Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are a central part of any supply chain. As logistics demands surge, these organizations must ensure they do all they can to meet the needs of clients and their end customers. Proof of delivery (PoD) is one of the most important parts of meeting those demands.
3PL proof of delivery is easy to overlook at first. It may seem like an extra step, but taking the time to ensure it is critical to many supply chain operations. Here are a few reasons why 3PL providers need to offer this confirmation.
Improving Customer Relations
The most straightforward advantage of PoD is that it strengthens customer satisfaction and loyalty. Visibility is crucial to today’s markets, with 69% of customers in 2020 saying the ability to track orders is one of their top three considerations for online purchasing. Proof of Delivery is the final step in that tracking process.
Confirmation of delivery also helps boost customers’ trust. When a shipping company provides PoD, buyers have faith they’ll know exactly when their orders will arrive. That trust is increasingly crucial as threats like porch pirates become more common.
More providers are offering PoD, and customers are starting to expect it, not just enjoy it as an optional add-on. Consequently, businesses that don’t provide it may quickly fall out of favor, losing customers to competitors.
Similarly, proof of delivery also boosts transparency for other stakeholders in the supply chain. PoD keeps customers informed and updates the seller when their shipments arrive. Without that assurance, businesses may struggle to manage their supply chains effectively.
This transparency also helps businesses meet regulatory demands they may face in their industry. Failure to comply with some regulations can result in fines of millions of dollars, not counting lost business that could come from these situations. Supply chains need full visibility to avoid that, and PoD is part of that equation.
PoD can also help boost transparency within the 3PL itself. Logistics providers can use it to hold last-mile delivery workers accountable, preventing theft or similar fraud. That accountability could help appeal to new clients, too.
This transparency has a helpful indirect impact on operational efficiency. More clarity over delivery schedules and any potential bumps in the road makes it easier to stay on top of things.
3PL proof of delivery ensures businesses know a delivery is successful the moment it ends. They can then file it accordingly and move on to other tasks without waiting until later to learn about it. This may only save a few minutes per shipment, but that builds to substantial time savings over the year.
If something goes wrong, supply chains will learn about it by the lack of a PoD. Consequently, these systems let businesses discover and respond to potential issues faster, further improving productivity.
Reducing Errors and Costs
Providing PoD can also help 3PLs and their clients reduce mistakes and unnecessary expenses. Some 3PLs offer insurance to cover lost goods, but supply chain errors or fraud can still be expensive, as they can cause lost business, too. PoD’s accountability and transparency help fight those scenarios, lowering their related costs.
PoD also helps fight fraud or mistakes on the customers’ side. Without delivery confirmations, businesses may have to deal with fraudulent refunds or similar complaints. Having proof that the job was done correctly helps inform customers and prevent fraud, reducing the time and money handling these erroneous claims would take.
The increased efficiency PoD provides will help further minimize expenses. Employees can handle more tasks or issues in less time, and businesses’ costs per job will drop.
Proof of Delivery Best Practices
These benefits highlight why 3PL proof of delivery is so important to businesses today. However, some PoD practices are more advantageous than others. Here are some ways companies and their logistics partners can make the most of PoD.
One of the most important upgrades to make is adopting a digital PoD system. Some of the biggest advantages of proof of delivery rely on updates happening in real-time. That’s impossible with a traditional paper system, so digitization is a must.
Businesses should aim to use digital PoD systems with real-time communication functions and integrations with other apps their supply chain uses. It’s also important to remember how cyberattacks against supply chains have risen by 51% in the past half year, so security is essential. Organizations must ensure their PoD solutions feature sufficient cybersecurity protections before implementing them.
Include as Much Info as Possible
Another best practice is to ensure these confirmations are as informative as possible. A simple signature verifying the delivery is helpful, but parties on both sides of the equation will appreciate more context.
Photos of where employees leave boxes can help customers who may be out of the house during deliveries. Descriptions of the delivery and the package’s location can serve a similar purpose, offering more assurance and keeping people informed.
3PLs should also provide plenty of information to their business clients. Companies may not need to know the exact location of the package, but knowing the precise delivery time and who delivered it can help. More information makes it easier to track and manage shipments.
Standardize PoD Processes
Finally, businesses should standardize their 3PL proof of delivery processes. Many companies rely on multiple providers, so they must ensure they use the same PoD software across all of them. If not, it could easily lead to IT sprawl, leaving them with unnecessarily high technology costs and complexity.
Standardizing these technologies and processes helps unlock their full potential. Using a single platform and holding all partners to the same standard ensures PoD provides the same benefits across all deliveries. It’ll also make it easier to look through and manage this data.
3PL Proof of Delivery Is Essential for Businesses Today
Businesses and their customers need transparency, efficiency and real-time information. Proof of delivery provides that, so 3PL providers need to offer it.
Implementing PoD may take time at first, but its benefits far outweigh any disruption it might cause. 3PLs that don’t offer it may fall behind the competition before long.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world. She has over five years of experience writing articles in the industrial and tech sectors.