AI Expert Explains: How Does Artificial Intelligence Work To Improve Logistics and Delivery?

AI Expert Explains: How Does Artificial Intelligence Work To Improve Logistics and Delivery?

What exactly has AI’s impact on logistics been, and where will AI continue to improve the last mile? And what does this innovation mean for a company like yours, involved in delivery?

Luckily, we have our resident AI expert, Jim Barnebee, who is also our VP of Infrastructure. He’s been digging into components of AI for over 15 years so that we all don’t have to.

It couldn’t be a more important topic. 98 percent of logistics companies have said that data-driven decision-making is essential to their future success, and Big Data and Artificial Intelligence go hand in hand. AI in logistics is also where companies can get a lot of bang for their investment—over half the cost of all delivery logistics is contained within the first and last mile of the logistics supply chain.

Recently Jim appeared on two podcasts, where he answered lots of big questions on our mind related to AI’s impact on and logistics. Here’s a summary of the questions he was asked:

First, what does every company, especially smaller companies, wanting to up their logistics game need to know?

First, the fundamentals. Perhaps the biggest leap forward that’s already taken place for logistics companies is the cloud. It takes an enormous amount of computing power to constantly calculate and recalculate the best route from Point A to Point B depending on changing conditions. Fortunately, small companies do not have to invest in that cloud infrastructure or AI expertise because they’ve been able to hire a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS) such as GetSwift to handle that power for them. That’s been a major step forward, already, for logistics and delivery companies.

Logistics companies have invested big in robotics automation, especially in the crucial and costly first mile of delivery. Think of warehouses, autonomous drones, and self-driving vehicles, all of which have grown in importance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Investing in these areas can push margins higher and so there’s been big strides here.

What are the areas where AI can give you the most bang for your buck in last mile delivery?

Over half the cost of all delivery logistics is contained within the first and last mile of the logistics supply chain. Each company will want to look at ROI. They should ask, “What are the areas or components that would improve their last mile delivery journey and yield the biggest ROI for customers?” It turns out the answer is usually in improving Dispatch, Tracking, Route Optimization, and Customer Notifications.

Can you go through each of these areas, one by one, and talk about AI’s impact? 

Dispatching is being optimized using AI in determining the best way to make sure the best person or vehicle or even company gets an order for delivery. Many factors may play into these types of decisions, other than the obvious closest person working to the pickup and drop-off.

Such things as who has capacity to move the item, who has a more fuel efficient vehicle, who has to pay tolls, even pay or benefits differentials or partial load optimization (like sharing of space) can play into these decisions.

In Tracking, optimizations such as how often to request a location, status, what kind of information to track, etc., can all play into decision making. Some companies will improve fuel efficiency or driver alertness by tracking how many miles at what speed drivers log between rest breaks. Or perhaps if GPS directs the shortest route but that route has tolls, it might be cheaper once the tracking is optimized to take a little longer but pay less in tolls using more efficient vehicles.

A lot of work has gone into Route Optimization. In last mile delivery, a company has to move people or goods not just from Point A to Point B, but from Point A to Point F, with stops and changing conditions along the way. Because of AI, there is a way to pipe in real-time data–traffic, weather conditions, construction, and more—along with dynamic changes such as added stops—into an algorithm that can continuously update the route to make it the most efficient. There may actually be 300 or 400 changing conditions along the way, and there is a race in the logistics and delivery industry to integrate those changing conditions with your systems to come up with the most efficient routes.

Now, you can also think about how business analytics can improve your route. Let’s think of a big trucking company that delivers 10,000 packages a day in New York City. How many packages get delivered quickly, by how many trucks, to how many places, crossing how many bridges, and what’s the toll cost? Something as simple as: if all of your trucks take a different bridge, which actually increases your routing time, but all of the tolls are 50 cents less. You’ve taken an extra 30 minutes to deliver the package, which may not cost you anything in customer satisfaction but it’s saved you $5,000 a day in toll fees. That’s the kind of thing you can do when you have access to big data, giving you the business impact of making these kinds of decisions.

Customers expect to know what’s happening every step of the way with their orders now. Being able to provide tracking of packages has become standard for large companies in most circumstances, and cloud platform providers have made this capability available to smaller businesses who could never supply it on their own.

Wrapping Up

That’s just a snapshot of what Jim’s team works on. To hear more about AI’s impact on logistics and delivery industry, and how Jim sees AI impacting the present and future of logistics, check out Jim’s appearances on these two podcasts:

Photo: cottonbro via Pexels

Tips For Bringing Restaurant Delivery In House

Tips For Bringing Restaurant Delivery In House

As the pandemic continues, the restaurant industry is, of course, not back to business as usual. Although many establishments have been allowed to open for on-premise dining, limitations that support social distancing have meant that customers have looked to delivery, takeout, curbside, and drive-thru to fill the gap, among other creative solutions.

But the increase in off-premise dining isn’t a fast trend that will go away, the data shows. Off-premise sales were already growing four times faster than dine-in before the pandemic. Going forward, the restaurant landscape will likely continue to look different than it did before 2020. That means if you’re a restaurant owner, now is the time to up your delivery game; the best way to accomplish that is to reduce your reliance on third-party apps by launching in-house delivery.

Benefits of Doing Your Own Delivery

At the beginning of the pandemic, many restaurants with limited or no delivery capabilities had no other choice than to employ third-party delivery services to get food and beverages to their customers. While they may have seemed like a good option at the time, the exorbitant commission fees, often around 30 percent or more, would often eat away at any possibility of making a profit. Bringing delivery in-house eliminates the middleman and therefore allows you to keep much more of your hard-earned money.

Not only does keeping delivery close to home increase your margin, but it also allows you to have better control over food quality and the entire customer experience. Customers who receive a late order or get food that has been temperature abused often resort to blaming the restaurant, not the delivery service. By maintaining control of the journey from the kitchen to the destination, restaurant owners can ensure a safe and positive experience for their customers.

Customer experience is the key factor that will foster brand loyalty and keep people coming back time and again — regardless of what is going on in the world. Even if required to stay home and self-quarantine, delivery of a favorite food or knowing that you’re supporting a favorite local business can make things feel a little more like normal.

Tips For Bringing Delivery In-House

Managing the day-to-day operations of a restaurant business is already challenging, so trying to add delivery to your list of responsibilities may seem overwhelming. However, the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it all at once. You can start by evaluating your menu and selecting a handful of your most popular items that travel well. Paring down your menu and creating one specifically for delivery will help reduce complexity and set your delivery efforts up for success.

Next, hire a couple of drivers — or bring back waiters, bartenders of bar-backs that you may have had to lay off after the pandemic hit — and ask them do what they do best–customer service; this time, it’s just on the road. You don’t have to have an entire fleet up and running at the start, but make sure to keep a close eye on how it grows so you can be prepared to meet demand.

Finally, get the word out about your delivery offerings in whatever way possible. Publish it on social media, send emails to your subscriber list, and hand out fliers to your in-house diners. Creating awareness and staying top of mind is how you ensure that the next time someone wants a meal delivered to their home or business, they think of you.

Bring Delivery In House With GetSwift

The prospect of launching in-house delivery, including hiring your own drivers, can be daunting. But getting started is actually much faster and much easier than you think. Your team will be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly — just listen to our customers — and the rewards of going in-house, for your culture, morale, and bottom line, are too big to pass up. Interested in getting started with a free one-month trial? Contact a member of our team today to learn how we can help.


Photo: Norma Mortenson from Pexels

Five Ways GetSwift Helps You Manage Drivers

Five Ways GetSwift Helps You Manage Drivers

Just about every business from the largest to the smallest wasn’t prepared for the monumental shift that has been occurring in delivery due to COVID-19.  Food delivery was 300 times more popular in April than it was just a month prior. Another report looking at the impact on grocery sales estimates that online grocery sales will grow 40% in 2020 due to COVID.

Double and even triple-digit growth means significant challenges in trying to fill orders, meet expected delivery times, and communicate with customers. Those who adapt and succeed at delivery will come out ahead and delivery service software is the easiest way to do just that. Here’s how GetSwift can help you with some of your biggest challenges with managing drivers.

1. Save Time

Managing orders and assigning drivers can be a resource drain. If you’re still using whiteboards and online calendars and then manually calling or texting your drivers, you know that it can be very labor-intensive. Any day-of and last-minute changes (and there will be changes) require you to completely rework the schedule and communicate the changes with everyone involved. Right from your GetSwift dashboard, you can view all jobs, automatically dispatch orders to drivers, reassign a job to a different driver, track all drivers in real-time, and so much more, all saving a significant amount of time.    

Concerned about the time it will take to get up to speed with a new system? We’ve designed our software so that you can be up and running quickly. Just see how easy it is to Get Started and take a driver online so they can log in to the mobile app. 

2. Improve Communication

With a constant stream of orders and frequent changes, communication with your drivers is key. With just the click of a button, our delivery service software allows you to manage jobs and relay any changes instantly. For instance, you can assign, transfer, or cancel jobs. Need to reprioritize which orders get delivered first? Our app lets you manually reorder them and then it sends the driver notification of the change. You can even limit tasks or change the capacity of an individual driver. 

3. Track Driver Status

You don’t have to wait and wonder where your driver is or try to contact them to see if they’ve completed a delivery. Now you can track your drivers in real-time on the GetSwift map. Color-coded driver icons tell you the status of each driver: whether they’ve available, already accepted a job, or they’re en route to their destinations. You can even check on the progress of each individual driver by seeing how many of their jobs they still have to complete and their ETA at their next destination.

4. Route Optimization

You can also stop planning out your daily routes (which are often bound to change) at the start every day. With GetSwift, you can automatically optimize the route of each driver with a click, and our algorithm is not only going to select the best route, but it’s also going to be continuously searching for an even better route using real-time data (on traffic and dozens of other factors). The result leads to faster delivery, a major way to increase customer satisfaction. 

5. Easy Access To Performance Data

Being able to track metrics and KPIs helps you to keep a pulse on your business. It also gives you the information you need to identify and resolve problems, become more efficient, and make a plan for growth. With GetSwift, you’ll have quick access to high-level performance indicators such as the number of deliveries per day or average delivery time. You can also generate reports that give you insight into every area of your delivery business. Simply choose the report you wish to run, such as key delivery stats or driver feedback ratings and you instantly have data to sort, filter, download, or export. 

Manage Your Drivers More Efficiently With GetSwift

Are you interested in learning more about how GetSwift’s delivery service software can help your business grow? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR from Pexels

GetSwift introduces major feature, Fleets, to allow businesses to share a driver fleet among all their merchant locations

GetSwift introduces major feature, Fleets, to allow businesses to share a driver fleet among all their merchant locations

You may have many locations–whether it’s a group of Italian restaurants, Jewish delis, or roti shops–under your brand and want to be able to use your drivers among all of them. Previously, you just weren’t able to. Now, with the introduction of Fleets, you can do so, simply, with lots of new flexibility. It is a great new way to make your delivery operation more efficient.

Here’s what’s new and what stays the same on your GetSwift platform.

Or, if you want to see it in action, watch a one-minute video overview.

What’s New

You will now easily have the ability to group your “merchants” (meaning your stores or individual locations) together in order to share your drivers. Said another way, you now have the option of pairing multiple merchants with a group of drivers.

The new Fleets section of your dashboard is simple to follow. When you first login, we have automatically created a “Fleet” for you, based on your merchant’s name. If you want to start pooling your drivers, all you do is add more merchants to that fleet. Then, you can easily edit the drivers in that fleet!

Here’s another key advantage of this new section: You will be able to create multiple merchants within your organization, and be able to standardize the settings across those merchants.

You Can: Create New Fleets and Transfer Drivers

You now have lots of different ways to take advantage of sharing drivers among merchants. You can create a whole new fleet of drivers, transfer drivers between merchants, and even create a whole new merchant and driver group.  

What Stays The Same: Managing Your Drivers

All the ways you managed drivers in the past still remains unchanged. All of your “Manage Driver” actions will now easily take place in this one centralized dashboard.

Right here, you’ll manage your driver settings. You can invite new drivers to join the GetSwift app and approve, revoke, or reactivate a driver. If you have specific requirements for each driver, you can edit all those details. That means you can edit vehicle capacity (the number of deliveries they can carry at once) and add a driver match code, which automatically assigns a driver to a specific job.

Important Note: Here is where you can also create your Driver Declarations, a.k.a. the items that a driver has to check off before starting work. Including, in the era of Covid-19, you can ask that they’re following your company’s new safety guidelines.

Support for Fleets

In sum, our new feature, Fleets, is THE place to organize your drivers. 

To dig into everything Fleets has to offer, check our new “Fleets” Support article. We can’t wait to hear how Fleets is working for you! 

Five Things You May Not Know Delivery Software Can Do

Five Things You May Not Know Delivery Software Can Do

The demand for delivery of goods and services has been steadily rising over many years, long before the tumultuous times of 2020. But there has also been a steady shift in customer expectations of the quality of their delivery experience. Luckily, for years we’ve been steadily fine-tuning our delivery software to meet these needs. And we want to share some of these features with you—in case you may not know what delivery software can do. Keep reading to learn about some of the unique features of our software.   

Flexible Driver Dispatching 

GetSwift’s last-mile logistics software allows you to streamline your logistics tasks and reduce the amount of time it takes to assign and communicate with drivers by allowing you to set up parameters for automatic dispatching. There are a number of ways to dispatch your jobs, but one of the most useful is “smart notifications,” which takes into account three pieces of data before dispatching: proximity to pickup location, vehicle capacity, and driver rating. Or, you also choose manual dispatch to choose the driver yourself. But did you know that you can also quickly transfer jobs among drivers if a last-minute change is needed? This makes it easy to make adjustments on the fly and communicate those changes with drivers through the convenient GetSwift mobile app.

Automatically Send Customer Alerts

As the logistics world changes to meet the expectations of today’s consumers, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that businesses will have to be ready to offer more than just simple delivery. According to SupplyChain Magazine, “value-added services like delivery notifications and package tracking are no longer the reserve of urgent or important deliveries but a minimum requirement in both the consumer and business world.”

An increasingly connected population has come to expect communication from businesses throughout the entire shopping journey. GetSwift enables you to send automated alerts to your customer so they are always informed on where their order is via texts or email. You also have the option to include a tracking link that lets customers monitor the location of their order with live GPS tracking.

Give Customers a Way To Provide Instant Feedback

With GetSwift, you have multiple options that allow you to communicate with customers whenever and wherever you’d like. For instance you can create an automated alert that is triggered as soon as your customer receives their delivery. This alert can contain the order summary as well as a feedback form, making it easy for customers to provide ratings and comments.

Maintain Your Branding Throughout The Communication Process

Build trust and make sure your customers keep your business top of mind by creating consistent, white-labeled branding throughout the buying process. With GetSwift’s last-mile logistics software, you can upload your logo and use it for various important pieces of communication, including a unique, live tracking map, order summaries, and the customer feedback form.

Business Reporting and Analytics 

Our last-mile logistics software isn’t just designed to improve the customer experience, it also gives you access to the reporting and analytics tools you need to measure and grow your operation. You’ll have all of the most important metrics, front and center, on the stats section of your dashboard. You can track key performance indicators like your total number of deliveries made in full and on time, and the number of canceled and late orders. You can also see hot zones where your deliveries are most popular, and what times, and much more. View it all in the app or download it to dig deeper. 

Deliver More, Work Less

The world of delivery is rapidly changing, especially in 2020, but luckily we’re here to help — not only with these five features, but dozens more. We’d love to hear about your business and offer suggestions on how we can help. Here’s where you can contact a member of our team.