Real-Time Delivery Status Capture & Visibility


Suppliers often find it difficult to see what’s really happening to their deliveries between the time that they leave the despatch bay, to the point they arrive at the Customer site.

Without the end-to-end integration of information, it’s a challenge to understand the true status of a delivery and difficult to act in a way that will manage customer expectations.

Instead, delivery status enquiries are handled by people reacting to information they must relay to a number of other people in different organisations with all the opportunity for error and delay that presents. Companies who do not have delivery visibility can’t be proactive about solving issues or be consistent in delivering accurate on-time-in-full (OTIF) metrics. Suppliers who can get the right information to the right place or person on time has an advantage.

Equally, the Suppliers choice to invoice on despatch or upon receipt of a signed POD (Proof of Delivery), has both merit and risk. Releasing an invoice prior to receiving the final status of the delivery increases manual cost & effort dealing with customer claims and credits if the delivery fails. Waiting for a logistics provider to return a POD document will inevitably delay release of the invoice and consequently receipt of payment. The market average indicates 95% of all consignments are delivered on-time-in-full, therefore the requirement to have early notification on exceptions becomes even more compelling and enables the supplier to invoice with confidence and manage by exception.

Logistics partners are also under increased pressure to provide this information on a timely and compliant manor.

Potential Solutions

  1. This often means investment in costly asset based technology to capture status information as close to real-time as possible (e.g. handheld terminals, track-and-trace technology and in-cab telematics systems for example). These are feasible where the fleet is owned and managed by the logistic company themselves but a more complex asset management issue where 3rd party sub-contracted carriers are involved.

  2. AdvanceFirst are now able to offer it’s clients an alternative solution which captures delivery status information through a combination of pervasive mobile phone and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. Status information can be captured immediately following the completion of a delivery and presented back to AdvanceFirst in the form of a concise XML message which in turn can be transformed and enriched into a delivery status message. This can be in whatever format is required by the recipients IT systems – be it a simple notification, an electronic POD message (ePOD) or an automated trigger into an invoicing system.

Solution Overview:

Real-Time Delivery Status Capture & Visibility

Process Overview:

1 Following receipt of an order, the Supplier raises a “Transport Request” and sends it to their Logistics partner via Advancefirst. This may involve collection of goods from the Supplier’s DC or in the case of 3 or 4PL, fulfilled directly from the logistics partner’s own warehouse(s).

2 The Logistics partner confirms receipt and acceptance of the Transport Request by returning a confirmation message.

3 The Logistic provider then plans and optimises the order into a scheduled delivery (load) and confirms a delivery schedule (slot) with the Customer. The delivery may then be fulfilled through its own transport assets or tendered via a “Load Instruction” to a sub-contractor (sub) for final delivery.

4 The Carrier confirms receipt and acceptance of the (load) instruction by returning a confirmation message.

5 At the point of delivery, the driver simply places a call to a dedicated local access number and follows the instructions prompted by an automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. The underlying IVR script is designed to keep calls as short as possible (approximately 30 seconds max) to collect relatively few but extremely valuable pieces of information – such as:

– The reference number for the load (aka the “Consignment ID” which can be validated in real-time against the “reference data” the logistics partner uploads to the system from time-to-time).

– The date and time of arrival at the consignees site, the “delivery point”

– The time of unloading and/or completion of the delivery.

– A name or reference for the person accepting the consignment.

– Whether the delivery was accepted in full (clean) or rejected by the customer (claused).

Wherever possible, the data requested by the driver on the call can be single key responses.

6 On completion of the call, the data is collected by the IVR system and returned to AdvanceFirst as a short XML file.

7 The XML data can then be transformed into whatever format is required by the recipients systems and operational business processes (IDOC to SAP for example).

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