain public holidays or at Christmas. They need to be better organised to deal with these peaks in activity. This is particularly true for Licorne Express, a bakery and confectionery company.
Other SMEs are overwhelmed by requests for information from their customers: about delivery times, delivery dates, proof of delivery. They want to improve communication with their customers by automating certain information tasks. Our customer Margain Marée has been through this.
All these small and medium-sized businesses want to better adapt to the needs of their customers: to offer them the best possible service and information, to increase their satisfaction.
This means improving the traceability of information, and ensuring both punctuality and responsiveness, while taking into account the specific constraints of their customers.
Many of you use Google Maps, Google Calendar, Excel and other route and appointment planning tools. But you’re quickly limited when you have to integrate several business constraints and plan variable itineraries for several agents.
This is exactly where route management software can help. It is often possible to integrate a number of criteria:
By adapting this software to your specific needs, you’ll be able to achieve high delivery standards and streamline your work processes. The Tech Express home delivery agency can testify to this.
However, you need to make sure that you choose route optimisation software that gives you a certain amount of flexibility. The software you opt for should be customisable and allow you to quickly, and sometimes manually, change the order of deliveries in case of emergency. This is essential if you want to be more responsive and adapt to your customers’ needs.
When it comes to choosing route optimisation software, we shouldn’t forget the well-being of your drivers. The Saint André organic fruit and vegetable farm, for example, is using AntsRoute software to improve the integration of its delivery drivers who are working on integration contracts. Our tool is particularly appreciated for its geolocation, data centralisation and photo-taking functions when delivering food baskets. It facilitates the work, monitoring and integration of new employees. The result is a shorter training period, less staff turnover and more relaxed drivers.
There are 4 main advantages to this software, which are outlined below. In particular, you’ll find some of the benefits mentioned above.
The algorithms suggest the best possible routes and itineraries according to the criteria selected. They can also take into account actual traffic conditions.
The result: significant time savings for your teams, avoided mileage and CO2 emissions, and the guarantee of being faster and more punctual.
By integrating your own constraints into the software, you can also ensure that you have the right equipment, vehicles with sufficient load capacity and skilled agents at your customers’ premises.
“The algorithm thinks of solutions that I wouldn’t necessarily have imagined, and which take into account the constraints set by customers. The human brain tends to think that it will find the best solution, but this is rarely the case. The algorithm is much more right than the human!” – Sébastien Specht, co-founder of La Boissonnerie de Paris
Customers can receive automated notifications, letting them know when their order has been taken into account, when delivery is due or when servicing is planned, with a reminder before the visit. The reports and proofs of delivery can also be integrated into the software platform.
Customers and administrative departments can track deliveries in real time, without having to keep in touch with each other. An undeniable gain in transparency, confidence and efficiency for both parties.
The live chat option, such as the one we offer with the AntsRoute software, also means you can react more quickly to any problems with the software.
“Live chat works very well. At worst, if the robot doesn’t have the answer, a human picks up the slack. There really is someone behind the screen! This high level of responsiveness is very much appreciated in our business, where things have to move quickly and work properly. In the same way, the team is always ready to listen and improve certain functions. I have the impression that my requests are being taken on board, and that’s great. Véronique Pfister, Technical supervisor at the Ferme Saint-André”
As we have already seen with the example of the Ferme Saint André, route optimisation software can help to:
An essential advantage in times of labour shortages.
By optimising routes, you can also reduce the time spent per route and avoid paying overtime.
For example, the Belgian association Télé-Secours has also chosen AntsRoute software. One of their objectives was to have better visibility over their schedules and to secure the planning of their field operations, which are so essential for the elderly people they help. As a result, the drivers have a realistic and safe route. In addition, they remain free to modify their route plan if an operation takes longer.
“Our business has very specific constraints. Sometimes we have to send a technician to the other end of Belgium for a single operation, because it’s a matter of life and death. We can’t leave the customer in a state of insecurity for a whole weekend! That’s why AntsRoute is so useful for smartly completing the work schedules of our technicians. Sébastien Dandoy, Deputy Director of Télé-Secours
The last but not least benefit of route planning software is the use of data.
Without data, there’s no objective assessment of how your routes are working.
Your data is often spread across disparate tables and reports. Sometimes they exist only in the memory of your drivers or technicians.
The route management software allows you to centralise this data on a single platform. You can import the data from Excel spreadsheets or from your commercial software. Conversely, you can export the data contained in route optimisation software. They also frequently offer options for analysing deliveries per route, time, courier, etc. Licorne Express, for example, chose this option when it opted for AntsRoute software.
The software also allows customers to evaluate the delivery or service. This also helps you to draw conclusions about the smooth running of your routes and to optimise them.
Each route optimisation software package has its own specific features, which you can choose according to your needs.
AntsRoute software is recommended by our customers for its ease of use, flexibility and efficiency. It starts at just 17 euros per month per vehicle. So make the most of it!