IN DEPTH: Scaling delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic

Miroslav Remecky, Vice President of Enterprise Business Unit at Sygic, a global GPS navigation pioneer, offers his views on taking strategic steps to address the current higher demand for delivery services resulting from Covid-19.
Sygic, Global supply chain

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With more purchases currently happening online, delivery companies are expected to step up and respond to the demand.

Some  big  players have already announced that they will create new jobs in the near future and smaller firms may follow suit.

While this presents a unique opportunity, there is a hidden pitfall as scaling up may also make the existing process inefficiencies more apparent. Problems and costs may arise, for example, as a result of a higher number of returns and errors.

An uneven ratio of new hires is also to be expected, as drivers are more in demand than other roles. However not every business has a structure and processes in place to support this unprecedented growth. Moreover, a significant portion of new employees won’t have enough experience driving professionally, as they will be switching occupations as a result of lay-offs in other industries. Devising new on-boarding programmes and having strong tech in place will play a crucial role in supporting this new team dynamic.

Increasing first-time delivery success

With more orders to process, optimising the delivery success rate is more important than ever before. The key is to keep the recipient in the loop by providing ETAs or time windows, as opposed to simple information about the delivery date. Offering a narrow time slot usually works better, as customers make adjustments on their end to be available to receive the order. This leads to lower wait times for the driver and increases the chance of first-time delivery success.

Gaining visibility into vehicle locations

Real-time visibility might come in handy in regard to the previous point if the information is shared with the recipient. For example, in food delivery, where customer expectations are quite high and good service is necessary to achieve the much-valued consumer loyalty. We have recently seen companies like Wolt or Bolt Food using this technology to gain competitive advantage. We can only expect this segment to be more and more reliant on providing convenience to the end customer.

This information is also valuable to the back-office staff, who can check if the planned number of deliveries is being met, or quickly reassign routes if needed. The data can also be revisited later and examined to obtain insights into what is happening on the road and improve efficiency.

Making remote work possible

In the current situation, the previously mentioned visibility becomes a part of a larger issue. With some employees working from home, it is important to adopt practices that minimise the number of communication touchpoints and prevent slowdowns.

For example, automating certain processes and giving more agency to the driver may save their time waiting for instructions, hand-offs, or approvals. 

Maximising vehicle utilisation, minimising fuel costs

Many companies are already using software to plan and optimise routes. But that’s still only half the battle because execution is as important as planning. If drivers end up not following the routes properly, the additional time and fuel costs make the effort pointless.

So how do you optimise the routes and then ensure drivers follow them exactly as planned? In Sygic Professional Navigation, there’s an option to use Guided Routes, which means the dispatcher pushes the exact route to a vehicle’s navigation, which suppresses its own routing and accepts the route.

Route calculation gets triggered only in case of a mistake, where the navigation gets the driver back on the right track. This feature significantly helps decrease fuel cost estimation discrepancies.

Improving driver behaviour

Categorising drivers based on their performance and motivating them to be careful can have a higher impact on costs than one might think, as suggested by the Iron Mountain Case Study from 2018. The study found that launching a driver training programme and deploying driver behaviour telematics resulted in significant savings in incidents (87%), damage costs (78%) and maintenance (30%). Speeding incidents also decreased by 92%.

Telematics solutions can reliably identify events such as speeding, braking, or cornering, which, besides minimising risks, offers a new way of prolonging the life of vehicles.

The downside of these solutions is the cost, as they usually come in a form of black boxes or dongles to be fitted or plugged into the vehicle.

The expenses often can’t be justified for small and mid-size companies. Sygic addresses this market gap by including its own driving behaviour monitoring and scoring algorithm into its professional navigation system. Monitoring is performed directly by the navigation system without the need for any additional hardware investments.

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