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A day in the life of an automation-powered delivery dispatcher

  •   3 min read

How new logistics technology is transforming traditional operations.

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For the average person placing an online order — whether it’s for a couch, a prescription refill, or that missing carton of milk — the process appears to be seamless. Open the app, click the right button, wait for the doorbell to ring.

For the dispatcher making sure all of these products arrive — in the right vehicle, with the right crew, at the right time — the process is less linear. In fact, managing multi-stop routes for pre-booked and on-demand orders tends to be a whirlwind of complex and ever-changing logistics.

While typical shoppers merely click a button and await their delivery, dispatchers and business leaders can certify how hands-on the actual day-to-day work can be. The tools of the trade are primarily manual: A phone to coordinate with drivers and a spreadsheet to log their destinations.

The pandemic, however, upended the delivery paradigm as, according to Delivery Commerce 360, online spending jumped 44% year-over-year. Companies had to quickly scale up to meet the demand and, when they did, many businesses discovered that their trusted, predominantly manual approach was simply not capable of handling the dramatic rise in orders. 

Fortunately, new technology platforms are emerging to solve this challenge. Powered by automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and sophisticated algorithms, these solutions are specifically designed to solve the complex logistical problems that delivery dispatchers grapple with all day, every day.

The power of automation.

Many tech enabled new offerings centralize and automate critical dispatching tasks to reimagine a dispatcher’s daily workflow. But what does that look like in actual practice?

When delivery operators use an intelligent logistics solution, one of the biggest differences is that the algorithm significantly accelerates the planning process. Instead of spending hours organizing the next day’s deliveries, teams can automate the process and reduce the total time required by as much as 80%, according to our internal data. In other words, if your organization normally spends five hours on planning, the software can do the same amount of work in just one.

The experience for dispatchers is also more seamless, because everything can be visualized and managed within a single dashboard environment. Instead of spending hours calling drivers one by one to plan shifts or communicate rerouting instructions, these tasks can be done automatically — and for multiple drivers simultaneously, if needed. In the same way, the dashboard can be used to collect and display aggregated feedback from customers about their drivers and delivery teams.

Another key difference from the traditional approach is the tagging system within these dashboards, which allows dispatchers to easily match orders to the appropriate vehicle type. For example, large items can be slated for larger trucks, perishables for refrigerated trucks, urgent deliveries for smaller vans, and in-home items for two-person crews.

These new platforms also allow delivery operators to provide better visualization for customers, who can open an app and see exactly where their delivery is on a map and when it is expected to arrive. 

Keep in mind, automated logistics solutions do not replace dispatchers — they allow dispatchers to perform their tasks more efficiently. According to Via Logistics data, when dispatchers can do everything faster and more easily, delivery operators can expect an improvement in fleet utilization up to 15%. Avoiding complicated coordination on the back end also shaves a few precious minutes of service time for every dropoff. For example, the software can help ensure vehicles are loaded in the correct order to align with the most efficient route and add special instructions to locations with complicated parking spots.

Improving the entire operation

One of these automated logistics platforms is Via Logistics, inspired by the intelligent, on-demand routing systems of Via’s microtransit solution. To date, 96-98% of deliveries made through Via Logistics are on time, which means fewer customer complaints — and more time for dispatchers to focus on overall service quality and efficiency. 

Higher efficiency is the most direct advantage of automation. But together, all of these incremental improvements have a significant trickle-down effect on the entire operation.

Instead of spending the majority of their time on the essentials of route planning and job logging, dispatchers have more flexibility to attend to unexpected events — like a sick driver or a traffic jam or a vehicle breakdown — and resolve them more quickly.

In fact, when the basics of delivery have been optimized by an AI-powered algorithm, you can expect fewer customer complaints, fewer delivery errors, and fewer delays.

Drivers use better routes and face fewer high-pressure situations. Service representatives spend less time dealing with complaints and more time upselling, supporting loyalty programs, and managing other activities that boost retention and increase revenue rather than simply reduce churn. And the entire team can handle more deliveries with the same set of resources. All of this has a direct impact on the end customer’s experience — and your bottom line.

For more details on Via Logistics and the advantages of working with an experienced technology partner, visit our website, or reach out to partnerships@ridewithvia.com.

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