More food distribution companies are taking giant steps to improve their operational efficiency to meet increasing customer demands for greater transparency and increased flexibility (e.g. in areas like changing order mixes and off-day delivery) Many large food distributors are adopting new technologies that can help streamline their workflows and reduce costs.
Of course, this is often easier said than done. Legacy technology and processes can be firmly embedded in operations that have relied on them for many years, and the prospect of shaking things up can be daunting. For companies that have been using on-premise systems, updating any process to be more agile and streamlined can be a Herculean task.
Fortunately, food distribution companies of all shapes and sizes can cost-effectively ensure efficient food logistics, all while simultaneously enhancing and expanding their customer service. One of the keys to achieving this feat is to leverage smarter proof of delivery (POD) as part of your food delivery management software. Implemented in the right way POD can streamline tracing, delivery, and customer service processes to help companies improve their bottom line.
The Basics of Proof of Delivery
POD is functionality typically supported by your food delivery management software, enabling you to replace the expensive manual, paper-based systems with electronic POD with electronic signature capture.
However, POD capture for food and beverage logistics needs to go beyond gathering signatures. The right functionality helps food companies enhance their fleet efficiency by thoroughly documenting deliveries with pictures and notes, in addition to capturing geostamps and timestamps, in order to create a complete audit-trail for every delivery run.
When this functionality is available via a connected driver mobile app, it also enables users to put POD in context with other delivery status information, e.g. issues encountered during drop-off such as lack of available client personnel, location closure, or damaged item, to name just a few. Gathering this information in real-time allows the company to act proactively to keep customers happy.
Collecting PODs also acts as the jump-off point for other internal processes. After the delivery has been completed, your wholesale food distribution software captures the POD data so that it can initiate other work processes such as invoicing, revenue recognition, and cross-selling.
Proof of delivery also is useful in complying with food traceability requirements. Capturing location data helps in improving the tracking history and visibility of food products in the event of a product recall.
Benefits of Proof of Delivery via Food Delivery Management Software
POD allows food distribution companies to collect, disseminate, and act on crucial data in record time, which then increases their operational efficiency. Here's how food distribution firms can benefit from POD.
Full Visibility into Operations
Did customer A receive their cases after the breakfast peak times so customer's personnel were available to unload the cases quickly? Was the food transported and dropped off within the allowable temperature range?
This level of transparency over your operation can greatly improve your efficiency. Aside from helping in making deliveries more seamless, real-time visibility helps the customer service team. Consider that electronic POD can be uploaded to your systems instantaneously, allowing office-based teams to see delivery details immediately after the fact. The details provided by PODs empower other teams to address customer-related concerns quickly and efficiently.
Plus, advanced food distribution management solutions can be configured to alert drivers to take measures should the temperature reading fall outside the allowable range.
Compliance with Food Safety Regulations
Customers often require proof that the food delivered was handled properly while in transit. For example, some customers may ask you to provide records of temperature readings at regular intervals during the food's journey. On top of that, regulations may require that you keep a full audit trail of each case, which is much easier to do when you have the kind of proof of delivery we’re talking about for every delivery and delivery run.
An electronic proof of delivery system enables you to automatically log and record important information at the time of delivery—so your driver can focus on providing great customer service without worrying about compliance issues. Ideally, you’d combine this with sensor monitoring systems that automatically alert you within your delivery management software when temperature readings, for instance, exit an acceptable range.
Reduced False Liability Claims
Equipping delivery teams to take photos or videos of the customer's premises and the actual deliveries go a long way in preventing false damage claims. Should a customer file a false claim for damage or missing delivery, you have documentary proof complete with date, time, and location data to show what happened or what didn't happen in the delivery.
To take another example, if there's an indecipherable signature on the delivery receipt, you can then provide other proof of delivery via geostamped data proving the exact delivery location, photos, or videos of the merchandise after the delivery. These are uploaded automatically to your food delivery logistics software, allowing you to view and forward quickly.
Unprecedented Visibility to Overcome Food Distribution Challenges
Food distribution is a highly competitive industry where visibility is necessary. It's no longer about whether you have real-time visibility into your delivery teams. The better question to ask is how much visibility do you have and how fast can data be shared.
Using conventional ways or paper-based data capturing processes don’t cut it anymore—not least of all because they can’t provide as much data. Plus, data sharing of manual PODs is slow and laborious. You can no longer afford to wait for delivery teams to get back to the base with all the printed paperwork. Neither can you afford to wait for your office-based personnel to enter PODs manually.
Electronic POD offered by food delivery management software offers detailed information in real-time. This way you can ensure the traceability of the food you’re transporting and quickly process that information with an eye towards speeding up invoicing or resolving issues more effectively. Plus, electronic POD helps ensure that food is being transported, handled, and monitored correctly while ensuring great service to your customers.