Recent trends in dispatch
With the vast number of changes in recent years, one thing is for sure: businesses that are agile and technology enabled can be more competitive than those that do not. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an acceleration of trend of online shopping. Online retail sales increases in home improvement and home furnishings have accelerated a lot and many categories require speciality shipping and dispatch operations to satisfy their customers while reducing costs. With the rise of behemoths like Amazon, many business owners see their customers becoming more demanding in both price and service. What can be done?
To meet these new challenges in delivery volume and service demands, businesses can hire more drivers or engage more contracted fleets. But to fulfill efficiently, taking into consideration jumps in demand, costs to deliver, and driver efficiency, businesses also need to be smarter about how they dispatch and use these fleets. This is where service dispatch software comes into play.
The right delivery performance through smart planning software can satisfy not only your customer but also your team. The team can focus on delivery performance, improving resource management, service speed all while minimizing fuel costs, and improving customer experience. Win-win-win, right?
What is dispatch software?
Dispatch software utilizes automation to select the driver or fleet which will deliver an order along the most efficient route. This technology can be anything from simple apps to ‘digitized’ pen and paper spreadsheets, to enterprise platforms which connect the entire supply chain, including integrations with external fleets, retail systems, and other logistics systems. While there is no perfect solution, there are some areas to pay most attention to, as they can make impact throughout the entire value chain of your business operation.
Why do businesses need dispatch software?
It is not a matter of whether a business needs dispatch software, but rather a matter of which one works best for your business on a value adjusted basis. For all companies large and small, customer experience is everything.
When ordering delivery, customers expect transparency, efficiency and in many cases, speed. With mobile device orders and tracking becoming increasingly popular, dispatch software is necessary to improve customer service, reducing customer effort to answer common questions like where is my order, so customers can plan around their busy lives, not when a package will arrive. Utilizing the technology available today, businesses and logistics providers can boost service management to a new level and make sure their dispatch operations support a great customer experience, all while managing costs and keeping their team happy and on the same page.
Costs are very important not only to your business, but also to your customer satisfaction too. Two-day shipping costs almost twice as five-day shipping, yet it has become a standard in today’s market, in large part because it helps conversion. Using the right software to optimize routes and minimize costs helps businesses save time and money while upholding high standards.
Optimized dispatch reduces fuel costs and allows for fuller trucks, making the likelihood of same-day delivery increase along with on-time rates and customer satisfaction. It is easy to see how these wins add up in the eyes of the business and customers.
Finding the right dispatch software
Finding the right dispatch software starts with principles of flexibility and scalability. Many businesses have a diverse workforce in various locations. Tailoring a solution to this workforce can be challenging, so finding a solution that is flexible is very important. Intelligent dispatch software can provide the enhanced flexibility companies need to enable the customer experience that brands and end customers expect, while remaining cost-effective.
10 key dispatching features to look for:
- Mobile first technology: iOS and Android are equally important
- Smart scheduling: optimizes on the available supply and demand
- Real time integrations: APIs enable systems to interact effectively
- Automated dispatch and manual dispatch: options for your team
- Route optimization and order batching: to save on fuel and time costs
- Customized dispatching: responsive to business priorities
- Fulfillment flexibility and automation: use variety of vehicles and locations
- Visibility in the delivery process: all key information in one place
- High availability and agility: high-availability and flexible cost structure
- Real time data and alerts: reports and KPIs to inform management
1. Mobile first technology
With the rise of mobile devices and robust internet, allowing for the use of mobile devices is important as it is cost effective. Both iOS and Android share a roughly equal share of market, depending on the application, so technology companies are building their applications to suit both mobile platforms. Simply put, having options gives businesses more flexibility.
2. Smart scheduling software
Large and small businesses know they must prioritize reducing customer calls to improve overall customer satisfaction and costs of doing business. Smart appointment scheduling helps with this.
With white glove delivery, the customer needs to be home for the delivery, otherwise the company faces costly rescheduling. Business and operations managers devote significant focus to optimizing this area because delivery windows, dates and pricing vary based on a fleet’s real-time capacity and availability.
3. Real time integrations
When logistics providers were asked which technology would help them differentiate the most and win new last mile business, the top answer was easy integration to enable multiple delivery models. This means that shippers want the ability to work with both owned fleets as well as contracted carriers. Indeed, the most competitive shippers use multiple carriers and select from the most cost effective at any given time. The best way to facilitate this is a successful integration with a robust API rather than some other solutions that rely on sending Excel spreadsheets or manual uploads.
4. Automated dispatch and manual dispatch
Your dispatch solution must meet your business goals, even as those goals change. For active routes and same-day delivery, make sure that the dispatch solution you choose can support real-time, automated dispatching. For planned routes and deliveries that are next day or later, ensure that the dispatch tool allows dispatchers to intervene manually, but only as an exception, for example with a valuable customer with an urgent need (such cases should be tracked). Strong dispatch solutions will allow you to use the same delivery resources for static, dynamic and real-time dispatch and deliveries.
5. Route optimization and order batching
A simple way to fulfill more orders is to deliver more on a single sweep. Intelligent service dispatch software manages this with route optimization logic and automated order batching.
Route planning and optimization considers distance, delivery timing and traffic to minimize the delivery time (and cost)
Batching identifies orders in the same delivery windows which are located near one another that can be batched to reduce the cost of delivery.
Trucking dispatch software, route planning and optimization
For large deliveries, dispatchers must must take loading and unloading time into consideration. Whether or not the recipient has a space dedicated for loading and unloading influences this, as well as the vehicle type. If a large vehicle is used for these deliveries, the time on site will often need to be adjusted for parking and unloading time.
The best trucking dispatch software will be able to optimize trucking dispatch and even truck loading on the vehicle level. These capabilities will both save time and ensure you are utilizing the optimal vehicle for each delivery or service.
6. Customized dispatching according to operational logic and business priorities
Different businesses from all industries have a variety of KPIs and need dispatch solutions that suit their specific business goals. For businesses quickly ramping up capacity by engaging new fleets, dispatch limitations will hold back their ability to scale. It’s also unrealistic to expect dispatchers to take every factor into consideration. You need a ‘smart’ operating system that can make decisions for you, based on your unique considerations.
These considerations can include:
- Special delivery requirements such, returns and rejections or white-glove service
- Driver costs
- Vehicle and fleet regional suitability (for example, whether a truck fits or not)
- Estimated time on site, time to warehouse or dark kitchen and time-to-deliver to ensure on time deliveries
7. Fulfillment Flexibility and automation
Flexible dispatch allows businesses to create a delivery logic for their special use case, supported by their software provider to reach the optimal outcome. This can mean using different geographies, with a fleet pooled within a region or state. It also means automatically allocating orders to the optimal fulfillment partner (for example, orders requiring a box truck and liftgate go to the supplier who offers this).
8. Visibility in the delivery process
Intelligent service dispatch software works as part of an integrated, intelligent ecosystem, to be sure that every team works in sync. Each team in a delivery flow needs to know when and where they should be in order to hand off a delivery to the next team.
This means drivers need to be told which location they should pick up from, which loading bay they should go to, and when they are needed. Similarly, packers and warehouse staff need to know which orders need to be prepared, where they should be staged and when. Customers also want to have access to information to know where their driver is and when to expect them.
Mobile inventory and asset management should also be a part of your dispatching solution, whether as a separate integrated management system or as part of your dispatch technology.
Built-in GPS tracking
Look for dispatching solutions with in-app and mobile app communication and gps tracking, so that each team can coordinate deliveries seamlessly. Customers can also use GPS tracking via their mobile app to see where the driver is.
9. High-availability and Agility
As your delivery services expand, so will your dispatching needs. You may hire additional contractors or external fleets, expand to crowdsourced delivery, or even use more internal drivers. As your business grows, you will also see growth in geographic reach and the complexity of your business.
The best service dispatch software platforms will have dispatching and other tools for fast, efficient delivery. Choose a leading solution with modular capabilities that can expand with your needs, whether you work with a fleet of 5 vehicles or 5,000+. For enterprises or businesses supporting multiple delivery and fulfillment models, managing your different flows from a single, centralized platform is the best way to ensure optimal resource utilization.
10. Real time data and alerts
Real time data, robust reports and live alerts must be fast, accurate, and available to the right people. These alerts inform stakeholders at a macro and micro level as to the delivery status, driver allocations, time-to-delivery, exceptions, and everything else relevant to crucial dispatcher decision making. This is available in real-time and ad hoc, via reports. The reports can be aggregated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
FAQs on dispatch software
Some common questions are below and more can be found in our FAQs.
How does dispatch software work?
Dispatch software works by optimizing dispatching for both scheduled and on demand delivery. The best software comes by way of experience working in the industry on real business issues. This can include choosing the fleet, dealing with returns and redirecting deliveries, optimizing routes with advanced route planning, restricting drivers from traveling in certain geographic areas and automating logistics scheduling based on availability.
Dispatch software should be used by dispatchers as well as businesses who need a comprehensive solution to manage dispatch activities involving multiple vehicles servicing many locations within a single time frame across their business users, from operators to managers to owners.
The best dispatching software can schedule jobs based on customized requirements, such as different service levels, and then track fleet operations. Look for an easy to use system that provides end to end asset tracking as well as dispatch management capabilities.