Best Delivery Scheduling Software in 2023
Are you tired of planning deliveries the hard way, juggling driver schedules, address lists and customer demands? Do you want your time back? Are you looking for tools to streamline your delivery operations, make your business more efficient, and give you the chance to take an actual lunch break? You’re in the right place! In this post we’ll explain what delivery scheduling software does, what features to look for, and what market trends to be aware of. We’ll also review some of the most popular delivery management apps available in 2023. One of these could be a real game-changer for your business!
What is delivery scheduling software?
Delivery scheduling software simplifies and streamlines delivery management, organizing, and tracking. There are three main benefits for delivery companies:
- Automate time-consuming tasks like route planning by using algorithms to suggest the most efficient routes.
- Easier communication with drivers and customers.
- Lower operational costs.
The right scheduling software should help your business lower its cost per delivery and become more profitable.
What to look for in delivery scheduling software
The six key features shared by most delivery scheduling software apps are:
1. Route optimization
Route optimization algorithms automatically calculate the most efficient routes for your deliveries, taking into account information like delivery addresses, driver schedules, delivery time windows, vehicles, and more. The whole process should take from a few minutes to an hour at most, depending on the number of deliveries and how much you edit the routes. Optimized routes are typically 20-30% shorter, leading to savings in fuel costs and driver time.
2. Driver scheduling and dispatching
Schedule automation means you can easily balance driver workloads and plan around prioritized deliveries. One-click dispatch to a mobile phone app, which is now part of every worthwhile delivery management system, makes assignment a breeze.
3. Real-time tracking
You don’t need fancy telematics or devices in every vehicle to have delivery tracking. Mobile phone apps make it easy to monitor your drivers’ locations, either in real time or whenever they check in to mark a delivery completed. If you need to change a route or reschedule a delivery, this means you already know where all your drivers are.
4. Proof of delivery
Your drivers should be easily able to take photographs, capture signatures or scan barcodes using their mobile apps.
5. Customer communication
Accuration, timely communication is a critical part of creating a great customer experience. Delivery scheduling software will help you easily notify customers about delivery status, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and potential delays.
6. Reporting and analytics
End-of-day/week/month reports make payroll management easier, as well as helping create insights about how to improve your delivery service.
Look for software that works seamlessly with your inventory management, order management, or CRM systems.
Delivery scheduling software needs for small to medium-sized businesses
When it comes to delivery management software, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often have different needs and priorities compared to large enterprises. As well as all the features mentioned above, you should consider:
We’re a small business ourselves, so we understand the need to be careful with budgets! Look for tiered pricing, flexibility to choose monthly or annual plans, and pay-as-you-go options. If your business has a lot of seasonal change in demand, you should also look for easy upgrades and downgrades.
Ease of use
You probably don’t have time or capacity to be managing servers and complicated systems. Fortunately, in the age of browser-based software, you don’t have to. You should be able to figure out how to use delivery scheduling software and see the value within an hour or two. If you can’t — look for a different solution!
Because every business is unique, you may need help figuring out how to make software work with your particular systems. This means responsive, reliable customer support is essential. Your delivery scheduling software service provider should offer free support via chat, email or phone — whatever suits you best. Companies who focus on the SMB market may be a good choice for this reason. If they concentrate on enterprise customers, you might find yourself always at the back of the priority queue.
As your business grows, your delivery management needs will change. Software that can grow with your business allows you to add more users, vehicles, or deliveries — without adding complexity.
3 top delivery scheduling and management software trends
If you want to make the right technology choices, it’s a good idea to be aware of the most important trends and best practices in fleet management and delivery management. You want to avoid choosing a dead-end solution – and you never know when you might discover new capabilities that will boost your business!
These are the three trends that are most important for you to know about right now:
Last-mile delivery optimization
The last mile has always been the most complicated and expensive part of the delivery process to manage. Improving efficiency here can make a big difference to overall profitability. Better communications and shorter delivery times can also have a huge impact by increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. For all these reasons, last-delivery optimization is getting a lot of attention.
The move to mobile
Mobile phones have become absolutely critical tools for delivery drivers. It’s not about using Waze or Google Maps to find better routes and avoid traffic, either. Mobile phone apps linked to delivery scheduling software can help drivers load their vans in the most efficient order, capture photographs or signatures as proof of delivery, and communicate with dispatchers, all without ever having to make a call or send a text message. Android and iOS apps can cost $10-$20 per month for solo drivers, but if you’re using dispatch management software in the back office the driver apps are usually a free add-on.
Customers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, and prefer to buy from e-commerce businesses that are working to reduce their carbon footprint and other impacts. Recyclable and reusable packaging is one major growth area, and many delivery businesses are switching to electric vehicles or bicycles for deliveries where they can. Finally, route optimization can cut fossil fuel use by 20-30%.
8 top delivery scheduling software apps
Routific’s top priority is route optimization, because it’s the easiest way to lower cost per delivery and improve profitability. The more deliveries you can make per route, the better!
Great routing is not just about distance driven, though. Optimal routes should make as much sense to your drivers as they do to the algorithm, because driver management is a big part of delivery management. Drivers dislike overlapping “spaghetti routes”. They look inefficient and stupid to a human eye, which can undermine trust in even the best delivery scheduling system. At Routific we focus on driver acceptability, with clean and easy-to-understand routes.
Routific is noted for being easy to use (reviews often mention our dispatch button and driver app), and for our customer support. The combined map and timeline view gives dispatchers an instant overview of all their routes and vehicles, and the ability to edit routes when needed. Customer notifications are sent automatically and can easily be customized.
Real-time GPS tracking is available via the mobile driver app, along with photo and signature proof of delivery.
Routific is free to try for 7 days – no credit card or phone number needed, and there are no limits on the number of routes or stops!
User ratings: 4.9 (100+ reviews)
Cost: Starts at $39 per vehicle per month, or $59 per vehicle per month for GPS tracking and proof of delivery features. Automated customer notifications via email or SMS are $19 per vehicle per month. Per-stop pricing is also available.
OptimoRoute is powerful delivery scheduling software with lots of advanced routing functionality. All the advanced features mean it can take a while to figure out, and it’s difficult to make manual edits if a delivery needs to be rescheduled.
Driver tracking is included, and dispatchers can set up individual driver profiles with their own shift schedules (including breaks and overtime), start/end locations, vehicle types, service areas, and even cost and speed settings. You can also set up multiple capacity constraints (e.g. weight & volume). Like Routific, OptimoRoute doesn’t include barcode scanning or order taking functionality.
They offer a generous 30-day free trial, but it’s limited to 250 stops so it’s hard to assess how performance will scale.
User ratings: Capterra rating: 4.6 (100+ reviews)
Cost: If you sign up for a full year, pricing starts at $35 per vehicle per month with a limit of 700 orders, or $44 per month for up to 1,000 orders, real-time tracking and proof of delivery. Custom pricing for more complex needs is also available.
Route4Me was one of the first route optimization and delivery scheduling software tools on the market. It has a well-developed marketplace of add-on features like curbside pickup, avoiding left or right turns, or e-commerce integrations. This makes it very flexible, although the costs can add up quickly if you’re using a lot of extra features.
From a route optimization point of view, Route4Me automatically optimizes its routes to use the smallest possible number of vehicles. This setting can’t be changed, which can make things awkward. You could have one driver sitting idle while another works overtime, for example.
We also found their ETA estimations unrealistic. For example, on one route section that Routific and Google Maps both estimated would take 18-19 minutes, Route4Me estimated just 10 minutes. Under-estimating journey times can lead to late deliveries and a bad customer experience.
Like Routific, Route4Me offers a 7-day free trial with unlimited functionality.
User ratings: 4.4 (300+ reviews)
Cost: starts at $319 per month if you want to include route optimization. Features like customer notifications and delivery time windows are add-ons that will increase the cost. Adding time windows, for example, will cost an extra $79 per month. There are no proof of delivery features.
Onfleet bills itself as a “complete toolkit for last mile delivery”. The software has all the functionality you’d expect to find in delivery scheduling software, although it scores low on ease of use. The interface doesn’t show actual routes, just a collection of pins. You can only view one route at a time, and there’s no color coding to help visualize different routes. There’s also no timeline view, which makes it difficult for dispatchers to monitor route progress in real time.
On the upside, dispatchers and drivers like the live chat option inside the driver app. Onfleet also has a fuller feature set, including barcode scanning, than Routific or other rivals.
Onfleet does offer a 14-day free trial, but you will need to give your phone number and credit card details.
User ratings: 4.7 (80+ reviews)
Cost: Starts at $500 per month with a limit of 2,000 pickup/delivery tasks. Barcode scanning, age verification and 5,000 pickup/delivery tasks start at $1,150 per month. Custom pricing is available for enterprise customers.
Upper is relatively new delivery scheduling software that’s easy to use, with a friendly web-based route optimization tool that can handle up to 500 addresses. It doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out from the competition, though: it’s slower and offers fewer features than Routific for a similar price, it’s less easy to use than Circuit, and it can’t match the feature set of Onfleet or Optimoroute. That said, there’s no reason not to use Upper if you like the interface and it works for your purposes.
User ratings: 5.0 (1 review)
Cost: Starts at $100/month for up to three drivers, or $200/month for up to 5 drivers.
Circuit began as a popular standalone route planner app for single drivers, well reviewed on both iOS and Android platforms. More recently, they’ve expanded their offering to include Circuit for Teams, which enables route planning and dispatch for multiple vehicles.
Their browser-based app is impressively easy to use. This makes it a good match for small businesses where one person might have to handle the whole delivery scheduling and route management role. On the downside, their routing engine is lackluster, yielding messy, tangled routes. It’s also not possible to edit routes or view overall distance and time metrics, which makes it less attractive for delivery managers who have to track multiple routes and vehicles at the same time.
User ratings: 4.8 (26 reviews)
Cost: Starts at $100/month for three drivers, or $200/month for five drivers, customer notifications and proof of delivery options. Driver analytics are included on the $500/month pro plan, which includes up to 10 drivers.
OnTime 360 is unique in this list of dispatch management software solutions. It does everything including order taking, label printing, barcode scanning. There’s even an integration with QuickBooks for billing and invoicing.
Drawbacks include potentially high cost, with users sometimes paying for features they don't actually use. The website's list of features can be quite long and challenging to understand. Additionally, the routing functionality is relatively basic, which means users won’t reap all the benefits. Their "advanced route optimization" comes with extra credit purchases and is limited to 300 stops.
They offer a 14-day free trial.
User ratings: 4.3 (30+ reviews)
Cost: Starts at $39 per month for a limited feature set. Route scheduling and the Quickbooks integration are only available from the Professional tier plans at $129 per month. There’s a $99 account activation fee for all plans.
Track-POD has similar features to OnTime360, although it lacks billing and invoicing. Users find it more user-friendly and cost-effective, though, which makes it a better choice for smaller businesses.
Users also like the route visibility, notifications, live tracking, and proof of delivery features.
On the downside, users mention that it’s hard to edit routes and that the driver mobile app can be confusing, with different Android and iOS mobile versions. The driver apps also come at an extra cost, where most of their competitors offer these free.
The 7-day free trial doesn’t need a credit card, but you will need to give a phone number.
User ratings: 4.6 (100+ reviews)
Cost: Track-POD offers its core proof of delivery feature (including barcode scanning, signature and photo capture) for just $29 per driver per month. Order management, a driver app, notifications and analytics are included for $49 per vehicle per month. Route planning and live tracking are only available on the Advanced Plus plan starting at $69 per vehicle per month.