It seems almost every industry has been transformed by technology in recent years, although the jury is out on how much of a positive it has been. Cashiers in supermarkets have been replaced by self-service checkouts, your order at McDonalds is now done on a touchscreen rather than with a human behind the counter, and even recently, I had a robot bring my order to me in a restaurant instead of a human waiter.
While the jury is out on whether these digital transformations have a positive impact on us as consumers, some advances in technology have been a little more cut and dry in their impact.
Electronic proof of delivery is one such advancement in technology that really has upsides for both business and customer.
In this blog we’ll take a look at what exactly electronic proof of delivery is, how it works on a technological level and how it can benefit your business.
We’ll also take a look at what advantage it holds over traditional proof of delivery and why paper-based delivery documentation should probably be phased out.
What is Electronic Proof of Delivery?
Electronic Proof of Delivery (often abbreviated to ePOD) is the digital capture of evidence that a physical delivery occurred. This is ordinarily done by the person making the delivery collecting a photo and/or signature from the consignee on a digital device such as a smartphone or handheld scanner. ePOD’s have largely replaced paper based proof of delivery sheets that were once common in delivery industry.
SmartRoutes Proof of Delivery Software
Easily capture elecronic proof of delivery with photos and e-signatures using sign in glass technology.
5 Benefits of Electronic Proof of Delivery
As mentioned in the introduction, the digital transformation of some of the core services we use every day like cashiers in shops, or waiters in restaurants has resulted in a cost-saving for businesses, but a drop in customer service levels for us as customers.
For example, the self-service checkout probably isn’t going to tell you that there’s actually a ‘2-for-the-price-of-1’ that you missed on the shelf, whereas a considerate till operator will. There is no doubt, that by transitioning from human touchpoints in the customer journey to digital ones, something can be lost.
However, the replacement of traditional proof of delivery is one area where there is really no downsides to switching to ePODs from paper-based:
1) Eliminates paper trails and duplicate books
The traditional approach to proof of delivery was using a book of documents that could be used to record the details of each delivery on a piece of paper in a duplicate book. That way, the driver could hand the POD to the customer, and retain a copy of it in their duplicate book to bring back to the office.
This process was fraught with problems such as no customer being present to sign for the delivery, paper getting wet and damaged, and drivers misplacing paperwork before returning to the office or depot.
With electronic proof of delivery software, these problems were largely eliminated. Sign-on-glass technology means that a simple smartphone application is now all a customer needs to do is type their name on the screen and the job is done. This information is captured digitally and stored in a central database that can be accessed by everyone including office or depot staff.
With the increased focus on data security in recent years, eliminating these paper trails is also important for businesses. Something as simple as a windy day can cause havoc with paper-based documentation, and having a POD with customers' personal details blown away is something that could land your business in hot water.
2) It enables ‘no contact delivery’
Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than ordering something for delivery and returning to a note on the door from the delivery company saying ‘Sorry we missed you’.
Contactless delivery means that delivery drivers are able to deliver your order without you being present. Unfortunately, the policy of many delivery businesses is that they can't complete your delivery if you don't sign for it.
And there's a good reason for that.
Package theft, or as it has come to be known in the industry, porch piracy is on the rise and according to the NY Times is estimated to be about 90,000 packages a year, at a cost of $25 million.
Electronic POD’s are a pretty good solution to the problem, with solutions like SmartRoutes helping to eliminate the risk AND the need for the customer to be present.
Attached to each delivery on the electronic proof of delivery system, are the details of the customer and any instructions or notes that they leave at the time of order. Typically, this can include instructions on where to securely leave a parcel so that would-be thieves can’t see the package from the roadside, or even what the code is for an out-of-home delivery (OOH) container.
Without the customer being present, the delivery worker can simply take a photo of the package at the requested drop-off location.
While this might not be top of mind when it comes to the advantages of ePOD, improving the delivery experience of the driver and customer at the same time, improving first-time delivery rates, and being able to answer customer queries about their delivery with complete confidence is a completely game-changing result for any delivery company.
3) Improves billing and invoicing efficiency
As any delivery business knows, cash flow is one of the most critical parts to keeping the wheels moving on your business. And when you’re relying on multiple businesses to pay on time, it can be a bit of a task for your accounts and admin teams to keep on top of.
All that can be done on your end is get your bills and invoices out to customers as promptly as possible so that your clients know you're on top of your game. If you get your invoice to your customer on time, there is a greater chance that they reciprocate and pay you on time.
However, getting paid by many customers requires you to attach the proof-of delivery statement as part of the invoice. With traditional POD’s, this required the driver to bring the duplicate to the office on time, the admin assistant to file it correctly, and the accounts team to issue an invoice. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process in itself and is laden with the risk of one piece of paper going missing in the process of being transferred between 3 different stakeholders in the business.
However, this process is entirely automated with electronic proof of delivery.
When the driver captures the photos of the delivery in their mobile device, it is automatically transferred to the delivery management system back at the office and attached to the customer's profile of your CRM.
Additionally, the invoice for the delivery is automatically created and can either be checked over before sending by accounts or sent straight to the customer for payment.
Again, eliminating paper trails on your back office is going to make your staff much happier and decares the room for mishaps.
4) A greener approach to delivery
As we move towards more sustainable practices in business, the need to examine how we have done things in the past and how they affect our planet is becoming more important.
From an ethical standpoint, eliminating paper waste from your business should be incentive enough to move from paper-based documentation to digital capture. While paper is in no way as bad for the environment as plastic, the manufacturing and recycling processes all take their toll from a carbon footprint standpoint.
But the benefits of making your delivery business more sustainable also have far-reaching consequences for your business. Across the board, consumer research reports are pointing to an increase in sales for products and services that show they care about the environment.
On a personal level, those junkmail flyers that land in my letterbox have gone from being merely annoying, to being a signal that the business that produced them doesn't have the best interests of society at their core.
With more grants and funding coming onstream for delivery businesses that take a proactive approach to sustainability, the switch to ePOD’s can make an impressive proof-point in applications for a slice of that funding. Schemes such as the Small Business Green Recovery Fund offer businesses that can prove that they are making that effort the opportunity to secure funding to bring it into the future.
The culture of delivery is changing, and being at the forefront of that change will reap rewards for those that make the first move.
5) No more disputes over delivery and protected brand reputation
Perhaps the biggest downside of traditional proof-of-delivery is the lack of clarity in the process itself. While deliveries can be made and signed for at the correct address, the slightest miscommunication on the customer's end can open a can of worms for your business.
It’s not uncommon for another family member at an address to take receipt of a delivery, sing for it in their family members name, and then completely forget that they stored it away under the stairs. The person that order the item then can't find it and assumes that the delivery wasn't made or that there is some foul-play on the part of the delivery company or driver.
In today's world, this can quickly go from a matter entirely of the customers' making, to being one that ends up with your business fighting fires on social media to protect your reputation.
Ultimately, a signature on a piece of paper isn't going to de-escalate the citation in the same way that a real-life, on the spot photo of the item delivered is going to be. Even just having the photo available to your customer support staff can help them to describe where exactly a package was left, and can avoid things spilling over onto Facebook or Twitter.
The knock-on is happier customers, happier staff, and more time spent on growing your business through proactive, rather than reactive work.
SmartRoutes Proof of Delivery Software
If you’re still using traditional proof of delivery in your delivery business, you might want to consider making the switch to the electronic alternative.
At SmartRoutes, our proof of delivery technology relies on existing technology within your business. Our proof of delivery technology works on all Android and IOS devices and can be implemented for as little as €26 per month and comes as part of a wider delivery management package that includes a useful driver app.
Our apps are mobile-native which means that your drivers will simply need to download the app on their mobile devices and can begin capturing photo and signature ePOD’s today.
Frequently asked questions
1. What is Electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD), and how does it work?
Electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD) is a technology-driven system that allows businesses to manage, track, and provide proof of the delivery process electronically. It typically involves the use of mobile devices or software to record and transmit delivery data in real-time. ePOD works by capturing information such as recipient signatures, delivery times, GPS coordinates, and photos, and securely storing and transmitting this data to a centralized system. This electronic record serves as proof of the delivery and can be easily accessed and shared.
2. What are the key benefits of using Electronic Proof of Delivery for my business?
The benefits of using ePOD for your business are numerous. Some of the key advantages include:
- Improved Efficiency: Streamlining the delivery process, reducing paperwork, and minimizing errors.
- Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Providing real-time tracking and electronic signatures for a better customer experience.
- Reduced Costs: Lowering administrative expenses and paper-related costs.
- Increased Accountability: Having a digital trail of deliveries for accountability and dispute resolution.
- Environmental Sustainability: Contributing to a paperless and eco-friendly approach to delivery operations.
3. Is Electronic Proof of Delivery legally accepted and secure for business operations?
Yes, ePOD is legally accepted in many industries and regions. It's designed to meet legal and regulatory requirements. ePOD solutions often incorporate secure encryption and data storage practices to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the data.
4. What types of businesses can benefit from implementing Electronic Proof of Delivery?
A wide range of businesses can benefit from implementing ePOD, including logistics companies, e-commerce retailers, courier services, wholesalers, manufacturers, and service providers. Any business that relies on the delivery of goods or services can improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and accountability by adopting ePOD solutions.
5. Are there any challenges or considerations when implementing Electronic Proof of Delivery in my business?
Yes, there are considerations when implementing ePOD:
- Initial Costs: Implementing ePOD may require an upfront investment in technology and training.
- Employee Training: Employees need to be trained to use ePOD software or devices effectively.
- Integration: Ensure ePOD systems can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems.
- Data Security: Implement strong data security measures to protect sensitive customer and business information.
- Regulatory Compliance: Verify that your ePOD solution complies with industry regulations and legal requirements in your region.
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