How Amazon Manages its Delivery Routes (And How to Copy Them)

Amazon started as a website where you could pre-order books or send gifts. Nowadays, they’re a company where you can get just about anything you need delivered within hours. Amazon has grown exponentially in just the past decade. So how exactly did they get to where they are now?

In short, their emphasis on route optimization helped make their name synonymous with quick, efficient, and reliable deliveries. By investing in route optimization systems, Amazon was able to take their services to the next level. If you’re driving for a company or are opening a delivery company and you want to take your services to the next level, take some notes from the way Amazon prioritized route optimization.

Why Does Amazon Prioritize Route Optimization?

Route optimization benefits both the driver and the customers. Couriers save time spent on the road and mileage placed on vehicles. This increases productivity and fuel efficiency. Faster, on-time, reliable deliveries means happier customers. It’s a win-win situation when companies like Amazon invest in technology that makes their business run smoother. Amazon has millions of orders every day. With so many parcels to keep track of, route optimization apps are a crucial tool for any driver to get their deliveries fulfilled on time.

So What’s a Day Like for Amazon Drivers?

Delivering with Amazon looks a bit different than other giants in the delivery industry. First, not all Amazon drivers actually work for Amazon. Most work with distribution companies that are privately owned, but contracted to deliver Amazon packages. They rent vans from car rental companies such as Enterprise and pick up their delivery load for the day from an Amazon warehouse.

With the cargo that is picked up, couriers receive a manifest that doesn’t look standard. For privacy, the list does not have any addresses printed on them. Instead, they have codes for zones and how many packages correspond to each zone. Drivers then use a Rabbit, the proprietary Amazon scanner tool, to scan the list of codes and plan the best way to complete the delivery route. The Rabbit is part GPS system and part inventory log.

Within the Rabbit, drivers sign into the Amazon Flex app which confirms the number of packages that need to be delivered that day. It plans out the itinerary for the whole day so couriers can easily check off what deliveries have been completed and track their own process. There’s no need to manually input any information, the scanner reads the information and directs the driver where to go in a straightforward manner.

Because of Amazon’s growing success, the number of packages and deliveries has gone up. Therefore, the routes and delivery days have also increased. Days can be long, and during the holiday peak season, the routes can get even longer. Without Amazon’s in-house route optimization system, drivers would not have the time or ability to get any of the packages delivered.

Route Optimization Advantages

A reliable route optimization software will take into account traffic congestion, weather reports, construction zones, road conditions, and finally specific time windows for deliveries. Without route optimization, couriers will be stuck doing things the old-fashioned way. Trying to schedule all the deliveries personally is incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and pretty much impossible for one person to do on their own.

Customers appreciate when companies follow through on their promises, so optimizing routes is a pivotal element of the delivery industry. Missing delivery windows or giving vague estimations will make your company’s reputation fall out of favor. A route optimization app will give a clear and accurate schedule that finds the most efficient route. A more efficient route means less money spent on fuel and less time spent on the road. In turn, this increases driver productivity.

Built-in navigation maps on smartphones won’t be much help. They’re designed for simpler, point A to point B routes, such as running errands or going on a leisurely road trip. They aren’t equipped to handle pages worth of addresses and multi-stop trips. Nor do they accurately account for things like congestion and route efficiency. (Save Google Maps and Waze for when you’re driving off the clock.0

Delivering On The Large Scale

Nationally-renowned companies like Amazon give their drivers a delivery manifest at the beginning of their work day. There’s no guidance given to them up front, only a long list of addresses in no particular order. A route optimization app makes sense of what otherwise would be a chaotic day.

If you want your delivery game to be on par with top brands like Amazon, you’ll need to prioritize a route optimization app like Rabbit. Straightaway is a great solution for smaller delivery proprietors and drivers to get a large volume of deliveries done quickly and efficiently. The app takes the manifest and organizes it into an easy to follow route. Straightaway goes above and beyond simpler navigation routes like Google Maps because the AI optimization takes into account variables such as traffic reports, construction updates, and road conditions.

Much like Amazon’s Rabbit scanner, all you need to do is take a picture of the manifest, which can often be many pages long with up to hundreds of addresses listed with no organization. Straightaway uses optical character recognition software or OCR which geocodes the addresses on the manifest and then forecasts the most efficient route.

Straightaway also features two modes of use: driving mode and planning mode. Driving mode features traffic updates every 30 seconds and live turn by turn navigation routing. The app also allows the driver to check off deliveries on their own terms, much like the Amazon Rabbit scanner. Straightaway also learns the habits of drivers so it can offer more accurate ETAs.

Further, Straightaway offers analytics for the driver such as miles driven and time saved. Users will be able to see clear results about how the app streamlines their day. Having a route optimization software is an invaluable tool that simplifies what would otherwise be a time-consuming and tedious act.

Route optimization serves the driver, customer, and company. By making everyone’s day that much easier, you or your company could be on your way to competing with Amazon in the delivery market.

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