For fleet managers in beverage distribution, last-mile delivery is the final touchpoint of customer service. It’s an opportunity for your fleet to exceed client expectations of what a delivery partner can be, handling each and every case and keg dropoff with the utmost care and professionalism.
Because most beverage distribution fleets are making multiple stops across a portfolio of clients every single day, efficient route planning is key to ensuring the success of that final touchpoint and making deliveries on-time. Even in the most perfect conditions — light traffic, easy parking, skilled drivers, sunny and 70º, agreeable clients — it can be difficult to plan and execute a route with multiple stops and meet every customer time window. And when conditions are less than perfect, executing a multi-stop route can be a nightmare – across fleets of any size.
But route planning for delivery drivers doesn’t have to be an ongoing struggle. Tools exist to help operations managers in beverage distribution automate the entire process, save planning hours, and go from zero visibility to real-time understanding of driver location, stop progress, on-time performance, order details (case counts), service-level time and more.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- The definition of a multi-stop route planner
- Factors to consider when planning a multi-stop route
- Different methods used to create a delivery route (from a pen-and-paper route planner to dynamic route planning and optimization software)
- Benefits of delivery route planning software
What is a multi-stop route planner?
A multi-stop route planner helps fleet managers and operations professionals plan the most cost-effective and efficient routes for their delivery fleets. At the very least, inputs into the plan should include a list of every stop (with addresses, contact info, any pertinent dropoff notes, etc.) and each driver’s schedule.
What factors should you consider when planning a multi-stop route?
When deciding how to plan a delivery route with multiple stops, fleet managers should account for the following:
- Distance/Travel Time – Is the shortest-distance route actually the most efficient in regards to fuel and time?
- Time Windows – What time does the customer expect delivery? Are there penalties for arriving outside of specified time windows?
- Customer Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) – Are there any line items that must be contractually fulfilled for the customer?
- Vehicle Type/Capacity – How much inventory can each vehicle accommodate?
- Business Objectives – Are your business priorities saving fuel costs, using all drivers, minimizing overtime, decreasing overhead, and/or achieving any other business outcomes?
- Customer Service – What steps need to be taken to ensure clear communication, on-time delivery, and happy clients?
- Driver Availability & Skill – Which drivers are available which days/times, and who has the skills (or license type) required for each vehicle in your fleet?
- Driver Satisfaction – Do you have tenured or unionized drivers who receive specific routes?
What are the different methods used to create a delivery route with multiple stops?
Everyone has their own methods to manage the complexities that delivery route planning presents, but not all route planner technologies are created equal. Let’s explore the different methods you can use to create a multi-stop delivery route.
Manually with Maps or Spreadsheets
Manual route planning involves putting pen to paper to plan drivers’ routes. Clunky, out-of-date spreadsheets may also be involved in the manual process.
Not only is this process time consuming, but it also makes it nearly impossible to adapt on the fly. Further, the larger the fleet, the more essential a technology-driven solution becomes.
Simple Online Planners & Maps
Free route planning tools can help you determine the fastest route from one stop to the next, factoring in real-time traffic conditions. But these stop-gap solutions are limited in terms of the number of stops you can add, and don’t take into account truck-navigation requirements and numerous other factors.
Legacy (On-Premise) Route Planning Software
Traditional on-premise software solutions have been used to create optimized routes. However, with limited support options and increasing obsolescence, they are no longer state-of-the-art for this critical function.
Delivery Route Planning Software
The best route planning makes use of data – your data and other data sets that will automate and optimize your daily routes. Modern delivery route planning software takes numerous, customizable inputs and creates the most efficient routes for your team, optimizes routes as needed as data changes, and shares vital information with everyone involved in the delivery process – dispatchers, drivers, managers, and delivery recipients.
Features of the most successful delivery route planning softwares include:
- Real-time visibility, showing drivers’ locations and stop progress
- Robust, API-based integrations allowing the free flow of data to/from your systems of record
- Machine learning that makes your results better with time
- Cloud-based infrastructure that gives you the power and scale to seamlessly manage your routing operations without requiring your team to manage on-premise equipment or upgrades
Benefits of Delivery Route Planning Software for Multi-Stop Routes
- Quickly create efficient, optimized routes
- Maximize fleet utilization
- Improve on-time performance
- Minimize customer refusals
- Provide visibility into order status to customers
- Seamlessly coordinate between drivers and sales teams
- Decrease overall fleet miles
Wise Systems | A Delivery Driver Route Planner That Makes Your Life Easier
Route Planner from Wise Systems enables beverage fleets to create the most cost-effective and efficient multi-stop routes. Once you adopt a modern last-mile route planning system, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Here are just a few of the key features of Wise Systems’ cloud-based multi-stop route planner:
- A powerful and user-friendly platform that automates route planning
- Web-based applications that make route and stop data easy to visualize
- Algorithms that work in real time to increase fleet efficiency
- Seamless integrations with third-party systems (OMS, ERP, ELDs and others)
- Machine learning that improves your fleet’s performance over time
Drop the legacy solutions. Use the form below to schedule a demo of Route Planner and the Wise Systems delivery automation platform.
And check out this video to learn what some of our clients in the beverage industry have to say.