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How to Meet FMCSA Compliance and Optimize Fleet Performance Too

Government regulations have been pushing the transportation industry to modernize in the interest of improved safety but getting compliant doesn’t have to be a costly headache.

In fact, thanks to mobile technologies, meeting the latest compliance requirements can also help trucking companies better manage their fleets and drivers, while dramatically improving delivery efficiency and performance.

Here are three major areas where compliance is optimizing fleet performance:

1. Telematics and GPS

Telematics have transformed fleet management, thanks to the ability to monitor and manage vehicle locations, performance, and driver behavior. Engine and vehicle data is collected automatically through sensors, while GPS provides location and positioning data.

Mobile technologies such as handheld computers and tablets connect to sensors and GPS data, enabling real-time logging and communications between drivers and fleet headquarters. Additional capabilities are also possible, including integration of cameras to verify and validate telematic indicators such as harsh acceleration, braking, and speeding.

A complete system yields data to help improve driver safety, fuel consumption, and vehicle performance. It also helps ensure smooth deliveries and compliance with the latest regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

To create a telematics and GPS system, our omniQ experts recommend a cradled ET50/55 enterprise tablet or TC70/75 handheld mobile computer from Zebra Technologies. Both devices can be cradled aboard a truck to capture black box and GPS data while providing Wi-Fi and cellular access for complete mobile tracking, monitoring, and communications.

Each device can be removed and used as a mobile computing device as well, so drivers or staff can log vehicle inspection reports, access routes, and capture proof of delivery. Pairing these devices with mobile printers also allows for fast and easy printing of delivery receipts, barcode labels, and invoices wherever and whenever they’re needed.

2. Routing and Scheduling

With fuel costs rising again, it’s more important than ever to use the most cost-effective and efficient delivery routes. Mobile technologies offer an easy way to ensure this by helping distribute dynamic up-to-the-minute route and scheduling information that helps minimize fuel consumption, meet tight delivery windows, and fulfill expedited delivery requests.

Additionally, mobile-enabled GPS can guide drivers along the most efficient routes in real time, providing up-to-the-minute audio or map-based turn-by-turn navigation assistance, ensuring on-time deliveries that enhance customer satisfaction.

It’s all easy and affordable to achieve with the right software and handheld mobile computers such Zebra’s TC20, TC51/56, and TC70/75 models. Through a single device that fits in the palm of their hand, drivers can access all the routing, scheduling, navigation, and other applications they need, plus voice, barcode capture, and photo capabilities.

omniQ’s Route Edge software is an enterprise-class solution for Proof of Delivery, Direct Store Delivery (including DEX), and sales management.  Route Edge leverages decades of industry knowledge and experience to improve the performance of field employees during the delivery, invoicing, and merchandising process. For more information on Route Edge, click here.

3. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Now that the FMCSA has mandated electronic logging through its ELD Rule, an electronic logging device (ELD) is necessary for fleet management, compliance, and driver safety.

An ELD is the electronic hardware that’s attached to a truck engine to monitor whether the engine is running and the vehicle is moving, along with miles driven, hours of service (HOS), and the duration of engine operation.

Zebra’s mobile computing solutions, such as the ET50/55, can serve as the central hub for ELD data while delivering the applications and connectivity to drive a complete ELD solution. As a cradled onboard mobile computer, the ET50/55 interfaces with engine sensors or a mobile device that collects and communicates ELD data by connecting with a vehicle’s black box.

Where to Learn More

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your trucking operations while ensuring FMCSA compliance, contact omniQ for a free consultation. Call 1-800-242-7272 or email us now.

Data Interchange Energy Field Sales and Delivery Industry Solutions Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

3 Ways Technology Optimizes Productivity for Your Field Employees

Field employees — whether they are technicians, delivery drivers, route sales reps, or some combination of those jobs — are an extremely valuable and expensive part of your operation. If you don’t properly optimize their schedules or daily workloads, you can wind up with idle employees and equipment or find yourself over-hiring and investing in more routes or vehicles than you actually need.

Technology and planning can help you improve the efficiency of your field employees. That’s good for the company (you can log more jobs or sales without hiring additional employees) and also good for your field staff since they can spend more time earning money and less time driving from job to job.

Here are three examples of how technology can benefit your field operation:

Route Optimization: No matter how skilled your schedulers and dispatchers are, if they are still managing routes manually then your field employees are probably not working to their full potential. Manual routing is prone to human error.

By using an intelligent, automated routing and scheduling tool you can ensure that all routes are optimized based on your own efficiency/productivity goals. Route optimization tools can ensure that stops are organized to minimize time and distance, but within key customer time constraints and expectations.  Route optimization can also ensure that employees take the fastest route between stops, intelligently schedule pick-up/drop-off stops for delivery applications, and even schedule service technicians based on both location and skill set.

Modern route optimization solutions with real-time capabilities can even reroute employees based on traffic, weather, and road construction information. If a job is taking too long, the next stop can be automatically rerouted to another employee.

These features can keep the schedule on track, improve customer service, save fuel, and boost productivity — and routes can be optimized and communicated even before the shift begins.

Anticipate Customer Needs: Inventory management tools can help your delivery or route sales drivers arrive at each customer stop with the right merchandise and equipment on hand. New predictive analytics and forecasting tools can help sales operations forecast what their customers need before an order is placed or the driver arrives, which can help improve the efficiency of each stop.

In field service applications, sensors, automation, machine-to-machine interfaces, and cloud computing resources can help companies remotely diagnose (and in some cases repair) assets and equipment. By knowing what is wrong with a machine before they arrive to fix it, technicians can be sure to have the right tools and parts, which will improve both the first-time fix rate and overall productivity.

Leverage Technology on the Truck and in the Field: With mobile computers, GPS technology, and/or telematics solutions in your company vehicles you can further boost employee productivity.

By deploying automated delivery, inventory, or work order management solutions on mobile companies or tablets in the field, employees can quickly provide status updates, document their work, obtain customer signatures/payments, and close out work orders without time-consuming paperwork.

Combined with real-time wireless communications, these systems can also automatically update ERP, CRM, and route optimization solutions in real time. Managers and dispatchers can see the status of each job/stop and use that information to adjust the schedule if necessary.

GPS-based fleet tracking units on the truck can also update the location of each employee, time-stamp arrivals and departures to improve documentation/billing, and help automatically populate driver logs, hours of service documentation, or fuel tax forms, saving even more time for field employees.

The technology can also provide solutions for electronic logging devices (ELDs), hours of service (HOS) management, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), and other compliance and operations requirements.

With the right technology solutions in place to optimizing your routing and scheduling, anticipate the needs of each work order/customer, and track the progress and location of your staff and vehicles, you can greatly enhance both the efficiency and productivity of your field employees.

Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How Predictive Sales Forecasting Benefits the Supply Chain

Nobody can predict the future, but thanks to some powerful software and the use of accurate automatic data capture technology, most companies can generate a pretty good idea of what their sales and inventory will look like in the days, weeks, and months ahead. With predictive sales forecasting, it’s possible to reduce excess inventories while also improving sales and streamlining supply chain operations.

Forecasting isn’t perfect, particularly the farther into the future you project, but it can help ensure that you have enough inventory in the supply chain to satisfy demand, but without increasing obsolescence or losses. Forecasting can help you avoid overestimated demand that leads to bloated inventory and high costs and underestimating demand that means customers won’t get the products they want.

Companies can generate better forecasts by using mobile computers, like Zebra Technologies’ TC51/TC56 or TC8000, and specialized software to collect and analyze data on sales, returns, stales, specific customer order histories, promotions, seasonal fluctuations, and other factors.

For companies that specialize in route delivery — particularly for direct store delivery applications where perishable goods may be involved — there are clear benefits for being able to let customers know their optimal inventory levels.

With historical data, companies can also predict times when there may be large swings in demand that would require more or less inventory. In turn, that can help avoid costly overstocks or out of stock situations that result in lost sales for both the supplier and the customer.

Doing so can help minimize stales or returns on a weekly basis. This, by itself, can justify implementation of more robust mobile route management systems.  Tying historical information to today’s detail stock position can provide much better dynamic planning.
For example, companies using mobile computers, barcode scanning, and a product like the omniQ Route Edge solution for field applications can use data gathered at the customer location to create these forecasts. Route Edge can eliminate errors in the field to help better manage inventory, returns, deliveries, and orders. Using customer information and sales history, the solution can help minimize returns and out of stocks by ensuring that companies provide the right level of products in the right amounts.

Reducing Risk

This predictive sales forecasting can improve sales and operations planning, and help various departments (sales, operations, planning, manufacturing, finance, etc.) work from a unified forecast. This helps increase revenue opportunities and reduces inefficiency.

This can result in a number of critical benefits in the supply chain.

–  Predictive sales forecasting can reduce risk by providing more accurate scenario planning. With forecasting software and data from the field, a company could predict the impact of a weather event or a new promotion on sales.

–  By identifying the factors that affect sales fluctuations, companies can do a better job of identifying customer needs and getting ahead of these spikes or dips in demand.

–  Marketers can greatly benefit from predictive sales forecasting. They can see the impact of a marketing campaign and use that to design better promotions, or identify specific time periods when a promotion might be most effective.  Price optimization is another benefit, since companies can better gauge when discounting can be used to reduce inventories without damaging their margins.

–  Predictive sales forecasting can also help improve the way companies approach product lifecycle management, because they can use historical data to identify when demand is likely to drop off.

Accurate forecasting reduces risk in the supply chain and helps keep inventories optimized for both you and your customers. By leveraging your delivery drivers and field force to gather accurate inventory data at customer sites, you can generate more accurate forecast — and reap the benefits of higher sales and reduced obsolescence.



Field Sales and Delivery Manufacturing Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How to Optimize DSD Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industry

Operating under the direct store delivery (DSD) sales model can be challenging, especially for the food and beverage industry. Although you may have been reluctant in the past to invest in a new DSD solution, the gap between what your legacy system is capable of and what a new mobile solution can do to address your business challenges may lead you to the conclusion that it’s time for a change.

Food and beverage DSD is especially demanding because of the necessity to minimize the time limited-shelf-life products spend in the supply chain — not to mention the stiff competition you face. Upgrading your DSD solution can better position your company to operate more efficiently and competitively, but there are five things you must do to optimize a DSD solution for your specific business:

1. Put yourself in the driver’s seat.Before you make a technology purchase, it’s important to carefully examine your operational challenges and business needs. Make this list front of mind as you speak with your integrator or technology solutions provider. You are looking for a solution that addresses your unique business — not looking to purchase a solution and trying to make your business fit the technology.

2. Think outside the box.Your current solution may not offer all the features and functionality that next-gen solutions can offer your business — so also list capabilities you would like to gain through this upgrade. For example, food and beverage vendors are dealing with significant SKU proliferation and pressures from a very competitive market. Next-gen DSD solutions can help you put more emphasis on your sales and merchandising process, enabling you to upload video or market stats onto your sales reps’ tablets to enhance sales presentations and to collect market intelligence through surveys or shelf checks.

3. Eliminate siloes.Next-gen DSD solutions facilitate better communication and information sharing among all areas of your operation, including:

  • Pre-route tasks: Picking and packing, route planning, and load management
  • Transportation: GPS tracking, vehicle diagnostics, and customer alerts for delivery time
  • Delivery: RF or bar code scanning, proof of delivery, and shelf resets
  • Merchandising: Monitoring promotion compliance, competitor price checks, and consumer intercept surveys
  • Information access: Price lookup, inventory data, and customer account history
  • Sales: Client surveys, business intelligence, and data analytics to help target promotions
  • Payment: Signature capture and mobile payment

This data captured by your new DSD solution can help streamline your processes and provide real-time inventory, transportation, and account information. Make sure your new solution includes the necessary communications and wireless infrastructure upgrades needed to support reliable, secure data transmission.

4. Save time.Most likely, controlling labor costs is one of your priorities. DSD operators can slash the time it takes to perform manual administrative tasks with automated scheduling, tracking, data analysis, and reporting provided by your new DSD solution. Look for a solution that addresses your most time-consuming tasks.

5. Keep your options open.Many legacy DSD systems use rugged handheld devices running Windows Embedded. Your options now include DSD systems hosted in the cloud and running iOS or Android applications on a variety of tablets and other mobile devices. Not only are there more options for an operating system, the mobile market continues to evolve. Instead of making an investment in a solution designed to run one operating system, consider cross-platform options that will allow you to switch to different applications without replacing hardware.

The opportunities for productivity gains in the food and beverage industry through the use of DSD can be remarkable. The functionality new DSD solutions provide far surpasses what legacy systems can accomplish. Among you and your top competitors, which will be the first to have this advantage?

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Can Presales and Merchandising Solutions Improve Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, the success of a direct store delivery (DSD) operation is typically gauged by timeliness, order accuracy, and the DSD company’s ability to reduce both out-of-stocks and shrink/spoilage or returns.

But DSD companies may be missing an opportunity if they aren’t leveraging presales and merchandising solutions to boost performance with their customers.

Presales and merchandising aren’t just informal fishing expeditions. The presales process should be as well documented as the final sales transaction so that companies can get a better idea of what is and isn’t working in the field. On the merchandising side, data about promotions can help identify new sales opportunities and improve inventory accuracy.

More importantly, managers can glean valuable real-time data on customer purchasing patterns as well as promotions effectiveness through these efforts. Using presales and merchandising solutions can be an important tool to help improve customer relationships by offering more informed sales offerings.

Presales generally includes a number of activities, including a discovery process in which the sales rep learns more about the customer’s requirements or problems, developing tailored presentations about new products and coming up with prices or a formal sales proposal for the customer. In a retail store, all of these steps can happen in a matter of minutes after the sales rep spots an opportunity.

For example, a sales rep or delivery driver might notice that a customer is out of stock for a competing or ancillary product, or might take note that inventories related to an upcoming promotion are unusually low.

Presales and marketing solutions should include the ability for the DSD driver to capture pricing of competitive products, provide sales analytics for the customer that can be viewed right at the retail location, provide data that can better position your company to capture new sales through competitive service and pricing, and allow reps to generate dynamic sales proposals in the store.

Using a rugged mobile computer, sales reps can scan and capture competitive pricing information, manage shelf inventory, and take pictures of merchandising displays to ensure store compliance. With the right technology in hand, sales reps can easily access and share critical information about promotions, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and make sure inventory is aligned with marketing initiatives.

With an automated presales and merchandising solution, reps can access customer information and purchasing history to help guide add-on sales of products they may be running low on. If they see a competitive product on the shelf, they can find out if there are any promotions or discounts available to possibly get the customer to switch vendors.

All of this can create better overall service by helping the customer understand how they can boost sales in certain categories, get a better price on merchandise, and avoid being out of stock in fast-moving SKUs.

Your retail customers are thirsty for information that can help them increase their margins. By leveraging presales and merchandising solutions, you can help them make the right decisions about inventory and promotions and establish yourself as a trusted partner whose products will take priority on the shelf.

Field Sales and Delivery Mobility Route Accounting

How Route Accounting Solutions Help Drivers Reach More Stops

When it comes to delivery and sales routes, efficiency is a key driver of profitability. The more stops the driver can successfully service in a shift, the higher the revenue that route can generate.

There are a number of factors that can impede route efficiency, but mobile route accounting solutions can make it possible for drivers to more quickly complete each stop while still providing more accurate service to each customer. Route accounting solutions also provide better data and improved visibility into route performance and untapped sales opportunities, too.

Even reducing each stop by just a few minutes can, in aggregate make it possible to add one or more stops per route. Even adding just one stop per day can significantly improve revenue and cash flow, important considerations in industries like baked goods and snacks, where margins are often razor thin.

According to a study conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), the most efficient direct store delivery (DSD) suppliers spend 13.8 fewer minutes for each delivery to large-format stores, and spend nearly twice as much time on merchandising than inefficient suppliers. In fact, efficient DSD personnel spend 50 percent of their time in stores merchandising, compared to just 27 percent for inefficient operators. A key part of that efficiency is the use of route accounting solutions.

Here’s how these mobile solutions can improve route efficiency:

1. Reduce Drive Time: Many route solutions include optimization engines that can help reorganize routes so that drivers spend less time behind the wheel and more time servicing accounts and merchandising.

2. Eliminate Paperwork: According to the GMA, DSD drivers spend as much as 6% of their time preparing invoices at customer locations. Route accounting solutions that leverage mobile computing technology allow drivers to quickly complete deliveries and automatically generate accurate invoices on their mobile devices and mobile printers.

3. Automate Check-In: The Direct Exchange electronic data interchange standard allows suppliers to automatically transmit invoice information to retailers. With DEX connectivity, a route accounting solution can help eliminate tedious check-n processes, while eliminating errors and administrative costs. According to the GMA study, automated check-in can reduce DSD receiving time by 60%.

4. Accelerate Inventory Processes: Using mobile computers with barcode scanning capability allows drivers to quickly scan merchandise off of their truck inventory, as well as speed up on-shelf inventory management. Drivers no longer have to spend time writing down inventory counts, and the data is typically more accurate.

5. Automate Reconciliation:With automated invoicing, more accurate inventory data, and DEX connectivity, route accounting solutions automate the entire reconciliation process. Drivers no longer have to spend time manually matching their paperwork, and administrative staff can receive accurate route information that can quickly be verified at the end of each shift.

6. On-Site Payment Processing:Using a route accounting solution and a mobile computer, drivers can even accept retailer payments at the point of delivery. There’s no paperwork to shuffle, and drivers don’t have to call the office to verify credit card numbers. Payments can be made quickly, which not only saves time for the driver but also accelerates the cash cycle.

Route accounting solutions can shave precious minutes from each stop on the delivery driver’s route. Drivers can add more stops per shift, improve data accuracy, and boost customer satisfaction.

Manufacturing Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

The Benefits of Route Accounting Solutions for Bakeries

Because their products are highly perishable and require weekly or even daily replenishment, bakery companies have a keen interest in any technology that can improve route efficiency and order accuracy. Route accounting solutions for bakeries can accomplish both of those goals with the help of mobile computers and real-time wireless communication.

The quality of information exchanged between your field sales force and the corporate office has a significant impact on the efficiency of your route processes. A route accounting solution designed for bakeries enables your field sales representative to service the customer, accept purchase orders on site, provide invoices and collect payment, while better managing customer and truck inventories.

Route accounting solutions enable a two-way exchange of data. As sales orders are sent in, customer and pricing information is automatically updated on the mobile device. This eliminates error-prone paper forms, faxes, and phoned-in orders.  Below are some of the other key benefits of a route accounting solution for bakeries:
Real-Time Customer Inventory DataA mobile route accounting solution that uses barcode scanning to track deliveries and returns helps bakeries keep track of sales at each customer site. This helps better manage the product mix at each location and allows bakeries to document and identify shifts in demand. Having that information on hand also helps the sales team make better recommendations to customers.

Store managers, sales managers, and delivery personnel spend hundreds of hours trying to resolve invoice discrepancies. Route accounting solutions can eliminate this unproductive work by providing real-time, accurate order and invoice data to all parties, along with fast route audit and settlement processes.

Real-time order management helps improve production. Better inventory information also helps reduce out of stocks and returns. With a better idea of how fast inventory is moving at each customer site, bakeries can also reduce stales rates, which not only improves customer relationships, but also saves money.

A More Efficient Sales force

Route accounting solutions for bakeries put valuable customer, order, and inventory data right in the sales reps’ hands. This reduces manual data entry, paper shuffling, and phone calls that were required to complete deliveries or answer customer questions. Taking shelf inventory is a snap using a barcode scanner, and saves even more time.

Sales representatives can quickly complete the delivery and order taking process, which gives them more time to spend upselling customers or re-working displays to improve sales. This also helps the reps save time for the customers (who can reduce receiving time), and allows them to complete more stops on their own routes.

Increased Sales

Route accounting software for bakeries provides real-time customer data to sales reps, who can then use that sales history and promotional data to more effectively engage with customers at the point of transaction. They can immediately take advantage of potential add-on or upsell opportunities, provide more competitive pricing and discounts, generate quotes on the spot, and accept payment using their mobile computers.

Reduced Paperwork

Using a mobile route accounting solution for bakeries, you can let customers check their sales information right on the mobile device and collect electronic signatures on the screen. Reps can issue invoices and receipts via e-mail or with mobile printers as soon as the delivery is made or payment is collected. All sales orders can be viewed on screen, which eliminates the need for bundles of paper order sheets. Removing paper and manual data collection also reduces errors.

This not only saves printing time and paper costs, but also eliminates problems associated with lost documents. All of the information can immediately be uploaded into billing, accounting, and inventory systems. If there is a question about an order or delivery later, sales reps can easily call up that information electronically. The billing cycle is also accelerated because invoices can be generated instantaneously.

Route accounting solutions for bakeries can make your sales representatives and delivery drivers more informed, effective and efficient. This saves time and reduces costs, while also enabling the entire team to provide better customer service and boost sales.

Field Sales and Delivery Retail Route Accounting

How to Develop a Direct Store Delivery Model for Your Business

Competition in the retail world has intensified, and companies looking for a competitive advantage have to find ways to reduce costs, shorten delivery cycles, reduce inventory in the supply chain, and respond faster to demand. That’s why so many suppliers have moved away from multi-stage distribution to a direct story delivery (DSD) model.

DSD is particularly appealing for companies that require tight delivery windows for their products, and for smaller retail outlets (gas stations, convenience stores, drug stores, etc.) that need frequent replenishment. It has also become the favored distribution method in markets where freshness is important or product is produced locally — like beer, soft drinks, baked goods, and snacks.

Direct store delivery can help manufacturers be leaner and more responsive to market demand. Using DSD, suppliers can typically deliver goods within 24 to 48 hours of taking an order – much faster than if a centralized retail distribution center or a third-party distributor is involved.

This type of delivery model helps retailers that want to reduce inventory and operating costs, while offloading the merchandising activities to the delivery company rather than the retailer. For the distributor, that means they have more control over merchandising and presentation on the shelf, which can help drive sales. Retailers, meanwhile, don’t have to dedicate staff to stocking and merchandising high volume goods.

But direct store delivery isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Companies interested in shifting to DSD operations have to develop a model that will work for their business. Doing so involves several key steps:

  • Create a Demand Profile: Examine sales data to determine what type of retailers you are dealing with, and how much order volume they generate.
  • Determine Your Sales Approach: How much sales activity will occur during the delivery stop vs. online? Pre-sales help the distributor manage inventory and manage demand, but can tie up the driver when these sales activities are handled face to face. Evaluate your delivery staff and sales staff to determine the best way to manage the sales process.
  • Plan the Route: Use route planning tools to best serve the demand of those customers. Routes have to be built around a variety of factors (distance, speed limits, hours of service considerations, limits on truck size or hazardous material transport, etc.). Make sure the routes are optimized to take as much cost out of the distribution process as possible.
  • Track Your Trucks and Inventory: Direct store delivery can help reduce shrink and loss. Use GPS to monitor truck locations (and recover missing vehicles), as well as onboard inventory tracking to monitor shrink or merchandise theft.
  • Invest in Proof of Delivery: Don’t rely on paper. A combination of DSD software, barcode scanning and mobile computing can automatically track inventory, generate receipts and invoices, allow digital signature capture, and provide real-time visibility into deliveries. This can also improve the efficiency of the drivers, reduce the cash cycle, and eliminate delivery disputes with retailers.
  • Prepare to Analyze Delivery Data: Using real-time inventory and order information, manufacturers can get a better view of real demand across a category, a retailer, or a route. By tracking shrink/stales, suppliers can make better inventory recommendations to customers, and improve the profitability of each customer.

Direct store delivery is a growing part of the retail landscape. For specific types of companies, DSD can reduce costs and improve service and sales for retailers. Planning ahead and developing an effective DSD model that fits your business will help ensure you get the most benefit from your DSD system.

Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting

5 Things to Look for in Proof of Delivery Software

In an increasingly competitive delivery market, documenting delivery performance has become a critical business function. It’s not enough to deliver the goods, or even provide in-transit visibility; customers want to know when a delivery occurred, who accepted the delivery, and what condition the goods were in when they were delivered.

Real-time proof of delivery software and mobile computing can provide the delivery confirmation data that your customers are demanding. Using a combination of signature capture, date/time stamps, barcode scanning, and optional GPS data, freight and delivery companies can provide automatic verification that a delivery was made, as well as document the condition of the goods and generate all necessary invoices and receipts.

These solutions can increase customer confidence, eliminate disputes with customers about delivery times/conditions, and even speed up the billing cycle and order-to-cash cycle. Drivers can eliminate the hassle of dealing with paper forms at the delivery site, as well as managing that paperwork during their route. They also won’t have to go through an inefficient, paper-based reconciliation process at the end of the route. Using these solutions can even reduce idling, since drivers will spend less time at each stop.

There are other benefits as well. Many retailers, for example, will levy chargebacks when deliveries are late, if there are mistakes in the delivery, or if the goods are damaged. With a proof of delivery solution, drivers can provide time-stamped records that can be used when there is a dispute about a delivery. This electronic record also provides a more accurate delivery record, and arms drivers with the information they need to address any potential problems (a damaged package or an inaccurate shipment) on the spot.

Because customers can sign off on the order directly on the mobile computer, orders and deliveries are more accurate and any discrepancies can be dealt with immediately. Equipped with rugged mobile computers, drivers can scan all barcoded packaging, and even take photos of any damaged merchandise.

Here are five key features you should look for in a proof of delivery solution:

Automated Data Capture: The ability to scan barcodes at the point of delivery will eliminate paperwork and manual data entry, and tie the delivery automatically to the purchase order, as well as the inventory and billing systems.

Electronic Reconciliation: The solution should provide electronic signature capture, as well as the ability to generate electronic receipts and invoices that can be e-mailed directly to customers upon completion of a delivery. This enables same-day invoicing.

Real-time, Secure Communications: Wireless communication with back-end systems will improve efficiency and provide up-to-date information to customers. The proof of delivery software, the mobile device, and the wireless connection should provide end-to-end encryption of all customer data — especially sensitive payment information.

Integrated Location and Hours of Service Tracking: GPS data will ensure that customers know exactly where and when each delivery was made. For companies that fall under federal Hours of Service or International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA), the ability to automatically track and record this information will make drivers even more efficient by eliminating paper logs.

Flexible Hardware Support: Mobile computers are evolving rapidly. The solution you deploy today could be obsolete in a few years. Choose a proof of delivery solution that is open and flexible enough to support your hardware needs today and in the future, regardless of operating system or form factor (tablet, smartphone, rugged handheld).

By selecting proof of delivery software that provides the above features and functions, your company can easily meet your customers’ requirements, while streamlining your own internal operations.

omniQ’s newest enterprise software solution, Route Edge, is the ideal mobile solution for improving the cost-effectiveness of DSD. Route Edge eliminates time-consuming errors in the field and workers can manage inventory, orders, returns, deliveries, and collect cash or check payments. Learn more about this configurable, scalable solution by downloading the Route Edge brochure!

Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

4 Ways to Improve the Last Mile Delivery Efficiency of your Supply Chain

Supply chain management solutions have revolutionized the movement of goods from one node to another, but the “last mile” of the supply chain — the point at which goods leave a large volume facility and then arrive at the final destination — is still highly inefficient and very costly. Final delivery can be complicated or delayed by traffic, construction, inefficient dispatching, incorrect addresses, unattended delivery issues, signature capture problems, and other factors. Because of this, last mile delivery can account for as much as 28% of total delivery costs

Companies have developed a variety of last-mile delivery solutions to combat these issues. Amazon has even investigated using unmanned drones to drop parcels at customers’ homes. Most companies aren’t going to go quite that far to improve delivery operations, but there are a number of technology and operational fixes that reduce costs and make your last-mile delivery operations more efficient.

Planning Tools Are a Must

Routing, scheduling, and planning are simply too complex, and customer delivery requirements too stringent, to possibly manage your operations in a spreadsheet or on paper. Invest in route planning and fleet management tools that can help you optimize routes while also providing real-time information on delivery status and truck location.

Using these software solutions, you can more effectively monitor vehicle running costs, driver overtime, number of stops completed, the quality of your routes, loading priorities, and delivery time windows. The solution should also include robust mapping tools to improve address accuracy. These software tools provide the data you need to accelerate the last mile delivery process, while also allowing you to optimize operations and improve routing and scheduling.

A good planning tool also continues to get better by using the data generated daily to help you better organize your network’s last mile delivery process. These systems can analyze your routes and help you identify optimal locations for depots, for example, or provide recommendations on growing or shrinking the delivery fleet, or even the potential benefits of outsourcing some operations.

Shrink Delivery Windows

With a planning and routing tool in place, you can provide more accurate ETAs to your customers in order to meet their increasingly strict delivery window requests. In addition to improving customer services, this allows you to increase your hit density, or the number of deliveries your drivers can make in a given shift. Increasing the delivery rate will reduce the overall cost of running that route, so any improvement can go straight to the bottom line.

Customer-specific delivery restrictions, challenging loading zones, customer delays, and perishability of freight will work against your hit density and route efficiency. Route planning tools can help take those elements into consideration, build the route to minimize their impact, and create more accurate ETAs.

Navigation Tools Boost Delivery Accuracy

Getting the drivers from Point A to Point B can be extremely difficult in some urban environments. Trucks don’t just need to know where to go; they need to know about weight and size restrictions for vehicles on certain routes, and customer-specific information about yards, parking lots, private roads, and other elements and obstacles that can make it challenging to reach the final point of delivery.

Navigation tools can help drivers make their way right to the correct loading dock, while improving driver safety and efficiency. Routes can be built to accommodate weight and hazardous materials restrictions in many municipalities. Some of these systems also include real-time traffic and construction data that can help reroute trucks dynamically to avoid time and fuel-wasting delays.

Mobility Completes the Package

The physical delivery process itself is another opportunity for efficiency improvements. This is where mobile computing technology can make a big impact. If drivers have to wrangle paper forms during the delivery process, it can increase the amount of time the driver takes to complete the delivery. That eats into the productivity of the route and increases costs.

Using mobile devices, like the Zebra MC9500-K Rugged Mobile Computer, drivers can quickly access the needed documents, obtain electronic signatures, and update the back-end supply chain management solution. Instead of spending time at the end of the route filing paperwork, drivers can schedule extra deliveries. In industries where drivers must maintain hours of service (HOS) or fuel tax logs, the fleet management system and hand-held computer can automatically track that information. That eliminates another time-consuming pile of paperwork for the driver and frees up valuable minutes to increase hit density.

As logistics providers and delivery companies vie for more business, the companies that are able to perform last-mile deliveries in the smartest, most efficient fashion will win out. Using route planning and scheduling, fleet management, and mobile delivery systems can give your company a critical competitive advantage.