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Understanding the Google Maps Delivery Route Planner

Featured image credit: Erikona/iStockphoto.com

Google Maps is is trusted by billions of people around the globe. But, is the Google Maps delivery route planner as good for commercial purposes?

Image credit: BuiltWith

Last-mile delivery business managers or dispatchers need to plot routes that require each driver to make anything between 150 and 200 stops per day.

Is using Google Maps for delivery routes practical?

This article aims to explore whether Google Maps trip planner really offers the best solution for final-mile delivery businesses.

Can Google Maps Plan a Route?

The Google Maps delivery route planner is one of the best tools out there for basic route mapping.

You just need to enter the starting point and the destination location. Google Maps will then route you to your destination and even offers a street view as well, making it easier to find the exact location on the route planner.

The Google Maps route planner for deliveries offers a few alternative routes to the destinations (in the order they were entered), including the shortest and the fastest path to each.

Moreover, the Google Maps delivery route planner offers free driving directions, is easy to use, and also offers turn-by-turn directions.

Another plus point is that it supports single-driver route planning for up to 24 stops.

Having said that, is it the best route planning app for all businesses, big and small?

Let’s find out.

Is Google Maps the Best Route Planner App for Delivery Businesses?

Not really. Google Maps delivery route planner app is unsuitable for medium-sized or large-scale field service and last-mile delivery businesses. There are multiple reasons for this.

First, it can get extremely expensive once your usage volume increases.

The free version only allows you to plot 10 stops. To plot up to 25 destinations, you need to get the paid version, which is not cheap.

The amount of money you have to spend depends on your usage.

Now, would you want to keep calculating how much you’re spending on Google Maps, while your business is scaling up? Probably not!

However, the biggest reason for it being unsuitable for growing businesses is not the cost, but the fact that Google Maps is not cut-out to optimize a route.

If you’re wondering why route optimization is a bigger deal than the high cost, here’s your answer.

What Is Route Optimization?

Consider the following scenario: You need to get from point A to point B. What would you do?

You would usually find the fastest route as well as the shortest one. However, this gets a little more complicated when you have multiple places to go, say, to points B and C from point A.

An optimized route would not just be the shortest and fastest route, it would also be the most efficient.

That means you don’t just go to point B and then to point C, following the fastest and the shortest route.

If point C comes before point B, you should follow this route instead, since it will save fuel, time, and effort.

This is the gist of route optimization. To learn more about it, you can read our comprehensive article on route optimization.

Optimal route planning is crucial for all field service and last-mile businesses because it increases profitability. When a single driver is able to make more stops, it reduces the fuel and labor costs.

Google Maps is unable to optimize a route and will merely show you the fastest and shortest route to the destinations, according to the sequence in which they were entered.

This means you have to manually plot the optimal stop sequence on the map and enter the destinations accordingly.

This can still be done when your drivers are making, say, 10 stops a day.

But, it becomes extremely cumbersome when the number of stops is 150 to 200, which is normal for medium and large field service and delivery businesses.

The Pros and Cons of using Google Maps

Now that you understand what route optimization is and why the Google Maps delivery route planner is unsuitable for medium and large field service and delivery businesses, let’s get into the overall pros and cons of using a free route planner like Google Maps to plan delivery routes.

The Pros

  • Google Maps is the most powerful web mapping service provider in the world. Driven by the GPS traffic data, it runs on billions of phones of people from all around the globe.
  • The estimated time of arrival given by Google Maps is highly accurate, seeing how it will plot a route based on real-time traffic data.

The Cons

  • The Google Maps delivery route planning app is not integrated at all with any other system that is essential for field service and delivery businesses. It is a stand-alone app. Hence, you need to invest in other tools to implement the other necessary technology you need, such as GPS tracking to know exactly where your drivers are.
  • There is no integrated way to plan and share routes from a central place. This means that the managers and supervisors can’t update the stops, if and when needed.
  • You can’t save routes on Google Maps. You have to plot a route on Google Maps even if it is the same one your drivers have traveled before.

So, what is a better option than Google Maps?

The answer is route optimization software.

What Is a Route Planner App and How Does It Fare Against Google Maps Delivery Route Planner?

A map route planner is a tool that offers route optimization, along with other features that are crucial, especially for delivery businesses.

How does it fare against Google Maps?

A route planner maps Google Maps directions. And here’s a list of the most important features of the tool and you can decide for yourself:

  • A good delivery route planner app will let you plot an unlimited number of stops.
  • A free route planner unlimited stops factors in multiple constraints, such as time windows, sunrise and sunset times, load, weight, height, left turns, one-ways, avoidance zones, traffic, and weather conditions, to optimize a route.
  • It comes with a pick-up and drop-off route optimization feature that helps you plan and optimize routes with hundreds of thousands of pick-up and drop-off address pairs, where the pick-up address from each address pair will always be visited first and its corresponding drop-off address will always be visited second.
  • Unlike Google Maps, the multiple stop route planner app supports commercial vehicle and truck GPS, which is essential for field service and delivery businesses.
  • Another important feature that comes with a multi-stop route planner, but which is not available with Google Maps, is comprehensive reporting and analytics. This data shows you how much fuel you have used, how much distance your drivers have traveled, how many stops your drivers have made, and so on. Such information is vital to make better business decisions for increased profitability.

A route app also comes with a few integrated features that would make your job easier and so much more profitable. Some of these features are:

  • Digital proof-of-delivery – Your drivers can collect them as pictures or e-signatures.
  • Customer alerting and notifications – Customers will automatically receive notifications via email or SMS about their delivery status. The frequency and the timing of the notifications can be set by you.
  • Customer portal – Customers can log in to view the status of their deliveries by themselves. This reduces the need for interaction with customer care service.

So, do you have any questions about a Google Maps Delivery Route Planner?

About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 32,000 customers on almost every continent. Route4Me's mobile Android and iPhone apps have been downloaded over 2 million times since 2009. Extremely easy-to-use, the apps synchronize routes, enable two-way communication with drivers, 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.