13 minute read

The 7 Best Shortest Route Planner Apps in 2023

Without a shortest route planner, delivery drivers run the risk of missed delivery windows and high operational costs. Here's a list of the best on the market

If you’re a delivery driver, you know how frustrating traffic congestion can be. It can lead to missed delivery windows, dissatisfied customers, and increased operational costs. In addition, inefficient routing can disrupt your overall delivery schedule.

Finding the shortest route can make a significant difference in the timely delivery of goods while minimizing fuel consumption.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to your problems: a route planner. You can use several route planner apps to find the shortest and least congested route, saving time, energy, and fuel.

This article will explore route planners, what they offer, and how to find the shortest route planner that fits your specific needs.

Note: Circuit route planner is saving delivery drivers 20+ hours a month by finding the shortest route. Try it free for 14 days

What is the difference between the fastest route and the shortest route?

When using a route planner, you’ll probably come across two common terms: fastest and shortest routes. Understanding them before setting off on a delivery or a trip is essential.

Let’s explore these terms further and identify the key differences between them.

Fastest delivery routes

The fastest delivery routes are the routes that allow delivery drivers to reach their destination in the shortest amount of time possible while still ensuring timely delivery.

These routes depend on several factors, including: 

  • Speed limit
  • Traffic flow
  • Road conditions

Routes that prioritize the fastest delivery times consider speed limits on different roads. Faster roads, such as highways or expressways with higher speed limits, may be favored over roads with lower speed limits to reduce overall travel time.

Another factor to consider is current traffic conditions, including congestion, road closures, and traffic patterns. Real-time traffic data can be used to avoid heavily congested areas and select alternate routes that allow for smoother traffic flow and faster deliveries.

The condition of the roads, such as construction zones, potholes, or other obstacles, can also affect the speed and efficiency of deliveries. Route planning should consider road conditions to avoid routes with delays or obstacles that can slow down deliveries.

Shortest delivery routes

The shortest delivery routes are the routes that cover the least amount of distance between the starting point and the destination.

The shortest delivery routes prioritize the most direct path between the starting point and the destination. You can avoid unnecessary detours or deviations from the straight-line distance whenever possible.

These routes may involve selecting courses with fewer turns or avoiding unnecessary loops or backtracking.

Efficiently planning for turnaround time, such as minimizing time spent making turns or navigating complex intersections, can help you optimize delivery routes for the shortest distance traveled.

What is a shortest route planner?

A shortest route planner is a technology or software designed to optimize and plan the most efficient routes for delivery drivers or anyone else traveling.

It considers factors such as distance, traffic conditions, delivery time windows, and vehicle restrictions to provide the quickest and most cost-effective route to reach multiple destinations in a single trip.

Route planning technology for delivery drivers typically involves mapping software that uses advanced algorithms to calculate the shortest or most optimized routes based on the input data provided.

Data may include the starting point, destination addresses, delivery priorities, and time constraints.

A route planner helps to minimize the time spent on the road by providing the most efficient routes, avoiding detours and unnecessary backtracking.

This helps you complete deliveries in less time, increases your productivity, and reduces overall operating costs.

Optimized routes allow you to visit more destinations in a single trip, increasing their capacity to handle more deliveries. This can result in higher customer satisfaction as deliveries are made with minimal delays.

A route planner can help to reduce fuel consumption, vehicle wear and tear, and labor costs by providing efficient routes that minimize unnecessary mileage and driving time.

Route planners often also provide real-time updates on traffic conditions, weather, and other factors that may impact delivery routes, allowing you to make informed decisions and adapt their routes accordingly.

Key features of shortest route planners 

Shortest route planners can help you find the most efficient route between two or more locations, with the primary goal of reducing travel time and distance.

A good route planner such as Circuit Route Planner offers several valuable features to help you determine the shortest route possible for your deliveries.

Some of the app’s features include:

  • Real-time traffic: The route planner may utilize real-time traffic data to provide you with up-to-date information on traffic conditions, road closures, and congestion, which helps you avoid traffic jams and select alternative routes to minimize delays.
  • Alternate route suggestions: The app may offer alternate routes based on distance, time constraints, and delivery priorities. Multiple options allow you to choose the most optimized route that fits your needs, considering variables such as delivery time windows, customer preferences, and vehicle restrictions.
  • Estimated time of arrival (ETA): The app may provide accurate estimated time of arrival (ETA) calculations based on real-time traffic data and other variables. These variables help you better manage your time and communicate exact delivery expectations to customers.
  • GPS integration: It may integrate with GPS devices or apps commonly used, such as Google Maps, Waze, or other navigation systems. GPS allows for seamless use and navigation during deliveries, with the route planner providing optimized routes.
  • Customizable settings: The route planner may also allow for the customization of settings, such as preferred routes, delivery time windows, and vehicle profiles.

7 shortest route planner apps 

Finding the right route planner app saves time and reduces costs. They allow you to streamline your operations, increasing efficiency and enhancing customer service.

Here are some of the best shortest route planner apps available in the market, with various features and functionalities for optimizing your route.

Circuit Route Planner

Circuit Route Planner is one of the best route planner apps for delivery drivers and couriers. It helps you optimize your multi-stop routes to save time, reduce fuel costs, and increase efficiency.

Circuit Route Planner is web-based, so you can access it with an internet connection, making it convenient to use on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop while on the go.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Offers multi-stop routes by considering factors such as time window, delivery address, and vehicle capacity
  • Allows real-time tracking of planned routes and delivery progress
  • Provides analytics to measure variables like distance traveled, time spent on the road, and delivery success rates
  • Allows you to choose how long you spend at each stop
  • Offers dynamic route planning according to your specific deliveries of the day

Cons:

  • The free version is limited, offering only ten stops.
  • It requires an internet connection, creating issues in areas with poor connectivity.
  • Has no in-built navigation system. You may need to use additional software like Google Maps or Waze.

Optimize your delivery route and get home earlier with Circuit Route Planner. Click here to download now.

Upper

Upper Route Planner is a web-based route optimization tool designed for delivery drivers and fleet managers to plan efficient routes for multiple stops. You can access the app on your phone, tablet, or laptop with an internet connection.

Upper has a 7-day free trial. It offers several packages, including Essentials, Growth, and Enterprise. It also allows you to import Excel files, allowing up to 500 stops per list.

Pros:

  • Allows you to share planned routes with team members and colleagues for better communication
  • Optimizers route and generates proof of delivery so you can keep a record
  • Customizable settings according to vehicle type

Cons:

  • Requires an internet connection, so works poorly in areas with connectivity issues
  • Has limited free options and requires upgrading to a package for better features

TomTom GO Navigation

TomTom GO Navigation is a mobile app navigation tool that provides drivers with real-time traffic updates, route planning, and voice-guided navigation.

It offers a range of features designed to make driving easier and more efficient, including offline maps, speed camera alerts, and support for multiple waypoints.

TomTom GO Navigation offers price bundles with advanced features such as speed camera alerts, live fuel pricing information, and parking availabilities.

Pros:

  • Offline maps for use in areas with limited internet connectivity
  • Advanced lane guidance to help you navigate complex intersections and highway junctions
  • Speed camera alerts to help you stay compliant with speed limits and avoid fines
  • Offers a comprehensive database of points of interest for easy location search

Cons:

  • Some advanced features, such as speed camera alerts and fuel price information, require a paid subscription
  • The app may use significant amounts of data and battery life, mainly when using advanced features
  • Some users have reported occasional inaccuracies in map data or routing suggestions

HERE WeGo

HERE WeGo is a free mobile navigation app available on both Android and iOS devices. It offers benefits such as offline maps, multiple transportation modes, real-time traffic updates, voice-guided directions, and multi-stop route planning.

It also provides live public transit information, such as departure times, delays, and platform information, making planning your deliveries easier.

Pros:

  • Features like offline maps, multiple transportation modes, and customizable route preferences help you plan your routes based on your needs.
  • Real-time traffic updates, live public transit information, real-time fuel prices, and live weather information help you stay informed.
  • Voice-guided directions and multi-stop route planning allow you to focus on driving while getting step-by-step directions.

Cons:

  • Some users have reported occasional inaccuracies in the app's routing.
  • A cluttered user interface, making it difficult to access navigation tools

Apple Maps

Apple Maps is a native navigation app developed by Apple for iOS devices, and it offers several benefits for delivery drivers.

Apple Maps is seamlessly integrated with other Apple services, such as Siri, Apple CarPlay, and iCloud, providing a seamless and cohesive experience for anyone who uses Apple devices.

The app emphasizes user privacy by anonymizing and encrypting location data. It doesn't store or associate search history or location data with Apple ID, making it a privacy-friendly option.

It also includes indoor maps for shopping malls, airports, and other indoor locations, making navigating within large complexes and locating specific destinations easier.

Pros

  • Offers accurate maps and directions, real-time traffic information, and points of interest like restaurants and landmarks
  • Its indoor maps feature allows delivery drivers to navigate within large complexes like shopping malls and airports.

Cons

  • Limited availability on non-Apple devices and platforms
  • May not have as many advanced features as other navigation apps, such as route optimization or multi-stop route planning.

Waze

Waze is a popular navigation app known for its community-based approach to navigation. Waze provides real-time traffic updates based on user-generated data, allowing you to avoid traffic congestion and take alternate routes for faster deliveries.

Waze relies on user-generated information, such as accidents, road closures, and hazards, which other Waze users report in real-time. This helps you stay informed about road conditions and decide the best route.

Pros:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Provides real-time traffic updates, allowing you to avoid traffic congestion
  • Provides information on gas prices and nearby places, such as restaurants, gas stations, and parking lots, so you can plan your stops during deliveries
  • Offers a speedometer feature to monitor your speed limit
  • It can be integrated with other apps, such as Spotify, to listen to music.

Cons:

  • User-generated information may not always be accurate or up-to-date.
  • Doesn’t have a proper route planning service, so you may need to use a different app like Circuit Route Planner.
  • It only gives you the option to add two stops maximum.

Google Maps

Google Maps is a widely used navigation app with various features that benefit delivery drivers. Some benefits of using Google Maps include accurate navigation, multiple route options, and voice-guided navigation.

It offers multiple route options based on different criteria, such as the shortest distance, fastest time, and avoiding tolls or highways.

Additionally, Google Maps offers a street view and satellite imagery, allowing you to visually assess your delivery locations before arriving, helping you better identify specific entrances or areas within large complexes.

Finally, Google Maps has a user-friendly interface that is easy to use, even for those with limited technical expertise, making it accessible to many users.

Pros

  • Compatible with both Android and iOS devices
  • User-friendly and popular interface
  • Provides accurate and up-to-date maps and directions, making it easy for you to navigate to your destinations
  • Has a variety of transportation modes, including driving, walking, and public transit
  • Offers voice-guided navigation, allowing you to drive hands-free 

Cons

  • It requires an internet connection, making it less reliable in areas with poor network coverage
  • The app can use a significant amount of data, which may be a concern if you have limited data plans
  • It may prioritize main roads over side streets or shortcuts.
  • Limited stops options

Tips for the shortest route planning

Here are some strategies which can help you optimize your delivery routes and streamline your operations.

Plan your journey ahead of time

Planning your journey is crucial for delivery drivers to ensure efficient and successful deliveries.

Checking traffic conditions before departure allows you to avoid potential delays due to traffic congestion. It helps you choose the best routes with minimal traffic, ensuring on-time deliveries.

Knowing the traffic conditions in advance allows you to adjust your delivery schedule accordingly. You can plan your routes to avoid peak traffic hours or congested areas.

Many shortest route planner apps allow you to set up waypoints and destinations, which can help you plan the most efficient route with multiple stops.

Setting up waypoints and destinations in advance helps you navigate smoothly during your deliveries. Route planner apps can provide turn-by-turn directions, helping you stay on track and save time and effort.

Avoid peak traffic hours

Avoiding peak traffic hours is a smart strategy for delivery drivers to save time and fuel and ensure timely deliveries.

Different areas may have different traffic patterns throughout the day. For example, rush hours in urban areas tend to be in the morning and evening when people commute to and from work.

By identifying these high-traffic times, you can plan your deliveries accordingly to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.

Local events, road closures, or construction work can significantly impact traffic flow. Stay updated with local news or traffic alerts to identify any such events that may affect your delivery routes.

Many shortest route planner apps or navigation tools provide historical traffic data, giving you insights into typical traffic patterns on specific days or times. Utilize this data to plan your deliveries to avoid peak traffic hours.

Traffic congestion increases fuel consumption due to idling, stop-and-go driving, and extended travel times. By avoiding peak traffic hours, you can save on fuel costs and reduce your environmental impact.

Make use of traffic prediction

Traffic prediction can be a valuable tool for drivers to optimize their routes and ensure faster deliveries.

They can also consider time-of-day considerations, such as rush hour or other peak traffic periods. Adjusting your routes based on these predictions can help you avoid unnecessary delays and keep your deliveries on schedule.

Many navigation apps or route planner tools provide real-time traffic updates that alert you to any unexpected delays or road conditions that may affect your planned route. Use these updates to make on-the-fly adjustments to your path, avoiding traffic bottlenecks.

Opt for alternative transportation

Opting for alternative transportation methods can be a practical approach for delivery drivers.

You can use buses, trams, or subways to transport goods in urban areas with well-developed public transportation systems.

Alternative transportation can be cost-effective and environmentally friendly, especially in dense urban areas where parking may be limited or costly.

Route planner tools or navigation apps can provide information on bus or subway schedules, stops, and routes to help you efficiently navigate the city and make timely deliveries.

For deliveries within a short radius, consider using a bicycle or walking as an alternative transportation method, which is also convenient and eco-friendly.

When using cycling or walking as a transportation method, prioritize safety. Follow traffic rules, wear appropriate safety gear, and be cautious of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists around you.

Customizing route preferences

Customizing route preferences is an essential aspect of route planning, as it allows you to tailor your routes to your specific needs, like avoiding highways.

Here are some ways to customize your route preferences.

Setting personal preferences

Some route planner apps allow you to set preferences for tolls and highways. If you want to minimize toll costs or avoid highway fees, you can avoid toll roads or highways.

If time is a priority and you must make deliveries quickly, you can prioritize toll roads or highways. These routes may be shorter and faster but may come with associated costs.

On the other hand, scenic routes can be an excellent option if you appreciate a more enjoyable driving experience or want to avoid monotonous routes.

These routes may be more enjoyable during off-peak periods when lighter traffic allows you to fully appreciate the panoramic views without affecting your delivery timeline.

Whichever route you choose, ensure it has minimal traffic congestion and detours to optimize fuel efficiency and save money.

Saving and sharing routes

Saving and sharing routes can be helpful to feature in route planning for delivery drivers.

Identify pathways you frequently use for deliveries, such as regular customer locations or common delivery points, and save them as favorites in the app.

Moreover, collaborative route planning can benefit teams of delivery drivers who work together and need to coordinate their routes.

Some route planner apps allow you to share courses with your colleagues or team members. This can help ensure coordination and consistency in delivery routes. Just remember to prioritize privacy and security when sharing routes with others.

Shortest route planning with Circuit 

If you still have trouble choosing the right route planner, try our Circuit Route Planner app first. With several features for optimizing routes and saving time and energy, you can’t go wrong with this route planner.

Circuit Route Planner offers voice-controlled navigation, allowing you to plan your routes using voice commands. This is a convenient option when driving and needing to keep your hands on the wheel.

Voice commands can be used to add or remove stops, rearrange stops, or adjust route settings without manually interacting with the app, making it easier and safer to plan routes while on the go.

Circuit Route Planner also allows you to copy stops between routes, which can be helpful when a stop is missed, failed, or needs to be added to a specific route. It saves time and effort from manually re-entering the same stop information for multiple routes.

Moreover, the planner allows you to add package IDs to stops, which can help you find packages faster during deliveries.

By adding package IDs, you can reduce the time spent searching for the correct box and improve the overall efficiency of your delivery process.

Shortest route planner FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about shortest route planners.

What is the difference between a route planner and a GPS navigation system?

A route planner is a software or web-based tool that helps you plan the optimal route for a specific trip by selecting the stops or waypoints you want to visit. It calculates the best route based on various factors such as distance, time, traffic conditions, and other preferences.

On the other hand, a GPS navigation system is a device or app that uses satellite technology to provide real-time navigation instructions while driving. It uses your current location and destination input to calculate the route and provides turn-by-turn directions, voice prompts, and visual maps to guide you.

Can route planners be used for multi-stop deliveries?

Yes, route planners are commonly used for multi-stop deliveries. They help optimize delivery routes with multiple stops or waypoints.

You can input all the stops or waypoints you need to visit during your delivery route into a route planner. The software or web-based tool will calculate the best route that minimizes the total distance, time, and other factors based on the inputs provided. 

How accurate are the traffic updates and ETAs given by route planners?

The accuracy of traffic updates and estimated time of arrival (ETA) provided by route planners can vary depending on several factors, including the source and quality of the traffic data, the real-time nature of the updates, and the algorithms used by the route planner.

In general, traffic updates based on real-time data are more accurate than historical data, as they reflect the current traffic conditions on the road.

However, traffic conditions can change rapidly due to various factors, such as accidents, road closures, construction, weather conditions, and other unforeseen events.

Are there route planner tools specifically designed for delivery drivers?

Yes, there are route planner tools specifically tailored to the unique requirements of delivery drivers, considering factors such as multi-stop deliveries, delivery time windows, package sizes, and other delivery-specific considerations.

These tools include the apps mentioned earlier in the article, including Circuit, Google Maps, and Upper. They can help delivery drivers optimize their routes, save time, reduce fuel costs, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline delivery operations.

Shortest route planner conclusion

Using a shortest route planner can be a game-changer for delivery drivers. With the benefits of time-saving, increased efficiency, and reduced stress, it's no wonder why so many drivers are turning to technology for route planning.

With several route planner apps and services available, finding the best app for you may take trial and error.

Check traffic updates in real-time, customize route preferences, and plan multiple stops to efficiently plan your route, ensuring timely deliveries for a positive customer experience.

About the author

Cary HastingsSenior Content Strategist at Circuit

Cary is a content strategist at Circuit. He enjoys creating people-first content strategies and articles that solve challenges for readers in the best way possible. On weekends, you can probably find him in a bunker on the local golf course. Chat to Cary on LinkedIn.

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