Time To Read: 4 minutes

With businesses in every industry working to adapt to a changing climate amid the COVID-19 outbreak, now is a crucial time for your last-mile delivery business. While other businesses struggle with decreased demand and hesitant customers, those tasked with delivering goods—from restaurant takeout and groceries to home goods and entertainment items—are working hard to meet demands while their customers are self-quarantining and stuck at home.

The importance of route optimization is always evident during your everyday deliveries, but increased orders and shifting customer expectations during the COVID-19 outbreak bring the need for route optimization into an even sharper focus. As you strive to provide fast turnaround and excellent customer service, here are a number of ways to take full advantage of WorkWave Route Manager.

1) Enable Contactless Delivery With Customer Notifications

Social distancing has had an immediate impact on the way customers expect their items to arrive. The need to avoid direct contact with others has led to a rise in requests that items be left by the front door or on the porch. This is in keeping with best practices during the pandemic, but adds to the need for customers to be informed so that they can retrieve their deliveries promptly after they’re left.

At the beginning of the day, send an alert to each customer with the estimated time of arrival for their delivery. Then, use Route Manager’s Mobile App + GPS to send email notifications to your customers with the driver’s ETA and live location so that they can stay up-to-date as the delivery draws closer. Along the way, be sure to send alerts whenever the status of their order changes. This will help ensure safety for your customers and your drivers, and will also let you move on more quickly to the next stop. 

2) Verify Delivery Accuracy With Route Manager Proof of Delivery and Barcode Scanning

While limiting direct interaction is the responsible choice and in your customers’ best interests, it also creates a sense of detachment. It’s important to ensure that you’re communicating with your customers whenever possible, and it’s also important that the right package is delivered and left in the right place. Using barcode scanning, you can quickly check the barcode against your original order to ensure it’s where it needs to be and then take a picture of where the package was left; both operations are carried out quickly using your driver’s mobile device. This proof of delivery is stored in Route Manager automatically, allowing you to send the photo to your customers as verification. This not only allows for delivery accuracy and transparency, but also adds a personal touch that your customers will appreciate.

3) Ease Your Normal Routing Restrictions to Open Up Availability

Home delivery demand is continuing to rise as consumers practice social distancing. With this increase in demand, you may realize that you’re not staffed to absorb the extra work right now—especially if some of your employees are taking sick leave

Under normal circumstances, you may assign particular drivers to stay in a certain area or to serve a subset of orders. Easing your normal restrictions during this outbreak is a fast and flexible way to adapt to increased orders. Routing constraints like Regions and Tags are flexible enough to allow maximum availability for your drivers to take orders, even if the order is outside of their normal area. As companies like Amazon and Peapod change their procedures to adapt to the current market, you must be flexible enough to do the same and remain competitive.

4) Simulate Routes With Tighter Time Windows and Shorter Service

During this unprecedented situation, handling more orders is the key to keeping your customers satisfied. To get an idea of how many orders you can handle comfortably, convert a typical route to a Route Manager Simulation and see what happens when you reduce the amount of time you spend with customers or reduce your arrival window—these criteria reflect the scenario that comes with contactless drop offs.

Try tightening your Time Windows for delivery, pickup, or service, then explore the resulting simulation. If you’re not happy with the results, don’t use them; this is where your firsthand experience and insights are key. If you believe you can maintain your service standards with these changes, though, send that route from Simulations to Operations and dispatch it to help streamline your efficiency.

5) Let Your Staff Help You

As you and your staff transition to working remotely—a likely turn of events for most businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak—sharing access is more important than ever. Open Route Manager up to your staff by giving them their own logins, if you’re comfortable, to allow them to help you shoulder the load of route planning and optimization.

You can let members of your staff help you route by giving them permission to edit routes, or you can simply give them access to see current routes and provide updates to customers as they call in. You can learn how to add your staff here. Then, send your staff to the WorkWave Route Manager Support Center for self help and guidance to supplement their knowledge of the software.

As you strive to weather this unprecedented event and provide your customers with the excellent service they deserve, WorkWave is here to help you get the most out of Route Manager in order to streamline your efficiency and deliver as many orders as possible with the staff and resources you have available. To learn more or to share innovative ways that your company is adapting during COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments.


Mike Christ joined WorkWave in 2014 and is currently the Team Lead for our Routing, Marketing, and Field Service onboarding teams. He has managed multiple successful implementations across our product lineup and helps our clients reach their full potential by understanding their needs and delivering on results.