As the American economy navigates the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries need to adapt with their changing environments. With quarantine and lockdown measures in place in most cities, many companies have changed their business models to serve customers via home delivery over brick-and-mortar establishments. Sadly, this shift came too quickly for many small business owners, and dreams of some self-made enterprises vanished.
In this evolving commerce climate, route optimization software company Straightaway faced a difficult decision. Should it focus its resources on the planned expansions for major shipping and delivery carriers, or switch gears for mom-and-pop shops looking to stay afloat amid the pandemic? Straightaway chose the latter, and the rewards have far outweighed the risks.
How does Straightaway help small businesses?
Straightaway is a route delivery planner that leverages Mapbox technologies to create the best routes for delivery drivers. With its industry-leading optimization algorithm, Straightaway will map the most stops in the fastest route possible, saving your company time, fuel, and money. Every small business needs an advantage, and for delivery service, Straightaway is the answer.
From Fleets to Farmers: The New Clientele in the “COVID Economy”
Straightaway was originally designed as a delivery route planner for the major shipping and delivery companies, mainly FedEx, UPS, Amazon, DHL, and USPS. By simply snapping a photo of the address manifest, drivers were instantly given a completely optimized route map fully integrated with turn-by-turn navigation. With a superior algorithm and real-time adjustments to routes for drivers, Straightaway was making a name for itself in the delivery industry.
The rise of the gig economy, however, presented a new market for route optimization applications. Now millions of Americans who were not delivery professionals by trade were in need of route navigation mapping for delivering food, packages, and parcels directly to homes. And this need would amplify with the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing businesses to utilize delivery services over their brick-and-mortar shops in the wake of lockdown measures.
Examples of this new market are seen in industries such as restaurants, real estate, and farmers’ markets. In Portland, the COVID-19 lockdowns forced a local taqueria to find an alternative to serving guests in its restaurant. While takeout had always existed, the taqueria now had to serve 100% of its guests via home delivery- a business model it was not prepared for. In order to deliver signature plates like their hot tamales in a timely manner, the taqueria needed a route planner to optimize their delivery schedule to keep the food fresh and the customers happy, and Straightaway became the answer.
Another example of new clients can be seen in the real estate industry, where social distancing measures caused companies to find new approaches to showing off homes without actually hosting potential buyers in person. For real estate agents, this now meant making house calls to show off virtual tours of homes and buildings to clients rather than hosting multiple parties at once at the actual location. To maintain a healthy volume of potential buyers, salespeople needed to optimize their routes to visit as many clients as possible throughout the day, and Straightaway became the answer.
In addition to the gig economy, the farm-to-table movement (whereby people could subscribe to receive locally sourced food from local farms) was also in need of route mapping solutions. With the pandemic forcing many local farmers’ markets to close physical locations, farmers needed new ways to sell food to families in their area. Milk Run, a subscription-based delivery service that connects residents with locally sourced-food, was up for the task, but not sure how to handle the greater volume of deliveries. The operation was in place, but Milk Run needed a solution allowing them to take on more business without incurring the costs of hiring more and more drivers. And again, Straightaway became the answer.
Preparing for the “New Normal” of Ecommerce in 2021
While Straightaway still plans to roll out new enterprise sales motions for fleets in the future, the 2020 holiday shopping season demands a focus on smaller delivery operations. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday sales are being staggered by retailers in attempts to mitigate the spike in sales so supply chains do not become overwhelmed. Now more than ever, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and others are hiring new delivery drivers for the season, and optimizing their operations is key. New drivers may burn out quickly if the experience is unsatisfactory, so providing a fully-integrated route planner is critical for streamlining deliveries.
Even after the biggest holiday rush ever is over, 2021 may usher in a new normal for gig workers and small delivery operations. One noticeable effect of the pandemic is the use of online delivery services by older demographics of the population. Many seniors and middle-aged Americans who never used Amazon Fresh or Instacart for grocery deliveries before the pandemic will convert to regular customers going forward as their buying habits change. While the demand for delivery services will decrease as the holiday season closes and a vaccine may end the COVID-19 pandemic, a new install base of consumers may lessen the drop-off.
Whether you are a fleet manager or a sole proprietor in 2021, there is a route planner built to make your operations run smoothly. Don’t go the extra mile. Go Straightway.