How can delivery drivers handle the COVID induced growth of e-commerce?

By Jack Underwood, CEO and Founder of Circuit.

In 2020, the world stood still as an unpredictable COVID-19 rearranged everything we thought we knew. High street retailers began closing their doors to curb the spread of COVID, whilst online retailers found new doors opening as consumers moved their spending online.

According to the  Office for National Statistics (ONS), online sales reached a record high of 22.3% in March 2020 as consumers began purchasing digitally as a result of the pandemic. By the end of 2020, IMRG reported that online retail sales in the UK rose by 36%. Whilst this was exaggerated by COVID, this trend preceded the pandemic, indicating that e-commerce use is likely to continue to rise. 
This has created an influx of opportunities for delivery drivers but also new hurdles for them to overcome. The following tips should help drivers as they seek to manage their daily working hours, whilst taking advantage of this new situation.

Looking after your vehicle

The last thing any driver wants is to be delayed by an issue they could have prevented. By looking after their vehicles, drivers can ensure they run successfully. There are key areas drivers can consider to ensure this such as smooth driving. By changing gears softly and braking smoothly, drivers can mitigate unpredictable break downs. Additionally, by checking your vehicle’s engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid and coolant levels, drivers reduce the probability of mechanical issues. Lastly, driver safety is integral to the vehicle’s maintenance and by carrying out actions such as parking in well lit areas and keeping doors locked when making a delivery, drivers help protect themselves from harm or theft whilst working.

Optimising your route

Route optimisation is the process of finding the most efficient routes when a driver has multiple stops. In planning routes with route optimisation apps, drivers can save both time and fuel by keeping their journey as short as possible. This in turn allows for a greater number of deliveries to be made. When considering which route optimisation tool is best, look into the features it provides, the online rating and of course the cost. How many stops can be input into the app per day? Does it work well with the navigation apps you’re familiar with such as Google Maps and Waze? How easy is it to input addresses and edit your route on the go? These apps often offer a free trial, so drivers can test them out before picking the one that suits their needs best.

Appropriate vehicle packing

Time is of the essence when it comes to delivery and one aspect that is often overlooked is packing the vehicle. However, efficient vehicle loading in accordance with the destination can save drivers a lot of time. One option is to place packages for the first destinations closest to the doors of the vehicle, while another option is to make notes as to what the package looks like on the route planner app. Alternatively, app Circuit Route Planner offers a feature where drivers can detail which of the vehicle’s 12 zones the package has been placed. This feature is projected to save delivery drivers an additional 30 minutes per day on average.

Planning ahead

Whilst this may sound commonplace, experienced drivers may not feel it’s necessary to plan ahead as they are confident to manoeuver a range of routes. However, if there’s anything we can learn from the past year, it’s that anything can happen. It is therefore always sensible to carry out actions such as checking road closures and  moving packages closer to the front of the vehicles ahead of upcoming stops, for swifter transitions. A small two to three minute delay per stop due to a road closure can significantly delay deliveries overall. Planning ahead saves time and stress as drivers can re-plan their routes before getting on the road and risking dispatch delays.

Developing a rapport with the businesses

Creating relationships with businesses is integral to the delivery driver experience. The delivery driver is the last link to the client’s customers and is essentially an extension of the business. Therefore, delivery drivers who treat the route as if it is their own business, with the care and respect that it deserves, will become the most popular hires. Furthermore occasionally issues do arise with delivery, such as unplanned delays and broken goods, and a strong rapport with the business should ensure that the relationship and opportunities stay strong. 
These are just a few ways drivers can mitigate the changes that come with increased online retail to make sure work can be enjoyable and efficient.

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