date06 September 2016
Proof of delivery (POD) plays a crucial operational role for businesses across the world. It allows them – and their customers – to keep track of products as they move through the chain to their final destination. It also has legal benefits, and can help with the optimisation of delivery processes. For maximum benefit, however, it must be done in the right way.

You have a few options when choosing how to obtain proof of delivery, and it’s important that you pick the one that best fits your needs. Below are four of the most obvious candidates.

Traditional signatures

We start with the most conventional – or at least traditional – option: old fashioned handwritten signatures. While most of the world has already started adopting a paperless approach to working, many companies are still using clipboards and forms to take the signatures of recipients.

On the face of it, this seems like the simplest and cheapest approach. You could also say it’s tried-and-tested, having been used for centuries. There are various flaws to consider, however. 

The information taken on paper must be manually transferred to its next location if it’s to be of any use, be it a computer or a filing system. This takes up valuable time, and increases the risk of error.

Electronic proof of delivery – Dedicated device

In recent years we’ve seen an increase in the number of companies using electronic proof of delivery (EPOD) systems, and there are a couple of types on the market. The first to consider involves using a dedicated handheld device. 

This kind of equipment allows the driver to obtain the relevant order details quickly by scanning a barcode or entering an order number, and then match it to a digitally drawn signature from the recipient. The information can then either be uploaded by physically docking the system back at base or sent over the internet. High-end systems can also make use of GPS and cameras.

As a result, the data is transferred quickly and securely, with 100 per cent accuracy.

Electronic proof of delivery – Mobile software

Taking the previous idea a step further, some companies are using EPOD solutions that come with mobile compatibility, meaning the software can run on smartphones and tablet computers. These operate in much the same way, although they make use of equipment the driver is already likely to have with them.

Adding to this, the software can make use of a constant internet connection to upload data in real time and to download useful updates. GPS can also be used to provide location-based data relevant to each delivery.

All forms of EPOD are environmentally friendly, as they help businesses decrease their reliance on paper. As well as being a benefit in itself, it looks good to customers.

Requested confirmation

Last and probably still least, we have one of the more questionable methods of finalising a delivery. Some companies, mainly in the ecommerce sector, insist on requesting confirmation from recipients after a delivery has been made. This isn’t proof as such, and the pitfalls are numerous.

The biggest issue is that it relies on the honesty of all customers. If someone says they haven’t received something and there’s no evidence to say otherwise, the seller or supplier is usually the one left out of pocket. Even if the confirmation is simply not provided, you miss out on data for your own records; the order process is essentially never closed. 

The only plus side of this is the short-term cost, but that’ll soon be outweighed by forced replacement orders.

The verdict

To us, it’s clear that electronic proof of delivery is the only way to go. Not only is it more secure and convenient for drivers, it’s also the most environmentally friendly option. To find out more about some of the solutions available from TouchStar, get in touch today.