Delivery Route Planning Explained + 5 Best Delivery Route Planning Apps

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When you’re running an ecommerce business, fast and efficient delivery holds the key to success.

Not only does it improve the customer experience, but it also minimizes delivery costs and improves your bottom line.

This is why delivery route planning is crucial and should be a major part of your delivery management process.

In this article, take a closer look at what delivery route planning is, which software to use, and how to plan your delivery routes.

What is delivery route planning?

Delivery route planning is an important part of the logistics operations process and involves choosing the optimal delivery route to ensure customer orders are delivered as fast and cost-efficiently as possible.

Route planning for customer shipments can be challenging, which is why there are several delivery apps on the market that make it easy for ecommerce businesses and logistics experts to efficiently plan deliveries.

Why is delivery route planning important?

Delivery route planning allows businesses to optimize last-mile delivery so customers get their orders on time while the business saves on delivery costs.

Without proper route planning, it can be a challenge to meet customer expectations and calculate shipping costs accordingly.

Traditionally, delivery route planning was done manually with the help of maps and eventually, Google Maps.

The problem with this conventional approach is that it doesn’t offer real-time visibility of your delivery fleet, making it difficult to track your operations.

Manually planning delivery routes lacked the collective data needed to make informed decisions on optimization, especially with dynamic factors like weather conditions, traffic, customer preferences, and resource capacity.

Now with the help of delivery route planning software, companies can track their delivery fleet in real time and get access to data that can inform their future planning.

This allows them to increase productivity, optimize routes on demand, and scale their operations.

For example, an AI-backed routing and scheduling tool will allocate work strategically to delivery agents so that maximum orders are delivered in minimal time.

Additionally, it can automatically consider factors such as weather conditions, traffic, and capacity to dynamically reroute deliveries.

What is delivery route planning software?

Delivery route planning software is a software application that’s designed specifically for planning delivery routes for delivery fleets or shipping carriers. These apps also come with scheduling capabilities so work is assigned in a strategic manner to agents for increased efficiency.

With the ability to get real-time data and analytics, delivery route planning software can address the major challenges associated with manual route planning.

For starters, the software can automatically maximize daily deliveries by accounting for the travel time between different delivery locations. It then suggests an optimal delivery route that allows for speed and reduced fuel costs.

Some route planning software apps also come with features to allow dynamic rerouting based on critical factors.

How to plan delivery routes

If you’re struggling to deliver orders on time or spending too much on shipping costs, there are a few best practices to follow. 

Plan ahead

Be sure to plan ahead to identify the best routes and distribute work between agents. This will give you ample time to plan your deliveries while accounting for the delivery option that each customer has selected.

For instance, you’d have to prioritize same-day delivery orders and orders that have specific delivery dates. Additionally, you’ll also be able to strategically assign the right vehicle based on the area you’re delivering to.

For example, while vans may be ideal for making deliveries in the outskirts of town, more compact vehicles may be needed for addresses in the heart of the city. 

Communicate with the delivery driver

With or without software, there should be seamless communication between you and the delivery driver.

This will ensure real-time updates on delivery status, which also means that you get notified in case of possible delays and unexpected setbacks in the delivery process.

Accordingly, you can provide solutions and suggestions on how to reroute deliveries to avoid those setbacks.

Use route optimization software

The best thing you can do for your delivery management is to use route optimization software.

This type of software is designed to automatically account for transit times, real-time traffic, and weather information to suggest optimal delivery routes.

Using route optimization software can save you time and resources while cutting down delivery costs by reducing fuel use. It also dynamically optimizes routes based on real-time information, such as sudden changes in weather or unexpected setbacks.

What to look for in route planning software

Ecommerce logistics professionals now have plenty of options when it comes to route planning software.

While this is a good thing, it also makes the job of finding the right software a bit more challenging.

Here’s what you need to look for when comparing route planning software for your business.

Good track record

  • Does the software company have a good track record of satisfied customers?
  • Are other businesses in your industry utilizing it?
  • What are people saying about the product?

Asking these types of questions to narrow down the best route planning app to use is a great place to start.

To do your research, look for reviews and testimonials as well as case studies (if any) to make sure that the company’s trustworthy and has delivered results for businesses in your niche.

Remember that certain software may be ideal for specific industries, so this is an important factor to consider.

Budget-friendliness

Is the software cost within your budget?

Since one of the main goals of using route planning software is to reduce cost and improve the bottom line, it’s important that the cost of the software doesn’t put a strain on your budget. 

Look at how their pricing plans are set up. Most delivery route planning apps charge you by the number of stops in your route. Others may offer plans based on the features you want and the number of drivers you have.

Carefully consider all these details before deciding on an app that offers the features you need within your budget.

Robust features

Of course, one of the most important factors to consider is the types of features the app offers.

Your route planning software doesn’t necessarily have to have every single feature, it only needs to have the features you’ll need the most.

Some of the essential features to consider are optimized route planning, real-time tracking, smart work allocation, dynamic rerouting, and electronic proof of delivery.

Best delivery route planning software

Based on the above factors, let’s now take a look at some of the best delivery route planning apps on the market.

1. Routific

Cost: Starts at $33 per vehicle per month
Key features: Automated planning, live tracking, route customization
Capterra rating: 4.9

Routific is a top-rated delivery route planning software that comes with a powerful route optimization algorithm.

It’s specifically built with usability in mind, which makes it a great option for novices. Yet it still offers all the advanced features that you might need for efficient route planning. 

It lets you customize your routes easily using drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to quickly adjust your routes based on factors like vehicle capacity and time windows or even delete or add orders at the last minute.

Pros

  • Robust features
  • Flexible pricing
  • Easy customization 

Cons

  • Added costs for certain features

2. OptimoRoute

Cost: Starts at $35.10 per driver per month
Key features: Automated planning, live tracking, real-time route modification
Capterra rating: 4.5

OptimoRoute offers robust features with flexible plans. It allows you to plan up to five weeks in advance, balance workload between drivers, and gain insights into your performance.

It lets you import thousands of orders and automatically generate the most efficient delivery routes and schedules.

Pros

  • Robust features 
  • Flexible pricing
  • Automation capabilities

Cons

  • Requires some time to understand

3. Route4Me

Cost: Starts at $199 per month for up to 10 team members
Key features: Plan multiple routes, live tracking
Capterra rating: 4.4

Route4Me is an excellent option for teams of up to 10 members with the basic plan offering route management. This allows for seamless collaboration and provides you with live tracking and real-time business insights.

You’d need to upgrade to the $249 per month plan if you want to get route optimization features along with the basic features.

Pros

  • A good option for teams having up to 10 drivers
  • Enhances collaboration

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options
  • The basic plan only includes route management

4. Road Warrior

Cost: Starts at $10 per month for 120 stops
Key features: Plan multiple routes, live tracking
Capterra rating: 4.4

Road Warrior offers free route planning for up to eight stops or 50 optimized stops. It comes with a powerful routing engine that lets you manage drivers, assign routes, and track progress in one place.

The app is suitable to use for both teams and individual users and considers factors like traffic, schedules, and availability for efficient route planning.  

Pros

  • Free to use for up to eight stops
  • Affordable pricing

Cons

  • Cheaper plans come with basic features

5. Speedy Route

Cost: Starts at $39 per driver per month; 100 stops per route
Key features: Plan multiple routes, route optimization
Capterra rating: 3.8

Speedy Route is an excellent option for fleet use, with the ability to calculate an optimal route based on the number of delivery vehicles. It’s free to use for up to 10 stops and the paid plans after that are pretty flexible.

The software optimizes your routes to ensure that each location is only visited once before you return to your original location in the shortest amount of time possible.

Pros

  • Free to use for up to 10 stops
  • Flexible pricing
  • Route optimization

Cons

  • Currently only available for Android

How to set up your delivery route for success

Delivery route planning is an important part of your logistics as a whole. But to set up your delivery route for success, you first need to ensure your retail fulfillment strategy won’t slow down the shipping and delivery process.

The first step is decide on the best ecommerce shipping carriers to work with based on your needs and budget.

Many ecommerce businesses rely on multiple carriers since orders vary by destination, package weight, and customer shipping preference.

To meet customer needs and save on cost, it’s not uncommon for ecommerce businesses to partner with both national carriers like Australia Post and international carriers.

But managing multiple shipping carriers can be time-consuming and challenging. Which is why many business rely on an omnichannel fulfillment partner like ShipBob.

ShipBob partners with national, international, and regional shipping carriers to offer discounted shipping rates, as well as more shipping options for your customers, such as affordable 2-day shipping.

ShipBob also makes it easy for businesses to outsource fulfillment and still provide a custom, remarkable unboxing experience with the use of custom packaging, gift notes, and more.

“DTC is our bread and butter, and with ShipBob we can offer 2-day shipping, gift notes, and other aspects of the modern delivery experience that consumers want.”

Aaron Patterson, COO of The Adventure Challenge 

ShipBob’s fulfillment software automatically suggests the best carrier for each order based on a number of factors.

From the ShipBob dashboard, you can even get real-time ecommerce order tracking details sent to your customers to enhance their experience.

To learn more about how ShipBob can simplify the shipping process and improve delivery, contact ShipBob today.

What is delivery route planning?

Delivery route planning is the process of choosing the optimal delivery route to ensure orders are delivered within the shortest amount of time.

Is there an app to plan delivery routes?

You can find plenty of apps to plan delivery routes with the top ones being Routific, OptimoRoute, and Route4Me.

What are the benefits of route planning?

Route planning helps you save time and costs while ensuring that orders are delivered on time and as efficiently as possible.

Does ShipBob have route planning software?

ShipBob’s software comes with built-in features to route orders to the nearest fulfillment centers to speed up deliveries, but it doesn’t come with features to plan delivery routes. However, we partner with leading carriers who ship packages through the most optimized route.

Written By:

Kristina is the Director of Marketing Communications at ShipBob, where she writes various articles, case studies, and other resources to help ecommerce brands grow their business.

Read all posts written by Kristina Lopienski