Routific’s Route Optimization Tools Help Local Businesses Offer On-Demand Delivery

Routific is the latest startup hoping to take advantage of growing interest in on-demand services. It’s not trying to build the next Uber or Instacart, but instead giving small businesses the technology to run a delivery business of their own.

After all, managing a fleet of multiple drivers who need to make multiple stops can get pretty complicated, and if you manage it badly, it can add to your costs, not to mention resulting in late deliveries and unhappy customers.

Routific first made its technology available through an API, and while it continues to support the API, it’s also trying to sell to small and local businesses with the launch of a new web interface.

Co-founder and Head of Sales Suzanne Ma gave me a quick demo, showing me how Routific can take a list of drivers and stops, then create an optimized route in just a few seconds. Then it’s easy to send each driver their route, viewable on mobile phones.

Routific MobileThe demo involved two drivers and ten locations, but Marc Kuo, who’s Ma’s co-founder and CTO (and husband), said some businesses have to deal with “upwards of 100 vehicles.”

Naturally, that kind of “gnarly” optimization problem is what Routific was built to handle. Its route planning incorporates factors like time windows, vehicle types, visit types, load capacities and traffic, and it says its routes are up to 40 percent shorter.

“Our algorithm can outperform even the best dispatchers,” Ma said.

In some cases, businesses might use Routific to plan delivery routes on a given day or shift. On the other hand, if you’re running a truly on-demand service, you’ll need to update in real-time based on incoming requests and the changing locations of your fleet — Kuo said there are some customers who have called the Routific API 10,000 times in a day.

Routific is launching today in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver (where the company is headquartered). However, the technology should work anywhere — the company just isn’t officially supporting customers in other cities yet.

The startup was incubated by Axiom Zen, which invests in startups through services like marketing and product development.