Think about the last time you ordered something online.
When the delivery driver showed up at your door, they probably asked you to sign something on a clipboard or digital device before handing over your much-anticipated parcel and telling you to have a nice day.
That signed document was the Proof of Delivery.
Put simply, Proof of Delivery is a receipt that confirms the recipient really did receive the goods promised by the sender. There’s always a possibility that a parcel won’t make it to the recipient. The Proof of Delivery contractually binds the recipient and sender into an agreement that the goods were delivered as agreed upon, the delivery was received in good condition, and all pieces were present.
Proof of Delivery is an extremely important component of the logistics industry.
In this post, we’ll go over:
- The difference between Proof of Delivery and a Bill of Lading
- The different types of Proof of Delivery
- Why Proof of Delivery is so important for delivery companies
- Benefits of Electronic Proof of Delivery
Proof of Delivery vs. Bill of Lading: What’s the Difference?
Both Proof of Delivery and a Bill of Lading are very important documents but serve two different purposes.
A Bill of Lading is a receipt signed by the carrier confirming they've received goods from the sender for transport, whereas Proof of Delivery is a receipt signed by the party who ordered the goods.
In both cases, the onus to examine the goods is on the recipients, whether that be the final receiving party or the carrier. This means not only confirming that the goods were received, but also that they arrived without visible damage.
Having both Proof of Delivery and a Bill of Lading establishes a paper trail that helps determine where liability lies in the case of missing damaged goods.
What Are The Different Types of Proof of Delivery (POD)?
There are two types of Proof of Delivery (POD):
- Paper Proof of Delivery (traditional method)
- Electronic Proof of Delivery (e-POD)
Both types serve the same function but in different document types. The most common type of POD is good old paper, physically signed by the recipient. With this method, the driver gets to the recipients’ address and has them sign the paper upon delivery with their signature.
The problem with paper POD is that they’re tedious for drivers, inefficient as they can't be entered into a database except manually, and they’re unable to give real-time information to the sender. As a result, more and more carriers are shifting to electronic POD.
Electronic Proof of Delivery, or e-POD, is commonly seen used by carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Instead of handing the recipient a paper and pen to sign with, the driver will hand them a digital device to sign electronically.
When the recipient signs the device, a copy of the e-POD is usually emailed to the recipient's email address that they ordered with or available to download through their original tracking link. This has the added benefit of making it visible to everyone: the recipient, the sender, and the backend logistics operations teams.
Why is POD so Important for Delivery Companies?
POD is important to delivery companies because it serves as an accountability measure and verifies that a parcel has successfully been passed from the seller to the recipient. This is especially critical when the parcel consists of legal or financial documents as the receiver should only ever sign the POD if everything is good, undamaged, and present as agreed upon.
Another benefit of POD—specifically, e-POD—is that it facilitates the collection of other valuable data to carrier companies, such as the exact time and geolocation of delivery, customer comments and notes, the name of the recipient, and more customizable options.
And with the rapid growth of eCommerce, POD continues to become more and more important as more and more deliveries are made each day.
Benefits of Electronic Proof of Delivery
Businesses of any size that provide any type of delivery service can benefit from an e-POD delivery system.
Not only will it ultimately reduce costs, but e-POD will also boost the satisfaction rates of both your workers and customers and improve overall operational efficiency.
Here are other major benefits of e-POD:
Aside from the environmental benefit of saving paper, e-POD eliminates the need for manual data entry as well as the delay in data processing since information is delivered in real-time.
There's also no risk of loss or damage as there is with paper POD.
Provide faster service
E-POD is faster than traditional paper POD. By using a web-based system, information is transferred in real-time, eliminating the need for drivers to report back to an office with a stack of paperwork at the end of the day that still needs to be processed.
Communication between your employees will also be faster as they’ll be talking through an app versus making phone calls, and there will no longer be the risk of information being misheard or misunderstood.
Improve on-site customer experience
Customers today have high expectations when it comes to delivery. They want to be able to track their incoming parcels in real-time, including when it’s been shipped, when it’s on its way to their address, and when it’s been delivered.
E-POD provides that verification to customers, eliminating the need for them to call your contact center to get information. Some of the options that many POD systems let you provide your customers with are:
- Pre-delivery notification via email or SMS
- Delivery tracking through a web-based tracking link
- Post-delivery notification (this is also when they’d see their e-POD)
These options help build trust and brand loyalty between the sender and the customer.
Traditional paper POD is very limited in terms of how much information you can collect, but with ePOD, the possibilities are almost limitless.
For example, you can capture a photo as your POD while also capturing the exact geolocation of the delivery, the name of the person receiving the delivery, the time and date the package was delivered, and more.
This data will give your business a much more holistic overview of what goes on in the field versus paper documents alone.
Get instant access to data
E-POD eliminates the long lead time in processing the data collected on paper forms as well as the need for time-consuming manual data entry of the information into a database. And that doesn't even cover what happens if papers are damaged or lost.
E-POD data collected by the drivers reach your office staff instantly, drastically reducing the administrative work involved in completing it after-the-fact. It also means that office staff can immediately action things like:
- Troubleshooting customer complaints
- Creating invoices
- Rescheduling deliveries
Reduce customer disputes
Last but certainly not least, e-POD can drastically reduce customer disputes which are not only time-consuming to deal with but also cost your business a lot of money.
We mentioned earlier that e-POD captures a lot more data than traditional paper POD, including photos and geolocated timestamps. By sharing this information with customers, it protects the carrier from false allegations of not completing a delivery.
How Onfleet Helps Ensure Proof of Delivery
During COVID-19, most people are staying close to home and as a result, many are increasing the number of packages they have delivered. Onfleet's technology ensures both the recipient and driver have several proof of delivery options to ensure all is well.
Onfleet's barcode scanning feature enables drivers to make a record of multiple barcodes upon a delivery using the camera on their iOS or Android device.
Onfleet also allows photo delivery to capture the actual package at the door as well as customer signatures to ensure both sides acknowledged receipt.
In response to COVID-19, Onfleet also introduced a new proof of delivery to ensure drivers and recipients are safe: Contactless Signatures, which can be collected and confirmed ahead of a delivery. This is important for deliveries which legally require a signature like medicine, cannabis, or beer, wine and spirits.
Onfleet's ID scanning and age verification feature enables drivers to verify a recipient's identity and age from a government-issued ID. The photo feature allows drivers to enter birthdays from the ID in a contactless format.
Delivering: Peace of mind
Onfleet's proof of delivery options guarantee electronic tracking, uphold legal requirements, ensure safety, but, most of all, allow for peace of mind for both the delivery person and the package recipient.
Is your business using e-POD yet?
If you're in the logistics industry or offer any type of delivery service, having the ability to provide e-POD is a must. Onfleet lets you offer e-POD and so much more.