The Road to Efficiency with Descartes

"With such a high level of scheduling optimization and routing efficiency, we were able to move from a five-day work plan to a four-day plan. We’ve not only been able to increase service frequency to our accounts within a shorter time frame but we’ve essentially gained an extra day each week. Our reps are loving it!"

-Rachel Hood, Director of Route Management, Solaray LLC

Solaray, America’s sunglass company, required a route optimization and scheduling solution to distribute eyewear and other merchandise to a complex network of retail locations. The company implemented Descartes Route Planner™ On-demand with strategic route modelling capabilities to streamline its Direct Store Delivery (DSD) program, increasing driver efficiency, reducing transportation costs, and taking customer service to new heights.

The Challenge: Lack of Automation Impedes Operational Performance

Solaray’s service representatives distribute sunglasses, wireless accessories, lighters, and gift and apparel items on a weekly basis to 25,000+ retail locations across the U.S. The company’s four-week routing plans, formulated manually using a wall-mounted map, were hindering its customer service efforts. Hampered by a long planning horizon and lack of real-time visibility, Solaray was unable to inform customers precisely when to expect deliveries. In addition, drivers endured long weeks of driving with significant fuel expenses. Solaray required an automated routing and scheduling solution to optimize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its DSD program.

The Solution: Strategic Routing Drives Savings

As part of its DSD program, Solaray service representatives deliver sunglasses and other merchandise to convenience stores, travel centers, gas stations, and truck stops across the U.S. each week. Working with a 28-day plan, Solaray uses Descartes’ strategic route modelling capabilities to determine the most cost-effective routing for distribution of merchandise to its retail network. Strategic routing plans are seamlessly integrated with Descartes Route Planner™ On-demand to manage the company’s day-to-day execution of deliveries for 56 service representatives.

Using the Descartes solution, Solaray increased operational performance by reducing the number of miles driven, decreasing the overall cost per stop, and increasing the service frequency for its customers. By achieving such a high level of routing efficiency, the company was able to shorten its delivery work week from five to four days. In addition, Solaray added 200 more stores to its territory since implementing the Descartes system.

“The Descartes solution helps us move our merchandise to our customers more quickly and efficiently while achieving enviable transportation savings,” said Rachel Hood, Solaray’s Director of Route Management. “A savings of 30 miles per week per service rep translates to more than 80,000 fewer miles driven each year. At this rate, the addition of another 100 service reps will triple our transportation savings.”

The Descartes route planning solution also gave Solaray the ability to visualize drivers on their routes. With real-time visibility into the daily activities of its service reps, the company can now provide delivery status updates and better manage customer enquiries.

The Results

Increased productivity

With more efficient route planning and optimized scheduling, Solaray was able to add approximately 200 stores to its territory while simultaneously eliminating an entire day from the delivery week, moving from a 5-day work plan to a 4-day plan.

Significant Cost Savings

Due to more efficient routing, the Descartes solution reduced overall driver mileage and fuel consumption. With less time spent driving and more stops per route, Solaray’s 56 service reps are saving 80,000+ miles annually.

Heightened Customer Service

With Descartes, Solaray increased delivery frequency to its customers while providing more consistent service. Real-time visibility of drivers enroute enabled Solaray to manage customer delivery expectations and proactively resolve issues.

Improved Visibility

By replacing its manual system with Descartes, Solaray can track and monitor the status of its service representatives in the field in real-time, increasing driver accountability and productivity and keeping customers informed of delivery status.