ETA and ETD: A Crucial Difference

ETA vs ETD: Not knowing the difference can prove deadly for your business.

“I am so upset right now. I had to cancel a meeting with a client because of your mistake. You said the ETA on my delivery was today, but I didn’t get the shipment! Then you send an email saying that you meant ETD and not ETA. It is unacceptable for a business as big as yours not to know the difference between ETA and ETD. I definitely won’t be buying any circuit boards from you anytime soon… Goodbye.”

That is Nick, our manager’s neighbor and an angry customer who will never refer the business to his friends and family.

So, what did the company do wrong?

They confused ETA with ETD, making the business lose Nick as a potential recurring customer.

But this mistake is not uncommon. Many dispatchers or logistics managers don’t understand the difference between ETA and ETD.

So, let’s understand what ETD and ETA stand for.

What Is ETA?

ETA stands for “Estimated Time of Arrival” – a standard shipping term. An ETA is when a vehicle or ship will arrive at the final destination.

The irony is that as much as you try to give the customer an accurate estimate of the time it would take for the goods to arrive, you can’t accurately predict the EXACT TIME (unless you use a route planner).

That’s usual. Because you can’t predict a flat tire. But knowing a precise ETA allows the customer to prepare for the arrival.

To be sure, an ETA is somewhat similar to an ETD, and they’re more often misused. However, they don’t mean the same thing, and a professional like yourself shouldn’t be mixing up ETA and ETD.

Don’t worry. You’ll know about ETA vs. ETD soon.

What Is ETD?

ETD stands for “Estimated Time of Departure” or “Estimated Time of Delivery.” Estimated Time of Departure is when the goods leave the storage facility or warehouse.

The Estimated Time of Delivery is when a product is handed over to the customer or the consignee. Couriers and delivery companies often use the term.

Estimated Time for Delivery (ETD) is a component of the Estimated Time for Arrival (ETA).

Arrival estimates are different from delivery estimates.

For example, if a delivery driver arrives at a 30-storied building at 2 pm, the package scheduled for an office on the 20th floor may not be delivered until 2.15 pm.

ETA is usually fixed, whereas ETD is flexible.

ETD vs ETA: Advantages of Providing ETDs to Your Customers

Let’s face it, the customer is king; a happy customer means you’ll be smiling to the bank.

Providing ETDs would be beneficial to your business for the following reasons:

  • Satisfied customers – There’s nothing more annoying than not knowing when your package is due to arrive. It messes with your plans. But with an ETD, you can provide your customer peace of mind.
  • Free marketing through referrals from happy customers – Word-of-mouth advertising still tops the list as the best form of advertising, and it’s absolutely free.
  • Increase in revenue because of new business from referrals – The icing on top is that, as long as you can make your customers happy, they’ll keep coming back to you for business, and they don’t come empty-handed.

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ETA vs ETD: Do You Need ETD Forecasting?

ETD forecasting is not for everyone. Here are the criteria you would use to determine whether you need ETD forecasting.

You need ETD forecasting if:

  • Your customers always want to know when their delivery is due for arrival
  • You’re losing money due to missed deliveries because customers are not there to receive and sign for the delivery
  • You deliver perishable goods
  • You’re incurring extra costs from re-delivery or storing failed delivery until they are picked up or delivered.
  • Your delivery staff waste a lot of precious time waiting at a delivery site for a receiving agent.

Use Route4Me to Provide the Most Accurate ETAs & ETDs

The best way to offer accurate ETAs and ETDs is to use a delivery management software like Route4Me.

Over 34,000 businesses worldwide trust Route4Me, and that’s because it comes with many powerful features that provide a high degree of accuracy without requiring much effort.

Calculate Departure Time in Advance

Route4Me route planner helps you plan in advance to avoid planning mistakes due to a last-minute rush.

The route planning and scheduling process is pretty straightforward. You just upload the list of customer addresses (with Excel, a scanned copy, an importation from cloud storage, or manual input) into the system, input the constraints, and create well-optimized routes in seconds.

Learn how Route4Me can help you plan a route with multiple stops in 30 seconds.

You can even give your customers accurate times when their order is supposed to depart your warehouse. In addition, you can make amendments manually to routes at any time.

Route4Me’s route optimization software helps you plan weeks or months in advance and re-optimize as many times as you want when new orders arrive.

Track Vehicles in Real-Time to See the Arrival Time

Route4Me’s multi-stop route planner comes with a GPS tracking feature that enables you to track vehicles on the road in real-time and ensure your delivery drivers stay on schedule.

GPS tracking app also removes any guesswork concerning ETAs. It helps you ensure that you know immediately when something unexpected happens and take the necessary actions quickly.

Route4Me even clearly displays when a driver will arrive at upcoming stops, the amount of time taken to complete deliveries at previous stops, and if they’re on time or running late.

You can even analyze more information, such as the stops made per day, average trip gas cost, and routes completed per day through Route4Me’s reporting and analytics feature. This helps you make data-driven amendments to your routing and scheduling process.

Automatically Notify Customers with Accurate ETAs vs ETDs

Route4Me offers a customer alerting and notification feature that helps you inform your customers automatically through email or SMS when the driver departs or is near their location.

It also sends an alert automatically when a customer is the next stop to be visited on an active route.

Let Customers Check the ETAs in Real-Time

Route4Me also offers a customer portal that enables customers to monitor the status of their orders on their own. Customers need to access Route4Me, using their account ID or tracking number to see the status of their inbound visit.

However, you’ll keep control. You can control how much information you want your customers to see about the visit. For example, you can show them ETAs and driver identities.

Offering such transparency will help build trust amongst your customers, ultimately leading to repeat businesses.

Optimize Routes by Editing Them Afterward

Anything can happen on the road. Even if you optimize your routes, you can’t control everything.

For example, a vehicle may break down suddenly in the middle of nowhere en route to a client’s location, or your driver could be stuck on the road due to truck inspections.

Such instances could jeopardize your entire plan. Your drivers could fall behind schedule and might not meet the ETAs.

Route4Me’s vehicle routing software helps you re-optimize routes and re-assign jobs to a driver closest to the affected customer to still meet the ETA. It ensures your drivers still get the most efficient stop sequences based on the applied changes.

Conclusion about ETA vs ETD

In this article, you learned about ETA vs ETD. By knowing the specific purpose and differences, you’ll avoid misunderstandings when you draw up your contracts.

Having a well-defined process and the right tools can help you convey accurate ETAs and ETDs to your customers, which pay off in the long run.

If you like what you’ve just read, then your supervisor sure may like it too. So, why not be a good colleague and share it with them. And if you’re looking for a way to offer accurate ETAs and ETDs to your customers, try our 7-day free trial to see how Route4Me can help you.

Want To See For Yourself How Route4Me Can Boost Your Profits?

Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!
Start Free 7 Day Trial

About author: Rahul Dasgupta

Rahul Dasgupta is a content writer with over 20 years of work experience. He holds a master’s degree in computer science and has written thousands of blog posts on route planning and scheduling, making it easy for readers to learn about these complex topics. Rahul enjoys playing tennis in his spare time and loves cuddling with his pet labrador Shinu. Rahul is a big fan of Roger Federer, Messi, and Bill Gates - he admires their drive to be the best at what they do and their philanthropic efforts.


About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 40,000 customers globally. Route4Me's Android and iPhone mobile apps have been downloaded over 2 million times since 2009. Extremely easy-to-use, Route4Me's apps create optimized routes, synchronize routes to mobile devices, enable communication with drivers and customers, offer turn-by-turn directions, delivery confirmation, and more. Behind the scenes, Route4Me's operational optimization platform combines high-performance algorithms with data science, machine learning, and big data to plan, optimize, and analyze routes of almost any size in real-time.