If you own a company that provides last-mile delivery or makes stops for field service work, you already know how important route planning is. It can have an effect on your profits, consumer loyalty, and the pace at which you can expand your customer base or market. That’s why it’s crucial to think about using a multiple stop route planner.
It is not an exaggeration to claim that the company’s success depends on it. Customers, after all, have high expectations in today’s dynamic market world. They’ve grown accustomed to fast home delivery thanks to Amazon and other online behemoths. If you don’t meet their needs, they’ll easily move on to your competitors.
For these and other factors, the company needs an efficient and cost-effective solution to meet its requirements. Businesses have traditionally used fleet managers to manually schedule multi-stop routes, but sophisticated apps have gained popularity among businesses of all sizes in recent years.
We’ll look at how a software solution can help your company grow in this post. We’ll also go through six important factors to consider when selecting the right planner for your business.
Table of Contents
- How Can a Multi-Stop Route Planner Help Your Business?
- 6 Things to Think About When Selecting a Multi-Stop Route Planner
- Final Thoughts
How Can a Multi-Stop Route Planner Help Your Business?
What is a Multiple Stop Route Planner, and how does it work?
A route planner is a program or app that uses advanced algorithms to plot routes that map directions to multiple addresses and stops. Businesses or freelance couriers that provide last-mile delivery and businesses that manage field service personnel are the most common users of route planners (e.g., lawnmowing company, internet installation business. etc.). The consumer usually needs to find the shortest route plan in terms of distance or the fastest route plan to get to all of the exits.
What Are the Benefits of a Multi-Stop Route Optimization System for Your Company?
In a matter of seconds, a well-designed route planner can determine the best route (e.g., shortest distance between stops, fastest time). Importantly, a successful multiple stop route planner would use the most up-to-date traffic and road data to optimize routes to all stops. Although you might be tempted to plan your route using navigation apps like Google Maps, keep in mind that its algorithm is not designed to optimize for a multi-stop route. What you save by using a free navigation app like Google Maps, you’ll almost certainly lose by sending your delivery driver on less-than-optimal routes.
A route planner saves you time and money
At the end of the day, a route planner app will save the company time and money. It will also assist in reducing/eliminating human errors that are unavoidable while dependent on manual preparation. Furthermore, the software’s algorithms and real-time data access will ensure that the multi-stop routes are configured to a level that a person could not measure. Finally, with less delivery failures and faster delivery times, the customers are more likely to be satisfied.
You can place your company more efficiently against your competition and expand your client base or the regions you deliver/serve more quickly thanks to the time and money savings realized by better planning.
6 Things to Think About When Selecting a Multiple Stop Route Planner
Now that you know how multi-destination mapping software can help your company become more successful and expand, let’s take a look at six main factors to consider when looking for a route planner with multiple stops.
#1 What are the current requirements of your company?
When it comes to multi-stop route planning, it’s important to consider the company’s current needs. Many planning software solutions have a tiered subscription model, which allows companies to sign up for the tier that best fits their needs and then upgrade as their needs grow.
Take some time to collect the following information to assess the current business needs:
- What is the current number of stops or addresses that you serve?
- How many routes does your company need to prepare right now?
- What is the current number of delivery drivers or field service staff (i.e., users) that you employ?
- What kind of data (e.g., current traffic accidents and conditions, time restrictions, road closures, fuel savings, etc.) would be most useful in your planning?
- In your business, what operating system(s) do you currently use? Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPad, Android, and other platforms are all supported.
#2 What are your company’s objectives?
Knowing your current business needs is a good place to start when looking for a multi-stop route planner, but knowing your potential business goals is just as critical. If your business priorities include an ambitious expansion strategy in the coming months, for example, you’ll need to factor that into your multi-stop route planner quest. If, on the other hand, your company is a side gig and you plan to keep it that way, keep that in mind while shopping.
When you look for the best multi-stop route planning solution, bear in mind your short- and medium-term business goals while also keeping those longer-term goals in mind. Keep in mind that some route planners are tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises, while others have enterprise-level solutions.
When looking for a route planning software solution that will better fit your future business goals, keep the following points in mind:
- Can you expect a major increase in the number of stops and users (delivery drivers and field service workers) who would use the software?
- Can you foresee a major increase in the number of addresses and/or stops you’ll be able to serve?
- How do you plan to stay competitive in your field? Will you compete on price, consumer loyalty, and other factors, for example?
#3 How much time does managing the routes take?
It’s crucial to know how much time it takes you to navigate your routes now so you can estimate how much time you’ll save with multi-stop mapping tools.
Take a look at how you’re doing things now:
- Who is in charge of creating each route order? Do you delegate distribution route planning to your drivers, or do you delegate responsibility to one of your managers?
- How is the team putting together their stops? And how are they going to structure their distribution routes? Are they going with their gut, using Google maps, or a mix of experience and technology?
- Where is time being wasted as a result of manual preparation and errors? How often are deliveries made to the incorrect address, and how much time is spent correcting human errors? What are the limitations in terms of time?
If your current method is ad hoc, you should consider gathering data from your employees to get a sense of how much time is spent on route planning. Even a rough estimate would help you establish a baseline from which you can calculate the time savings you’ll experience as a result of investing in route planning software.
#4 How much money will a route planner save you?
You’ll probably want to figure out how much money you will save if you invest in route planning tools.
Inefficient manual planning comes with a slew of costs, including:
- Labor costs – inefficient routes mean your delivery drivers or field service staff are on the road for longer periods of time, limiting the number of deliveries or service calls they can complete. You’ll also spend more money on labor if your drivers are required to plan their routes manually or if route planning is delegated to one of your managers.
- Fuel costs – the more inefficient your roads are, the higher your fuel costs would be. Your delivery driver can avoid traffic collisions, road closures, and other delays by using route optimization software that calculates the most fuel-efficient routes based on real-time data.
- Wear and tear on your vehicles – the more miles they travel, the more repairs and maintenance they will need. When deliveries or field service personnel are an important part of your business model, these costs will easily add up and have a huge effect on your bottom line.
It’s likely that you won’t know how much money you’ll save from using a route planning app before you use it and compare pre-app and post-app costs. Through gathering information on the costs of your current deliveries, you should be able to determine how much money you can save and how such savings can affect your bottom line.
#5 What does a Route Planner cost?
Depending on the features offered, multiple stop route optimization apps and software solutions will cost a lot of money. You want to find one that suits your business needs while still saving you the most money.
It may be tempting to choose a free or low-cost route planning app, but you should think about the factors mentioned above when making your decision. To put it another way, you want to invest in a route planner that can scale with your company’s needs. Fortunately, most of the top-rated route planning apps have a tiered pricing model, allowing you to start with a low-cost option and upgrade as your business needs shift.
So, how much do you budget for a route planning app? It all depends on your requirements. Monthly plans for OptimoRoute start at USD 17.10 per car, while Routific’s monthly plans start at $39 per vehicle and OnTime 360’s monthly plans start at $39 for two users. EasyRoutes, on the other hand, offers a free plan as well as paid plans beginning at $9.99 per store.
#6 Is it Easy to Use the Route Planner?
Route optimization apps are meant to make life simpler, so look for one that is user-friendly when looking for one to use in your business. Make sure it has all of the features your drivers would need to optimize routes.
When looking for an easy-to-use route planning solution, keep the following questions in mind:
- Is there a way to get directions that are easy to read in the route planner? You can go beyond spreadsheets and provide your drivers with an easy-to-read map with straightforward and up-to-date driving directions.
- Is there a live driver monitoring feature in the software? The fleet manager would appreciate this function because it keeps customers informed of when their delivery or field service visit is scheduled.
- Is the program capable of determining the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient routes? Finding the most cost-effective route becomes more critical when designing a route with several stops. Though Google Maps is great for getting from point A to point B, it lacks the complexity to optimize a multi-stop path. Path planners such as EasyRoutes, Circuit, SpeedyRoute, and RouteXL have optimization options.
Other important features to look for can vary depending on your industry. Investigate whether there are route planning apps tailored to your industry’s needs, as well as what features are considered important for your industry.
Before making a major business purchase, it’s important to weigh the choices carefully. To make an informed decision, follow the steps outlined above and gather the required information about your business. Of course, we recommend using the EasyRoutes route planner for Shopify. EasyRoutes is available in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the majority of European countries.
You will prevent the confusion and expense of switching platforms in the future by making wise decisions now. Find a multi-stop route planning software solution that will serve you well today, tomorrow, and for many years to come. Then pat yourself on the back for cutting distribution costs, rising efficiencies, and expanding your customer base and/or delivery regions.