The best package delivery apps

Package delivery apps are essential for modern delivery teams and provide lots of functionality to save money and improve the delivery experience.

The best package delivery apps
Package delivery apps

How the package delivery app has changed last mile delivery

A client of mine, a delivery guy with over 10 years of experience delivering in London, says the job is getting harder every day. 10 years ago he was given a small number of packages and he cruised around the city delivering to people who were amazed that home delivery from online ordering was even a thing! Now, customers demand same-day or next-day delivery, they want to know where their package is at all times on the journey, and the delivery driver starts the day with over 100 packages in his vehicle.

On the other hand, 10 years ago he had a paper list of addresses and a map of London whereas now he has a mobile app that organizes his route and updates customers with a live ETA of their package. Would he go back to 10 years ago? He certainly misses the easier pace of the industry from back then but he understands that now delivery vehicles have taken the place of normal shopping traffic so it is probably a good thing for society as a whole to hand over parcel delivery to the professionals rather than clogging up the streets with shopping commuters.

The arrival of intelligent package delivery apps has changed his world and allowed him to optimize his delivery route to a point where there is simply no waste.

His app plans his routes taking into account all sorts of variables such as, how big his vehicle is, what the limits of his delivery territory are, if he as a driver has certain skills that are appropriate for certain deliveries, and so on.

The app organizes, navigates and feeds information back and forth between the driver and the central dispatcher. Dispatch notes are attached to each stop to help him deliver efficiently. Driver notes are taken at each stop to update the record and help with the next time a delivery will be made to that address.

He is also able to take a photo or get an e-signature of the recipient so there is proof that the package was delivered. This is then sync’d back to the office and sent to the customer so there can be no confusion later on.

Using package delivery apps has massively improved delivery success rates, lowered customer complaints and speeded up routes to a point where the all important next-day delivery can be achieved.

When I ask him if he could imagine doing his job without a package delivery app he simply laughs. Fine if customers want their package next week but they probably won’t order from that shop again if that is the case.

In this article we look at how package delivery apps are essential for modern delivery operations and we take a look at a few of the best apps in the last mile delivery space.

Package delivery apps index

  1. Essential attributes of a package delivery app
  2. How delivery teams use package delivery apps to improve deliveries
  3. 5 of the best package delivery apps
  4. Improve your delivery management

Essential attributes of a package delivery app

Package delivery apps sound like a simple tools getting drivers from A to Z as fast as possible but the reality of delivery operations is that they are complex with multiple factors needing to be taken into account to deliver correctly. Let’s take a look at the six main things that every one of our clients demand from their package delivery app.

Route planning simplicity

The route planning functionality needs to be simple and automated. You cannot waste time in your day manually inputting addresses and thinking about the best way to break up a delivery list to various drivers and vehicles. It’s just not feasible.

Route planning tools need to connect with your ordering system or allow you to import spreadsheets of addresses for automatic crunching and organizing by the software. You also need to be able to factor in things like driver skill sets, driver territories, vehicle restrictions, work load balancing and shift times effortlessly. Route planning is complex by its nature and the app needs to make it simple.

Route optimization that is multi-factorial

Route optimization in itself is simple enough. An algorithm gets you around certain stops as quickly as possible. The devil, of course, is in the details though. Do we want to prioritize left-hand turns, can we manually reorder certain stops, can we return to the depot during the route? There are multiple factors that can’t be handled by the likes of Google Maps even if they did allow you to optimize more than 10 stops. For real-world, complicated, multi-factorial route optimization you need a tool that can handle these elements and create intelligent, fast routes in response.

Capable of adapting to real-world

Anyone who has worked in delivery operations knows that the best laid plans can be destroyed by the real-world. Customers change their delivery location, traffic issues arise, new stop get added while you are out on the route. Your package delivery app needs to be able to adapt to these changing conditions. You need to be able to re-optimize the route at the click of a button and that changed route be updated to the driver’s phone. You need to be able to update dispatch notes telling a driver to leave the package with a neighbor instead, or the driver might need to capture e-signature proof of delivery instead of photo proof.

A clean mobile interface

Drivers need a super-simple app interface to do their job. The app needs to tell them what to do next and allow them to gather information quickly and simply when out in the messy real-world. Big buttons, intuitive next steps and accurate data capture will be the difference between drivers using the app and drivers pushing back on it.

Customer communications built in

The mobile app is a tool for drivers but it is also a live beacon telling dispatch and customers exactly where the package is. This allows for customers to be updated with estimated time of delivery that is accurate. Customers can be sent an automated SMS that is geo-fenced to when a driver is within 30 minutes of the delivery location. Intelligent systems automate the customer communication process.

Drivers can be contacted directly by customers also which can help with delivery success rates. Equally, drivers can contact customers directly to ask for more information or update them on the delivery. All of this avoid customers calling dispatch for updates and improves the delivery experience.

Finally, customers can access a live map of the delivery vehicle so they can see where it is, where they are in a queue of deliveries and when exactly it will arrive.

Generates better processes

For dispatch managers the processes around delivery operations will be a reason to stay awake at night. Last mile delivery is one of the most expensive elements in modern business and costs can spiral very quickly if not controlled. Having full oversight on where drivers are and who is the most efficient can help to improve deliveries in the future. Reporting on delivery success, carbon emissions and proof of delivery is all managed through the hard-working app. For our clients delivery management becomes akin to delivery orchestration because they have all of the information that they need to make decisions and they can see the effect of those decisions in real-time in the field.

How delivery teams use package delivery apps to improve deliveries

Maintain stops upload sequence

Not everyone wants the SmartRoutes algorithm to decide the route. Some businesses have good reasons to maintain a certain stops sequence so we allow this to override the route optimizer if you want.

Reoptimize

Reoptimize routes based on changed circumstances or slot in last-minute orders to fulfil a same-day delivery commitment. Reoptimization can be done by either the driver on the mobile app or by the dispatch team on the delivery management software dashboard.

Get updates

Drivers can receive updates from dispatch with the dispatch notes feature. This will update in real-time for drivers and keep them informed of information they need to get the package delivered correctly. Drivers can update their driver notes on the app too to help with future deliveries, for example, notes on access codes for a property or where best to leave a package if the recipient isn’t home.

Improve NPS score

When we talk about delivery experience we mean the package delivery should be seamless for the recipient. They know when it is due to arrive and it arrives as expected with the handover experience being professional and ideally it would be a branded experience. The result of this that we have seen for clients is improved Net Promoter Scores (NPS) that indicate customers are likely to recommend the service to a friend. This is a strong indicator that customer will return to buy from you again.

Manage territories

Delivery teams can easily assign territories to drivers using a package delivery app. The advantage of this is that drivers can reduce their initial commute times to the depot by working a territory closer to their home. The other advantage is the driver knows an area well. Territories assigned to a driver mean that any stops outside of this territory cannot be assigned to the driver. It also helps delivery teams to divide up geographies and ensure drivers or adjacent depots don’t overlap in their deliveries.

Stagger pickup times

Using a package delivery app means you can stagger when drivers pick up their loads and avoid congestion at the depot and streamline things. Pickers get orders ready and have drivers ready to load in order. Staggered pickups and drop offs avoid unnecessary delays.

Use what3words

Not all delivery addresses are accurate in terms of where the delivery actually needs to take place. Sometimes deliveries need to be at a back door or service entrance or loading bay. Using What3Words you can pinpoint the exact location better and ensure more efficient delivery.

Coordinate complex orders

Order management including multiple packages per stop can be itemised and docketed using the package delivery system. Order slips can be printed and attached to each order so the driver knows exactly what to leave. Order management is essential for most businesses and will avoid missed items and the need to return to customers.

See delivery on time stats

Delivery on time reports highlight the overall efficiency of a delivery team or individual driver. They show the number of stops that were delivered within the time window set and are a key indicator of delivery performance that can be tracked.

Manage outsourced courier services

For delivery teams that are using outsourced courier services it is important to get them to use the package delivery app. This ensures visibility on operations and all of the reporting and delivery experience functionality we have described. No longer do you need to be at the mercy of your outsourced providers commitments on delivery quality. You will have control.

Slot new drivers into shifts

Finally, package delivery apps control the quality of delivery service ensuring route optimization, POD, customer notifications and all of the other parameters required. If your regular driver is out sick or unable to attend then the app can easily slot in a new driver or an inexperienced driver without them needing to know anything about the route. They simply follow the app instructions to complete the workload.

5 of the best apps to deliver packages

SmartRoutes

Arguably the most complete package delivery app that is simple to use and has every route planning feature you will require. Starts at just $29 per month.

Circuit app

One of the best known route planners used by couriers. $20 per month for just the app with very limited package delivery capabilities and then moving to $40 for the team plan with things like POD, fleet tracking and so on.

Locus

Locus Dispatcher is an automated route planner that uses deep machine learning to simplify the distribution of goods for delivery agents, drivers, and dispatchers. It is a comprehensive solution in logistics that enhances fulfillment operations & increases consistency in transport planning, with nearly no human intervention. Pricing from $10,000 per annum!

OptimoRoute

Recently raised their prices to entry point of $37 per month but this is a very complete solution and used worldwide by couriers and all manner of small businesses to power their home deliveries.

Zeo Route Planner

At the more affordable end of the market Zeo starts at just $2 per day if you have just a short term need. Zeo Route Planner is aimed at drivers, logistics managers, courier companies, and small businesses.



Improve your delivery management

Customer expectations have grown massively in the past 10 years and trailblazers like Amazon and DoorDash are driving expectations even further so smaller businesses have to follow suit.

Package delivery apps are essential in maintaining high standards, speeding up delivery times and giving customers a great delivery experience.

If  you want to complete deliveries faster for your business and want complex capabilities with POD and customer notifications included then get in touch with us today. SmartRoutes is the complete package delivery app for modern delivery teams. Try our free trial today.