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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

Free AA Traffic on your Navman MY30 at Dick Smith if You are Quick

This isn’t really what this blog is usually about, but this is such a great deal, that I thought I’d share it with you.

This month, i.e. right now, we have supported a Navman promotion with Dick Smith Electronics. The deal is (while stocks last) that you can buy a Navman MY30 for $266 and they will include a free Lifetime License for AA Traffic. AA Traffic is normally a $129 add on, so this is an awesome deal.

This is a great opportunity to try out AA Real Time Traffic on a nav unit. This is one of the best ways to get AA Traffic. You don’t have to look at a web site like Roadwatch or AA Maps before you go. You don’t have to subscribe to a TXT or Email Alert service. You don’t even have to know where you are going before you get into your car.

People have often said, I know my way around, so I don’t need car navigation. They may well be right, but they don’t know what may be happening on the road ahead.  Does it matter, not if you don’t mind spending hours detouring around an incident or waiting until a road reopens. This week we had a stock truck and trailer roll on State Highway One by Puhoi. AA Traffic started sending out alerts at around 6:30 AM, so traffic heading north who were using AA Traffic didn’t get stuck. Here’s the thing. That road, the main road between Auckland and Northland, didn’t reopen for almost 6 hours! What is 6 hours of your work day worth to you?

This was a bad one, but there are always incidents, roadworks, slips, floods, wandering stock and all manner of issues on our roads. At the time I am writing this blog, we have 479 current incidents and 478 upcoming incidents such as ramp closures, sporting events etc. Here’s a classic situation for you. You go to an evening concert in Auckland City and you’re heading home to the North Shore. You get to Fanshawe St to get on the motorway to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the on-ramp is closed for maintenance, which they deliberately do at night to reduce inconvenience to motorists, but it has to be done. Do you know how to get to an alternative on-ramp? Your car nav does and would have told you when you first got in your car, so you wouldn’t have even tried that entrance.

Smart people who know their way around New Zealand but spend a lot of time on the road will be buying car navigation to be able to access real time traffic so they can avoid accidents and incidents. This deal is only for limited stock, so you need to get to your local Dick Smith Electronics store quick-smart.  The deal is for a Navman MY30 at $266 and AA Traffic (usually $129) is only while stocks last. Great Mother’s Day gift, or for yourself.

Not convinced? If you lost a few hours on 4th of May when SH1 closed by Puhoi, how much was that time worth to your company? Less than $266? How often can you buy a business tool that gives you ROI that quickly? What if you were heading to the airport to catch a plane for a day trip to Wellington or for an overseas business trip or holiday. I’m sure it happened to some people.

Sometimes these incidents are an irritation, sometimes they are major.  With AA Traffic on your car navigation unit, they can very often be avoided entirely.

May 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving, driving directions, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, Traffic, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment