We’re here to help! We actually understand courier business models, unlike massive review sites which cover everything from email marketing to accounting to workforce management. In this review we’ll look at the best options for the two main types of courier business:
On-demand delivery: customers turn to on-demand delivery services when speed is the most important thing. They could be sending lab samples or legal documents, or need a critical machine part at the last minute. On-demand couriers need software that can help them schedule a series of pickups and deliveries across a city, and get from place to place as quickly as possible.
Batched deliveries: When there’s time to assemble a group of orders, delivery companies have the ability to batch them so that one vehicle can make a series of deliveries in a pre-planned route. This is much more cost-effective for everyone, especially if the delivery business uses route optimization software to make more deliveries per route.
Batched deliveries are usually next-day or later, but with the right delivery management system in place it’s possible to do same-day batched deliveries as well. Routific’s customer Trunkrs in the Netherlands, for example, picks up parcels in the morning, optimizes routes around midday and then delivers in the afternoon and evening.
Top features that all courier software should offer
Whatever kind of courier you are, there is some software functionality that is non-negotiable:
Real-time driver tracking: Knowing where your vehicles are, without drivers needing to call in, makes for much more efficient delivery scheduling.
Customer notifications: Today’s customers want to know when their delivery is arriving, within a 60-minute window or even less. If there’s a delay, they expect updated ETAs. Delivering a great customer experience is a competitive advantage.
Proof of delivery: You need to be able to prove the package was delivered to the customer in good order. Signatures and photographs are the most commonly used proofs of delivery.
Reporting: End-of-shift or end-of-day reports are essential for billing and payroll management.
For last-mile delivery operations that do batched deliveries, route optimization is also critical. Gross margins for batched deliveries are massively impacted by routing efficiency, so the right routing engine can make a big difference to profitability.
Optional courier software features
Depending on your business model and what other software you are using, you may or may not need your courier management system to include:
Billing and invoicing
Every feature you add will add to the cost of your system, so it’s important to find a courier dispatch software solution that can grow with your business, but doesn’t include unnecessary features.
For example, if you already have order taking and customer management software, you need a courier app that integrates with those systems to make information transfer easy. You don’t need a duplicate of those systems.
Best courier software for batched deliveries
1. Routific: Best for route optimization and ease of use
Cost per delivery is the most important metric for any courier business to track, because it directly determines profitability. There’s nothing you can do about fuel costs, and lowering driver wages isn’t really an option if you still want drivers! That leaves route efficiency as the most important influence on profit margins: the more deliveries you can make per route, the better.
Route optimization uses smart algorithms to quickly sort through thousands of routing options and find the most efficient ones. But not all route optimization algorithms are equally good. In our tests, Routific’s routes can be 15-20% shorter than the competition’s for the same set of stops. A 15% difference in distance driven per day can translate into a massive gross margin difference!
Optimal routes should also make as much sense to your drivers as they do to the algorithm, because driver management is a big part of running a courier business. We’ve learned that drivers really hate “spaghetti routes” which overlap and criss-cross each other – even if the computer says they’re efficient, to a human eye they look wasteful and stupid. That can cause people to lose faith in the system. Then you get, at best, lots of grumbling — and at worse, people override the system and plan their own routes. That’s why, as we refine our algorithms at Routific, driver acceptability, with routes that are cleanly clustered, is one of our most important measures of a good route.
Our customers also love that Routific is easy to use (lots of people mention our dispatch button and driver app), and our friendly and accessible support.
All in all, Routific is a great option for next-day courier services that can plan routes in advance. We don’t offer barcode scanning, real-time chat inside our app or label printing, so if those are important to you, Routific might not suit your needs.
Our cloud-based app is free to try for 7 days – no credit card or phone number needed, and no limits on the number of routes or stops!
Pricing: Starts at $49 per vehicle per month, or $59 per vehicle per month for GPS tracking and proof of delivery features. Automated customer notifications via email or SMS are $19 per vehicle per month. Per-stop pricing is also available.
2. Workwave: Best for reloading at a depot and barcode scanning
Workwave offers barcode scanning and order taking. We’ve also heard from users who like the feature that allows a driver to reload at a depot so they can complete more than one delivery batch per day. Routific doesn’t offer any of these features yet, so Workwave is a good option if these are things you need.
On the other hand, we’ve heard that Workwave can be difficult to use – in particular, that the optimized routes need a lot of manual adjustment and that it’s very hard to do this. Some users have said it’s expensive. Inaccuracy of geocoding is another big problem that we've heard. One of our customers mentioned that they sent their driver to the wrong side of town, only to realize that it wasn't geolocating to the right address.
Workwave doesn’t offer any kind of free trial, so you will have to contact them for a demo to find out more.
Pricing: Not public, you will have to arrange a demo to find out.
3. OptimoRoute: Best for reloading at depot
OptimoRoute has lots of advanced routing functionality including the ability to schedule reloading at a depot. Like Routific, it doesn’t include barcode scanning or order taking functionality.
In our own tests, OptimoRoute was easy to use, although some of the advanced features were hard to figure out. Route optimization was fast — but there was lots of overlap between routes and it was difficult to make manual edits. They also offer a “breadcrumb” feature that tracks vehicle movements so you can compare actual vs planned routes.
They offer a generous 30-day free trial, but it’s limited to 250 stops so it’s hard to assess how performance will scale.
Pricing: Starts at $35 per vehicle per month with a limit of 700 orders, or $44 per month for up to 1,000 orders, real-time tracking and proof of delivery. Custom pricing for more complex needs is also available.
4. Route4Me: Best for customization
Route4Me is one of the original route planning and route optimization tools, and it has a well-developed marketplace of add-on features. This means it’s easy to add custom features like support for curbside pickup, avoiding left or right turns, or e-commerce integrations.
On the other hand, from a pure route efficiency point of view Route4Me’s algorithm is among the weakest we’ve tested, with routes up to 30% longer than competitors. We’ve also heard from users that it can be difficult to use, and that it’s fairly common for vehicles to be sent to the wrong addresses.
Like Routific, they offer a 7-day free trial with unlimited functionality.
Pricing: Starts at $319 per month, but that will only optimize single-driver routes. If you want to optimize multiple routes at once, the price is $479 per month. Features like customer notifications and delivery time windows are add-ons that will increase the cost. Adding time windows, for example, will cost an extra $79 per month.
Best courier software for on-demand dispatching
On-demand delivery is super convenient for customers, but more expensive and difficult to manage for couriers. The main reason is that when you’re doing on-demand delivery it’s much more difficult to batch deliveries and increase the number of deliveries per hour.
5. Onfleet: Best for mid-market and enterprise
Onfleet started out as an on-demand dispatch solution, and their auto-assign feature enables fast turnaround times. Communication is also easy – dispatchers and drivers particularly like the live chat option inside their driver app.
Onfleet is one of the more costly courier software solutions, so it’s not as suitable for small businesses. We also found the route planning functions very difficult to use. The interface doesn’t show actual routes, and you can only view one route at a time so it’s hard to make changes. There’s also no timeline view.
Onfleet does offer a 14-day free trial, but you will need to give your phone number and credit card details.
Pricing: Starts at $500 per month with a limit of 2,000 pickup/delivery tasks. Barcode scanning, age verification and 5,000 pickup/delivery tasks start at $1,150 per month. Custom pricing is available for enterprise customers.
6. OnTime 360: Best for those who want all-in-one courier management software
OnTime 360 is the only solution in this list that does everything including order taking, label printing, barcode scanning and billing and invoicing (a lot of users mention the integration with QuickBooks). It has a web portal so customers can create their own orders and log in to check progress.
Users also mention ease of use and good support as benefits of using OnTime 360.
On the downside, some users report that it can be expensive, and they end up paying for features they don’t use (on their website, the list of features is very long and not easy to understand). The routing functionality is pretty basic, which can cost a courier business a lot of money. What they call “advanced route optimization” requires the purchase of extra credits, and there’s a limit of 300 stops.
They offer a 14-day free trial.
Pricing: Starts at $39 per month for a limited feature set. Route scheduling and the Quickbooks integration are only available from the Professional tier plans at $129 per month. There’s a $99 account activation fee for all plans.
7. Track-POD: Best courier system for small business
Track-POD offers the same features as OnTime360 except for billing and invoicing. Users rate it higher than OnTime 360 for ease of use and value for money, which makes it a better bet for smaller courier delivery companies who need on-demand dispatch features.
Users also mention Track-POD’s route visibility, notifications, live tracking and proof of delivery features. It’s an integrated solution that makes it easy for small couriers to automate and streamline their workflows.
On the downside, users mention that it’s hard to edit routes and that the driver mobile app can be confusing, with different Android and iOS mobile versions. The driver apps also come at an extra cost, where most of their competitors offer these free.
The 7-day free trial doesn’t need a credit card, but you will need to give a phone number.
Pricing: Track-POD offers its core proof of delivery feature (including barcode scanning, signature and photo capture) for just $29 per driver per month. Order management, a driver app, notifications and analytics are included for $49 per vehicle per month. Route planning and live tracking are only available on the Advanced Plus plan starting at $69 per vehicle per month.
Pam Sykes has a PhD in History and a background in Journalism. She is the Lead Content Strategist at Routific with a focus on delivery management, delivery experience, route planning, and the last-mile industry in general. She has a passion to help delivery businesses scale with her craft of storytelling.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best courier software?
There’s no single “best” courier software – it depends on your business needs. On-demand courier services need software that optimizes driver assignment, live tracking and efficient communication. For batched and scheduled deliveries, delivery management software that include route planning and route optimization features is critical.
What is the difference between courier software and parcel shipping software?
Courier software is for courier companies – that is, companies whose whole business is arranging to pick up and deliver packages for their customers. Parcel shipping software is more often used by e-commerce companies who need a service to get goods delivered to their customer. It often includes the ability to choose between different courier services.
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