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Route Optimisation for Retail Merchandisers

In the last few blogs I have been writing about route optimisation for retail delivery vehicles, using a furniture shop as an example of how to to achieve significant return on investment. Of course the principles apply to commercial travellers.

Take the example of a retail merchandiser. There are hundreds of people travelling around the country daily visiting supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, liquor stores and pretty much every type of retail store. A large percentage of these people have a mix of urban and rural stores in their sales territory that they visit on cycles. Some of them are regular cycles that they repeat periodically, others may be more ad hoc.

Typically retail merchandisers change jobs or territories fairly often, which means that they will not be familiar with where their clients are, or what the best order is to visit them in. They are often under a lot of pressure to make as many visits in a day or on a trip as possible.

Route2GO is the perfect tool for these people and their Managers. Just like the retail delivery people in the last blogs, there are many factors that determine Return On Investment.

The first and most obvious one is travel distance and time. The obvious one is to look at a day’s calls, calculating the best order to do the visits in, putting in the start location which could be the office, warehouse or even the person’s home and then the end location. If it is local and just a day trip, it is going to be pretty easy to calculate the order. This will provide travel time and distance. It could also include driving directions.

If it is a longer trip which includes overnight stays, you could look at the entire trip as if it was on one day to optimise the entire trip and then cut it into chunks for each day. One of the things that is often difficult for a traveller is estimating the travel times. Barring traffic accidents, congestion etc, we can provide a very good estimate of travel time. The traffic information itself we also provide by way of the Roadwatch and AA Maps websites. For $1.95 you can also subscribe to real time traffic alerts which you can receive by SMS or email for a 4-day trip at AA Traffic. This would give you some advance warning if there are any real issues. For example over the last couple of months, many highways including State Highway 1 have had road closures due to slips and floods. Being forewarned means that you can plan ahead.

Now that you know the travel time from one retailer to the next, you can start to do some planning. In merchandising their are obviously a variety of types of call. Some are easy to plan because it is simply shelf management and the merchandiser will know which products are ranged and have an idea of how much time a call will take. In some cases they don’t even need to see the manager. By doing a spreadsheet similar to the one in this blog, you can get a pretty good idea of what you can achieve.

Obviously where there is actual selling going on, or even getting orders signed, there can be extra delays, waiting to see the buyer and time on site will vary. This comes down to experience.

As per previous examples, the immediate tangible ROI is that Route2GO can tell you the best order to make the visits in and advise you of time and distance. This can save you tie and money and we invite you to contact us and send us a couple of trips in the order they were done in and we can optimise them and return them to you so you can see the order we would recommend and what the savings would be. There is no cost or obligation to you for this evaluation.

The next obvious benefit is establishing whether, with the time saved, you can either make more calls in a day or maximise the time spent on the calls to find ways to generate more revenue. Perhaps managing shelf facings, recommending new products or doing product knowledge training. We all know that if you don’t manage your shelf facings, they can shrink as your competitors products squeeze them out. Another issue is out of stocks. In today’s economy many retailers manage their inventory on a Just In Time basis. That means that if you do not meet your call cycle, you could have a situation where you are not only missing out of sales, but the out of stock situation could be introducing the retailers’ customers to your competitors alternatives.

Optimising and planning your trips, especially out of the city means that you can also do some advance planning, making appointments with buyers, with a reasonable degree of certainty as to when they can expect you. This is of course a professional way of doing business that will help your customer relationships and give you a competitive advantage. Lets face it, everyone is extra busy these days and the easier you are to do business with, the more likely you are to get an unfair share of the shelf space.

Probably the best part of Route2GO is that it is really easy to use. You don’t need a specialist, just the ability to create a list, with addresses of the customers you intend to visit. There is no up front cost, you pay as you go, which means that it pays for itself from day one. Why not give it a try for your next trip?

October 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, petrol, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, software, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GeoSmart is at Trafinz

commGeoSmart is at the Trafinz conference this week in Wellington this week. Over the last year it has been developing real time traffic solutions including AA Traffic. AA Traffic was developed for the NZ Automobile Association to assist motorists in identifying traffic incidents ranging from road works through to accidents and road closures resultant from a wide range of causes including in recent days earthquakes and flood damage.

As part of the data collection and applications developed in this area, GeoSmart has been collecting real time vehicle traffic flow data throughout New Zealand on all roads from State Highways to connector roads. In addition to viewing this to assist us in our real time traffic services, we are also storing this data so that it can be used historically.

We already have around 4 months of historic traffic flow data that can be used by traffic engineers, consultants, councils and other authorities for analysis, planning and forecasting. It can be delivered in a variety of ways. For example if someone is working on a project for a specific road segment or network, we can make available data for that location by time of day, day of week to enhance the quality and quantity of the information being analysed. that information could be provided as a CSV file or for overlay in a web mapping or GIS environment.

Feedback so far from attendees at the conference has been very favorable and we are now looking at ways of working with organisations who will find this information of value.

We are also working with Fleet Management companies who are interested in the potential to allow their clients to not only see their vehicles on a map, but to also be able to see real time incidents and traffic flow on the same map. This would enable dispatchers and fleet controllers to make decisions based on real time and historical data on routes to use. This can have value to all sorts of road users from emergency services through to transport and distribution companies, meter readers, field service companies, to name a few.

An example of the use of this data is in the September issue of Metro Magazine’s feature on ‘The Best Places to Live in Auckland’ for which we calculated commuter morning drive times into the city from around 50 suburbs.

GeoSmart already has API’s, Web Services and applications available in the field 0f route optimisation. Companies using this technology have enjoyed significant ROI by being able to reduce travel distance and time, which also has the byproduct of reducing CO2 emissions. This means being able to provide a better service to their customers, while also increasing productivity and profitability. In the future we anticipate being able to add real time traffic into the equation for real time route optimisation.

GeoSmart is now planning meetings with traffic engineers, local and regional Government and other organisations to discuss how the real time and historic traffic flow data may be used and welcomes the opportunity to meet with any interested parties to discuss mutual opportunities.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | AA Traffic, driving, Freight, geosmart, GIS, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Traffic, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe Driving with AA Roadwatch

GeoSmart Maps has rebuilt the NZ Automobile Association’s Roadwatch web site and re-launched it to inform motorists about events taking place on New Zealand roads; this includes road works, accidents, road closures, delays and incidents such as slips and washouts, which are very topical given current weather conditions.

The original web site had generic maps which showed the general area where incidents had occurred, whereas the new site has dynamic maps allowing people to view the incident location on a map at region, suburb or zoom right down to street level.

A pop up window on the map provides in depth information about the incident including its anticipated resolution date and time. The site dynamically updates information every 5 minutes and indicates whether the incident has been verified. The service also includes Future Notifications such as events and other known issues.

“The service will be fully managed by the AA and a call centre which is operational 24/7 will feed public information into the system. The system will also soon have the ability for local authorities to enter information about planned road works,” says GeoSmart’s General Manager Phil Allen.

“AA Roadwatch is about informing motorists so they can make better decisions on the roads, whether it’s’ taking an alternate route or leaving half an hour later.”

AA Roadwatch may be found at http://www.aaroadwatch.co.nz

August 12, 2008 Posted by | driving, driving directions, maps, new zealand, real time traffic, Traffic, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment