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Choosing the best proof of delivery device for your business

As a software provider we do not resell devices, but have a wealth of experience implementing mobile software across various industries and have thus gained valuable insights into the device buying process.

The exponential growth in personal use of smartphones and tablets means your mobile workers are increasingly familiar with using handheld devices. Combined with falling hardware prices and advancements in functionality, there has never been a better time to equip your mobile workforce with electronic POD (proof of delivery) devices. A fully electronic proof of delivery system can be utilised across various industries including logistics, home delivery, field service and healthcare to improve customer service, reduce paperwork and drive operational efficiency.

But the question remains: which proof of delivery devices are best suited to your business requirements?

Smartphones

Smartphones are fast becoming the most cost effective solution to implement as proof of delivery devices for mobile workforces of all sizes. A full fleet of smartphones can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of traditional handheld computers giving your mobile workers a variety of functions from one pocket-sized device. The increased personal use of smartphones and the user-friendly design can also aid employee adoption of new processes and reduce the need for lengthy training.

Operating system: A key consideration when investing in smartphones is the device operating system. With the cost of Apple devices considerably higher than other brands and Windows smartphones trailing behind with available functionality, Android has become the most popular operating system for mobile operations with many proof of delivery software providers building native Android apps to meet demand.

Less durable: A disadvantage of using smartphones as the proof of delivery hardware in some mobile workforces is the lack of durability when compared with more ruggedised devices. However, availability of protective cases is widespread and purchasing replacements and spare devices may be more cost effective for smartphones than rugged or SatNav devices.

BYOD/ subcontractors: With UK adult smartphone ownership up to 66% in 2015 (Ofcom), implementing a proof of delivery system that can run on a range of smartphone devices presents the ideal solution for operations employing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes or using subcontractors.

Tablets

Like smartphones, tablets can be a cost effective proof of delivery hardware solution offering the same benefits of widespread familiarity, flexibility of functionality and increased employee adoption. However, there are two key differences to consider when purchasing tablets over smartphones for your mobile workforce.

Larger screen size: The increased on screen real estate can be an important factor if you require your mobile workers to perform other tasks on the same device. In addition, tablets may also be beneficial for stationary positions such as click and collect points where the larger screen size can be utilised to provide a better customer service.

Call facility: Not all tablet models include call capacity, meaning that in some circumstances you may also need to provide your staff with a phone, driving up costs and complicating processes for your mobile workers. Conducting in depth research before purchasing devices will ensure that you fulfil all of your business requirements.

Sat Nav

Choosing a mobile proof of delivery system that can integrate with SatNav devices allows you to achieve various functions from the device that is already out on the road with your mobile worker. Incorporating both SatNav and ePOD functionality allows you to simplify processes for your mobile worker and reduce the risk of breakages as they only have to deal with one device.

Tablet similarities: Sat Nav devices often have larger screens to provide better access to their mapping functionality. As with tablets, this increased screen size allows your mobile workers to utilise a wider range of functionality from the same device, but again does not include call capacity.

Additional functionality: Some SatNav providers include vehicle telematics devices in their offering allowing you to monitor driver behaviour and promote greener driving.

Ruggedised Devices

The traditional rugged devices associated with the delivery sectors (particularly models running on Windows 6.5) are slowly becoming redundant and outdated as newer, faster technologies beat them on price, usability and reliability. However, a new breed of hybrid devices are growing in popularity with brands like Zebra leading the way. These hybrid devices combine the traditional rugged aspects with the operating systems, touchscreens and overall usability of consumer grade devices and, whilst costing more than smartphones and consumer grade tablets, are more reasonably priced than the traditional rugged devices.

Environment: The decision to invest in rugged devices depends largely on the durability and reliability needed for your business. Requirements can include the need for IP67 ratings; high drop resistance; screen usability with gloved or wet hands; readability in various lighting conditions and durability in harsh environments all of which will dictate the need for a rugged proof of delivery device rather than a consumer grade device.

Scanning capability: A key delineator between smartphones and rugged mobile computers is integrated barcode scanning functionality. In mobile workforces that utilise barcode scanning smartphone solutions are often unsatisfactory and pale in the shadow of integrated barcode scanning devices.

No matter the device in consideration there are three key aspects to keep in mind during the proof of delivery device evaluation process:

  • The business objective you wish to achieve
  • The users that are going to use the devices
  • The environment in which the devices will be used

The device you choose must support your business specific objectives, such as barcode scanning; be suitable for all of your mobile workers to use efficiently without unnecessary upheaval; be able to withstand any challenges or specific requirements within your operational environment and provide all of this at a suitable price point. Therefore, choosing a proof of delivery device can seem daunting, but can be made simple by understanding the available options and focussing on your business requirements.

The fleXipod proof of delivery system includes an Android application that enables your mobile workers to capture detailed proof of delivery data such as signature, photo, notes and customisable forms. Get in touch with our team to find out more by calling +44 (0) 1306 732600 or emailing info@paragonrouting.com


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