Who doesn’t love getting free stuff? When it comes to free software, things are no different. Route planning software is often used to arrange delivery trips and to measure mileage across multiple stops with a multi stop route planner. It’s a kind of software that helps optimize delivery routes for transportation businesses. Many of these businesses will seek out the best software for route planning to ensure that the job is done as efficiently as possible. Below, we'll explore various free route planning software options.
Route optimization solutions and software replaced the ordinary approach of planning transportation routes with advanced and automated solutions. The software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to make for better strategies for routing solutions.
Gas, trucks, delivery drivers. As a wholesale distributor, one of the many cost centers you have to manage is your delivery operation.
And it’s not cheap. According to an American Transport Research Institute study, driver wages and fuel costs account for almost 60% of your delivery operation’s total cost per mile.
Another analysis found that last-mile delivery, or delivery from a warehousing location to a customer, accounts for 53% of transportation cost. That often makes it the most expensive and laborious part of the shipping supply chain.
Now imagine the impact to your bottom line if you could reduce your delivery cost per mile. That’s the magic of route optimization software. And the best B2B ecommerce platforms provide it.
to optimizeBy optimizing your drivers’ delivery routes, you can reduce windshield time and miles driven. And provide more on-time deliveries and better customer service, and ultimately make each drop more profitable for your business.
Ready to learn more about the glories of a perfectly-optimized route? Read on.
What Is Delivery Route Optimization?
Routing is the process of finding a path between two or more locations. If you’ve used a consumer-focused service such as Google Maps, you’re familiar with it on a basic level.
Route optimization is the process by which you determine the best route between two or more locations. But what does best mean? Fastest? Shortest? Most cost-effective?
Let us explain. If you’re an individual trying to optimize the route for your work commute, it’s a relatively easy proposition. You select your mode of transportation, then check off a couple of options based on your preferences.
the You may want to avoid highways and tolls, for instance. You may also want to account for factors like time of day, number of traffic lights, intersections, and turns. All of those can contribute to a commute that may be short in terms of distance, but take a long time.
Or let’s say you’re taking the bus. You may want the fewest numbers or transfers or the shortest walking distance between transfers.
That’s route optimization at a fundamental level. It’s how we streamline our movement. And it’s hugely beneficial. American drivers wasted 6.9 billion hours and over 3 billion gallons of gas stuck in traffic in 2014. That’s the type of morass route optimization chips away at.
But there’s more complexity to route optimization on a commercial level. And much more if you’re handling routing for an entire fleet of delivery trucks.
B2B Wholesale Delivery Route Optimization
In a wholesale distribution environment, it gets complicated. You’ve got multiple vehicles making multiple stops. You’ve got to account for driver availability and schedules, delivery time windows, and service time between drops. Like unloading and confirming receipt of the order before getting back on the road.
There are also vehicle capabilities to think about. Whether or not a truck is refrigerated or not, and, if so, what that means in terms of time-on-road. And the nature of the shipment itself, like if the products are perishable or shelf-stable.
All of these factors multiply the complexity of route optimization by an order of magnitude. Delivery route optimization is a tall task, then. That’s why it’s probably best left to our new route optimization software overlords. Hail!
In all seriousness, though, optimizing your delivery routes is good for your business, your employees, and your customers. Using a multi stop route planner or route optimization software is a no-brainer. It’s one of the clearest examples of technology making our lives easier with no downside. It’s just a straight-up better option than manually wrestling with so many different variables.
So, which route optimization software should you choose? What are some of the characteristics of good route optimization software? Glad you asked.
Free Routing Software for Small Business
Optimized Routes for Effective Business Operations
With good routing software or a route planner, your delivery business can grow faster and have less time consumption as well as low costs. This makes for effective planning for route optimization and for managing deliveries. Manual solutions take a lot of time and can also reduce productivity.
Most routing software can also help when it comes to searching for the shortest and quickest route. It also offers solutions for variables such as traffic situations, accessibility to delivery tools and personnel, and other real-time occurrences.
Benefits of Using Free Routing Software for Delivery Businesses
- It can minimize expenses and help utilize fewer efforts.
- Offers efficient optimization of delivery routes, as well as dynamic estimated time of arrival.
- A more targeted delivery solution is provided with fewer utilized resources which can increase ROI.
- On-the-road conditions are easier to monitor.
- Faster route optimization is possible for delivery providers and vehicles.
Best Software for Route Planning
When it comes to free routing software for small businesses, there are limited options that also allow you to input multiple stops. Having multiple stops is essential for most delivery businesses. However, the following are the best route planning software options that are available free of charge.
Google Maps is free to use, accurate, and also user-friendly. It has a stop limit of 10 and is available on the web and on mobile devices. However, Google Maps doesn’t have route optimization or the option to plan for multiple routes.
RouteXL is another free route planning software platform for automotive route optimization. It allows for order allocation between multiple drivers and is free to use with paid upgrades available. There is a 20 stop limit and offers basic route optimization. However, the platform is web-only and doesn’t have the option to plan multiple routes.
You can plan routes automatically and free of charge on Speedy Route. The platform also allows for route planning up to 10 drivers and has drag and drop functions. There are paid upgrades available, and you can add up to 10 stops in the free version. Additional stops can be added with pain plans. The software offers professional route optimization, multiple route planning with paid plans, but it’s only available on the web.
Apple Maps are designed for exploring and everyday trips. It’s free to use; however, the stop limit is 2. Apple Maps is only available for Apple devices. Aside from this, it doesn’t have route optimization or the option to plan multiple routes.
If you’re looking for easy, reliable, and popular routing, MapQuest is where you can get it. It offers route optimization solutions free of charge. The software allows up to 26 stops and offers basic optimization on the web and on mobile devices.
Waze serves multiple purposes, provides real-time data, has parking alerts, and speed restrictions. It’s free to use and only available on mobile devices. There is a maximum of 2 stops allowed and the platform doesn't do route optimization or allow you to plan multiple routes.
You can plan specific truck routes and optimized stops on Truck Router. It’s a route planning software that is ideal for long-haul trucking companies. The platform is free and offers a maximum of 5 stops for professional optimization. It’s only available on the web.
Maps.me is aimed at both tourists and road trippers. It allows for 10 stops and is free to use on mobile devices. However, they don’t offer route optimization or planning for multiple routes.
Restrictions of Free Multi-stop Route Planning Software
Everything that is free likely comes with some kind of restriction or limitation. Here are some regarding free multi-stop route planning software solutions.
Most free route planning software programs have a maximum number of stops that you can add for optimization. This can be a problem if your business makes a lot of stops on its delivery route on a regular basis.
Optimization per Vehicle
A lot of the free route planning software platforms allow you to optimize routes for one vehicle. However, if you want to create a delivery route for additional vehicles, the free option might not be ideal. Paid solutions can better accommodate such cases.
Ease of Use
When it comes to the design and level of difficulty, free route planning software can cost a lot. When you have a limited number of deliveries, you won’t need a lot of easy-to-use solutions or great designs. However, as you grow your business, you’re going to have higher delivery costs that won’t be ideal for free route planners.
Most free route planning software doesn’t have features that include delivery timeframes. This means that customers will likely have to wait all day for their deliveries.
In order to ensure efficient deliveries, drivers will need to have access to the delivery route plans at all times. This includes while they’re on the road. Some free route planning software platforms don’t have mobile apps, which can be problematic.
Route Optimization Solutions
A service delivery manager can increase their efficiency through their delivery route planning. They can do this by reassessing their strategies and using the latest technology. Here are some methods that can help improve the efficiency of delivery businesses with delivery route optimization and scheduling.
Orders should be arranged by priority in order to easily serve customers based on the order’s importance. With route optimization, you can define order priority and preschedule orders based on their high or low priority.
Businesses can increase their credibility and reputation by assigning the right order to the customer without any delay. This means that the business can fulfill its commitments by completing deliveries on schedule.
It’s ideal to keep in contact with your drivers and get their input on how you can improve route planning. Driver input can help when analyzing traffic conditions, allocating destinations to drivers with more familiarity with certain areas, and understanding customer buying behavior.
With an optimized route plan, businesses can reduce the chance of error. They can also concentrate on important business goals while still focusing on their customers.
Effective and reliable route planning software can help businesses stay in contact with their team and also reduce the amount of paperwork. You’ll also have access to instant updates from the road regarding order deliveries, expected time of arrival, and more.
Best Route Optimization Software for Wholesale Distributors
You may be tempted to apply your personal experiences to what is B2B eCommerce overall and think, “Well, my phone has Google Maps, I’m good.” But think again. If you’re hopping in your Subaru and going to get a burger, a consumer-focused trip planning app does the trick.
But when you add the complexity of a dozen or more trucks and hundreds, if not thousands of deliveries, the variables are too many. The stakes are too high for that amount of uncertainty and risk. Consumer-focused software or simpler hospitality software will not cut it.
The best route optimization software should fulfill the needs of every stakeholder in your delivery operation. From your salespeople, to your fulfillment center. From your fleet managers to your truck drivers.
Use the following checklist to make sure the route optimization software you’re looking at fits the bill.
- Web and mobile. The best route optimization software should have a version available on the web. We always recommend web-based (AKA cloud-based) systems. They’re accessible anytime, from anywhere, as long as you have access to a web browser. And they don't care much which operating system your computer uses. That means your fleet managers, sitting at a computer in your distribution center, can easily optimize the utilization of your entire fleet. What’s more, a mobile app is instrumental for your delivery truck drivers. Not only to ensure efficient deliveries, but so they can communicate with the head office. And adapt on the fly if any delivery or route changes are needed.
- Multi-everything. You’re managing the delivery operation of a wholesale manufacturer or distributor. You cannot manage it all. You need delivery route optimization software that also manages. Multiple vehicles making multiple trips, each trip with multiple drops. And multiple routes for each driver—from drop to drop—that takes it all into consideration. If your route optimization software can’t flexibly handle the ballooning variables of modern B2B shipping, by accounting for a shifting multitude of factors, move on.
- Mapping data and visualization. There are two key components that need to be executed perfectly for route optimization software to be the best. The first part is how it does the work. This where the mapping data comes into play, as the algorithms determine the best routes. The second is the providing of actionable next steps. This is where you get to visualize, on a map, the suggestions the delivery route optimization software is making on which trucks should go where and in what order.
- Offline capabilities. For the people at the distribution center, this isn’t a huge concern. After all, they’re sitting in front of a computer with a hardwired internet connection. For your delivery truck drivers, it’s a completely different story. They’re on the road, covering great distances, going in and out of tunnels. Who knows when they’ll drop in and out of cellular coverage. Offline capabilities make darn sure that your drivers can download and access the day’s routes on their phones—regardless of cellular reception.
- End-to-end solution. Hands down, the best route planning software for wholesale distributors is one that is integrated into your B2B eCommerce platform or wholesale marketplace. This lets you receive, plan, and fulfill orders all from one handy interface. That interface handles your digital storefront, transaction and payment functionality, digital catalog, and more. You’ll be using a B2B eCommerce platform anyway because the benefits of B2B eCommerce platforms are legion. So why not pick one that optimizes your routes, too?
If your eCommerce delivery business is new, you have a single driver, or just a handful of stops, using free route optimization solutions might work. However, as your business grows, you might end up needing more sophisticated route planning and optimization tools.
BlueCart is an industry-leading, all-in-one B2B eCommerce platform for wholesale suppliers. When it’s not helping thousands of businesses streamline their digital presences, payment and transaction functionality, and digital wholesale catalogs, it’s optimizing routes in real-time for wholesale delivery fleets across the country. When B2B businesses use BlueCart for routing optimization—among other things—they save money and they grow their client base. It really is that simple. Book a demo and we’ll show you exactly how. And feel free to check out our B2B route optimization guide.
Frequently Asked Questions About Free Route Planning Software
What Is Route Planning Software?
Route planning software is also known as route optimization software and it’s responsible for planning the sequence of delivery stops. This software can improve driver efficiency as well as customer service.
How Can Route Planning Software Improve Efficiency?
Route planning software can improve efficiency by:
- Helping delivery drivers prioritize their routes
- Businesses can increase credibility by fulfilling commitments on schedule
- Drivers can receive more feedback
- Delivery drivers will be subject to fewer delivery errors
- Less paperwork is involved in the delivery process
What Is the Best Route Planning Software?
The best route planning software includes:
- Google Maps
- Speedy Route
- Apple Maps
- Truck Router