Watch Now

Commentary: What to look for in a routed delivery provider

The right delivery partner is crucial to ensuring timely deliveries

Whether you’re running an online store or a brick-and-mortar outlet, timely deliveries are crucial for a hassle-free purchase experience. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

Today’s competitive retail landscape makes it imperative for retailers to prioritize the customer experience. With that in mind, delayed delivery schedules, damaged products, cumbersome tracking could turn customers away from your store. This, in turn, will take a toll on customer retention, brand reputation, and revenue.

Whether you’re running an online store or a brick-and-mortar outlet, timely deliveries are crucial for a hassle-free purchase experience.

That, in turn, emphasizes the need to partner with the right routed delivery provider.

Routed delivery involves finding the best routes for delivering various orders while optimizing vehicle capacity, fuel usage, driver efficiency, and speed. While it’s possible to handle routed delivery in-house, you’ll need specialized resources to plan and schedule deliveries. In such a scenario, partnering with an experienced routed delivery provider is a more efficient and cost-effective option.

1. Delivery Speed

Finding a routed delivery provider isn’t as simple as choosing one that offers the fastest delivery speeds. Instead, you need to carefully understand the delivery preferences of your customers.

Let’s say you own a home furniture store. Instead of opting for same-day delivery, most customers would prefer to receive a product at their convenience.

You’d thus need a delivery partner who offers flexible delivery speeds, including time-definite and same-day. Make sure they prioritize the needs of your customers while scheduling product deliveries too.

2. Experience

You should work with an established delivery partner that’s been in business for several years. An experienced delivery provider is equipped to anticipate and mitigate the challenges associated with route planning and scheduling.

Ask for a track record or client testimonials to understand the quality and reliability of their services. It’s a good idea to check their online reviews and ratings as well. Find out what kind of approach they use for routing and scheduling various orders.

Read: Commentary: 5 ways routed deliveries help improve sales

Also, you need to find a company that specializes in handling deliveries for your industry. It’s particularly crucial if you sell bulky items, such as flooring materials, household appliances, or furniture. Novice delivery providers won’t be familiar with the nuances of safe handling and timely delivery for such products.

3. Reliability

If a delivery provider is trusted by other businesses in your industry, chances are they know what they’re doing.

That’s why it is crucial to ask for client reviews and testimonials when you’re assessing different delivery services. You could even ask to connect with their existing clients for a first-hand account of their experience. Also, find out the company’s approach to recruiting and training delivery professionals.

Do they run extensive background checks before hiring a delivery executive? Are they more likely to hire experienced delivery professionals with a robust skillset? What kind of training do these employees undergo before they’re ready to handle routed deliveries?

Make sure you ask for the answers to these questions before choosing a delivery partner.

4. Use of Technology

The best delivery services are the ones that leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. They use sophisticated software for efficient routing and scheduling.

The software helps automate workflows and eliminates the need to rely on guesswork and intuition. It collects a wide array of data, and can be used to book and manage deliveries, or even generate the most suitable routes.

Make sure the delivery partner you select provides both you and your customers with simple and user-friendly platforms for tracking product deliveries in real-time.

5. Services Offered

Not all delivery providers are created equal. Some companies only take care of securely transporting your products to a customer’s doorstep at the selected time. 

Other companies offer a wide array of white-glove services, including unpacking, assembly, room-of-choice delivery, and installation of products. They even handle dunnage removal and reverse logistics.

Depending on the type of products you sell, it might make more sense to choose a white-glove routed delivery provider. Get a complete overview of the services offered by a company before making the final selection.

6. Delay and Damage Policies

Even the most efficient delivery providers with the best route planning software will experience unforeseen delays. Various factors, including vehicle breakdowns and accidents, could wreak havoc on pre-planned delivery schedules.

Find out your partner’s approach to re-attempting a product delivery. Do they schedule it for the next available slot? Or would they get in touch with the customer to deliver the product according to the latter’s convenience?

Similarly, mishandling of products could lead to cracks, dents, spills, and other signs of damage. In such a scenario, customers will likely refuse to accept the product. The burden of shipping a replacement will fall on you. Check whether the delivery provider offers insurance to cover these costs.

Harness the potential of routed delivery

Modern retailers need experienced and reliable routed delivery providers that utilize the latest technology to optimize operations. Optimized delivery means happy customers and happy customers are loyal customers.

Your delivery partner should offer additional services, including reverse logistics and product installation. They should also provide flexible delivery speeds according to the needs of your customers. A delivery partner that ticks all those boxes and more will ensure a hassle-free experience for your customers.

About the author

Jay Sackos is vice president at Dolly. Dolly provides nationwide same-day and scheduled delivery of items. It works with major retailers, small businesses and individuals to schedule and deliver purchased items.