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 twopodcasts, 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
During Covid-19, with food banks overwhelmed by high demand and seniors and those with underlying conditions told to stay home to protect themselves, there’s a huge need to deliver warm meals across the country. A pilot program in Florida called Meals of Love–of restaurants, government agencies and nonprofits–is stepping to the plate, literally.
Coordinated by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and Feed The Need Florida, local restaurants will deliver up to 1,000 meals every day to those in need across four Central Florida counties: Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Osceola. GetSwift’s delivery technology is there to help them all organize, track, and route the meals.
Anyone over 60 and disabled adults between 18-59, can apply to get warm meals from a group of local restaurants right to their doors. Restaurants can apply to help, too, right here.
It’s no small effort to coordinate on the fly.
“This ambitious endeavor would not be possible without the technology GetSwift will provide to organize orders, schedule drivers, and provide logistics to ensure timely, accurate deliveries,” said Skip Kimpel, Chief Information Officer at 4R Restaurant Group, whose restaurants–4 Rivers Smokehouse–will be providing meals seven days a week.
As drivers come onboard, GetSwift’s delivery phone app gives them an easy way to see all their upcoming orders and saves them time with optimized routes. Restaurants can track all their orders, give ETAs and live-tracking to seniors waiting on their meals, and make sure the meals are on track to be delivered on time before any problems arise.
The initiative is also important for the restaurants industry, which has taken a big hit as most restaurants have had to close on-premise dining and figure out how to survive with only delivery and pick-up.
“The local restaurants are preparing meals and, by that way, there are dollars that are being infused into that restaurant industry, one that has been hit so hard,” Karla Radka of the Senior Resource Alliance, one of the nonprofits involved, told the local ABC station.
The initiatives don’t stop there. Radka is also calling seniors to see if they have enough medication and food for 30 days, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
All these groups, including us here at GetSwift, coming together–both the public and private sector–is the only way to start to meet the tremendous needs of Floridians and people across the country in the coming weeks and months.
“Now is the time to stand united as we meet one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation,” said GetSwift’s CEO Bane Hunter.
Hammel of 4 Rivers Smokehouse shared a similar sentiment. “Now, more than ever, we need to take care of each other,” he said.
Last mile delivery is one of the most discussed topics in shipping and logistics. In a relatively short period of time, it has become a key factor in being able to deliver the experience that customers have come to expect, and it has also become a pain point for those trying to keep down product costs.
But what exactly is last mile delivery and what should you know about it? Today, the experts in delivery management software at GetSwift are here to explain the booming business of last mile delivery. Read our post and then contact someone from the GetSwift team to learn more about how we can help.
What Is Last Mile Delivery?
Last mile delivery refers to the final step in the delivery of a product to the consumer. Think of it as the last leg in a long journey that includes multiple layovers. In the logistics world, people have learned how to master shipping products in bulk from one destination to another and they do it efficiently on a daily basis. But delivering individual items to a customer’s doorstep within 24 hours or less of ordering can pose quite a challenge.
The world hasn’t always had to deal with the challenges of last mile delivery, so why are we all of a sudden hearing about it? The answer lies within the explosion of e-commerce and increasing consumer demand for speedy delivery. The expectation of two-day, overnight, or in some areas even same-day delivery, can be attributed to e-comm giant Amazon. This, combined with local companies now trying to compete, have made last mile delivery a very real expectation for just about any business.
Why Is Last Mile Delivery Such A Challenge Compared To Traditional Delivery?
Last mile delivery poses many challenges that come with needing to get a product from point A to point B in an incredibly short period of time. Think about the last time you had to make multiple stops across town and how long that took. Now imagine that you have to deliver hundreds of individual orders, covering dozens of neighborhoods and all areas of town. In urban areas the challenge is navigating busy streets, traffic lights and, well…traffic. In rural areas, the challenge is how to make the long trek from house to house in the most efficient manner.
If the physical challenge of delivering to specific locations wasn’t enough of a problem, consider all of the drivers that are needed to make it happen. Virtually overnight, commerce has dictated the need for an army of delivery drivers ready to fulfill every order. Trying to keep up with this expectation is tough enough to spell doom for some businesses.
Why Is Last Mile Delivery a Challenge For Many Businesses?
If you own a business, you know that shipping costs can make or break you. The amount you have to pay to get your product to its destination is often one of the biggest contributors in determining the cost of your product. How many times have you had to raise the cost of goods because of an increase in gas prices? The smallest shift in shipping costs can eat into your profit margin if you don’t take action and make adjustments.
Last mile delivery is a challenge for many businesses because it usually requires you to build inefficiencies into your system — in other words, ship small quantities and make multiple stops. This type of model can increase your shipping costs exponentially. So why do it?
You do it because if you don’t, you’ll lose customers.
What Can You Do To Drive Down Cost?
Amazon has attempted to tackle the problem by installing lockers in set locations where customers can come to pick up their goods. This might be a good option for a giant like Amazon, but it probably won’t work for everyone else. The answer that will work for many businesses lies in the very thing that created this challenge in the first place — technology.
Your biggest ally for competing in the world of last mile delivery is delivery management software. Enlisting help from this kind of tool can optimize your dispatching, routing, and delivery processes. The only way to become more competitive when you are building inefficiency into your process is to find other ways to reduce costs. You can do this by relying on software to plan the shortest routes, dispatch drivers that are closest to the next delivery and providing a great customer experience overall.
If you’re ready to learn more about how your business can compete when it comes to last mile delivery, contact GetSwift. Our delivery management software will give you the edge you need to support a thriving business. Give us a call or visit our website to learn about our 30-day free trial!
Courtney White (right) Founded Nonprofit Culinary Care After Her Father’s Death
Courtney White founded Culinary Care in 2013 as a tribute to her late father. The mission was to bring cheer to other cancer patients in the form of high-quality meals delivered to Chicago hospitals. In short order, Culinary Care was delivering thousands of meals a year around the city, and she needed a software platform to keep ensure patients were never left hungry on account of a delivery mishap.
“I was manually putting everything into Google spreadsheets,” Ms. White says. “All of the scheduled deliveries were being pushing into Google Calendar invitations and I realized it just wasn’t working. I was at wits end.”
She explored other options, including Uber’s scheduling platform. But Uber required that she use their drivers rather than her own – something that would not work because Culinary Care relies heavily on staff who also add a personal touch to deliveries.
“Finally, I found that GetSwift managed everything I did manually – from scheduling to phone numbers,” Ms. White says. GetSwift’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform allows her to communicate directly with drivers, reducing the chance of late meal deliveries and dramatically increasing the amount of volume Culinary Care can accommodate.
Looking ahead, the next step is to take Culinary Care to more cities. Ms. White says she regularly gets requests from all over the country from people interested in bringing Culinary Care to feed cancer patients in their cities. “We have a map of the requests and our goal over the next five years is to expand and grow Culinary Care nationwide,” she says.
Culinary Care served 2,800 meals across Chicago in 2018. This year, the nonprofit is on track to delivering between 3,000 and 3,500 meals and the goal is to reach 100,000 meals served by 2023, Culinary Care’s 10th anniversary.
“We are excited about the chance to help Culinary Care thrive in Chicago and expand to other cities,” says Joel Macdonald, Founder and President of GetSwift. “It’s a wonderful cause and our platform is perfectly suited to help Culinary Care reach scale.”
One reason Culinary Care has caught so much attention: It focuses purely on cancer patients, who are more challenging to feed than most. The reason is that cancer treatments including chemotherapy tend to stifle appetites and even change the experience of taste. That requires Culinary Care to seek out the most appealing meals from local restaurants that donate food.
“We are the only organization nationwide that serves only cancer patients,” Ms. White says. “They’re a unique client because they’re often not actually hungry and we need to make the experience special.”
She added that there are plenty of organizations delivering to cancer patients, but it’s rarely more than 20% that goes to cancer patients. The pure focus on cancer patients appears to be more challenging, but Ms. White’s personal experience guided her in that direction.
She learned all about the challenge of feeding cancer patients from her father. During the last months of his life, friends and neighbors brought meals that she shared with her father and family that helped bring them to together and give them one less worry.
“We pay close attention to the emotional element of a dish,” Ms. White says. “GetSwift lets me focus on the most important things we do.”
Interested in conquering the chaos of delivery? GetSwift can help you start improving your delivery operation in hours. Get in touch.