Last mile delivery

Proof of Delivery: Definitive Guide

Proof of Delivery: Definitive Guide

This is a definitive guide to proof of delivery.

In this new guide, you’ll learn:

  • What is proof of delivery?
  • What can be used as proof of delivery?
  • Why do you need it?
  • How can you get electronic proof of delivery?
  • What are the benefits of using it?
  • And a lot, a lot more.

So if you want to collect reports and delivery confirmations from customers faster and easier, then this guide is for you.

Let’s jump right in.

Proof of Delivery

Is it necessary to collect proof of delivery?

YES!

In fact, PODs have been the backbone of contactless delivery since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 and its effects in 2021.

And before that, companies have used PODs to ensure security, transparency, and visibility over the last mile.

So if you’ve never used delivery notes or proof of delivery of any kind - or doubt their value in the supply chain - this chapter is for you.

In this chapter, we’ll explain the basics of POD and how you can start collecting it. Based on our own delivery experience in London.

What Is Proof of Delivery?

Proof of delivery (POD) is the term used for receipts, notes, or any other types of documents (paper or digital) that confirm (or prove) the recipient has received contents sent by the sender. The recipient acknowledges that they’ve received the sent item based on their verification of the POD.

In delivery logistics, proof of delivery serves a dual purpose:

PODs protect customers (recipients). Customers can use them to confirm that they’ve received the purchase via delivery from a specific company.

PODs allow businesses to track drop-offs. They can confirm whether or not the delivery has successfully reached the intended recipient.

So when the recipient signs the proof of delivery, it also becomes a valid confirmation that all of the ordered items are present and have arrived without visible damage.

Typically, proof of delivery documents can contain a variety of information:

  • Name and address of the recipient
  • Transaction details
  • Purchase order information
  • Invoices
  • Shipping details
  • Product specifications
  • Price quotes

Why Is Proof of Delivery Important?

Proof of delivery is a form of assurance about the delivery agreement.

As mentioned, it protects both the sender and receiver and the delivery provider.

If both sides sign it, that means everybody gets what they’ve agreed. And it was a successful delivery.

So, both parties must check all of the information before signing the POD.

Proof of delivery allows the receiver:

  • to refuse the delivery if they are not satisfied with the condition of the package or they are missing items;
  • to put a note that they’ve received the package with visible damage, breakage, or leakage.

Proof of delivery allows the seller

  • to put a remark if they received the returned package in poor condition;
  • to check if their delivery agents are working according to the code of conduct.

Proof of Delivery Documents

Proof of delivery documents are as old as the first post office.

But it’s still an important part of delivery logistics in 2021.

(In fact, POD is a huge deal in eCommerce.)

And in this part, we’ll show you how to create a POD, what to include, and more.

What to Include in a Proof of Delivery Form?

There is no universal proof of delivery form.

What it includes depends a lot on how your business, how it works, and what you sell.

But there is some common information for all PODs

And usually, proof of delivery document has:

  • Shipper or courier Logo
  • Date and time of delivery
  • Name of the recipient
  • DO number or barcode
  • Item(s) for delivery, quantity/weight
  • Receivers’ signature

Here’s an example of a standard proof of delivery used by the United States Postal Service:

proof-of-delivery-usps

Source usps.com

The rest of the fields on the POD form can be for the information your business requires.

For example, if your company delivers electronic devices, it is advisable to include the serial number of the product in POD form.

Proof of Delivery Examples

As we’ve mentioned, there isn’t a universal POD format that all companies use.

So there are a lot of examples of proof of delivery.

Some of them include:

Straight POD

The most common type of POD. It is used for shipping purchases to customers that have already paid for them.

Claused POD

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 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.

Electronic POD

Electronic proof of delivery or ePODs are paperless, digital versions of PODs. We’ll discuss them later in more detail.

Apart from these PODs, there are some that depend on the mode of transportation.

Typically, these forms are used by air, ocean, international road, or rail cargo transports. This includes those that combine multiple methods of transportation.

How to Collect Delivery PODs?

Collecting proof of delivery is the main idea behind this method of delivery confirmation.

Question: how do you collect PODs?

Typically, this is done in person. At the customer’s door.

Usually, by the person who drops off the order.

But what does your delivery agent actually have to do?

That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this part of the guide.

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 agent signs that the package is delivered.

If the recipient is unavailable, he can authorize another person to sign the POD. In this case, however, it’s harder to return purchases.

If the authorized person isn’t listed as the recipient, it’s difficult to prove the package wasn’t damaged after the POD has been signed.

That’s why many companies return missed orders back to depot locations. Or they reschedule the delivery to a more appropriate time when the customer can accept it.

This way the customer remains protected. While the company doesn’t risk harming the customer’s delivery experience.

When to Sign the Proof of Delivery Document?

The person who is receiving the shipment should always thoroughly check the shipment for damage before signing the POD.

When you sign the POD, you are confirming that the shipment was intended for you and that it arrived wholesome and undamaged.

Often, people receive a shipment and sign the proof of delivery without actually inspecting the shipment. That is a huge mistake.

If you sign the POD and find damage later, it will be very hard to prove that the damage wasn’t made by you.

That’s why delivery agents should remind customers to check the package before signing the POD. And have ample time with the customer to complete this task.

Inspecting a Delivery Before Singing the POD

To properly inspect a delivery before signing a POD, the customer should:

  • Record the delivery process - Make photographs and video evidence that the shipment is damaged or the customer is missing certain items. That way it’s easier to establish when the delivery was damaged.
  • Check the shipment together with the driver, so he is aware of the issues. And in case the customer finds any issues, the driver should put a signature next to the notes as confirmation.
  • Thoroughly examine the shipment for visible damage – both the driver and customer should check the packaging for tears, holes, stains, and other signs of damage.
  • The driver should check the delivery packaging before giving the customer a POD to sign. This way, he ensures the responsibility for the damaged items doesn’t fall onto the customer.

Handling a Damaged Delivery Post POD

If your delivery post got to you damaged, and you want to make sure you’ll receive compensation there are a few steps to follow:

There are a few steps customers should follow:

  • Accept the shipment, even if it has damage. But they have to make sure to note the damages in the POD.
  • 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 the customer’s possession it’s their responsibility to prevent any further damage.
  • 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 delivery agent should help customers with this.
  • Pay for the delivery: The customer isn’t legally allowed to claim a return if he can’t provide proof of payment.

The Problem with Manually Collecting POD

As you can guess, there are some problems with manually collecting POD.

The biggest problem, potentially, is that handling paper PODs is slow.

First, it takes customers a lot of time to check and fill out the paperwork before signing off on the delivery.

This can be frustrating both for the customer and delivery agent.

At the same time, this also means the POD doesn’t reach the transportation hub until the driver finishes all the stops on his route.

Once it reaches the office, the POD has to be processed and added to the records.

If you have a digital filing system, this also means inputting data manually into the system.

All of this leaves a lot of space for human error.

Besides this, it’s inconvenient for everyone to fill out the forms.

Often, the customer’s handwriting may be difficult to read.

Plus, the paper can easily get damaged or lost with a small to no chance of recovering it.

And the amount of information you can include on a paper form is limited.

It’s also very hard to change or access it when you want to.

Luckily, more and more companies are turning to a different way of collecting POD.

Electronic Proof of Delivery

proof-of-delivery

Electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) has been a massive success for last-mile delivery during COVID-19.

And for a good reason:

ePOD doesn’t have to require physical contact.

Which makes it perfect for contactless delivery.

And it’s much faster to collect than paper PODs.

Which means businesses can fulfill more orders.

And that’s just one way to improve last mile delivery when demand exceeds your capacity.

But what is ePOD? And how does it work?

Let’s find out.

What Is Electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD)?

Electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) is a digital proof of delivery. Instead of paper, delivery agents use a variety of confirmation methods such as e-signatures, photographs, QR codes, barcodes, alphanumeric codes, online notes and forms to verify the delivery has reached the intended recipient.

What Is Electronic Proof of Delivery Software?

To collect ePODs, companies typically rely on some kind of electronic proof of delivery software.

Today, there are also ePOD apps and ePOD modules integrated into larger software suites.

This is the case, for example, with delivery management software.

This end-to-end software automates the entire delivery process. Not just proof of delivery.

Most of these apps also adopt a cloud-first approach to delivery logistics. So there is almost no limit to how many ePODs companies can issue.

In using ePOD software, businesses raise the mobility and flexibility of their fleet.

And at the office, dispatchers gain more visibility over their operations in the field. Not to mention, control over driver tasks and performance.

How Does Electronic Proof of Delivery Work?

When used as an independent system, electronic proof of delivery software functions just like any other app on your phone.

You install the app on a mobile device (phone or tablet) and use it to collect POD directly from the customer.

You can do this either by collecting a filled-out e-form or taking an electronic signature. Or by scanning a specific order code once the customer approves the drop-off.

The issue with this approach is accessing PODs once they’re collected.

You’ll either have to integrate the ePOD software with a more robust solution. Or you’ll have to export the data manually when you want to use it.

A better approach is to use an end-to-end solution, such as a delivery management platform.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery systems have two components:

  • A dashboard, and;
  • A mobile app.

Delivery agents use the app and a mobile device to collect the POD. (Just like with the independent ePOD software.)

But once the POD is uploaded to the app, it automatically makes the data available on the dashboard.

From there, dispatchers can review it, store it (on the cloud), and access it at a later date.

Because of this, many companies use ePODs as a reporting system.

When a driver uploads a new ePOD onto the app, the software marks the delivery as completed.

Dispatchers can monitor the progress of each driver live, as they move from stop to stop along their routes.

In both cases, the driver apps work with iOS and Android operating systems. This means you can integrate them with the devices your drivers already use.

The Role of ePOD in Delivery Logistics

There are two roles that ePOD fulfills in delivery logistics:

First, it validates the delivery.

Just like any other proof of delivery, electronic proof of delivery software collects delivery confirmations.

The software does this in a variety of ways:

  • Electronic signatures (e-signatures)
  • Electronic delivery forms (e-forms)
  • Electronic delivery notes (e-notes)
  • Barcodes
  • QR codes
  • Unique alphanumeric codes
  • Unique order identification numbers
  • Photographs
  • Timestamps
  • Geo-stamps

proof-of-delivery

This type of electronic delivery confirmation ensures that drivers spend less time at the customer’s doorstep.

Which, in turn, reduces time waste, improving driver performance as well as customer service.

Secondly, most companies use ePODs as a reporting tool.

All collected PODs are automatically uploaded to the main system. There, dispatchers and logistics managers can review them and add them to the registry.

This also means that teams at the office can track the activities of teams in the field.

They can check to see if the drivers have dropped off the package according to instructions. Or follow up on order accuracy, missed deliveries, and delivery times.

In case there is a return request following a POD, CS teams can access the data straight away. And after reviewing it, take action to ensure maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction.

But there are other advantages to using ePODs and ePOD software:

Benefits of Using Electronic Proof of Delivery

proof-of-delivery

At this point, you’re probably considering electronic proof of delivery.

Great!

But to drive the point home, it’s time to take a deep dive into the real-life benefits of ePOD.

And how you can use it to raise the efficiency of your delivery.

Let’s jump right in.

#1 No Need for Paperwork

Removing manual tasks from delivery logistics is critical for automation. Case in point:

Electronic proof of delivery removes the need for pen and paper delivery confirmation.

This may be the biggest benefit of using ePOD.

With this upgrade, collecting PODs becomes easier and faster for both drivers and customers.

And because the process is digital, it also removes the risk of human error and mistakes.

Add to that the cloud storage and 24/7 availability, and you have a system in place that can achieve peak efficiency.

#2 Better Communication with Customers

With less time spent filling out forms, drivers can dedicate more time during drop-off to the people that matter - your customers.

With more time on their hands, delivery agents can build relationships with customers.

And you can use delivery to win over customers.

Plus, the extra time can provide drivers with a chance to collect useful information.

They can use the app to gather feedback about the delivery experience.

While a more positive experience means your drivers will have a better rating. Which can lead to more business.

#3 Better Quality of Service

Verifying the receipt of shipment is much more efficient with electronic proof of delivery.

It’s also a faster, simpler, and more professional method of confirmation.

It provides the relevant delivery information and recipient information to the delivery agent at the swipe of the screen.

And that is how you provide excellent quality of service to every customer every time.

#4 Real-time Visibility

With information flowing from the field to the office, your team can always be up to date with the latest developments.

They can easily access data, and take action when needed.

Real-time visibility means you get more control and transparency.

As a result, you have better management of the delivery and a more dynamic workflow.

All of that is useful to the customer service team when they have to handle issues that affect customers.

#5 Optimized Performance

The electronic proof of delivery devices optimizes the productivity and performance of your employees.

It allows delivery agents to complete more deliveries because the operators can schedule new tasks in real-time.

Also, you can use the collected data for performance optimization of every element of the delivery process.

Operators are able to find problems and issues and fix them. If there are not many problems to fix, they can always improve the delivery activities.

Collecting ePODs with Delivery Management Software

That’s it for our guide to proof of delivery.

Are you ready to take the next step and upgrade to ePOD?

We can help you with that.

eLogii is a delivery management software that’s an end-to-end solution.

One of the key features of our software is electronic proof of delivery.

But our system also has route optimization, planning, and dispatch capabilities.

Everything you need to raise the efficiency of your delivery logistics.

And if that’s not enough, we have a lot of useful material that can help you go beyond ePOD.

Here are the nine free guides that will show you exactly what we do to optimize the last mile and dominate delivery logistics.

1. Improving Last-Mile Delivery When Demand Exceeds Your Capacity

2. What customers value in last-mile delivery? And how to provide it to them?

3. The Impact of COVID-19 on Last-Mile Delivery in 2021

4. How to crush online retail through last-mile eCommerce delivery success?

5. Last-mile delivery trends you need to be aware of this year

6. MUST-READ books about last-mile delivery and why you need to read them

7. Last-Mile Delivery Logistics Behind Black Friday

8. How to offer free delivery to customers without breaking the bank?

9. How Much Does Delivery Management Software Cost?

Try it out for FREE

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BOOK A DEMO or START A FREE 14-DAY TRIAL (with a step-by-step guided setup) right now to learn more. No questions asked except one:

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