Early start to shopping season can impact fleet managers

As the holidays approach, distributors and fleet managers can streamline deliveries by investing in the right delivery routing software. Businesses that specialize in transporting goods or delivering services are always interested in controlling costs. Switching to alternative fuels or purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles is not always an option for many small and medium-sized operations. One of the most effective ways to save time and money while improving customer service during busy shipping seasons is to optimize driving routes and automate route planning and scheduling using specialized software.

The holidays are starting earlier than ever this year
Consumer behaviors have a significant impact on the freight industry. According to the results of a recent survey from the Toronto-based marketing company PTPA Media that interviewed nearly 300 shoppers throughout North America, consumers have raised their expectations from stores to stock seasonal items as early as possible. In fact, 78 percent of the survey respondents claimed they would be getting a head start on their year-end shopping lists as early as mid-November. In other words, these trends indicate retailers, grocery stores and supermarkets can expect a sharp decline in last-minute sales activity.

However, earlier shopping presents challenges of its own for fleet managers. The holidays are an important season for many businesses across the nation, which means they will demand reliability and efficiency from organizations that are responsible for shipping wholesale materials from regional warehouses and depots. Both brick-and-mortar establishments and e-commerce retailers need to make sure they have the inventories necessary to satisfy the needs of shoppers around the nation.

Keeping grocery stores stocked with food
Fleet managers who work for businesses in the food services industry can also benefit from investing in warehouse distribution software to organize delivery assignments during the holidays. A recent article in The Boston Globe highlighted the stress many consumers experience during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. As a result, grocery stores and supermarkets must make concerted efforts to make the in-store experience as simple and user-friendly as possible. In most cases, that means working closely with transportation companies to schedule repeat deliveries throughout the entire season to eliminate the risk of running out of supplies and damaging long-term customer retention rates.

The importance of leveraging technology
Many retailers have leveraged new technology to increase the efficiency of daily operations through both in-store and online channels. Fleet management companies can similarly take advantage of automated tools to boost overall productivity while saving money in the long run. For example, warehouse management software makes it easier to manage inventory, replenishment and order volumes as well as fulfillment. Keith Phillips wrote in the magazine Supply and Demand Chain Executive about the importance of eliminating inefficiencies in the fulfillment process.

"The vast majority of inefficiencies and errors occur in the distribution center at the moment of order selection or when an item is picked from within the warehouse to be shipped to the consumer," Phillips wrote. "Order selection has the largest impact on ensuring swift, accurate customer and store order fulfillment, and that is why voice technology can bring tremendous benefits to a retail organization."

Paired with other advanced tools such as route planning software, distributors and private fleets can maximize productivity and asset utilization during the busy holiday season.