What is Proof of Delivery and Why is it Important to Your Business?
Proof of delivery is important to your business in more ways than one. Find out why and the ways to do it.
Buying online grew fast from 2020 onwards. But it gives businesses unique challenges, from ensuring their website or online shop works well to how they communicate with customers and making sure all orders are fulfilled on time.
While some businesses offer a buy online, pickup in-store service, for many customers, door-to-door delivery is the preferred option. After your orders are delivered, another important thing to your business is the proof of delivery.
What is proof of delivery?
Proof of delivery, while sounding simple enough, can be more complicated. It’s a confirmation that your products have arrived at their intended destination and that the order has been completed successfully.
Proof of delivery (PoD) comes in two forms. There is the traditional paper method where a customer (or their representative) signs a document to acknowledge receipt.
The more modern method is some form of electronic signature where a business may use DocuSign or its alternatives or an outsourced courier company has its own electronic proof of delivery method.
So that explains the idea of proof of delivery, but how does it affect your business workflow? Every ecommerce business has its fulfillment process, and proof of delivery is the culmination of that workflow and, barring returns, signals the end of the process for that particular order.
Why is proof of delivery important?
The obvious answer is that it confirms that the product has been received successfully by your customer, and it can help solve any disputes quickly.
But the advantages of PoD extend beyond that simple concept and apply to both the business and the customers.
Benefits to the business
Ecommerce businesses want a smooth overall process, from a quick supply chain lead time to efficient order fulfillment and speedy delivery to the end users. If you ask how proof of delivery will help your business, consider the following points:
Better customer experience and service: You’ve heard stories of delivery riders tagging a package delivered when it hasn’t. Or saying the parcel was delivered at a certain time when the reality is they were delivered late.
By having an efficient proof of delivery method, you eliminate the chances of such horror stories and improve your customer service.
Improves efficiency: Having a good proof of delivery system means you can improve your order accuracy and save money on replacing goods that were allegedly not delivered.
It can also help you identify any issues with your logistics chain. For example, do deliveries experience delays at a particular point?
Better back-office operations: Your proof of delivery system can be tied into your back-office operations. So, when a customer confirms receipt of an order, an automated confirmation can be sent to your system from the app.
This can reduce paperwork and manual tasks, as your system automatically updates that any dispatched goods have been delivered successfully and that a particular order has been completed.
Benefits to customers
Businesses have to be customer-centric these days. That means providing a smooth buying experience, so customers are happy and, ideally, add to your customer retention rates.
Here’s how proof of delivery benefits your customers:
Gives your customers some control: With a physical store, customers have 100% control of the purchasing process. They can browse, choose, buy and collect a product in one seamless process. With ecommerce orders, a lot of control is lost.
98% of customers say that the shipping process affects their brand loyalty. Having proof of delivery integrated into your shipping policy and tracking options gives customers some of that control back when buying online.
Reduces chances of theft or loss: This is another area where you will have heard countless horror stories. Packages are left where they can be stolen or just got lost in the system. That leads to you having to replace the items at extra cost.
What is proof of delivery going to do to reduce this? Put simply, any courier service has to hand the package off to the customer or, if they’re not home, to a neighbor or nominated representative who can sign the PoD document. Otherwise, the order will not be tagged complete.
Highlights service completion: Having some form of proof of delivery lets the customer know their order has been completed successfully. Being able to acknowledge receipt in some way means satisfaction for both the business and the customer.
How to confirm delivery
There are several options when it comes to confirming delivery. In some cases, you may be using an external logistics company, especially with international deliveries, so you will be governed by their system.
You may also have contracts with distributors in different areas but still want to have confirmation that products have been delivered successfully. If this is the case, then it’s worth including proof of delivery clause.
If, however, you provide your own logistics solutions, then you can use electronic proof of delivery app or software that ties in with your back-office operations so that everything is automatic.
These can include the following:
- Electronic signature device: These are specialized devices that capture a customer’s signature using a linked stylus. They can be linked to your home office system and cloud storage.
- Smartphone apps: An alternative to the electronic signature device is one of the many signature apps available for smartphones and other mobile devices. These can be a more budget-friendly option.
- Photos: Although less common now, a photo proof of delivery can still have a part to play. For example, a customer may have notified you of a certain place to leave a delivery if they’re not home.
- Paper signatures: Though rarer now, some companies still rely on old-fashioned paper signatures. While this still constitutes proof of delivery, there is no digital proof of delivery and no automatic updating of your system.
It’s all about your customers
Your customer service is an essential part of your business. Providing a better customer journey that includes efficient order fulfillment will not only improve the customer experience but will also lead to retention and loyalty.
Knowing what is proof of delivery and its place in your ecommerce business shows that you’re being customer-centric and want to make their experience smoother and easier from the first step to the last.