Route driver outside van with Ruggedjet 4 mobile printer


How Can My DSD Drivers Optimize Their Route?

Time to read 7 minutes
Brian Beans
Brian Beans
Senior Manager, Route & Transportation

Route Optimization Tips & Tools for Direct Store Delivery Drivers

When it comes to distribution, every minute matters. Delivery windows need to be accurate, invoices must be correct, and rising fuel prices mean that speed is the name of the game. With distribution companies rating dwell time as their second highest concern in 20211, it’s clear that pressure is high for all fleets, regardless of size of operation. Unfortunately, in this need-for-speed environment, the gas pedal is often the main point of focus. But there’s a different way for drivers to gain speed, and it’s safer and more cost effective: route planning.

Route driver looking at clipboard

What is Route Optimization?

Route optimization is the process of finding the most cost-effective route for your distributors. While this may seem simple at face value, it’s much more complex than simply arranging stops by distance. Route planning requires strategizing where to go and when by factoring in variables like time windows for delivery, traffic patterns—even finding a route that will minimize the amount of traffic-crossing left-hand turns. The ultimate goal is to account for important aspects of your drivers’ routes to save time and money. So, what do you need to consider when choosing an optimal route?

Factors that Contribute to Route Planning

Without the right route optimization tools, your drivers are left on their own to predict traffic. Something as common as an accident along the route can screech distribution to a costly halt. And adding on variables like customer delivery windows and dropped stops can make manual factoring nearly impossible.

While you can’t control traffic or the schedules of your customers, you do have control over the smart route optimization tools you can deploy for your drivers. The ability for your drivers to add or take away stops and quickly account for changes in traffic are key factors in route planning that can lead to major benefits for your company. And once your drivers reach their stop, you can continue to optimize their route servicing with smart mobile tools that can print delivery receipts, invoices, credits, and returns without requiring a return to the warehouse.

Route driver printing delivery receipt from pocketjet 8

Benefits of Route Optimization for DSD Drivers

The right route optimization software, paired with smart mobile technology, can help your direct store delivery operation move swiftly towards more profit. You can rely on route optimization tools to help deliver benefits for your drivers, your customers, and your bottom line. Here are five key benefits that the right mobile solutions for route optimization can deliver.

Better Client Relationships

Your customers have a lot on the line—balancing inventory, fulfilling omnichannel orders, and placing optimized orders for the next delivery, for instance—all of which are directly impacted by your driver’s ability to plan their route accurately and efficiently.

Investing in the right mobile tools for route optimization can lead to a higher ROI alongside a lower cost of ownership. And having the ability to use these mobile tools to print accurate invoices and receipts on-demand can improve your relationships with clients even further, as companies will likely prioritize working with a reliable, effective distributor.

More Reliable ETAs

For direct store delivery drivers—especially those with perishable products—having a reliable delivery window is crucial. But, without the right tools, it’s incredibly difficult to gauge ETA accurately. Factors like traffic, driver skills, and service time vary from day to day. And a single delay can impact the timing of all scheduled deliveries for the day.

After a delay in deliver times, communicating the updated delivery window to customers, reoptimizing the route list for the day, and getting back on the road is best handled by a smart mobile solution. Otherwise, your driver may compromise their safety in order to preserve customer relationships and meet their delivery quotas for the day.

According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers reported “feeling pressured” as the leading cause in 16% of crashes, with “stress-related fatigue” as the main cause for an additional 18% of crashes2. By utilizing smart route optimization tools that leverage automation, your driver can stay focused on the road. Expect reliable ETAs, and increased driver safety.

Improved Safety for DSD Drivers

Trucking can be dangerous, with workers in transportation accounting for 37.3 percent of all work-related fatalities in 2021.3 In response to uncontrollable factors like added stops or slowed traffic, drivers may try to compensate by driving faster. This is a dangerous place to try to make up for inefficient route planning, and companies need to protect their drivers with the right route technology.

Route optimization can help provide real-time updates that account for changing stops and traffic, so drivers don’t have to use the gas pedal to gain speed. And while prioritizing your driver’s safety is priceless, you may be surprised to know that route optimization can actually benefit your bottom line.

Less Time Driving & Increased Stops

2021 was the costliest year ever in trucking4. Rising fuel prices, labor shortages, and inflation means that 2022 is likely to follow suit. And with COVID-19 related supply chain challenges, operational efficiency is more crucial for distributors. While encouraging drivers to reduce or eliminate deadhead mileage and reduce dwell time is important, this can only be accomplished by equipping them with smart mobile tools that can make this possible.

Read more: Learn how a busy distribution company has seen a time savings of 30 minutes to an hour every day for each of their 300 drivers.

The right route optimization technology can also allow your drivers to make more stops in less time, boosting overall efficiency and improving your bottom line. And having on-the-spot accurate invoices, inventory, transfer printouts, returns, and credits means that your drivers can reduce unnecessary return trips to the warehouse.

Reduced Fuel Costs

Route optimization means that your drivers spend less time driving, which can allow them to use less fuel while making more stops within their timeframe. With driver wages and fuel costs making up 59.8% of the total operational cost per mile5, any measures that enhance efficiency are beneficial. And when your driver reaches their stop, having the right mobile trucking technology in place means that they can print documents that help them service clients, faster.

PocketJet Mobile printer mounted on dashboard

Route Optimization Tools

There’s a reason why more and more companies are relying on rugged mobile thermal printers that automate onsite proof-of-delivery tickets, customer lists, route lists, and other key customer documents. Equipping your drivers with smart mobile tools provides benefits for everyone—even fleets with small numbers of trucks. In fact, fleets with 25 or fewer trucks experienced the highest dwell time6. Expect reliable ETAs, better client relationships, decreased stops and fuel costs, and increased safety and ROI with the right mobile tools.


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