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Route Optimization

How FedEx Drivers Optimize Their Routes (And Their Biggest Hurdle)

Zach Blank


February 22, 2021

Over the last 12 months, FedEx has done incredibly well due to the online shift from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shipping orders are rising, earnings are soaring, and the market cap is nearly double what it was at the start of 2020. More growth means more packages, more customers, and more deliveries. But in the delivery game, it is extremely difficult to stay on top.

The competition is thicker than ever, with Amazon, UPS, and the US Postal Service fighting to get every order and every delivery. Amazon is constantly pushing towards customer-centricity, which has driven so much of their success in the last decade. As a result, Amazon had one-third of all US online retail growth in 2020. The key to customer-centricity is timely delivery, without a doubt. Fast, reliable deliveries create loyal customers that will continue to use a certain service. For FedEx to continue their growth, delivery drivers not only have to compete with today’s juggernauts, but they also have to beat them.

How can delivery drivers keep up with the intense competition? Route Optimization Software.

What is Route Optimization Software?

The best way for any delivery business, including FedEx, to stay on top is with software-driven routing. Software is a game-changer because it allows drivers to navigate their routes without having to worry about changing traffic and road-conditions. For those not familiar, think Google Maps or Waze built specifically for delivery companies.

Route optimization software can poll thousands of data points at once to determine if the driver is going to make all their deliveries in time, and if not, it can use this vast pool of data to re-route the driver and save the day. For delivery drivers, the implications of route optimization software are crucial:

• Time saved with dynamic routing
• More customers served, more packages delivered
• Lower mileage, leading to savings on gas
• Longer life for delivery vehicles

The list goes on. But the takeaway is clear. When delivery drivers start using route optimization software, their routes are better, their customers are happier, and their business can continue to grow.

Considering all of these benefits, the impact of route optimization software at FedEx would be nothing short of transformational. FedEx delivery would not only soar to the top of the delivery market, but it would continue to dominate and lead the world.

But what is the reality of FedEx’s route optimization software?

FedEx DRO At Work

FedEx DRO, which stands for Dynamic Route Optimization, is the standard-issue route optimization software given to FedEx drivers. FedEx DRO was released in 2019 to great anticipation and excitement. Drivers had been eagerly awaiting a tool much like UPS’ Orion or Amazon’s Rabbit, something that can help them make their deliveries faster, smoother, and easier.

However, since DRO has been released, it has failed to live up to the expectations of FedEx drivers. The software has instead created more problems than it set out to solve, and become a pain-point and headache for FedEx drivers. One employee even shared that FedEx DRO let managers assign 8 full hours of deliveries for drivers, not giving them the chance to use the restroom, grab a snack, or fill up on gasoline. Consistently, online reviews highlight the limitations of FedEx DRO, which acts as a roadblock instead of a greenlight.

The impact of poor route optimization software is significant. Instead of saving time and getting packages to customers quickly, drivers are now navigating a mess, trying to stay on top of bigger delivery manifests. In this situation, though all of FedEx suffers, drivers bear most of the burden. When deliveries take longer than they should, drivers lose valuable time from their personal lives working to meet deadlines.

What Can FedEx Drivers Do

For FedEx drivers, there are two paths forward. Drivers can either stick with DRO, or look for something else.

For the FedEx drivers staying with DRO, they may be able to help the software turn the corner and become competitive. But, such a challenge will require time and energy on behalf of the driver. Patiently waiting to give feedback on DRO, dealing with bugs day-to-day, and spending extra hours to make up for delays and issues during the day is horrible for the drivers’ experience. The worst part with all this frustration and difficulty is that the customer will take notice before long.

Or, drivers can find an alternative. The market for route optimization software is only growing, and there are several apps they can use today. We even did a comparison of these apps for drivers, check it out. One of the best options for FedEx drivers is Straightaway.

Straightaway is built from the ground-up for delivery drivers, using powerful technologies like OCR and Machine Learning to give them every edge they need on the road. FedEx drivers only have to take a photo of their day’s manifest, and Straightaway takes care of the rest. Route planning and sequence are all done automatically, and drivers can add stops or re-arrange them with complete ease, so if they need to grab a bite or fill up at the pump, there’s no problem at all. With all of this, drivers save an average of an hour every day on their route.

One of the best parts of Straightaway? Feedback. For any delivery driver, Straightaway takes feedback seriously. No waiting for slow updates, no lengthy review process. Straightaway’s engineering teams want to know the specific problems drivers face, and make the app better and better. Once a driver starts using Straightaway, it's hard to stop. The service, the ease-of-use, and the reliability is next level.


While making it to the top is incredible, staying on top is incredibly difficult. For FedEx, the successes of the last 12 months require innovative and clever thinking across all levels of the company, especially delivery drivers. FedEx DRO may have been considered the end-all be-all solution for route optimization, but reality tells a different tale, and for drivers that accounts to real losses in time and money.

The good news is that all hope is not lost. FedEx drivers can save time, money, and energy by moving to a third-party service, like Straightaway, today. It is faster, more reliable, and built just for drivers. FedEx’s needs are only growing, and for FedEx drivers, every minute wasted matters in today’s delivery market. For drivers everywhere, start saving time and changing your delivery game. Start using Straightaway.

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Zach Blank

Zach is the co-founder and CEO of Straightaway.

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