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What are ETA Alerts?

ETA Alerts, or Estimated Time of Arrival Alerts, are periodic notifications on the status of an item, delivery, or person that include a probable time of arrival at the destination. Usually delivered through SMS messages or voice calls, ETA alerts keep customers updated on the location and timing of their upcoming deliveries.

ETA Alerts Keep Customers in the Loop

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Applications with ETA alerts have exploded in popularity during the surge of the on-demand economy. Companies promising quick food, laundry, and shopping delivery (and more) have seized on the intimacy and deliverability of text messaging to create a constant flow of interaction with their customers. Customers appreciate the effort, and now ETA Alerts have evolved into a major business priority in many fields. Common practices include notifications when an item is picked up or a driver leaves, one or more updates along the way, and a final update as the driver arrives at the destination.

Having an ETA Alert system in place also confers other unexpected benefits as well - especially along the lines of delivery exceptions. Accidents, breakdowns, routing delays, and other exceptions previously confused customers. Communicating problems by pushing out batch emails at the end of the day or (worse!) sending customers to arcane status pages further compounded customer frustration.

With constant contact, customer schedules are less disrupted than with the previous "X Hour Window" paradigm. And when the inevitable exceptions do occur, quick communication can save the relationship.

ETA Alerts Infrastructure with Twilio

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Twilio has experience helping our customers build ETA Alerts into customer use cases - both over SMS(link takes you to an external page) and updates over Voice(link takes you to an external page). Commonly, a Twilio ETA Alert infrastructure buildout takes a form similar to the following:

ETA Alert Infrastructure.
  1. Your backend pulls data on direction, heading, and location from a data store
  2. Business logic crunches the inputs and determines an ETA
  3. The ETA and customer information is pushed to Twilio
  4. Twilio delivers the ETA update to your customer with high reliability

We've compiled use-cases on how our customers have successfully implemented ETA Alerts(link takes you to an external page) with Twilio. Always feel free to talk through your business needs and current implementation best practices with Twilio Sales(link takes you to an external page) as well.

Estimated Time of Arrival Alerts and Two-Way Communication

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One advanced use case for ETA Alerts is two-way communication, where the ETA Alert stream also forwards messages between multiple parties. For example, your business case might implement ETA Alerts but also allow drivers and customers to communicate when either an exception occurs or delivery will be late.

As this type of communication is ephemeral, and you want to prevent out of band communications after the transaction, best practice dictates masked or proxied phone numbers be automatically assigned to all parties. Through those masked numbers, you can facilitate exceptional communications while still keeping personal information personal.

Twilio Proxy can quickly get you up and running with temporary or masked phone numbers with minimal infrastructure investment on your end.

Add ETA Alerts to Your Application with Twilio

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We also include detailed examples of one approach to integrating ETA Alerts into your application. On our documentation website, we include ETA Alert Tutorials across six web languages and many web frameworks, greatly reducing the time to add ETA Alerts to your product or use case.

As always, we're here to help you add ETA Alerts and other powerful communications integrations to your application. Talk to Sales(link takes you to an external page) or browse our ETA Alert Customer Case Studies(link takes you to an external page). We can't wait to see - and receive ETA Notifications on - what you build.

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