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A Beginner's Guide to Shipping Labels

Small business owner creates shipping label

Shipping labels are a small but vital part of logistics. Accurate labels allow you to direct and track packages through each stage of the shipping process. Without detailed labels, you risk losing or mishandling your customers’ orders and damaging your brand reputation.

Whether you’re looking to create your first shipping label, or you already have some experience and are looking for some tips, our guide has got you covered. In this article, we will take a look at the elements of a shipping label, three best practices, and how you can make one yourself.

The Elements of a Shipping Label

Shipping labels vary depending on the carrier—between UPS and FedEx for example—but they all share some common elements like addresses, weight, and tracking information.

Here’s an example of a shipping label that includes many of the elements you’re likely to see:

  1. Sender name and return address
  2. Recipient name and address
  3. Service level, i.e., standard, express, priority, etc.
  4. Tracking barcode and number
  5. Package dimensions and weight
  6. Descriptions and receiver information
  7. Branding

Courier software shipping label

If it seems daunting to have to enter in all of this information on each shipping label, don’t worry—much of it can be generated automatically by the courier/delivery software you’re using.

Now that you have a basic overview of what information you should include on your labels, let’s look at three best practices for making your own shipping labels.

3 Shipping Label Best Practices

Extra labeling

Sometimes it’s necessary to add extra labeling to inform drivers of any special requirements for a parcel. For example, it may be necessary to include a label with a reminder that the contents of the package are fragile, perishable, or flammable. You may also need to label your parcel “This Way Up” to ensure that a package is transported safely.

Making shipping labels printer friendly

Make sure that your shipping labels are easily scalable so that your customers can print them out without a hitch. If you decide to use a unique aspect ratio, try printing it out at the standard page size to see if your barcode is still scannable when printed. Also, it’s a good idea to make your shipping labels generally accessible by having them printable in PDF format.

Creating shipping labels with a software solution

The right software solution can greatly simplify the label creation process, and most of these solutions do more than just provide labels. For example, if your courier software can also create shipping labels, you can set it up so labels are created automatically whenever a new order is submitted.

The OnTime Report Designer allows users to make custom modifications to their shipping labels. There are an astonishing 520+ fields available. Quickly access the editor in OnTime, add in the needed fields, and click save. Now you have a custom shipping label!

TMS shipping label desgner

Ready to try out OnTime? Get started with a free demo.

How to Start a Courier Business: 5 Point Checklist

Courier sorts packages in the back of his delivery van.

The demand for fast, efficient, and reliable courier services is soaring. As the popularity of last mile delivery continues to grow, there is increasing reliance on small, flexible courier companies.

With just a cell phone, a vehicle, and a passion for working with customers, you can establish a courier startup with minimal additional expenses. If you are thinking about setting up your own courier delivery service, take a look at our 5-point checklist for getting started.

1. Find your business model/niche

The first step in creating a new courier service is finding the right business model—not every model has the same profit potential and scalability.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, most new services are better off finding a specific industry niche. Then, you can differentiate yourself from the competition with additional high-quality services, such as order tracking, custom packaging, etc.

2. Finding customers

Having a few core customers when you first launch your business is helpful, but it’s okay if you don’t. When you’re first starting your business, you can likely offer a competitive edge when it comes to rate.

You might even offer potential clients a free delivery or a discount to get your foot in the door. Be sure to create a website, as this is how people will likely book your services. Make it as easy as possible for them to make instant bookings.

3. Licensing and insurance

It may be advantageous to meet with a business advisor in your area before making any major decisions. That way, you can determine what types of insurance and licensing your new business will need. For example, a vendor’s license, vehicle insurance, or cargo insurance may be necessary. An accident or unexpected occurrence can cause major problems for a new business, so it’s worth your time to consider your insurance options.

4. Develop a pricing structure for items delivered

First things first, figure out how much you need to get paid to make it worth your time. Next, calculate out your expenses. Estimate your first year’s earnings as part of your business plan and work out how many assignments you will need to make a profit. Don’t make the mistake of undercharging because you didn’t take into account all the smaller costs involved in parcel delivery, such as fuel costs and vehicle maintenance. You'll benefit in the long run if you do your homework now.

Finally, choose how you want to get paid. There are thousands of ways you can do your pricing, whether you choose to price by weight, dimensions, distance, etc. Find the one that works for you, and make adjustments as you gain more experience.

5. Optimizing your business with software

Managing your new business can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of things to supervise. The right software system can help organize and keep track of this information. For example, courier software can help you to manage route optimization, price quoting, driver tracking, billing management, notifications, and more. Find software that has the tools to grow with your business.

OnTime 360 is an excellent choice for new delivery businesses. OnTime has both low startup costs and the ability to scale up as your business grows. Ready to try it out? Contact us for more information.

Earn More Business with Automatic Delivery Quotes

TMS pricing, quotes, and costing

Every courier company has its own unique pricing structure—it’s one of the things that defines your business. And it’s also one of the reasons why you might be skeptical about implementing automation.

But with new technology it is possible to automate your estimates, no matter how complex your pricing structure is. For example, some of OnTime’s customers have as many as 500 pricing sheets, and others have just one. The right software can handle both, factoring in all the elements that can affect the cost of shipments, such as package dimensions, service levels, weight, location, and more.

Here are five reasons why it’s worth your time to implement automatic online estimates:

1. Customized pricing

Some shipments are best priced by distance, others by weight, and most by a combination of charges. OnTime's price modifier system gives you the control to choose what factors you’d like to use in your pricing and build as many unique levels of service as you need.

2. Levels of service and budget options

Now more than ever, customers are interested in taking part in the quoting process. Online price estimates allow you to give them a more personalized experience. With the OnTime Customer Web Portal, every one of your customers can have unique price sets that have been negotiated ahead of time with any optional add-ons that you provide.

3. Saved quoting time

Many find that they simply cannot keep up with the demand when manually writing bids. Not only is automated quoting faster, but it is always consistent and accurate, saving the time you would have spent on making corrections.

4. Automatic confirmations and notifications

Customers want instant status updates on their deliveries. When a customer enters an order online, you don’t need to send out manual notifications. Your customers will automatically receive confirmation that their order has been received and will be notified automatically when their order is on its way and delivered.

5. Offer estimates from anywhere

Drivers or sales representatives can access online quoting tools from anywhere, even when out in the field. And the same goes with customers, who can get a quote or submit an order from a phone in seconds.

It’s clear that there are some significant benefits to using online quoting. If you’re thinking about using OnTime’s Customer Web Portal for automatic quoting, contact us to learn more about how OnTime can work for your business.

4 Ways to Reduce Last Mile Delivery Costs in 2021

A delivery driver fills up his car with fuel

Last mile delivery providers have faced unique challenges in the past year, from rising shipping costs to changing customer expectations. On top of that, increased volumes have made it difficult to manage last mile costs.

Thankfully, there are a number of strategies you can use to minimize costs, adapt to changing consumer demands, and still maintain a healthy profit margin. Regardless of your business type, there are universal costs that impact all delivery providers.

Here are four ways to reduce last mile costs:

1. Route Scheduling

It’s something that many dispatchers dread: Assigning the same routes out to the same drivers every week. A good dispatcher can save you hours of work each month, but a route scheduling tool can completely eliminate the time spent assigning recurring routes, allowing your dispatchers to focus on improving other areas of your business.

Modern dispatching tools automatically assign and send messages out to your drivers for recurring routes. OnTime can also make suggestions for on-demand orders, helping you to optimize delivery schedules quickly when new orders are flooding in.

2. Customer Updates

Customers want instant status updates on their deliveries, such as when an order is received, in-transit, and delivered.

With the right software, you can give consumers real-time information and improve their experience. Set up notifications ahead of time to alert customers to any changes to the status of a delivery, saving your dispatcher's time. It not only reduces the likelihood of failed deliveries, but best of all, it increases customer loyalty and satisfaction.

3. Route Optimization

Route optimization helps couriers to work more efficiently, resulting in savings on fuel, vehicle maintenance, and hours worked.

There is much more to route optimization than finding the shortest distance between two points. Smart route optimization takes into account a variety of additional factors, including up-to-date traffic data, time windows for collection and delivery, weather, and more. Some businesses have seen a 20% to 40% reduction in drive time and fuel costs.

4. Vehicle Maintenance

It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. This is certainly true in the delivery industry.

Prevent major vehicle maintenance issues by allowing your delivery software to track your required maintenance items. That way when a scheduled mileage or date is reached, you are notified that a particular vehicle is in need of maintenance. Keeping this information in your delivery software saves your drivers’ time and your sanity.

Reducing Delivery Costs

Finding the time to keep up with the newest innovations is a difficult ask for most businesses. That’s why it’s so important to find a last mile delivery software solution that is updated regularly.

With an OnTime subscription, you gain access to our always up-to-date suite of delivery applications.

Ready to try it out? Contact us for more information.

Essential Features for Pharmacy Delivery Software

A pharmacy courier service delivers a package

In the past year, as the global demand for medical supplies has rapidly increased, healthcare couriers have worked tirelessly to keep up. Many pharmacy businesses and enterprises are launching their own pharmacy delivery systems in order to keep pace.

The high standards and extensive regulations that the healthcare industry requires can be a barrier to entry that is difficult to overcome without the right tools. For example, medical deliveries often contain sensitive information.

Here are four ways that OnTime can help to bring your pharmacy delivery service to the next level.

Customer Notifications

Because of the fast-paced and changing environment of the medical industry, communication with your clients and within your company must be dependable and accurate.

OnTime allows you to create custom notifications that can be set up to go out automatically.

For example, you might use email notifications to alert your customers when their order is on its way, or you could message your driver when a new shipment is assigned to them.

Software Integrations

A solution with API capabilities allows you to connect your courier software with pharmacy management or accounting software.

For example, when using the OnTime API, it’s possible to automate the movement of data directly from your delivery software to your pharmacy management software. This eliminates mistakes introduced by manual entry.

Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with regulatory standards, such as HIPAA in the United States, is a requirement for courier services working with pharmacies.

OnTime helps you maintain compliance even while performing deliveries. Data being transmitted to and from the OnTime Mobile app is encrypted for security and customer data is always kept private.

Audit Deliveries

The best software solutions will give you access to a history of changes made to records, including orders, customers, payments, and invoices. This feature makes it possible to do an extensive audit of individual deliveries.

Professional delivery software can help bring your company into compliance and make it possible to provide a high-level of service to clients in the healthcare industry. Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more.

4 Ways Mobile Phones Have Transformed Delivery and What's Next

Delivery driver uses smartphone for order tracking

It was immediately clear in the early-2000s that the rise of modern-day smartphones would have a significant impact on the courier/delivery industry.

Almost 20 years later, we’ve had the chance to see how delivery companies integrated mobile technology into their workflow. It takes time for each new innovation in technology to become more accessible, but soon it’s a standard offering in the industry.

This process hasn’t slowed down; new technologies and systems are constantly being developed, and there’s value in keeping up. But more on that later.

There have been four major innovations in mobile technology that have changed the logistics industry.

Collecting Signatures

June of 2000 marked the creation of the ESIGN Act, which ensured the validity of electronic signatures.

Today, all that's needed to do signature capture is a smartphone and the right app.

One advantage to using the OnTime Mobile app for signature capture is its close integration with OnTime’s desktop applications. You can give your customers easy access to signature proof of delivery through our customer web portal.

GPS Tracking

The next innovation that came along changed the industry forever—mobile GPS tracking. GPS tracking was first successfully integrated onto mobile phones in 2004. This technology can help both dispatch and drivers: it allows dispatch to assist drivers if they get lost or need to be rerouted, and it helps drivers with navigation.

OnTime’s GPS connectivity transmits drivers’ positions back to dispatch throughout the day. It’s even possible to customize settings to save the battery life of drivers’ devices.

Barcode Scanning

Thanks to advancements in mobile data capture technology, almost all smartphones designed after the late-2000s are able to decode barcodes using their built-in cameras.

In the years since, many last mile delivery businesses realized that mobile scanners are able to match the performance and reliability of dedicated scanners—while also introducing some distinct advantages.

Mobile barcode scanning was added to the OnTime Mobile app in 2006. Drivers can scan the barcode unique to each delivery. The OnTime Mobile app also makes it possible to quickly pull up orders and view directions simply by scanning a barcode.

Photo Proof of Delivery

Gone are the days of towering filing cabinets, paper trails, and uncertainty regarding product delivery status.

Drivers can now include a picture of the person or location delivered to, the package in-transit, or the intact package upon receipt. With OnTime’s solution, these photos are attached to the order, allowing dispatch to see the relevant information, no longer sorting through hundreds of photos to find the right order.

There have been many other innovations in mobile technology that we haven’t mentioned, including offline synchronization, encrypted security, and more.

There’s no reason to suspect that this rate of innovation will change any time in the near future. New technology will come along and logistics companies will have to adapt.

That’s easier said than done though. Finding the time to keep up with new technology is a difficult ask for most businesses, which is why it’s so important to find a software solution that is updated regularly.

15 years ago, OnTime was launched as the very first cloud-based courier software. We’ve seen how mobile technology revolutionized the industry, and we’ve worked to stay on the cutting edge. So when you partner with OnTime, you can be confident that you’ll be kept up-to-date with whatever new technology arrives next.

Ready to get started? Try a free demo.

Is My Business Too Small for Courier Software?

Small business owner overwhelmed by busy schedule

The last-mile delivery industry has changed substantially in recent years. In order to stay competitive in this shifting landscape, companies constantly look for ways to improve efficiency and cut logistics costs.

This can be especially challenging for small courier and delivery businesses. It's likely that you have an endless list of things to keep tabs on, from dispatching and scheduling to customer service and accounting. On top of that, you may be trying to manage your courier business using a combination of maps, sticky notes, and Excel sheets.

Is there any alternative?

Yes. Courier software can provide you with powerful tools to improve your business. For example, a high-quality software solution can automate tasks, including routes, notifications, customer requirements, customer pricing, and customer invoicing.

We estimate that courier businesses that transition to using OnTime could save up to 50% of their employees' non-driving time.

Having said that, you may already know that courier software can save time and money, but you're still hesitant to get started. The initial time investment and cost is often a barrier to entry.

Here are three common concerns about getting started with courier software—and three reasons why it is still the best choice for most businesses.

"I don't have enough time to get a software solution up and running."

Once you've determined the right solution, you will need to set it up, transition from your current system, and train your staff. This process requires time and effort. Here are a few ways that the right software solution can ease you through the transition period:

Easy data uploads. Automatically import mass amounts of your data from CSV and Excel files. This way, older company data can be brought into your account, without the need for manual entry. Some courier solutions provide import templates to help you to easily organize your data into a format that will work best.

Support staff. A capable technical support team can guide you through the transition process, freeing you up to focus on your business.

"I'm not ready to change the way I run my business to bring a software on board."

Choosing a software that can adapt to the way you run your business is essential.

Here are a few examples of ways courier software can be customized for your business:

Personalized communication. There are software solutions that allow you to customize notifications, invoices, and more. For example, with OnTime’s notification designer you can automate communications between your customers and staff and create custom notifications that are automatically sent when you choose. You are in control of who receives what information, in what format, when, and why.

Pricing. Some businesses prefer to price their shipments by distance, others by weight or zone, and most by a combination of charges. OnTime's price modifier system gives you the option to build as many unique price sets as you need.

"Courier software is too expensive."

In years past, it was difficult to find courier software that was a good fit for small businesses. These solutions were built for large logistics/transportation companies—and it was hard to find solutions for under $20,000.

Times have changed. Now, there is courier software built, and priced, with small businesses in mind. OnTime's essential plan has all the features you need, at a reasonable monthly price. If you'd like to see how much you could save with courier software, check out our savings calculator.

Ready to get started? Contact us for more information.

OnTime Mobile v3 Delivers Improved Accuracy and Productivity

We’re excited to release a new version of OnTime Mobile, our app for couriers and delivery drivers. In this release, we’ve added features highly requested by our customers. Couriers will be excited to see the new features that help them be more productive. Carriers will be eager to see the new features designed to prevent misdeliveries.

This is a free update available to any courier using OnTime and can be found within the App Store or Google Play.

More Maps, Faster Navigation

New navigation options let you move quickly from stop to stop. Simply swipe right on an order or a stop to get immediate turn by turn directions using your preferred mapping program.

Courier software swipe to navigate, pick up, and deliver.

This version makes it easy to set the mapping provider of your choice. Choose from Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze.

Waze navigation in courier software

In regions where street addresses are inconsistent, OnTime now supports setting the navigation source to favor geographic coordinates set on location records ahead of time. This allows precise navigation and mapping even when the street address is unavailable. OnTime administrators can adjust this setting on a per-user basis.

Driver navigation to street address or coordinates

Features to Improve Focus

OnTime Mobile helps increase productivity throughout the day by allowing drivers to remain focused on the task at hand. A new filter can simplify the items list shown. Tap the filter icon across the top to display all orders, today’s orders, or unread orders.

Courier app with order filter

Push notifications immediately notify drivers of changes in assignments and make it easy to reference the affected order.

Courier software push notifications

A new read status on orders makes it easy to see new assignments and let dispatch know drivers have seen the assignment. Toggle the read status of an order, and dispatch will see those changes immediately.

Mark assignments as read and unread

Unread orders will appear in the order list as colorized light blue, making it easier to identify new orders.

Unread driver shipments

iPhone users will see badges on the app icon, calling attention to new, unread orders that have been assigned to the courier. Badges can be hidden within iOS notification settings.

Unread orders badge in OnTime Mobile for couriers

Don’t lose your spot. Keep the screen on while viewing orders. On newer devices, this will also keep synchronization and GPS transmission regular and active.

Focus on driver assignments and jobs

Require Accuracy

If avoiding the misdelivery of a shipment is essential to your business, the following features will be of particular interest.

Proximity Validation

Proximity validation helps avoid misdeliveries by checking the driver’s current location against the location they are attempting to collect from or deliver to. If a driver is not close enough to the proper location, carriers can prevent them from collecting or delivering to the wrong address.

Proximity checks to avoid misdelivery

This is configured on a per-user basis to require that the driver is at the proper location or simply warn them.

Proximity check for couriers

Set the proximity radius in meters to control how close drivers need to be to the location they are collecting from or delivering to. The default is 400 meters or about 1/4 mile. The minimum distance is 30 meters or about 100 feet.

Set acceptable proximity for collections and deliveries

Barcode Validation

If barcode scanning is a part of your collection and delivery routine, barcode validation ensures that proper packages are delivered by requiring a valid barcode scan.

Courier barcode verification

This is configured on a per-user basis to require that the driver scans the proper barcode before marking an order as collected or delivered.

Require barcode validation on deliveries

POD Requirements

There is now added control over the contact name requirement when marking an order as collected or delivered.

Courier POD contact name

This is configured on a per-user basis.

Require POD contact name on pick up or delivery

More New Features That Make OnTime Mobile Better than Ever

  • Colorized icons to make the status of an order easier to see.
  • The order details view now shows a list of the items contained within the order.
  • Performance optimizations to make the app faster to use.
  • Improvements to security, reliability, and resource utilization.
  • Optimizations to extend battery life.
  • Bug fixes to make the app more reliable.

If you haven't already, download and try OnTime Mobile today. If your company has any questions about using these new features, contact us. We will be happy to discuss the details with you.

Choosing Smart Route Optimization for Your Business

Smart Courier Route Optimization for Your Transportation Business

Route optimization technology has been a game-changer in the delivery industry. For example, it is reported that UPS saves 10 million gallons of fuel a year using route optimization software that favors right-hand turns. This example demonstrates just how effective the route optimization process can be when it is paired with the right technology.

Implementing route optimization for the first time within your organization can be daunting. You are not alone if you are concerned that route optimization services seem overly complex, price prohibitive, and difficult to integrate into your current workflow. This article demonstrates that it’s very possible to implement a smart route optimization solution at a reasonable price.

What is route optimization?

Route optimization is the process of finding the most efficient route for a series of stops or waypoints. There is much more to route optimization than finding the shortest distance between two points. Smart route optimization will factor in a variety of factors, including:

  • Geography
  • Up-to-date traffic data
  • Road construction schedules
  • Mapping data, including speed limits
  • Time windows for collection and delivery
  • Starting and ending locations for routes
  • Driver schedules
  • Driver home locations

Why not use Google Maps or Bing Maps? Can they be used for route optimization?

In short, no. These mapping services are designed to provide simple point A to B directions. While they provide part of the route optimization solution, they don’t have the capabilities of purpose-build route optimization software. To benefit fully and see the most return from route optimization, use a solution that accommodates the factors listed above.

The advantages of route optimization

  • Reduce costs: Effective route optimization leads to less time spent on the road. These improvements result in savings on fuel, vehicle maintenance, and personnel costs. Some businesses see a 20% to 40% reduction in fuel costs and drive time.
  • Increase capacity: Route optimization helps couriers to maximize their fleets, enabling each driver to complete more orders. Some businesses see a 50% to 70% increase in daily capacity.
  • Improve the dispatching process: A smart route optimization system empowers dispatchers to do their job more efficiently. This can save dispatchers hours of planning and allow them to focus on improving other areas of the business.

Benefits by industry

  • Healthcare: Make good on time-sensitive appointments and satisfy unique requirements for different patients. Send customers real-time updates to inform them of their order status.
  • Logistics: Avoid late fees and long wait times behind other delivery drivers by prioritizing stops with earlier scheduled appointments at busy locations.
  • Food delivery: Create routes for recurring food orders and deal with last-minute changes on the fly.

Didn’t see your industry? Reach out to the experts at OnTime to learn how route optimization can benefit your business.  

OnTime’s route optimization

OnTime 360’s transportation management software includes a built-in route optimization system. Based on extensive research and development, our patent-pending optimization adapts a powerful algorithm used to predict genetic mutation in the natural world. This leads to optimization that is extremely capable and accurate, with unheard-of performance. Optimize hundreds of stops, with advanced parameters, within a few seconds.

OnTime’s route optimization software is the premier optimization system in the industry. It delivers high-end route optimization at a reasonable price for our customers. A stand out feature is the ability to factor in time windows, an absolute must for any shipment with precise time constraints. There is no other software solution with OnTime’s unique combination of flexibility, features, and cost-effective performance.

How it works

Route optimization and courier scheduling are fully integrated within OnTime. There is no need to import and export route optimization data between another program or website. Direct integration with the OnTime Mobile apps means that optimized routes approved by a dispatcher are transferred directly to the driver with a single click. There’s no need to pay for two different programs—OnTime includes all the functionality you’ll need.

OnTime's advanced route optimization can be added to your daily workflow in four easy steps:

  1. Launch OnTime Dispatch and navigate to the Dispatching view.
  2. From within the Drivers List, double-click a user to view all orders/stops assigned to that driver.
  3. Click the button labeled Optimize Route. When optimization is completed, the list of stops will be reorganized in the most efficient order. The ordering of stops can be manually adjusted by dragging and dropping orders/stops in the list.
  4. Click the button labeled OK to save and transmit the optimized route to the driver via OnTime Mobile.

OnTime can optimize up to 300 route stops at a time with the most advanced options. Thousands of route stops can be optimized at a time with basic settings. Within seconds, OnTime will return the results factoring in geography, mapping data, time windows, and much more.

Dispatch route optimization included in TMS.

There are three primary methods of route optimization:

  1. Basic – This method is a general, free-of-charge, Point A to Point B optimization system. It doesn’t take mountains, rivers, oceans, or other obstacles into account, but will do a great job of showing the quickest way to run a route in straight lines.
  2. Vehicle Route – The second route optimization method is more precise than the first. It optimizes all the stops so that they are completed across the shortest possible distance along streets and roads. There’s even more information included, such as how the route should be split between days, projected start time, end time, total distance traveled, and total time taken to finish the route.
  3. Vehicle Route with Time Windows – This method is similar to the Vehicle Route method, but, in this case, delivery and collection times take precedent during optimization. This highly complex optimization is perfect for routes where time windows must take priority over geographic convenience.

Simple and predictable pay-as-you-go pricing

Forget monthly fees for users and vehicles. With OnTime, you only pay for what you use.

OnTime’s route optimization features are priced simply and predictably at $0.30 per optimized route. That’s money well spent when it’s in exchange for a 20% to 40% reduction in cost, a 50% to 70% increase in capacity, and a streamlined dispatching process.

OnTime makes use of a credit system where one route optimization requires one credit. Credits are available for purchase in bundles starting at $20. Larger bundles offer cost savings, reducing the per credit cost to as little as $0.15.

Compared to one leading provider* of route optimization, OnTime can easily reduce optimization costs by 92%. For example, 20 users cost $799 per month with a leading competitor, where OnTime would cost approximately $66 per month.

With OnTime’s route optimization, there is no setup fee, no monthly fee, and no exporting or importing to a separate routing service.

If you’re evaluating OnTime’s route optimization, you likely have more specific questions about features and support. Each courier service will have its own unique implementations. Contact us if you'd like to learn how we can find the right solution for your business.

* Comparing Route4Me’s monthly subscription program vs OnTime’s pay-for-what-you-use pricing model. 

Using OnTime as a Grocery Delivery Platform

Grocery delivery software platform with OnTime

The online grocery market has seen rapid growth in the last few years. In fact, the industry market value doubled from 2016 to 2018. This trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future (especially given the events of the past few months). Within the last week, a single grocery delivery business reached a valuation of nearly $14 billion.

It’s becoming clear that online grocery delivery is no longer just a trend—customer behaviors are changing, and it’s now expected that grocery stores offer delivery. For that reason, most grocers, whether established or newcomers to the industry, are looking to expand their delivery services to meet the new demand. In addition, newer grocery delivery services are finding ways to compete (often on a local level) with the larger companies, such as Instacart and Shipt.

Of course, all this growth comes with increased competition. Everyone is looking for the right strategy and software for their situation. Undoubtedly, all the major players in the industry—Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, etc.—are employing unique strategies to find success within their niche.

This raises a few questions: What are the keys to profitable grocery delivery? And, how can you adapt the OnTime software for your situation?

Profitable Grocery Delivery

Although the market segment as a whole is indeed growing, individual grocers are more concerned about the question: Can my grocery delivery service be profitable?

A profitable online offer is achievable, but to drive long-term profitability, grocery delivery services need to pay close attention to a few key factors.

Logistics is at the core of any effective grocery delivery strategy. A service needs to have efficient and accurate picking of in-stock products, and low cost, on-time delivery. Retailers who focus on optimizing their delivery process are benefiting from the lowest-cost operations, enabling them to serve customers more cheaply than their competitors can. It’s necessary to take into account driver management, route optimization, tracking, and more.

Implementation of software is also an essential factor (more on that later). To provide a top-of-the-line customer experience requires purpose-built technology, both customer-facing and in delivery. Poor implementations can cost time and money. Worse still, choosing technology that doesn’t fit the business model in the first place can set back an entire operation.

Continue reading to see how OnTime can improve the delivery process, whether it be an independent grocery chain, or a courier business looking to create its own version of Instacart or FreshDirect.

API Integration

Use the OnTime API to connect OnTime with other platforms, such as websites or mobile apps. For example, it’s very common for grocery delivery services to have a mobile ordering app for customers. With the API, it’s possible to connect an app to an OnTime account and transmit order information from the app into OnTime.

This feature saves dispatchers from the time-consuming task of entering this information into a delivery system manually. Our API helps to extend the efficiency of a delivery service right through to the customer’s doorstep.

Delivery Management

As a grocery delivery service continues to grow and increase in order volume, delivery management becomes more and more important. Here are a few of the most valuable OnTime features for delivery management:

Set up signature capture for high-value items, create zone-based pricing, and add additional items to the order, such as instructions for delivery drivers.

Use our location management feature to organize all addresses that a company has either picked up from or delivered to. This list of addresses may be organized to better view a company's reach.

In our real-time tracking feature, view the status of any order in the system. Reassign orders to different drivers, while OnTime logistics software takes care of all the necessary notifications.

To learn more about what OnTime has to offer, make sure to check out our features page.

Driver Options

As we touched on in the last section, a delivery process becomes more complex as order volume increases. This means dealing with multiple drivers—and that comes with a new set of challenges, such as vehicle maintenance, tracking, and route optimization. OnTime provides the tools needed to manage these different elements successfully.

For example, OnTime Mobile allows dispatch mangers to stay in tight communication with drivers through email, text messages, or internal messaging. And OnTime’s GPS connectivity can transmit a driver's position to the dispatch manager throughout the day. Maintenance reminders, such as insurance and license dates can be kept up-to-date under the driver information section.

It’s likely that you have more specific questions about features and support. After all, each grocery service will have it’s own unique needs. Over the years, we've helped many food delivery companies successfully adapt OnTime. (For example, you've just seen a small sample of what the API can do.) Contact us if you'd like to learn how we can build a solution for your business.