Software Solutions

How to streamline last-mile delivery operations

June 11, 2024

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From cost to timing, the right shipping options can be the difference between making a sale or a customer abandoning their cart for good. With shipping now second to the product itself when it comes to a customer’s decision-making, it’s important to make sure your delivery operation is working how you need it to. 

But as a business grows, so too can the challenges of last-mile delivery: with growth comes a greater number of packages to keep track of, making their way to more places in a growing fleet, as labor, fuel, and vehicle costs continue to rise.

While paper maps and Excel spreadsheets were once the backbone of planning a delivery vehicle’s day on the road, the reality of business operations today demand a more streamlined last-mile delivery process. 

That’s where a last-mile delivery optimization software can help. 

Is it better to buy or build your own software?

As the pandemic lockdowns proved, some of us thrive on DIY and the satisfaction of building something from start to finish. Others take the approach that it’s best to leave certain things to the experts trained for those tasks.

Each approach is valid, and when it comes to a tech solution to optimize your last-mile delivery operations, the answer to the question of whether to buy or build may lie in a combination of factors such as the size of an organization and its delivery operations, its internal tech capabilities, and of course, budget.

For most, however, buying a customisable software solution built by experts may be the best option. 

The must-have features of last-mile delivery optimization software

There’s no shortage of tech providers solving problems in the last-mile delivery space, but like any other product, the key is figuring out which one actually meets your organization’s needs. While there may be some specifics geared to your type of organization or industry that you need to consider, when it comes to the basics, there are a few must-haves to look out for. 

  • Easy integration and scalability

You know what you’re doing, so you need something to fit around your organization’s needs - not the other way around. The right solution will be able to integrate seamlessly into your existing IT stack and work hand in hand with everything from your inventory and order management systems to your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, and everything in between. 

It’s also important to find a solution that’s able to scale with your business. Whether you’re preparing to ramp up during the busy holiday periods and then return to business as usual, or a business looking to expand into new territory and new routes, you want a solution that will grow with you.

  • Route optimization and driver management

In theory, getting a delivery out to a customer sounds like it should be the easiest part of the whole logistics process, but the reality is that the last mile is often the hardest part of the journey, with just one driver’s 10-stop day on the road presenting millions of possible routes.

The ideal software will be able to analyze hundreds of thousands of stops in minutes to make sure each delivery gets to where it needs to be as quickly - and as safely - as possible. It will then learn from each stop to continuously optimize your delivery operations

Driver management tools are also key. Look for a platform that can talk to the fleet on the go, helping drivers switch up their route so they can avoid everything from traffic to road closures in real time.

  • Tracking and reporting features

With customers asking for regular updates on their delivery, real-time tracking and visibility across your last-mile operation is crucial. 

A few must-haves to look out for are features including driver location monitoring, estimated arrival times, and customer notifications. These features can help you spot and solve bottlenecks as they happen, so you can get things back on track as soon as possible.

These features should then feed into robust analytics and reporting dashboards, to give you valuable insights that assist in your organization’s strategic decision-making. 

  • Updates and support

You’ve made the decision to buy tech from the experts, so they need to be around to help you use it.

Beyond their website, you can start to gauge a provider’s support capabilities through the sales pitch - sure, every company puts their smoothest talker forward to get you to sign on the dotted line, but some providers go the extra mile to deepen your understanding of exactly how their product will benefit you. You’ll need support in your corner for everything from the initial onboarding and set up process to training your staff, and quick assistance in the event that any glitches arise.

As your organization grows and adapts to an ever-changing landscape, your tech needs to keep up. Look out for a provider that’s committed to making regular updates to their product suite, from fixing bugs to releasing new features, to help future-proof your operations. 

Check out our documentation for an idea of what you’ll need to know before buying a route planning software.

  • Cost

Yes, it’s an obvious one, but it’s an obvious one for a reason. The right solution is worth paying for, but it’s important to make sure you’re paying for features you can make the most of. After all, the costs can add up, and there’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve been paying for a subscription you stopped using and forgot to cancel. Depending on the provider, you might have to pay an upfront fee, a regular subscription, and renewal charges, so it’s important to make sure you know - and will use - what you’re paying for.  

Try Adiona’s 14-day free trial

Logistics optimization is a big investment, which is why we offer a full-access trial to our FlexOps suite of products. Use your real requirements and data to judge the platform for yourself and check it has everything you need before you make a decision. Our team will even help you get set up! 

Contact us Now!