date06 January 2020

The benefits of introducing photography to your POD solution

Every e-Commerce business has its peak times of year be it Mothering Sunday, Easter or Christmas. Offering free delivery, or same day / next day delivery service to guarantee items make it to customers on time has become a differentiator and value-added service.  

However, recent press stories suggest that people are being let down by delivery companies and there is room for improvement. For example, research by Which? suggests that at least one order will go wrong for someone over the Christmas period. Gifts not arriving or being left in unsafe ‘safe’ places are high up on the list the gripes.  

In the grand scheme of things, one order going wrong may not sound like a lot. But the time to remedy it, not to mention the resulting brand damage, can add up financially and cost delivery companies time they haven’t got.    

However, with the right technology and processes in place it’s possible to avoid these sorts of costly mistakes during peak times.  

Photographic evidence

For many couriers a big question is how do you prove you left the goods where instructed? Indeed, how can you prove you were at an address at all? The practicalities are tricky to manage.  

It’s not viable to ask your drivers to take photos with their mobile phones. For one, you would have potentially dozens of images an hour coming into the office. This would add up to a big distraction to the critical job of route scheduling and management.  

Secondly, it’s not something drivers will necessarily want to sign up to – hundreds of images of front doors on their phone isn’t an ideal scenario.   And finally, you would be hard pushed to work out which image was associated to which order, never mind be able to store them in a structured way so they are easy to find and refer to if the need arises.   That’s where technology can help.

Most people are now familiar with the concept of signing for the receipt of goods. It’s a simple process for the customer, using a smart device, on to which they sign their signature.  

The software knows which signatures are associated to which orders, and can update the back office systems. This makes it easy to recall them using an order number or surname / address as needed. In the same way, a barcode on the item can be scanned on delivery.  

This confirmation is also an ideal way to feed into the control centre’s dashboard so the team back at base can see how well the delivery schedule is going and if new schedules are needed in the instance where additional attempts are necessary.  

Real time data capture can also help with cash flow as a completed delivery is a trigger to invoice the client.   

But the possibilities with a smart device don’t end with a signature and bar code. In instances where people have nominated a safe place, it’s now possible to take an image of the item in situ using the same device and link it to the order in the same way.  

The beauty of this is that everything is in one place. One order has a set of events associated to it, which are easy to view. Photographs can even be sent to the customer as proof that while they were out the delivery was made as instructed ie to a porch or a garage. This will be a game changer for delivery companies. They can reassure customers that they are following the instructions they gave them.  

But more than that it demonstrates to the customer that drivers take responsibility for how an item is delivered, and its safety. It’s not left in a place that’s putting it in harms way or exposed to the open elements. It builds trust in not only your brand, but the company the goods are from. That’s a boon for delivery companies wanting to bid for contracts at this time of year. Being able to show you are an extension of a retailer’s values in terms of how they treat customers is really important today.   If your retail brand stands for exceptional service then you want to know it happens to a high standard at every customer touch point including the delivery.

And even if a customer isn’t in to take a delivery you want to know that you can offer reassurance the goods are being looked after as they’d expect, either at a neighbour’s, in a safe place or back at the depot.  

Other benefits of using PODStar

As well as collecting evidence of delivery, TouchStar’s solution can also be used for job scheduling and planning, integrating seamlessly with back office systems so jobs can be allocated according to driver availability.  

PODStar uses real time job information, so you can also drag and drop the jobs on the manifest on to the relevant vehicles and, using built-in checks, make sure you are not overloading the vehicle. This can also be aligned with initiatives to save money such as fuel consumption by optimising routes, and tracking drivers to ensure things are all going smoothly, or alter routes if there are traffic problems.