The distribution landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace. Customer demands are changing, and profit margins are under constant pressure. In this rapidly transforming business environment, companies need to reevaluate their distribution operations continually.

One crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed is the efficiency of routing and mobile solutions. Are your current tools up to the task, or are they holding you back?

In this article, we'll explore the challenges faced by distribution businesses and provide tips on when and why you should consider replacing your existing software.

Female route planner looks at route on desktop screen

The Changing Distribution Landscape

Traditional distribution models, which have served companies well for years, are facing unprecedented challenges. Here's what's happening:

Changing Customer Demands

Customers today expect faster deliveries, more customization, and better communication. Adapting to these demands is a top priority for distribution businesses.

Tight Profit Margins

As competition intensifies, maintaining healthy profit margins is tougher than ever. Operating with efficiency and reducing costs is essential.

New Business Models

Companies are exploring innovative ways to serve customers, such as same-day delivery, subscription services, and last-mile delivery solutions.

Signs It's Time for a Change

To determine if your routing and mobile solutions are still up to the task, consider the following indicators:

1. Network reroutes are infrequent:

If making changes to your distribution network is a Herculean task, it's a sign that your current solutions lack flexibility.

2. Manual Route Adjustments:

Are your route planners manually creating routes rather than leveraging your system's optimization capabilities? This might indicate an underutilized tool.

3. Inflexible Solutions:

If you have innovative delivery models and services you want to implement but can't due to your existing solution's limitations, it's time to consider making the switch.

4. Constant System Workarounds:

If your route planners and dispatchers are always working outside your planning system to make last-minute changes, it's a red flag. Real-time adaptability is key.

5. Customer Service Issues:

If your ability to respond swiftly and accurately to last-minute orders or customer order changes is hampered, it can result in customer dissatisfaction.

6. Driver Deviations:

When drivers regularly change delivery sequences because they believe route plans are infeasible or time-consuming, your efficiency is at stake.

7. Uncertain Delivery Times:

Guesstimating delivery service times can lead to poor resource allocation and customer frustration.

8. Lack of Driver Progress Visibility:

Real-time visibility into driver progress is crucial for efficient operations. If you lack this visibility, it can lead to inefficiencies.

9. Multiple Apps for Drivers:

Juggling multiple mobile apps or a lack of necessary tools for your drivers can impact their efficiency and job satisfaction.

10. Poor Performance Metrics:

The inability to measure plan versus actual route performance or individual driver performance hampers your ability to optimize operations.

11. Outdated On-Premise Solutions:

If your routing solution is on-premise and hasn't been updated for years due to a lack of skills, it's time to modernize.

12. Incompatible Migration Path:

If your vendor is moving to the cloud, and there's no straightforward path to migrate from your on-premise solution, future compatibility may be at risk.

13. Decline in Support and Enhancements:

A steady decline in support and the number of product enhancements over the years can limit your competitive edge.


The distribution world is undergoing a dramatic change right now. It's essential to continuously evaluate the efficacy of your routing and mobile solutions if you want to grow and adapt in this shifting environment. Making educated decisions about when and why to pursue a replacement for your present solutions will help you identify the warning signals that they may be holding you back.

In the end, your distribution technology ought to facilitate rather than obstruct. Investing in contemporary, flexible routing and mobile solutions that enable your organization to expand and adapt is crucial if you want to stay competitive, meet changing client demands, and keep healthy profit margins.

Ready to unlock the full potential of your distribution operations? Contact one of Descartes' solutions experts today to discover which solutions are tailor-made for your business needs. Don't let outdated technology hold you back – take the first step towards a more efficient and competitive future. Get in touch now.

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