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Route Optimization

The Disadvantages of FedEx DRO (And How Drivers Can Remain Competitive)

Zach Blank


February 12, 2021

From March 2020 to March 2021, FedEx experienced unprecedented growth, nearly doubling earnings and market capitalization despite under-developed route optimization software. What accounts for this surge of growth? The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wave of shipping demand unlike ever before. More demand means more customers, more transactions, and more employees to make it all happen. But, this spike in demand won’t last forever, and if FedEx wants to stay on top, it needs to transform its weakest link: route optimization. 

The Importance of Staying Competitive

Today, the delivery market is tighter than ever. FedEx employees have to do more than meet quarterly goals; they have to compete with Amazon, UPS, and the US Postal Service. In 2020, Amazon alone accounted for one third of the country’s online retail growth. The USPS gained a new Postmaster General with a reputation for optimization and efficiency. The tough competition has piqued the interest of individual contractors, prompting them to shop around for the delivery giant taking home the biggest piece of pie.

With so many delivery companies vying for the top, investors could go to FedEx, or anywhere else. Therefore, FedEx needs to stay on the ball now more than ever, or risk falling out of vogue.

The Key to Winning? Software Optimization

The best way for FedEx to remain competitive is with a strong focus on software-driven optimizations. Quality software allows delivery companies to stay organized and constantly provide customers with the best delivery experience. Saved time from efficient software adds up fast, and makes all the difference for the customer experience. Efficient deliveries build customer loyalty, positive brand reputation, and overall reliability.

For delivery drivers and proprietors, dynamic routing also creates savings. Intelligent routing software dramatically shortens time spent planning, saves hours on the road, cuts down miles driven, and diminishes fuel consumption throughout the day. The benefits are passed onto customers, through speedy delivery, and organizations, enabling growth. With speedy deliveries, organizations can continue to grow and create long-lasting customer loyalty.

The State of FedEx DRO

FedEx Dynamic Route Optimization (DRO) is a recent addition to the company launched in 2019. While FedEx DRO is promising and could transform FedEx, it is still young. The software isn’t perfectly capable in all environments (rural, suburban, and metropolitan), and has many bugs that need to be worked out. It can route drivers dynamically, but has yet to calculate the pain points drivers truly have and how to cater to them.

As a result, all the anticipation and hope for DRO seems spent. Drivers feel the frustrations of playing catch-up and struggle to adopt a software that isn’t really built for them. This frustration not only affects the driver and their own motivation, but how drivers interact with customers.

The Two Choices for FedEx Drivers

Delivery drivers stuck with DRO can continue to use the service, but it will take time every day to plan the route properly and deal with unexpected issues.

Or, they can save time, money, and effort by moving on. There is an entire market of routing apps available to drivers today. Google Maps and Waze are just two of the many options drivers can choose to optimize their routes. While Google Maps and Waze are famous, they aren’t ideal for planning hundreds of stops, and it can be cumbersome to switch between the FedEx manifest and the routing app over and over again. Not to mention dangerous!

It can be difficult to decide which option is best, especially when FedEx drivers already have their own dynamic route optimization software. Although, it’s crucial to spend time seeking optimal solutions because it can lead to greater profits and time savings.

FedEx DRO vs Straightaway

While FedEx DRO is provided to every FedEx driver, Straightaway might be the most promising alternative, saving hours for drivers daily.


The largest issue against DRO is the lack of data the software has, data that is needed to make dynamic routing decisions intelligently. The platform has been labeled “young,” and it is clear that the platform could be strong in a few years, but won’t be competitive soon. 

Straightaway is rapidly collecting data, using millions of data points on every road, including weather conditions, traffic jams, and road closures to discern the best route available. The data caters to drivers in every landscape, and the impacts can be powerful for an organization like FedEx.

Slow Updates

Drivers have major issues planning their routes day-to-day. DRO schedules 8 full hours of driving, not accounting for breaks, gasoline stops, or eating lunch. The feedback loop is slow, and developers aren’t shipping updates frequently to close the gap. 

However, Straightaway is built with flexibility for drivers. If a driver wants to rearrange their route, take a break, add stops along the way, it’s all possible. In addition, the app shows the driver the ETA for every single stop along the way, allowing drivers to recalibrate when necessary. In addition, Straightaway is constantly seeking feedback from delivery drivers, trying to incorporate new features through frequent updates. With all of this, Straightaway serves the driver better and better over time.


Most importantly, DRO is complex and clunky to navigate, which can lead to real danger on the road.

The best part of Straightaway? Uploading a manifest is as easy as taking a photo, and drivers don’t have to switch between apps during the day. Straightaway is incredibly easy, smooth, and safe to use, so drivers can stay focused on deliveries.

When drivers move to Straightaway, the possibilities become limitless. Drivers can add up to 500 stops if they want, a number unheard-of on other delivery apps. At the top of the day, drivers can see their whole day from a birds-eye view, through a simple, accessible interface.


Though the delivery market is as competitive as it has ever been, the opportunities are greater than ever. With just one tool, drivers can regain hours, reach their customers faster, and save at the pump. Not to mention, surpassing goals and capabilities.

For FedEx drivers, the time to incorporate these tools is now. Amazon has the Rabbit, the UPS has ORION, but FedEx DRO isn’t up to par. While DRO can dynamically route drivers, FedEx drivers may have difficulty reaching their full potential with the software. Meanwhile, Straightaway is ready for FedEx drivers right out of the box, and is ideal for saving hours and serving the customer. 

The bright future of FedEx requires brilliant solutions, creativity, and an optimization mindset. With the right tools, FedEx drivers will be unstoppable in the market and Straightaway is ready to make it happen.

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Zach Blank

Zach is the co-founder and CEO of Straightaway.

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