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In logistics, POD shipping is a commonly used term. The abbreviation can be used either to mean proof of delivery or port of discharge. In this article, we will talk about the meaning of the first option – Proof of Delivery. Most customers of logistics are familiar with the concept. In the past, the logistics/e-Commerce/courier company would claim to have delivered the package, while the customer complained of not receiving the package. This challenge led to the need of having a document and more recently digital proof of package delivery, resulting in the concept of POD in logistics. Let’s learn more about POD shipping tracking, importance of POD in shipping, POD meaning, types of Proof of Delivery documents and more.
What is POD in shipping?
We start by understanding POD meaning – what proof of delivery means for the supplier/distributor and the customer.
POD meaning for suppliers/distributors
For vendors, suppliers and distributors, the POD document (or e-document) is an acknowledgement that the package that left their warehouse/port has successfully reached and been received by the customer. This naturally minimises confusion on non-delivery, causes for redelivery and often also returns, saving the business time, cost, and credibility.
POD meaning for customers
For the customer, the POD communication can be in the form of an email, SMS, app notification or any other. It confirms that the package is not damaged and has been received and accepted in complete by the customer. While in the case of eCommerce deliveries, there still can be cases of returns, if the customer is not satisfied with the product, in most other cases, the POD message completes the order fulfilment process, from placing the order to the order being transported and received by the customer. (Also read about how the reverse logistics process works).
Example of Proof of Delivery POD in logistics
In case of B2B delivery systems, a shipment from a consignor to the consignee, with the consignee checking the package and confirming receipt would be a proof of delivery. Similarly, a distributor accepting a consignment at the warehouse, after the standard checks and procedures would be proof of delivery. In most cases, these papers are signed and shared with the relevant stakeholders via email, fax, software tool or any other.
In the case of B2C delivery, e.g., a courier service delivery, the buyer/recipient is often asked to share an OTP or sign a document to confirm receiving the package. In both the cases, the POD shipping document is a signoff that the package received is accurate, complete, and in proper condition.
What details Proof of Delivery receipt contains?
When it comes to the components of Proof of Delivery, here are some of the items that should be listed.
- Name, logo, and contact details (address, phone, email) of the carrier company responsible for the freight transportation
- Recipient details including name, phone, address with delivery pin code
- Order details including order ID number, items, quantity, specifications (i.e., weight, size, packaging, if containing hazardous material), and other special instructions for delivery
- Delivery details including delivery date and time, tracking number, and signature of recipient
POD vs Bill of Lading
When it comes to different documents in shipping, Proof of Delivery and Bill of Lading (BOL) are two important shipping documents that can save your business from liability. BOL, within details on all items being shipped, confirms that a package is being transported by a carrier, while the POL confirms that the package has been delivered and received by the recipient.
Difference between Bill of Lading (BOL) and Proof of Delivery (POD)
|Bill of Lading||Proof of Delivery|
|Legal contract document between the shipper (or third party logistics service provider) and the carrier||Legal document between the carrier and consignee reflecting delivery of package and transfer of ownership responsibility, with details on quantity and quality of goods received in|
|Contains complete details of the freight being transported (e.g., contact details, PO number, item description, packaging details, pickup date, special instructions etc.)||Contains details of the package during delivery (especially details on any damage to package, necessary for returns and/or insurance claims)|
|Required for invoicing accurately||Required for closing the order (i.e., either confirming delivery or returns/claims)|
Types of Proof of Delivery document
There are three main types of POD in shipping and logistics.
- Physical copy of POD document: This is a paper based document that contains all details of the shipment, including details of Order ID and Tracking ID numbers. It is usually provided in company letterhead or with seal (may or may not contain authorised signature) and requires the recipient to sign it manually to confirm delivery. In most cases, paper based POD are being replaced by e-POD for convenience and easy reference. However, there are many businesses, that still prefer to opt for this format of POD.
- e-POD: The electronic Proof of Delivery document uses digital formats for confirming receipt of package. QR codes and/or barcodes with details of the package or shipment is scanned during delivery and confirmation is updated digitally. This is convenient, easy, and cost-effective with little scope of the document being misplaced or damaged. Most e-Commerce fulfilment happens using e-POD for convenience and efficiency.
- e-Signature based POD: The most recent of the types of POD documents used by businesses today, the e-signature based POD methods requires the recipient to sign the Proof of Delivery document digitally. In many cases, this is accompanied with a photo of the package at the delivery location. For instance, when you buy an expensive electronic gadget, the delivery agent requests you to open the package and takes a photo to confirm that the actual product has been delivered without damage (e.g., think of buying a mobile phone or laptop online). This system however requires logistics companies to have required infrastructure and tools, and also strong internet network in the area.
Why POD is important to business?
As explained earlier, POD in logistics has benefits attached to it – for the business and customers.
Let’s look at a simple eCommerce example of P.O.D. Customer places an order online and the seller ships the product. The eCommerce company receives the good from the seller (third-party) and schedules the last-mile-delivery of the package to customer. Here are some of the scenarios that may happen:
- Customer receives the package in pristine condition with all correct items. Package is accepted and POD acknowledgement updated.
- Customer receives the package but is unable to check its content immediately. POD acknowledgement is updated. Later however, they realise that there are missing items or product is damaged and raises a complaint to customer care.
- Customer receives a package, checks the content and realises there are missing items, or incorrect items, or damaged items. They refuse to accept the complete order and the POD is acknowledged accordingly.
In the above scenarios, the second case is one which can lead to dispute. In the third scenario, the customer has acted immediately, and refused the package as it did not meet the items/quality of the order. The delivery agent has taken note and update their remarks on the P.O.D. tool thus ensuring that the refund or replace process can commence smoothly.
However, in the first scenario, since the POD was updated as delivered and it’s only at a later stage that the customer raised a complaint, there’s scope for dispute. Ideally, businesses are able to come to a reasonable solution if the complaint is raised within 24-48 hours depending on the content/size/value of the package.
This is the same for B2C and B2C deliveries, especially where RTO shipments (Return to Origin) can be initiated.
Benefits of P.O.D. for business and customers
As a closing note, let’s take a look at the advantages of proof of delivery for businesses and customers.
- Prevents disputes over delivery, missing/damages items, delivery delays and more
- Enables businesses and customers to track package and check package ETA
- Enriches customer experiences and reduces losses to business through returns and replacements