Getting tired of manually planning routes for your drivers? Looking for ways to make your life easier with route planning software, but not sure where to start? We’ve done the hard work for you and reviewed the best route optimization apps in 2019 to help you find the right software for your business.
As the Founder of Routific, I’ve been in the last-mile delivery industry for more than a decade and spoken to hundreds of businesses who were looking to transition away from spreadsheets and pen and paper. This review gives you an overview of some of the top route planner apps for deliveries that they’ve chosen – some free, some paid, roughly ordered by complexity.
“So… why are you writing about your competitors if you also sell delivery route planning software?”
Our mission at Routific is to make route optimization accessible to every delivery business. We strongly believe that manual route planning leads to a lot of wasted driving time and fuel. Research has shown that transitioning from manual route planning to route optimization software has the same impact to the environment as planting 86 trees/year!
That’s why we want everyone to transition away from manual route planning and using route optimization software. Even if that means using one of our competitors! That’s how much we care.
Being radically transparent is at the core of who we are at Routific. We honestly just want to help you in the process of adopting route planning software, and we know that you would have done the painful research yourself anyways.
For this guide to be useful to you, it needs to be as unbiased and factual as possible. For that reason, we’ve decided to take ourselves off the list and tried as much as possible to stay objective. We want to arm you with the data, so that you can make up your own mind.
The goal of this review is to help you navigate the myriad of options on the internet. It is not sorted by rating – that would be subjective – but roughly ordered in complexity and capabilities. And there's two ways to learn - either with the video below or the full blog post beneath.
Free multi stop route planners
If you just launched your delivery service or you only deliver about a dozen stops per day or less, you’re probably fine sticking to free tools. The benefit of using free tools is that, well, they are free! You have nothing to lose, other than your time spent learning to use the app.
It’s a good way to get started, but if you have multiple drivers and larger volumes with more complex customer needs, you might want to skip ahead to the next section.
Google maps route planner
Google Maps is the only app on the list that technically doesn’t offer route optimization. They help you navigate from A to B, but they won’t optimize the sequence of stops for you. You can read more about the difference between Google Maps and Route Optimization here.
I decided to include them anyway, simply because everyone is familiar with Google Maps. Many delivery businesses will try and use Google Maps as a route planner for multiple stops as their first foray into more sophisticated delivery route planner apps.
For simple scenarios – limited to 1 driver and 10 addresses – you can plot your stops on a map and manually drag to reorder the sequence while eyeballing the route.
Downsides are that you have to manually type each address, and technically, you’re still manually planning your routes. But hey, it’s Google Maps, it’s familiar, and they will give you the most accurate ETAs possible as they leverage a lot of traffic data.
Related post: How to use Google Maps Route Planner for deliveries
Mapquest route planner
When you hit the limitations of Google Maps – which might happen quicker than you’d expect – you can give Mapquest a try. They have a free route planner that works really when you have multiple stops to make. This tool is more geared for business use.
The app supports mass upload of your addresses (with copy/paste or spreadsheet upload), and offers a free route optimization option to re-order stops in the optimal sequence. One of the options is to set it as a round trip, which is good for delivery businesses that have a central depot or warehouse that the driver needs to return to. You can send your optimized route to your driver via an SMS link.
The limitations are that you can only use it for a single driver and up to 26 locations. Also, if pop-up ads bother you, consider looking elsewhere.
RouteXL is free to use up to 20 addresses. There is an option to pay € 35 EUR/month to increase that limit to 100 addresses.
While they do offer mass upload of addresses using copy paste, it does not support uploading spreadsheets. Spreadsheets come in handy when you’re looking to sort and organize a large number of addresses. They are also a format that allows you to import and export data into different software programs a little more easily. RouteXL does offer more advanced route optimization options such as splitting up your stops across multiple routes. So if you need to split your orders up between multiple drivers, Google Maps and Mapquest won’t be helpful.
The limitation is that the route settings apply to all routes; you cannot set up individual drivers with different shift times or starting locations.
Flightmap is another basic route planning tool that offers a free tier of up to 200 stops per month for 2 vehicles. Beyond that, you can increase the limits by paying $0.04 per stop or $5/vehicle/month.
They support uploading address data via spreadsheets and gives you a few route optimization controls such as “max tasks per vehicle” and “trip duration limit”. They have the same limitation as RouteXL in that you cannot have different settings for each driver.
Flightmap has a direct integration with Tookan (which is a paid delivery management solution), because both products were built by the same parent company.
The Travelling Salesman Problem and route optimization algorithms
You might be thinking the steps listed above don’t seem very efficient. And you’d be right. Free route planners are great for personal route plans and small delivery routes. But as your business grows, route planning can become extremely complex and time consuming.
That’s because you’re now dealing with something called the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) or Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP). This is a complex problem mathematicians and computer scientists have been trying to solve for years. It also happens to be one of our favorite topics of conversation here at Routific.
Essentially, the more stops you have to make and the more drivers you have, the more complicated it gets. In fact, the possible routing solutions grow so exponentially, it becomes impossible for any human to accurately calculate the most optimal order of stops without some help. The closest we’ve come, albeit imperfectly, is algorithms.
Route optimization algorithms are able to quickly calculate a massive number of dependencies, including addresses, delivery time windows, driver speeds, vehicle load capacities—you name it! In this next section, we’ll provide you with route planner apps with these more robust planning features.
Route planner apps with more features than free tools
When you run a larger delivery operation with multiple drivers and more than 25 stops per day, you might want to look for more sophisticated route planning software.
The below options offer more capabilities that might meet your unique routing needs better. One example we hear most often is the need to plan routes with customer time-windows and service durations in mind. For that reason, the apps that are reviewed in the list below need to at least have this capability (among many others).
Headline from their website: “Power your deliveries. Delight customers, scale operations, and boost efficiency with the world's most advanced logistics software.”
Onfleet offers both route planning and delivery management together. Delivery management has been their primary focus since 2012, but they added route optimization as a paid add-on in 2016.
You can create your individual driver profiles with their own start and/or end locations and shift schedules, as well as their capacity. For each delivery, you can specify a single time-window, service duration, and quantity.
Once you’ve optimized your routes, you can dispatch them straight to the OnFleet app for drivers, and track the progress from the dashboard.
The Basic package with route optimization costs $349/mo:
OptimoRoute offers you more flexibility and control for you to set up your routes exactly as you might want. It does require some time to learn and understand.
You can set up individual driver profiles with their own shift schedules (including breaks and overtime), start/end locations, skills (if you’re in the service industry), vehicle types, service areas you want them to stay in, and even cost and speed settings. You can also set up multiple capacity constraints (e.g. weight & volume).
They have a mobile app for the drivers that you can dispatch the routes to, and you can track the progress live from the dashboard.
A limitation is that you can’t adjust the routes easily with a drag ‘n drop interface.
WorkWave Route Manager
One thing to note is that WorkWave Route Manager is the only app in this review that doesn’t offer a free trial. They also don’t publish their pricing transparently and want you to book a demo or talk to sales to find out. The only thing they say on the website is that it starts at $49/vehicle/month.
WorkWave focusses their products for the pest control and field services industries primarily, but can also be used for delivery routes. It has all the basic route planning functionality such as drag ‘n drop, multiple time-windows, multiple capacities, etc. But they also offer support for more advanced routing needs such as paired pickup and dropoffs, driver territories, and even different cost structures for your drivers and optimize based on minimizing total cost.
Despite all this, a surprising limitation is that you don’t see the route lines drawn on the map, only coloured dots on a map with numbers on them. This makes it hard to see which roads your drivers are actually taking.
They also have a mobile app for the drivers which can also be used to monitor things like speeding and hard braking incidents.
If you read Route4Me’s homepage, you’ll see that they claim to do everything under the sun for any type of business. I count 92 business types listed there and one more called “Other”.
When you explore their capabilities on their “Marketplace”, you’ll notice that they’ve taken a very modular and customizable approach. Each feature is a paid add-on that you can pick ‘n choose to create your own subscription.
One limitation you’ll note is that the routes are assumed to all start and end at the same location and with the same shift times. Other than that, since they support such a wide variety of use-cases, there are a ton of bells and whistles you can discover.
They present a ton of information about your routes, allows for a lot of customization and setup, and even offers a multitude of ways to view your routes (together on a map, broken out with single route views, or in a matrix overview). They also have a mobile app for the drivers with live progress tracking as well as the ability to trace the driver’s routes after the fact.
Pricing with route optimization feature for a fleet starts at $299/month. The cheaper $199/mo option allows only single-person routes. Note that these prices don’t include any of the modular add-on features, some of which can be quite pricey.
Optimized routes for your delivery business
If you’ve read this far, hopefully you feel better informed about the various route planning software options. Our goal for publishing this guide is to speed up your search for the right fit, so that you can finally transition away from manual route planning, and create optimized routes for your delivery business!
This review covered 8 of the best delivery route planner apps on the market, roughly ordered in increasing complexity and capabilities. Note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive; there are many other options on the market that weren’t included in the list that you might want to look at as well. We just wanted to highlight some of the usual suspects we hear often in the delivery industry to speed up your search for the right software for your business.
You might want to check out some of the route planner apps listed above, but if you're interested in Routific, we offer a free 7 day trial. No credit card required.