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B2B Route Planning Software Vs. Manual Route Mapping

Written by
Team BlueCart

Hey, did you ever read the one about why UPS trucks almost never turn left?

Get this: they do it because it allows them to drive an average of 8 fewer miles per route. That saves them  millions of gallons of fuel per year.

Isn’t that priceless?

For small- and medium-sized businesses, it may literally be. We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Delivery truck driver salaries and fuel costs account for approximately 60% of a distribution business’s total cost per mile. That’s a remarkable figure. And it doesn’t even take into account the cost to lease, insure, maintain, and park your fleet. 

Enter route planning software. A multi-stop route planner lets you optimize routes based on every imaginable variable that goes into last-mile delivery. From weather and traffic to delivery times and vehicle capabilities. Doing that saves a bunch of money, and grows your client base by providing the best customer experience possible. And that’s worth almost any price.

Thankfully, route planning software costs a pittance compared to what you’re losing right now in inefficiencies by not using it.

The Pitfalls of Manual Route Planning

You have a large and growing customer base, each with their unique and ever changing demands. They need different types of products, which may not all be able to go out in the same truck depending on vehicle capabilities and limitations. They also need products at different times. And that needs to align with driver and vehicle availability and location.

With all that in mind, how are your fleet managers and delivery truck drivers juggling everything? How are they planning their routes in the most advantageous way for the business and its customers?

We can tell how UPS manages their delivery trucks, and it sure as heck isn’t with manual delivery route planning.

Manual Route Planning Is Error-Prone

When everything is done manually, mountains of paperwork piles up. It’s organized and filed away, then accessed at a later time. Mistakes creating the documents, filing them, and storing them are made. Things are overlooked or misinterpreted. Human error being what it is, things are also sometimes just recorded incorrectly. Think about all the time and energy you and your staff are wasting when a delivery truck driver is doing anything other than making deliveries and servicing customers.

It’s Also Expensive

It costs time and money. Every year, companies lose 32.6 billion hours due to weather-related traffic congestion.

It costs customers. 55% of customers said they’d stop using a company if there were 2 or more late deliveries. That number jumps up to 59% if the deliveries are incorrect.

And, to be honest, it can cost lives. The risk of a head-on collision while driving a heavy-goods vehicle quadruples during dusk and sunset conditions. Too many truck drivers are caught in this dangerous situation because of poor routing.

And Incredibly Inflexible

Once your trucks are on the road, how do your delivery drivers prioritize the sequence in which they deliver each order? Without route planning software, your truck drivers have to manually input delivery addresses into a GPS. One. By. One.

Then they take their best guess on which stops they hit first. Or maybe they go purley based on requested delivery time. Maybe they’re convinced they know the traffic patterns of the region’s highways, or that they know best how weather conditions affect a certain area. 

Some of that could be true. Drivers are experts at driving, after all. But basing your entire distribution optimization strategy around it isn’t wise.

What do you do if a customer reaches out to your support staff back at the distribution center and wants to change their order or delivery time? Or cancel a delivery entirely?

How do you go about changing your routes on the fly and communicating that to a driver on the road? How can you ensure driver safety as you call to update them while they're on the road? 

The answer is route planning software that acts as your driving route optimizer.

How A Driving Route Optimizer Helps

Using route planning software has myriad benefits. For both your business as a whole and specifically for your drivers.

Business Benefits of Route Mapping Software

  1. Save time. You may think, especially if you have a small team, that you can manage your trucks, drivers, and deliveries manually. From our experience in the industry, effectively planning your routes isn’t possible unless you want your distribution to eat away at your bottom line. It’s not the best use of your time, and you’ll be leaving money on the table. It’s simply more efficient to use delivery route mapping software. Its sophisticated algorithms give you better results, and it scales as your business grows. 
  1. Reduce costs. Again, driver wages and fuel costs account for almost 60% of your delivery operation’s total cost per mile. By optimizing your routes and making your delivery team more efficient, you realize huge cost savings. Savings that easily offset the cost of driving route optimizer. Better routes means fewer miles driven. That means savings on gas and long-term vehicle maintenance costs. But that’s not all. A driving route optimizer eliminates the need for drivers to text or call while on the road. This creates safer drivers. And that leads to lower insurance premiums.
  1. Increase revenue. When you make your existing team more efficient, you save time and money. What do you do with the time savings? You sell more. That time can be spent acquiring customers or nurturing relationships (i.e. growing business) with existing ones. Those efficiencies enable you to get more done in the same amount of time. Grow your business without growing your headcount. It’s the stuff of legends.
  1. Improved fleet usage. You paid a pretty penny leasing your trucks. Shelling out for insurance, filling them up with gas, etc. It would be a shame for them to just sit in the lot. Or, perhaps equally bad, for them be on the road racking up unnecessary miles. By using a driving route optimizer you get the most from each truck. You account for your customers’ needs, your vehicle capabilities (volume, type), and your driver availability. 

Driver Benefits of Route Mapping Software

  1. Prevent mistakes. We all make mistakes, some small, some that can cause us to lose customers. Why take the risk of planning your deliveries manually, when you know there’s a chance of human error? Leaving route mapping to software eliminates costly errors that can lead to upset customers and churn.
  1. On-time deliveries. By optimizing your delivery routes, you ensure your customers get their deliveries on time. You also make the deliveries feel less rushed since your drivers will be able to spend more time servicing each customer. That ensures order accuracy or the addressing of any errors on the spot. And, finally, mercifully, you eliminate support calls wondering, “are you here yet?”
  1. Minimal “windshield” time. By planning more efficient delivery routes, you minimize time wasted driving between deliveries. And that improves the working conditions of your truck drivers.
  1. Employee retention. According to the American Trucking Association, the turnover rate for truck drivers is 90% and creeping higher. Employee retention is important because an employee that stays put is a happy employee. And a happy employee is a productive, accountable one. By taking your drivers’ availability and preferences into account—and planning more efficient delivery routes—you take steps towards happier drivers who love coming to work.

Manual delivery route planning more work. It’s cost-inefficient, error-prone, and slow. It also has the potential to risk your drivers’, and other drivers’, safety. 

Route optimization software, on the other hand, takes care of it all. For a cost that is inconsequential when it comes to the amount you’ll be saving. You owe it to your company, your drivers, and your customers to sharpen up your routing. It’s no joke; it’s serious business.

BlueCart, an industry-leading B2B ecommerce solution, helps thousands of wholesale distributors across the country. One of the most impactful ways is through reliable, cost-effective route mapping software. Deliveries are on time, fleets are preserved, drivers are happy, and untold gallons of fuel and hours of stress are saved. That’s in addition to all the other features that modern B2B wholesalers need to run a profitable business. Like digital wholesale catalogs, payment and transaction functionality, and more. Book a demo and we’ll show you exactly how BlueCart will help. You can also check out our entire B2B route optimization guide.

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