Proof of delivery

Learn about proof of delivery (POD) and how electronic POD solutions, can benefit your business. Improve customer satisfaction and streamline delivery management with efficient POD tracking.

Proof of delivery

Proof of delivery (POD) is a crucial aspect of logistics and e-commerce, ensuring that businesses and customers can verify that goods have been delivered as intended. In the digital age, there are various ways to collect POD. However, with different carriers, regulations, and customer expectations, managing POD can be challenging and time-consuming. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about proof of delivery, including its definition, importance, types, challenges, and best practices. Whether you are a small business owner, logistics manager, or e-commerce seller, understanding and optimizing POD can help you enhance customer satisfaction, reduce disputes and errors, and improve your overall delivery performance. Let's discover how to make it work for your business and show you how route planners can help you capture electronic POD.

In this guide we will cover:

  1. What is proof of delivery?
  2. Why is proof of delivery important?
  3. Industries that benefit from proof of delivery
  4. Different types of proof of delivery
  5. What is Billing of Lading (BOL)?
  6. How electronic proof of delivery works
  7. 4 tips for recording proof of delivery
  8. How to use SmartRoutes for electronic proof of delivery

What is proof of delivery?

Proof of delivery is a document or evidence that confirms the delivery of goods or services from a sender to a recipient. It serves as a receipt that verifies that the recipient has received the correct items in good condition and on time. POD is essential for businesses and customers alike as it helps to prevent disputes, errors, and fraud, and to ensure compliance with regulations and service level agreements. POD can take various forms, depending on the carrier, mode of delivery, and customer preferences. Traditionally, POD was obtained by collecting a physical signature on paper, but with the rise of digital technologies, POD can now be obtained electronically, such as through mobile apps and barcode scanning (more on that later). POD is a vital aspect of the delivery process, and optimizing its accuracy, accessibility, and efficiency can help businesses to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and improve their competitive edge.

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Woman giving an e-signature upon delivery using the delivery driver app

Why is proof of delivery important?

As the name suggests, proof-of-delivery is the record of goods being delivered to their pre-specified location, complete with all the details about it. A POD (also sometimes referred to as a Delivery Note) acts as an acknowledgment between the person delivering the goods and the person receiving that the goods are delivered. It also captures the time of delivery.

With the increase in eCommerce in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the volume of goods being delivered direct-to-consumer. In fact, online shopping is growing so fast that by 2023, ecommerce shipping from online purchasing is expected to rise from 14.1% to 22% globally.

This has meant that the customer no longer needs to be present and that the goods can be delivered at their home in their absence. This does raise the danger of theft of packages which is all the more reason to invest in proof of delivery tech.

Benefits of POD

Ensuring compliance: POD is often required by regulatory bodies, insurance companies and service level agreements to ensure that businesses are following the necessary procedures and meeting the required standards. Failing to provide POD can result in penalties, fines, or legal consequences.

Improving customer satisfaction: POD can enhance customers' trust and confidence in a business by providing them with a clear confirmation that customers orders are being fulfilled and delivered as expected. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates, repeat business, and positive reviews.

Boosting transparency and accountability: POD provides a transparent and accountable record of the delivery process, showing who delivered the items, when, and where. This can help to deter fraud, theft, or mismanagement, and increase the trust between businesses and their customers.

Enhancing operational efficiency: POD can help businesses to monitor and analyze their delivery performance, identify bottlenecks, and optimize their logistics processes. This can lead to cost savings, faster delivery times, and better resource allocation. For example, by using electronic POD, businesses can reduce the need for manual paperwork, save storage space, and improve data accuracy.

Avoiding disputes and errors: POD helps to prevent disputes or claims from customers who allege that they did not receive their items or received orders with visible damage. By providing documented proof of delivery, businesses can reduce the risks of misunderstandings, legal issues and reputational damage.

E-signature for ePOD
E-signature for ePOD

Industries that benefit from proof of delivery

As we already noted, PODs have long been used in the courier and logistics industry. But with more and more individual businesses offering eCommerce & home-delivery services, they now also require PODs.

Industries that we have implemented our proof of delivery feature in include:


Managing multi stop delivery routes means having an assurance that deliveries have taken place. In 3PL reporting back to clients on deliveries and establishing clear proof of delivery requires a total delivery management solution.

Food deliveries

For customers the speed of delivery and contactless delivery are often as important as the food that arrives. Being able to live track the food is now essential for customers and barcode or e-sig is critical for ensuring that subsequent queries on the food order are not a drain on resources.

Healthcare teams

With something as important and sensitive as medical equipment or services proof of completion of the service or delivery is key. Once the delivery has been completed to the patient's satisfaction it should be captured on your mobile app through e-signature or photo evidence. This can be an important digital trail for subsequent audits or reporting.

Retail and eCommerce delivery teams

Customer expectations around home delivery have grown massively on account of Amazon Prime and other same-day delivery services. The downside of online sales can be high rates of missed delivery or complaints that delivery was not received or as expected. Taking a photo of the delivered item(s) ensures this problem is cut out for you.

Pharma logistics teams

Covid has shown how critical and time-sensitive pharmaceutical deliveries are to the population as a whole. Delivering within cold-chain or just getting drugs to pharmacies and healthcare units in a timely manner is critical. These end-customers now expect a live-tracker of sensitive goods and a way to accept the goods that is credible and tracked.

Field services

Field services can be marred by complaints that the service was not completed correctly. Usually these complaints arise after the fact. Capturing e-signature proof of completion and photo evidence of the work done can avoid these issues.

As you can see, PODs play a big part in the delivery experience and can make or break your business’s reputation.

If you’re operating your own business, you want to record your PODs as efficiently and effectively as possible and still give your customers a great experience.

So, let’s take a look at the different types of POD available to your business.

Different types of proof of delivery

Paper POD

Traditionally, PODs and Delivery Notes were simple paper documents that recorded the information. This would usually be filled manually by a driver and the end-customer would sign the delivery note to acknowledge receipt of the goods.

Paper proof of delivery
Paper proof of delivery docket

In order for the end-customer and the driver to retain the POD, they would use what is called a triplicate book. The benefit of a triplicate book is that each page that is completed is duplicated on 2 pages on the reverse side. This meant a time saving for the driver, and no ambiguity about differences in PODs

Barcode scanner

As technology has advanced, so too have the processes around deliveries. Moving on from paper-based PODs, digital scanners that recorded the delivery by scanning a barcode replaced triplicate books.

These devices are dedicated to one specific job and also make use of sign-on glass technology. Once the parcel is scanned at the delivery location, the customer then signs for the goods directly on the digital scanner’s glass face.

As mentioned at the outset of this blog, address validation for deliveries must be robust. It’s why we have focused attention on getting it right. If you or your drivers have been having problems with incomplete or incorrect delivery addresses, get in touch below to see how we can help.

Electronic proof of delivery [ePOD]

The past decade has seen a rapid advance in the power of mobile technology and its application across a range of industries.

And no more so than in the last-mile and home delivery industry.

ePODs and digital delivery notes are recorded directly on a driver's smartphone or tablet and record all the delivery data. As other functions such as route navigation, dispatch notes, and order details have been consolidated into Mobile Driver Apps, it makes sense that drivers would be able to record the ePODs directly within the same place. Similar to dedicated scanners, these apps can capture eSignatures from customers.

By integrating ePODs within mobile apps, delivery businesses also added photo proof-of-delivery. In the absence of a customer, this can be an indisputable way of proving when and where delivery was completed.

By integrating ePODs within mobile apps, delivery businesses also added photo proof-of-delivery. In the absence of a customer, this can be an indisputable way of proving when and where delivery was completed.

What is Billing of Lading (BOL)?

Billing of Lading (BOL) is a legal document issued by a carrier that acknowledges proof of shipment. It serves as a contract of carriage between the shipper, carrier, and consignee and includes details such as the type of goods being transported, the destination, and the terms of payment.

While BOL is similar to POD in that they both serve as documentation of delivery, there are some key differences. BOL is typically used in the shipping industry and is issued by the carrier at the time of shipment, whereas POD is used more broadly across various industries and is generated at the time of delivery.

BOL is also more comprehensive than POD, as it includes information such as the carrier's liability for the shipment, the consignee's name and address, and any special instructions for the delivery. Additionally, BOL serves as a legal document in case of any disputes or claims related to the shipment, while POD is primarily used as a confirmation of delivery for the shipper and consignee.

How electronic proof of delivery works

Delivery driver app

At SmartRoutes, we’ve worked to create the most efficient ePOD solution on the market.

Our Driver Mobile app allows the driver to quickly snap the delivery which is available for the admin team to view in real time. In addition, the app utilises sign-in glass technology to capture the signature of the person accepting the delivery.

Much of what is ordinarily filled manually on the paper POD is automatically filled for the driver including, customer name, address, and delivery time.

Additional fields can also be added at the point of dispatch to the Driver App.

Mobile app photo proof of delivery
Mobile app photo proof of delivery

SmartRoutes delivery route planner

SmartRoutes delivery software allows you to create routes and attach all the relevant details to each order and stop for the driver. These are all available to the driver and pre-populate on the ePOD.

Once drivers capture notes, eSignatures, and photos of deliveries, these ePODs are instantly attached to the stop on the Live Routes Dashboard back at the office or depot.

This simple, yet effective process can save your drivers up to a minute on each stop by eliminating the need to fill delivery notes manually. If your driver completes 70 stops, that’s over an hour a day. It can also save your support staff up to 75% of time spent serving customer queries about deliveries.

As anyone who has operated a delivery service knows, this has the potential to radically optimise the way your employees work and enables you to serve more stops with fewer vehicles on a daily basis.

Proof of delivery recorded on delivery management system
Proof of delivery recorded on delivery management system

4 tips for recording proof of delivery

Whether you opt for ePODs or paper PODs, there are a few steps that can ensure they contribute to the success of your business from the outset. We suggest the following:

1) Make sure you include all the relevant fields and details for your specific business

A good start is half the battle!

Before you head to the printers or send the first route to your driver's smartphone, make sure that they can capture all of the relevant details on the POD.

For example, if you're a courier or 3PL company, you might want to include the internal reference number for each delivery, on each POD. This may help your staff to quickly identify which delivery a phone call from a customer is about. By enabling them to serve these queries quicker, you’ll get happier customers and staff (the key to the success of any service!)

On the other hand, you might have a food delivery service that delivers to restaurants outside of opening hours. In this case, you might need to include a field in the POD that specifies the quantity of each product delivered. This ensures that there can be no dispute between a driver and a customer about what was included if stock is not accounted for in the kitchen.

2) Educate drivers on the importance of PODs

Drivers' jobs are tough and we owe them a great deal of gratitude.

For some, securing PODs might be seen as an additional task that adds to the time spent serving a stop.

It’s important to let them know how important the task is to the running of the business. It’s also wise to highlight that it is in their own best interest to prove that each delivery has been successfully completed and that they receive their due credit.

ePODs have the advantage of being a quick photo and/or signature for drivers that most likely have their smartphone to hand anyway and saves them the trouble of manually filling in a piece of paper.

Drivers frequently report to us that ePODs and Digital Delivery Notes make their lives easier.

3) Securely file all POD

Ensuring that your PODs are stored securely and easily accessed is critical.

They can often include sensitive customer data and should be treated with respect. It also means that you can instantly access the event that a customer queries a delivery at any stage in the future.

If you opt for paper PODs, this might require you to make some extra space in your office filing cabinet.

If you opt for ePODs, you may store them in a secure folder on your computer or cloud.

A solution like SmartRoutes is cloud-hosted, so will automatically store them in your customer database. This is the most secure and effective way as any historical POD can be searched for, accessed, and printed by any staff member with these permissions in a matter of seconds.

4) Automate electronic proof of delivery

Let’s face it.

No one likes extra work. Especially your business’s bottom-line!

The benefit of ePODs is that much of the manual work involved in recording PODs is eliminated.

With SmartRoutes solutions, you can automate much of what's included in the POD for the driver.

Similarly, the driver doesn’t have to send that ePOD back to the office or bring a paper POD that evening or the next morning. It’s all done automatically. We also help customers to automate the sending of ePODs to their end-customers and avoid the timely and costly back-and-forth between both businesses.

How to use SmartRoutes for electronic proof of delivery

With our Driver Mobile app, drivers can quickly capture POD through e-signatures and photo evidence, allowing you to have a complete digital trail of all your deliveries.

To use SmartRoutes for POD, you first need to sign up for our delivery management system (try it out for free for 7 days). Once you’ve signed up, you can start dispatching your deliveries through our platform and assign them to your drivers. The Driver Mobile app will automatically populate important information such as customer name, address, and delivery time, which saves time and reduces the risk of manual errors.

When your driver arrives at the delivery location, they can easily capture a signature on their mobile device using sign-in glass technology, which ensures a secure and tamper-proof record of delivery. Additionally, they can take a photo of the delivered package or item, providing you with further evidence of the delivery.

All the data captured by the Driver Mobile app is securely stored in the cloud, and you can access it at any time through our web-based platform. This makes it easy to track deliveries, resolve any disputes, and optimize your delivery operations.

SmartRoutes' proof of delivery software offers a simple and efficient way to ensure that your deliveries are completed successfully and that you have a complete digital trail of all your deliveries. If you would like to discuss the features in more detail, you can book a demo to speak with one of our experts to streamline your delivery operations and start capturing POD effectively and efficiently today!

Frequently asked questions

1. What is a proof of delivery (POD)?


A Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document or digital record that confirms the successful delivery of goods or services to a customer. It typically includes important information like the recipient's signature, delivery date, time, and sometimes even photos or GPS coordinates.

2. Why is proof of delivery important for businesses?


Proof of delivery is crucial for businesses as it helps establish a clear record of completed deliveries. It enhances customer trust, reduces disputes, and provides evidence in case of delivery issues, ensuring accountability in the supply chain.

3. What are the different methods of collecting proof of delivery?


There are various methods to collect proof of delivery, including traditional paper receipts, electronic signatures, mobile apps, and GPS tracking. Modern technologies like digital signatures and real-time tracking have made the process more efficient and reliable.

4. How can I implement a digital proof of delivery system for my business?


To implement a digital proof of delivery system, you can explore specialized software solutions or mobile apps designed for this purpose. These tools allow you to capture electronic signatures, photos, and other relevant data to create a robust POD system.

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