Demystifying Routing, Logistics, and Customer Acquisition


This innovative company provides online ordering of groceries and home delivery of those groceries. It was one of the few companies turning a profit in this industry (Remember Webvan?). Customer acquisition, logistics and routing costs have been the bane of many a net grocer. This grocery delivery company realized that it needed to improve its legacy systems for customer acquisition and route management; they were manually intensive, inaccurate, redundant, inefficient and not scalable. The customer acquisition and route management systems also needed to be integrated with SAP R/3, Oracle, and Roadnet (the UPS Logistics system). In addition Operations, IT, and Customer Service could not easily maintain route and customer information. Adding new serviced territory and changing route and delivery structures were time-consuming and difficult.

How ATI Helped

To prepare for the expected rapid growth of the business, the company brought in ATI to redesign these systems, to make them as automated and efficient as possible, while expanding functionality, accuracy and scalability. They also had to coincide with the company-wide conversion to new enterprise, database and warehouse systems. As part of the project, ATI:

  • Converted the customer and route systems to SAP R/3 and Oracle, utilizing ASP, VB/COM mid-tier, and ABAP Bapi's.
  • Developed the new customer online-signup systems using ASP, mid-tier, SAP R/3, Oracle, and Roadnet.
  • Developed a route maintenance application using ASP, Access, and Oracle with custom stored-procedures.
  • Developed a new delivery timeslot system that uses automated demand and capacity calculations ("load balancing") to display available delivery timeslots to customers, capture reservations and provide override capabilities to Customer Service.
  • Allowed Customer Service people to view key information on zip codes, routes, drivers, and timeslots.
  • Developed a mapping system that dynamically generates maps for customer signup, customer location mapping to assist drivers, and route boundary mapping.
  • Developed a system that accurately determines latitude/longitude, route, and available delivery times using a "Point-In-Polygon" algorithm and geocoding.
Business Results

  • DSupported the successful expansion of delivery service across the entire Twin Cities metro area, coinciding with a 300% increase in daily order volume, and a similar increase in the acquisition of new customers and prospects.
  • Customer acquisition costs were reduced by automating online signup, accurate routing and delivery timeslot management, and easy access to customer and route information for internal users.
  • Business was able to ramp up faster, and customer service did not suffer due to more efficient methods for adding new territories and for restructuring existing routes and territories.
Accurate routing of customers has helped to increase substantially the delivery capacity ("drops" per route) to an industry-leading rate. Route management systems have provided dynamic load balancing to smooth out uneven patterns of customer demand. These improvements have reduced delivery and other per-order costs, and have helped the company expand dramatically while improving the timeliness of delivery.