A Complete Guide to the Best Route Planning Software in 2023

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According to Invesp’s Report, 80% of shoppers want their orders to be delivered on the same day, while 61% of shoppers want their packages even faster, within 1-3 hours of placing their orders. 

However, fulfilling these demands is easier said than done. Free and fast shipping of products puts additional pressure on businesses to optimize the delivery process. And, without proper route planning, it would be impossible to deliver the packages faster while keeping the delivery expenses low. 

Hence, investing in the best route planning software in 2023 can help businesses overcome these and many other challenges. 

What Is Route Planning?

Route planning is the process of generating the most efficient route to move between multiple drop locations while considering multiple factors, such as the shortest distance, fastest delivery, multi-stop deliveries, etc. Manual route planning fails to generate the most efficient routes keeping multiple variables in mind. Hence, the majority of businesses use route planning software.

Traditional or static route planning has become too slow for the current customer demands. This has made the role of smart route planning software all the more important. As same-day delivery and hyperlocal delivery models become increasingly common, automated route planning software has become a key factor in deciding delivery companies’ efficiency and profits.

Now let’s dig deep into automatic route planning solutions, their advantages, best features, and more.

What Is Automatic Route Planning Software?

Automatic route planning software uses smart in-built AI/ML algorithms to find the most efficient delivery routes for multiple shipments, vehicles, riders, etc., as per the multiple optimization constraints set by the businesses/users. Businesses looking for the best route planning software 2023 should check for dynamic routing capabilities, real-time monitoring, and re-routing based on unforeseen events such as traffic congestion, parcel damage, accident, etc.

Finding an efficient route that is optimized for specific delivery use cases and shipment types can help a business decrease fuel cost, minimize delays in delivery, improve the productivity of the drivers, and boost customer experience. Also, businesses can optimize their delivery routes in real-time, ensuring OTIF (On time in full) compliance and better adherence to SLAs.

Best Route Planning Software 2023 – Benefits

Smarter route optimization provides advantages to multiple businesses, ranging from retail to shipping and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the major pros of using route planning software.

Reduces Miles Traveled 

Dynamic route planning software constantly analyzes the available delivery routes to reduce the overall miles a driver needs to travel. Businesses can leverage the in-built intelligent algorithms to reduce the number of miles traveled for deliveries, increase the number of deliveries per trip and increase asset utilization for optimized resource use. 

Driving fewer miles translates into shorter delivery times and lower delivery costs, and also reduces overall fuel consumption as well. It also reduces vehicle maintenance costs and means that there are fewer chances of road accidents and vehicle downtime.

Reduces Delivery Costs

The number one requirement from the best route planning software in 2023 is to have more than one way to reduce the overall delivery cost and generate more revenue. 

Here’s a list of different ways smart route planning and optimization software can help do so:

  • The vehicles drive fewer miles to deliver the packages. This lowers the fuel cost of your delivery vehicles.
  • Companies can utilize self-fleet capacity to the fullest to reduce the need for hiring more vehicles from the market or assigning deliveries to 3PL. 
  • Businesses can set specific routing parameters for specific vehicles, areas, shipments, drivers, etc., to have stringent control over on-road movements.
  • Smart route planning and optimization software offer real-time tracking that enables businesses to monitor the real-time movements of vehicles, which helps address issues such as deviation from the system-generated routes.

Offers Real-time Operational Visibility

Businesses can have better control over the delivery fleet as long as they can get real-time updates on riders’ locations. The best route planning software in 2023 will make sure that the drivers and the delivery vehicles are supervised and that they strictly follow the predetermined delivery routes and schedules. 

Such platforms can easily track any sort of deviation from the original delivery route and monitor if a driver is behind schedule because of excessive idling. It can even help companies identify delivery challenges and take timely actions to fix them. 

Minimizes Manual Intervention 

With the introduction of route planning software, it has become easier to automate task allocation and eliminate the risk of human-induced errors. The software considers multiple factors like real-time traffic and weather conditions, route history, and driver history ( for example, familiarity with the region, language skills, etc.) to assign the delivery and create trips. 

Also, it considers which type of vehicle will be suitable for a particular type of delivery. It not only creates a route for the forward trip (the trip from source to destination) but also creates an optimized route to get back from the destination. And it can easily accommodate any last-minute changes to the process.

Improves Customer Experience 

The best route planning software in 2023 would also offer superior customer experience with real-time tracking that will allow customers to get an accurate estimated time of arrival. The software also fosters transparency with customers by maintaining a line of direct communication via text message, Whatsapp, or Email. 

It sends real-time delivery alerts to update customers on the current status of their orders. What’s more, many of these platforms have the feature to ask for customer feedback and thus aid in the analysis and taking data-driven decisions to make improvements. This creates an environment of trust and transparency, which helps increase brand loyalty.

Meet Service Level Agreements

Businesses have set SLAs with logistics companies to adhere to while executing shipping as well as deliveries. Any breach of it could severely impact the customer experience, thereby affecting the brand image.

With the help of route planning software, companies can easily optimize overall logistics operations. These platforms allow efficient management of delivery routes, load planning, rider allocation, and other factors responsible for making a successful delivery. 

Features to Look for When Choosing the Best Route Planning Software 2023

Here’s a list of features you need to look out for when you are looking to select the best route planning software in 2023:

Smart Route Planning

The software should have AI and machine learning capabilities that carefully consider different factors, such as multi-route and dynamic route planning to come up with the most optimal delivery route.

Multi-Stop Route Planning

The platform should be able to offer routes with maximum delivery touchpoints. This way, drivers would be able to maximize deliveries per trip. This reduces the chances of overlapping routes and multiple trips.

Dynamic Route Planning

It’s important to check if the software has the ability to create a different route for a previously planned route to shorten the delivery time for a rider. This is important as on-road conditions tend to alter rapidly in real-life conditions. 

Intelligent Resource Allocation

Whether it’s a driver or a vehicle, the route planning program should consider multiple factors before allocating the right resources to carry out a task. For example, it should be able to plan a route and assign delivery packages to a driver based on the weather, the driver’s experience, load planning, vehicle type, and a few other factors.

Module-Based Software Architecture

Every route planning software should have a module-based software architecture. It means the software should be able to calculate and show different metrics and data to different people without interfering with each user’s dashboard. 

For example, the software should be able to show delivery routes to the driver, real-time delivery updates to the person in charge of monitoring the shipping, and automated updates to the customers who ordered the packages.

Real-Time Tracking

The shippers and 3PL companies should always choose software that can track deliverables and drivers’ locations in real-time to save time and lower the burden of updating the delivery info.

Vehicle Capacity Utilization

Most routing solutions often focus just on the available data and totally ignore the actual vehicle capacity or restraints. With the vehicle capacity utilization function, the route planning solutions can come up with a route that will allow the vehicle to deliver as many packages as possible in a short time. 

The route planning software considers multiple factors, such as routes, nature of shipments, the characteristics of the routes, package details, driver history, and other factors to maximize vehicle capacity.

Smart System for Planning Load Sequence

The software should be able to consolidate multiple shipments into a single fleet by calculating multiple elements to save delivery costs and make the most out of the carrying capacity.

Real-Time Updates to All Stakeholders

The software should be able to provide real-time updates about the shipments to all stakeholders, including the customers, riders, logistics manager, and the person in charge of managing delivery routes.

Smart Clubbing of Forward and Reverse Logistics

The route planning solution should combine the right shipments together automatically based on factors like delivery time slots, location, order priority, and package specifications. It should also plan reverse logistics in case of delivery re-attempts and returns.

Free or Premium Route Planning Software: Which One is Better?

There is numerous free or open-source route planning software available in the market that provides features almost similar to the premium route planning software. But is it a good idea? Why do many businesses still choose premium route planning software when they could have used the free ones? Let’s find out the reason by taking a close look at each type of route planning app’s pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Free or Open Source Route Planning Software

Pros Cons
Open-source route planning tools charge no cost, so companies can use them without paying monthly or annual fees.Free route planning tools either don’t support multi-stop route planning, or the multi-stop route planning feature they offer has several limitations.
These free tools are open source, so they don’t offer proper information and data security like the premium ones.
They are often pretty complicated to use or to even integrate with the existing tech infrastructure.
Open-source route planners do not offer all-around tech support.

Pros and Cons of Premium Route Planning Software

Pros Cons
It has a proper multi-stop route feature that allows the drivers to choose an efficient route among multiple auto-generated routes.
Premium software has many advanced functions apart from regular route planning. For example, managing routes by territory.
Unlike most free route planning software, the premium ones are usually cloud-based. So, businesses don’t have to install them on their computer, saving them from the headaches of software updates or device maintenance.
Every paid route planning platform has a dedicated tech-support team to address any software-related problems.
The advanced features of the premium route planning software help businesses generate massive ROIs by saving fuel costs, reducing mileage, efficient rerouting, and more.
Companies need to pay a regular monthly or yearly subscription fee to continue using the premium routing software. The business might also have to pay additional fees to use add-on services.

How Much Does Route Optimization Software Cost

The cost of SaaS-based route optimization software depends on the features a business wants. These solutions usually have regular monthly or yearly subscription fees, which vary depending on the features the businesses need to handle their shipping volume. 

The software solutions might also have several add-on features that are not part of the regular subscription system. So, the businesses would have to pay extra to use such add-ons. 

Shipsy, on the other hand, offers AI-powered route planning and optimization as an in-built offering with its several logistics automation platforms. 

What Type of Businesses Need Route Planning Software

Businesses that depend on their logistics operations to satisfy their customer bases should equip themselves with the best route planning software in 2023. Here’s a list of major business industries that can benefit massively from this software.

E-Commerce

In recent years, E-Commerce has revolutionized the way people purchase products all across the globe. These days, many customers tend to assume same-day delivery to be a standard service that every e-commerce business should be able to provide. For businesses working in the e-commerce and retail industry, what was once a nice-to-have business feature is now an absolute business necessity. 

As per reports, 56% of all online customers between 18-34 years expect same-day delivery. Meanwhile, 49% mentioned that, for them, the same-day delivery option is the motivation behind online purchases.

To manage the cost of faster delivery while meeting customer expectations, e-commerce businesses are using smart route planning software that allows multi-drop routing. This helps create smart delivery plans based on driver productivity, location of the customers, weather, and multiple other factors. Retail and e-commerce companies can streamline delivery operations and ensure faster delivery time as well as lower costs.

Manufacturing

The poor operational visibility in the logistics department has been a constant spot of bother for the manufacturing industry. While 89% of all manufacturers made a single view of their supply chain a priority, over 70% of them failed to follow through properly because of the lack of end-to-end visibility. The lack of operational visibility in the logistics department often led to theft, poor OTIF adherence, and even pilferage.

The best route planning software in 2023, powered by AI and machine learning algorithms, helps analyze the historical data of previous travel routes to gain critical and actionable insights. With real-time ETA updates and automatic route planning, manufacturers can ensure the right deliveries to the right locations on time.

Healthcare

Companies that manufacture healthcare equipment need to deliver the tools to hospitals and clinics on time. If they fail to do it, it might affect the lives of countless patients who need the aid of those healthcare tools for their treatments. 

The recent movement of Covid vaccines across the globe was another example of inefficiencies existing in route management.  The inability to monitor the transport of medical equipment in real time and lack of control over the 3PLs have always plagued healthcare businesses.

With route planning software, healthcare businesses can effectively solve their delivery problems. These solutions allow businesses to automatically generate the most efficient and shortest routes to deliver medical tools faster. 

What’s more, hospitals and clinics can now track the deliverables in real time and have clear ideas of their estimated delivery times. Also, efficient schedules and routes can be quickly planned for healthcare professionals making house calls or providing non-emergency medical transportation.

Courier, Express, and Parcel

Logistics is the cornerstone of the post and parcel industry. Therefore, the lack of proper logistics planning can create severe dents in their businesses by increasing the costs of delivery, delivery re-attempts, delays, and so on. The route planning software can create optimized delivery routes to deliver the parcels in the shortest possible time while keeping the delivery cost in check.

They help the post and parcel companies notify their customers with accurate ETAs, which increases customer satisfaction. The post and parcel automation system market is set to reach USD 9.61 billion by 2028. This reflects the increasing acceptance of route planning software as an industry standard.

Improve Delivery Efficiency with the Best Route Planning Software by Shipsy

Shipsy offers intelligent route-planning software that will help businesses manage their fleets more efficiently to ensure on-time deliveries. The AI-powered logistics management platform helps with capacity utilization, smart route planning, and effective fleet management for first and last-mile delivery. 

It maximizes the number of deliveries per vehicle while shortening the delivery time and minimizing operational costs and helps unlock:

  • 12% reduction in transportation costs
  • 31% increase in vehicle capacity utilization
  • 18% savings in route planning and optimization time

To know more about Shipsy’s smart route planning and optimization solution or to get started, please get in touch with our experts and request a customized demo today.

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