Friday, February 3, 2017

Accurate Delivery Times

Project Status: Product Improvement


Customers do not have an accurate time frame when packages will arrive from delivery services such as UPS, DHL and FedEx. Furthermore; drivers are pressured for efficiency and do not want to wait at doors for customers to answer.

On an unrelated note, I did have the idea for the Ring Doorbell way back before they came out with it, glad they did by the way. I always thought this was a cool commercial for them, showing delivery guys knocking and running or simply throwing packages at the door. Enjoy.


Currently the best I have seen is that some companies will let you receive a notification when the package is scanned onto the delivery truck. At that point you basically know that you should receive the package that day, but when exactly is anyone's guess.


This problem is pretty simple to solve actually, I mean we aren't exactly talking about the traveling salesman problem here. Well, I mean it is actually, but it's a pretty small set of destinations to start with and it can always be corrected as the driver moves along the path. In reality we are probably always going to recursively look for the nearest destination from the driver's current position. All packages loaded on the delivery truck are already scanned and all destinations are known. I would assume that drivers are even automatically provided with a delivery route from the company to follow.

Since all of this information is known, it would take very little effort for someone to calculate and provide accurate delivery times for each customer on the route. There are a few ways of doing that effectively, the best probably being to have customers download your app.

An app from the delivery company would have solid control over notifications and updates. However; many people won't want to download an app that they aren't going to use on a regular basis. So another option would be updates via text or email. In this case, in an effort not to spam the customer with texts or emails, the companies would need to guess a little wider window. Then they would follow up with more accurate estimated arrival times when the customer is closer to being the next drop off.


The goal is to let customers have access, if they want it, to estimated arrival times that are accurate within a few minutes rather than within a day. While at the same time speeding up delivery truck driver's workloads by not making them wait as long at each door for customers to answer. This is a win-win for the company and the customers.