09 June 2017
of Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD)
The logistics industry is one of the fastest moving in the UK. It’s
also one of the most influenced by new technology – both directly and
indirectly – meaning that there are more options and increased flexibility for
logistics businesses and consumers alike.
When it comes to delivery, next-day time slots, email updates, text
notifications and electronic signatures are all expectations rather than
idealistic requests in today’s environment. But it is all underpinned by the
technology working in the background to ensure a smooth and efficient service
with accurate updates and tracking.
But what’s next? Well, to understand how the industry is going to
evolve, it’s important to look at the current conditions and recognise where
the opportunities – and the challenges – will be coming from in both the medium
Advances in how we buy, receive and return goods have had far-reaching
effects. Consumers now expect a very high standard of service, which has
largely been driven by the retail market.
Logistics is under more intense customer pressure than ever before and
the standard is being set by one-day and even same-day deliveries, such as
Amazon Prime Now. EPOD systems have to be able to guarantee that they can match
this service, and the best systems will offer vehicle and resource management,
real-time tracking, instant invoicing, reduced paperwork and easy integration
with other platforms.
Whether business or residential, customers want real-time information
at their fingertips. This means accurate ETAs, geo-fencing and integrated IT
systems from intake to invoice.
But many SMEs today run several different systems between transport,
warehousing and back office functions. Data can be often be imported or
exported, but there is little true integration. This means that it is very hard
for many companies to have accurate data, and this in turn often limits
companies’ ability to save money.
It’s expected that cloud computing will speed up the industry’s change
to fully integrated systems. This will seamlessly connect mobile workforces
with offices and management, offering huge benefits like instant scalability, a
freeing of in-house IT resource and low upfront investment.
around the corner?
Many of the changes that will have an impact over the next 3-5 years
are already underway, but it may take time for some solutions to find their
place in an already tech-heavy marketplace.
One critical area that many businesses have identified is the
so-called ‘last mile’, where drivers can offer a personal touch to help raise
customer satisfaction at the point of delivery. At a time when items can be
bought and delivered with minimal human interaction, it’s important to retain a
customer service element and this where drivers – especially those at SMEs -
can shine. Of course, they still need to be supported by accurate information
in order to fulfil these duties, which the latest mobile devices and EPOD
solutions can provide.
Meanwhile it’s expected that more manufacturing work will return to
Europe and the UK as costs rise in countries like China. However, this will
alleviate environmental pressure to shorten supply chains and create more local
The environment is a key issue that
must be considered going forward. In 2015, UK’s e-logistics sector dispatched
over 1 billion parcels nationwide, according to Apex Insights’ Global Parcel
Delivery Market Insight Report.
By 2040, the equivalent of more than 100
million working days could be lost to traffic congestion unless new
technologies emerge to improve logistics efficiency.
One way to alleviate this issue is to make
better use of space. Due to a lack of visibility in the job scheduling process,
vehicles are often loaded improperly, wasting available space. EPOD can help
provide better visibility of orders and delivery dates, helping decrease the
number of vehicles on the road and thereby also reducing fuel and maintenance
Although many of the long-term changes we could see develop in
logistic will be driven by what happens in the next few years, there are a few
issues that businesses need to prepare for.
Supply chains will see substantial re-engineering both at an
operational and infrastructural level in order to meet cost and environmental
It’s also expected that internationally recognised consignments codes will
be created to allow a single RFID or barcode to speak for a product at every
border, port or terminal, but transport systems will have to integrate
horizontally and vertically.
The industry will also start to operate with increased interactivity
between suppliers, transport providers and retailers. This is one reason why
any EPOD systems must have easy system integration options so that they can
effectively deal with data at any level.
No matter what the future brings, EPOD will provide a number of
benefits both internally and externally.
Businesses gain an increased level of visibility to help with job
scheduling and vehicle tracking, which in turn helps increase efficiency and
accuracy. Customers gain an advantage by being able to track their own delivery
and gain an electronic proof of delivery – providing reassurance and confidence
particularly to those buying high-value goods.
In today’s competitive marketplace, and looking at the challenges and
opportunities that may arise in the future, businesses equipped with EPOD will
be well placed to cope with whatever is thrown at them.