Proof of delivery

You, your drivers, and your customers rely on Proof-of-Delivery as a means of ensuring that goods are delivered as agreed. In this blog, we'll discuss everything you need to know about POD's in 2021.

A woman signing on a smartphone as proof of delivery for 2 delivered packages


One of the most important steps in the process of delivering physical goods is Proof-of-Delivery (POD).

PODs are common in the courier, logistics, haulage and shipping industries and can be central to the success and reputation of a delivery business.

In this blog, we’ll look at the different types of POD, including ePODs and traditional paper PODs and look at the various benefits and drawbacks of each.

We’ll also examine the purpose the PODs serve for various stakeholders in the delivery process.

What is Proof-of-Delivery and Why Does it Matter?

As the name suggested, 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.

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 retail purchases are expected to rise from 14.1% to 22% globally.

In the traditional brick-and-mortar setting, the purchase of goods was a more simple transaction. You picked up the item you wanted in the store, brought it to a cashier, and exchanged it for your hard-earned cash. In exchange, they gave you a receipt for your goods and you took it home with your new purchase.

In effect, this receipt acted as your Proof-of-Purchase AND Proof-of-Delivery. It was evidence of the exchange between you and the cashier.

Of course, the convenience of online shopping means that customers no longer need to visit a store. They simply go online, find the product that best suits their needs, put in their payment details, and have it delivered to their home in less than a few days.

This has meant that the customer no longer needs to be present and that the goods can be delivered at their home to their absence.

This is where PODSs are so important.

When goods are delivered, a POD is required by:

  • The end-customer to whom the goods are delivered. In the event of the customer not finding their parcel or even a family member or neighbour picking it up, they know where it is
  • The driver by whom the goods are delivered. This serves as proof that they completed their job if the customer raises a query or dispute
  • The depot and customer support staff who may have to deal with queries about a delivery from a customer while the driver is on the road
  • The accounts and billing staff that invoice the customer for deliveries in some cases

Who uses PODs?

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.

If you're delivering anything from food to fuel, you will most likely want to provide your customers with the best possible service to protect your business’s reputation. When consumers purchase goods, they part with their hard-earned cash in exchange. And when you pay for goods, you also expect every touchpoint in your customer journey to be flawless.

We’ve all done it.

We’ve ordered online. We’ve waited patiently. We got excited when we received the message to say our delivery driver will arrive soon.

If you’ve then been let down or can’t find your parcel, it can kill the experience.

Just take a look at ‘Proof-of-Delivery’ on Twitter if you don’t believe us:

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 most 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.

The Types of Proof-of-Delivery

Paper Delivery Notes and PODs

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.

A typical paper POD from a triplicate book

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

Delivery Scanners

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 & Digital Delivery Notes

This has been a game-changer for Proof-of-Delivery.

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.

Comparison of ePODs vs Paper PODs

Comparison chart detailsing the differences between electronic Proof of Delivery & Paper Proof of Delivery

How an ePOD works

Driver Mobile 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. 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.

A quick eSig and Photo POD on the SmartRoutes Driver Mobile App

SmartRoutes Desktop Planner

The desktop planner 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.

The full ePOD is instantly transferred to the Live Routes Dashboard for access by the depot, office, and admin staff.

4 Top Tips for recording PODs

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 PODs

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, automate, automate (Although this one really only pertains to ePODs)

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.

Resources for Proof of Delivery

If you’ve read this far, we hope that we’ve provided you with proof of just how important Proof-of-Delivery is.

And as a reward for reading this far, we’ve also provided some downloadable resources.

1. Paper Proof-of-Delivery Template

While we recommend ePODs and Digital Delivery Notes for the reasons outlined above, we know that paper can still have its place. It might even be useful if you want to complete a comparative exercise between paper PODs and ePODs for your business:

Free Printable Proof-of-Delivery Template

2. Free Trial of SmartRoutes Delivery Route Planner

Our delivery route planner includes ePOD and sign-on glass technology to completely integrate and automate your processes from dispatch to reporting. You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial below to try it for yourself. We advise you to make the most of the Desktop Route Planner and the Driver Mobile Apps over the course of the 7-day trial by accessing the Help Video section in your free account:

Try SmartRoutes For Free

SmartRoutes is a feature-packed Delivery Route Planner that combines a Desktop Route Planner and Driver Mobile Apps. Whether you have 1 vehicle or 100, it can save you time and money and transform the logistics of your delivery service and business as a whole.

Curious to see how our electronic Proof-of-Delivery could work for you?

Feel free to check out the rest of our blog and website and sign-up for a 7-day free trial and test it out, boost productivity and save time and money.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about delivery management software, you can check out our blog here.