Podfather’s home delivery planning software helps keep household shelves stocked during the Covid-19 crisis

16 Sep 2020
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Here at Podfather we pride ourselves on developing and delivering forward thinking software solutions that help logistics operators tackle the problem of route planning, vehicle tracking, customer ETA notifications and electronic proof of delivery. Our experience stretches back over 20 years but this year, more than any other on record, has seen our home delivery software offering being rolled out by more customers than ever before. The reason, which will come as no surprise, is the impact of COVID-19. Here we share some of our experiences having worked with the many brave and dynamic distribution operators who took the home delivery planning plunge this year.

The Podfather home delivery planning system allows companies to organise how they plan and manage their deliveries. In 2020 many companies faced a big challenge… that of diversification in the face of adversity. In this article, we will look at how Reach Food Service, Smith & Brock, Wright Brothers and Royal Warrant holders Berry Brothers & Rudd have adapted to survive and grow.

Podfather for home delivery planning

The Podfather solution has several pieces of functionality that are of big benefit to home delivery planning operators. Here we look at the top four features that all our home delivery customers benefit from.

Automated home delivery route planning

With Podfather you can upload your job information (via API or csv upload) and use our automated routing engine to create optimised home delivery routes at the touch of a button. Our routing algorithms will automatically consider customer time windows, vehicle capacity and drivers’ hours. Routes are automatically uploaded to drivers via the Podfather smartphone driver app. 

Let us help you communicate with your home delivery customers

Our standard home delivery planning system allows you to send ETA notifications automatically to your customers once you’ve created your route plans. Our ETA messages provide your home delivery customers with a designated time window. Once your drivers have logged in, completed their vehicle checks, and are ready to head out on the road, the Podfather home delivery planning system recalculates customer ETAs and sends an automatic update with a live tracking link.

Real-time delivery tracking

On the day of delivery, you can track home delivery vehicle movements using our driver app which is available in both Android and iOS versions. Your customers will be provided with a live ETA tracking link which enables them to log in and view when their delivery is due to arrive. This is great for customers who don’t want to wait around all day, or time sensitive deliveries, for example fresh meat and seafood, that can’t be left unattended for long. 

Paperless electronic proof of delivery

Podfather's home delivery planning software offering features electronic proof of delivery as standard. Our customers have always been able to capture both electronic signatures and photographs at point of delivery. With social distancing measures in place, photographic delivery of information is more important than ever before. Drivers can take photos once a delivery has been made to a customer's home and upload it, in real-time, back to the transport office. In addition, the Podfather system will send the electronic proof of delivery notification to your customer too….a really handy feature if you are having to leave deliveries unattended.

These are the four main home delivery specific features that our customers are benefitting from most. However, the fact that we offer vehicle checks, an easy to use driver app, customer service tracking screens and invoicing capability makes Podfather a one stop shop solution for today’s home delivery operators. 

Here we look at some of our own customers’ experiences of using the Podfather home delivery planning system.

Smith & Brock

Smith & Brock, the purveyors of premium quality fruit, vegetables and fresh produce to London’s hotels, eateries and schools has launched its new ‘Knock Knock’ home delivery service with job management and customer notifications powered by Podfather. Smith & Brock’s latest venture sees its fleet of 25 vehicles making up to 1,000 deliveries a day to customer homes located throughout the London area. With a company motto of ‘expertly selected, proudly delivered’ Smith & Brock needed to ensure it had the right system in place to meet the company’s delivery service expectations.

“With Podfather we have a simple solution to the complex problem of managing the allocation and execution of deliveries across our fleet,” comments Nick Fowler, Co-Founder of Smith & Brock Ltd. “When we decided to make the move into home delivery it was great to know we already had the right technology in place to ensure the efficient allocation of loads onto our vehicles, and the introduction of ETA notifications for our customers is a great addition to our Podfather solution.”

“The real time visibility that Podfather gives us has some big customer service benefits,” adds Fowler. “Not only can we now automatically notify customers of their ETA once our drivers have completed and logged their vehicle checks and are ready to leave the depot, we can provide real time status updates on the day, while our vehicles are out on the road. This ensures customers are kept informed and are ready to accept their delivery in a safe and timely manner.”

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, is using route planning and proof of delivery technology from Podfather to keep wine deliveries flowing during a period of unprecedented demand. Based in London, Berry Bros. & Rudd supply a wide selection of carefully selected fine wines to customers across the UK. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the Berry Bros. & Rudd operation has seen an upsurge in home delivery orders as well as high demand from the supermarkets it supplies.

“The COVID-19 situation has meant our delivery model is currently focused on home deliveries and has temporarily shifted away from supplying wines to restaurants and hotels,” comments Matt Anderson, Head of Operations at Berry Bros. & Rudd. “We pride ourselves on delivering exceptional product and first-class service.  Podfather has really helped us maintain a well-planned and managed home delivery service during these challenging times.”

Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers, the quality-led seafood specialist, has introduced Podfather’s route planning, customer notification and electronic proof of delivery software to help plan and manage its wholesale and home delivery operations. With vehicles making hundreds of deliveries every week to iconic chefs, hotels, restaurants and customer homes in the Greater London area, the Wright Brothers team needed a robust solution capable of getting premium products to the right place in the most time, cost and resource efficient manner. 

The Wright Brothers team now rely on Podfather to help plan and manage delivery planning and execution processes. Orders are uploaded from Microsoft Dynamics 365 straight into Podfather, via the system’s robust API. Podfather calculates a two-hour delivery time window for each customer and automatically generates an email notification which is sent out from Podfather via email. “Our customers love the time slot notifications that Podfather enables us to send out,” adds Wright. “Premium seafood products need to be kept refrigerated so it’s great that our customers know when their delivery is expected so they can be there to accept it in person.”

Lessons Learned

So, what have we, and our customers learnt during this period of difficulty? 

Dare to adapt

All businesses have had to learn to adapt, and at Podfather we are no different. When it comes to home delivery it’s safe to say that the current boom is here to stay. We all need to embrace different ways of working.

Let software providers share the burden

Making the step from b2b to b2c home delivery can seem daunting. Help is at the hand in the form of Podfather’s home delivery planning functionality... together we can help you embrace the home delivery challenges ahead.

Reach out to your network for help

You are not alone. We have seen great camaraderie from within our own customer base as complimentary businesses pull together and share experiences to help survive during these trying times. 

For anyone looking to find out more about how Podfather’s route planning, customer notification and electronic proof of delivery software could be helping to either launch, or grow, a home delivery business give us a call today on tel: +44 (0) 131 553 0400.