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Proof of Delivery: Definitive Guide to POD (2023)
Learn what is proof of delivery. The difference between POD and bill of lading, and the benefits of using electronic proof of delivery vs. paper PODs.
What Is Proof of Delivery?
Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document that confirms an order has arrived at its destination and was successfully delivered to the intended recipient. PODs tend to include recipients’ name and address, order details, tracking number, and a signature that shows the delivery was completed.
In other words:
You order something to be delivered. And the POD is what you have to sign to receive it once it arrives.
What Information Is Included in a Proof of Delivery Document?
Proof of delivery documents can contain a variety of information:
- Name and address of the recipient
- Details about the customer’s order
- Details about the transaction
- Time of delivery
- Invoice and payment details
- Shipping details
- Product specifications
- Price quotes
- Tracking number
- Barcode or QR code
- Item listing and description
- Item quantity and weight
In general, there is common information all carriers and delivery companies add to a POD. This includes:
- Carrier name and logo
- Date and time of delivery
- Recipient’s name and address
- Delivery order number
- Receivers’ signature
Here’s what that looks like:
Types of Proof of Delivery
Proof of delivery comes in two different forms: a paper POD and an electronic POD (or ePOD).
A paper POD is a physical document customers have to sign by hand once a product or service is delivered. Here’s what a printed DHL proof of delivery looks like:
An electronic POD is a digital document customers sign with an electronic signature, and/or the delivery driver has to scan a code or take a photo of the delivery at the doorstep to show completion.
Here’s what an electronic proof of delivery from DHL looks like:
(But more on this later.)
Other types of proof of delivery include:
The most common type of POD. It is used for shipping purchases to customers that have already paid for them.
This POD is used when damages occur to the shipment and it doesn’t match the delivery specifications. It is also known as a “dirty POD”.
To-order PODs are negotiable. The ownership of the delivery is transferred from one party to another through a third party who is listed in the document. This is typically used by third-party logistics providers, such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and other large carriers.
What Is the Difference Between a POD and a BOL?
The main difference is that the bill of lading (BOL) is used as a legal contract between a shipper and freight carrier upon pick-up. On the other hand, a proof of delivery is a receipt that confirms an order was delivered to a customer.
Put another way:
You sign a bill of lading when the carrier comes to pick up goods for shipping. You sign a proof of delivery when the carrier drops off a package to you.
Here’s an example of a bill of lading:
The goal of both a POD and BOL is to provide a contract between the carrier and service user.
And protect the liability and interests of the drivers and delivery company.
A POD isn’t legally binding. It gives customers a piece of mind and improves their satisfaction. And helps both customers and carriers prove (or disprove) that the delivery was completed.
A BOL is a legally binding contract between the shipper and carrier. It gives information about the legal ownership of the products being transported. Including their description, quantity, and destination. And the terms and conditions of the services that the carrier provides.
Proof of Delivery vs. Bill of Lading
Why Is Proof of Delivery Important?
Proof of delivery determines that a delivery is completed. That’s why it’s also called Proof of completion.
PODs help customers to know if and when their product or service was delivered. PODs also protect customers, allowing them to confirm or deny the delivery if they didn’t receive what was ordered.
For your business, PODs help you to track and confirm delivery drop-offs. So using PODs can lower unnecessary costs to replace or refund an order, or redo a delivery. And PODs can even let you know if the delivery attempt was unsuccessful and how many it took for drivers to fulfill a specific order.
Benefits of Using POD for Your Customers
POD reassures customers about their orders. With in-store shopping, customers have complete control over when they get their purchase. With online shopping, this isn’t the case. Customers can have almost no control if and when their order will arrive. In fact, 91% of customers actively track orders, with 39% of them doing it at least once a day. So a proof of delivery gives customers at least some peace of mind that they’re getting their orders delivered and when they can expect it to arrive.
POD helps customers to verify a delivery. A POD is the best way for customers to check whether they have received the products or services that they have purchased before signing off the delivery. It also makes it easier for customers to schedule returns or request reimbursement in case of a mixed up order or damages in transit.
POD makes it more difficult for orders to get stolen. When customers receive a proof of delivery, they know to bring their delivery inside their home or office. This is especially useful in case of contactless delivery. And decreases the effectiveness of porch pirates.
Benefits of Using POD for Your Business
POD helps you to provide a better delivery experience. When drivers set off on their routes, there’s little you can do to know what they’re doing. But when drivers have to collect proof of delivery before they can mark a delivery complete, this gives you more visibility over their activities. And more control over the quality of the customer’s delivery experience.
POD improves order accuracy and keeps costs low. Customers use POD to confirm their orders have been delivered. So there is no need to spend unnecessary money to refund or replace orders. With services, field service agents can take photos to confirm the job is done correctly and according to the customer’s wishes. This prevents you from spending money to send another team to repeat a job.
POD raises the efficiency of your office staff. With an electronic POD, staff at the office receive an automated confirmation from the driver’s app that a delivery or service is completed. This cuts the time necessary to do paperwork and track driver activities. It also means you can see when the order is delivered and how many delivery attempts it took to drop it off. Which reduces late deliveries and helps you to keep track of driver performance.
Proof of Delivery FAQ
How Do You Collect Proof of Delivery?
Typically, delivery drivers collect POD at the customer’s doorstep.
This can be both a paper POD and an electronic POD.
With an ePOD, the driver hands a tablet or phone where the recipient can sign it.
But with electronic POD, it doesn’t have to be collected manually
A driver can simply scan a code and take a photo to show the delivery is completed.
While the customer receives an email, downloadable link, or app notification to sign off on the delivery.
Who Should Sign the Proof of Delivery?
Proof of delivery is a two-way verification process.
Both the recipient and sender have to sign off on the document to confirm a successful delivery.
In the case of direct-to-consumer delivery, the customer signs the document.
While the delivery driver has to collect the POD and send it back to the office.
If unavailable, the customer can authorize another person to sign the POD.
But this has to be underlined when the customer orders a delivery.
When to Sign the Proof of Delivery?
You should only sign a POD if and when:
- Your order has arrived at the right address
- Your order contains all of its items
- You’ve checked the items for damage
The delivery driver should remind you to do all of this and give you enough time to do it.
How to Inspect a Delivery Before You Sign the POD?
To properly inspect a delivery before signing a POD, you should:
- Record the delivery process. Take a photograph or record a video for evidence if your shipment is damaged or missing certain items. That makes it easier to establish when the problem occurred and request a replacement or reimbursement.
- Check the shipment together with the driver. Make sure the driver is present when you open and inspect your package. And have the driver sign the note, if there’s any issue with your delivery.
- Sign the POD. If everything is okay with your order, you can sign the proof of delivery.
How to Handle a Damaged Delivery After Signing the POD?
If your delivery got to you damaged, and you’ve signed the POD, there are a few steps you can follow:
- Notify the carrier or store immediately. Don’t waste time. If you notice that one or more items in your shipment are damaged, call up customer service and let them know straight away.
- File the claim right away. It’s important to file the damage claim right away and include all the information (even though the customer has 14 days to report it). The driver should help you with this.
- Record everything. It’s essential for drivers and customers to document the issues so that neither party is fined.
- Move the delivery somewhere safe. When the shipment is in your possession, it’s your responsibility to prevent any further damage.
- Pay for the delivery. You aren’t legally allowed to claim a return if you can’t provide proof of payment for your purchase.
The Big Problem with Paper POD: Efficiency.
Manually collecting proof of delivery still works GREAT.
(When done right.)
But there’s one big problem when it comes to using paper POD:
And if you want to compete with your delivery, your business NEEDS to stop using paper.
First, it’s slow. It takes a lot of time for your customers to check and fill out a POD.
That means the delivery driver will spend more time with the customer.
Which can prevent him from reaching the next stop on his route on time.
And he’ll qualify for overtime. Or he won’t be able to deliver all of the orders in his schedule.
Your company will lose money either way.
Second, it’s frustrating. Both for your customers and delivery drivers.
Imagine finally receiving your order, only to spend 10 minutes filling out a form.
Or waiting on a customer to do it, while you have 30 more stops on your route.
And having to carry a stack of papers together with a heavy package. Not great.
Third, paper PODs are difficult to store. For example, take a look at Amazon.
Amazon ships 1.6 million packages PER DAY.
Imagine if their office staff had to process and store all 1.6 million PODs each day.
They’ll need an extremely large office.
Now imagine if something were to happen to that building.
Which brings us to…
Fourth, a paper POD can easily get damaged.
And that can happen even before it reaches the office.
If that happens, there’s no chance of recovering it.
Which means a customer can claim reimbursement, and you’ll have to comply.
Finally, there is room for human error.
If the paper POD is illegible, your office team can make bad decisions.
Or it will take time to check the information.
So when you do the math, using paper POD and collecting it manually can cost you a whole lot of money.
Luckily, there is a solution:
It’s called electronic proof of delivery. Or ePOD.
Why Electronic Proof of Delivery Works in 2023?
At this point, you’re probably considering electronic proof of delivery.
But to drive the point home, we want to take a second to highlight the benefits of ePOD.
And how it raises the efficiency of your operations.
Electronic POD relies on software. And like any other software solution that you use, this promotes automation. Which is important on so many levels.
Case in point:
51% of businesses are investing in automation. Which in some industries gets as high as 66%.
Automating with proof of delivery software:
- Makes it easier to collect POD from customers
- Simplifies how staff process and store POD
- Removes the need to use pen and paper
- Reduces the chance of human error
- Gives you 24/7 access to POD data
#2 Delivery Experience
Collecting ePODs is faster. Which means it’s less frustrating and easier for customers.
It also means drivers don’t spend too much time with customers at their doorstep.
Which can give them a chance to build relationships with customers. Or use the extra time to gather feedback.
#3 Quality of Service
Electronic POD is transparent. Customers have much more oversight over their delivery.
Which gives them a greater peace of mind. And improves their satisfaction with your service.
It also gives a clear overview of drivers’ performance in the field. Since you can check their activities to ensure quality control.
And whether or not they are actually delivering products and/or services to your customers, the way you want them to.
#4 Real-Time Visibility
Because drivers collect electronic POD via software, you have visibility over each POD in real time.
It also means you get notified when a POD is collected. And when it isn’t.
So you can immediately manage the situation, if something unexpected happens.
Or check-in with the driver to see why he hasn’t delivered a package to the customer.
And prevent customers from having a bad delivery experience.
#5 Optimized Performance
With complete visibility and control, you can optimize for better performance of your workforce.
You can analyze performance over time because you have all the data on hand.
Which means you can track historical data, and:
Uncover problems and fix them.
Implement strategies to improve performance.
And then repeat the steps to continuously optimize your operations.
How You Can Provide Electronic Proof of Delivery with eLogii?
The electronic POD has been an integral feature of eLogii from the beginning.
In fact, it’s so important for our users that it’s available for all three plans that we offer:
As you can see, drivers can use the app on their phone to collect POD in six different ways:
- Signature capture
- Photo capture
- Custom code verification
- Barcode / QR code capture
- Custom driver confirmation
- Cash-on-delivery confirmation
Our electronic POD also comes with task geo-stamps and time-stamps.
Which means staff at the office knows where and when the driver collected the POD.
You can also customize how drivers collect proof of delivery for individual customers:
This makes it easier to meet specific customer demands. Or to provide more security.
And we’ve also added a .CSV file import history:
Which makes it easier to access and review past POD at a moment’s notice.
And our proof of delivery capability falls under a wider software suite that includes route planning and optimization:
Live tracking and dispatching:
Delivery data analytics:
And many more features out of 97 in total. (With more coming every month.)
How Does Electronic Proof of Delivery Work?
eLogii is a SaaS product. Our platform has two main components:
- A web dashboard
- A mobile app
To set up proof of delivery, you use the dashboard.
Here you can select what you want drivers to collect:
Review collected POD for each task:
And even print them out, per POD or in batches:
eLogii also lets you to create labels for all tasks (to scan codes as POD):
To collect proof of delivery, your drivers use the driver app on their mobile devices:
If you mark POD as required, the driver can’t complete a task without collecting the POD.
Once he does collect it, the app marks the task done. And sends that information (including the POD) to the dashboard:
A dispatcher, for example, will receive a notification about this.
While all PODs are collected and stored on your account.
Which are accessible at any time, since our software operates using cloud technology.
And that’s basically how proof of delivery works with eLogii.
Why eLogii Is the Best Tool for Your Business
Here’s the deal:
eLogii isn’t the only route optimization software with electronic proof of delivery.
In fact, we’ve reviewed 29 other route planning software solutions.
And you can find a lot of in-depth reviews on our blog.
Plus, there is 258 other similar tools on Capterra:
But we still think you should consider eLogii.
Especially if you want to improve your delivery, end to end.
- 97+ software features and capabilities. You can automate every part of your operations and every stage of your delivery process.
- 105% increase in cost savings. Depending on the size and complexity of your business, you can save as much as $1,126.67 per vehicle per month.
- 265% return on investment with our route optimization software. We recently analyzed our clients after they’ve started using eLogii. Click the link to find out more.
- 56% increase in sales from delivery optimization. Optimizing routes and delivery operations can help you to raise how many orders you can handle and receive.
- Our Routing API allows you to connect eLogii with any other software. Which makes it easier to integrate our solution with any other tool that you’re using.
- Our customer support team gets back to you, fast. We’ve actually checked this. And it took our team just 20 minutes to respond to our query.
But we understand that this may not be enough for you.