Online grocery sales have grown 5x since the start of the year, reaching 10% to 15% of total grocery (Bain & Company). With rapidly growing delivery and curbside volumes, tracking the chain of custody and proof of delivery across every team and channel becomes increasingly challenging. In this post, we will explore some of the many ways we have helped enterprise grocers manage and maintain chain of custody, and how this data has improved their delivery performance.
Middle Mile To Last Mile Chain of Custody
Many grocers fulfill online orders from offsite MFCs. Once orders are picked and packed, increasingly via automated robotics from providers like AutoStore, Takeoff, Dematic or Fabric, they are transferred to a retail location for home delivery or curbside pickup.
There is plenty of room for error in this journey from MFC through retail grocery, and finally to the end customer. Totes can get mixed up or go missing, eggs break, and dairy can be left out too long.
Digital chain of custody makes it easy to track every tote, and every item, from start to finish. During staging at the MFC, each tote is scanned and its inventory is recorded in the cloud using a mobile app or dedicated scanner. The totes are scanned again when picked up for transportation to retail, and again at the retail location.. As each team tracks their chain of custody digitally across the delivery flow, any missing or damaged totes or inventory can be easily located, and changes made where necessary.
Staging for Curbside Chain of Custody
A similar flow can be used to track chain of custody and proof of delivery for curbside operations.
Using the Curbside or Store App, teams scan in every tote as it is prepared and staged. Using this same app, associates validate each customer’s order ID, collect digital proof of delivery, and load the groceries into the customer’s vehicle.
Last Mile Delivery Proof of Delivery
A last mile delivery flow follows a similar flow to the curbside scenario, with a few important modifications.
Unlike Curbside orders that are typically kept in temperature controlled environments, delivery orders are often transported in vehicles without temperature control. For these orders, grocers typically monitor not only their chain of custody, but also their cold chain, or the amount of time that fresh or refrigerated items are out of a temperature controlled environment. By having drivers scan the order’s QR code or barcode when they first collect the order, and again when it is delivered, businesses can track, understand and maintain the cold chain time.
The same scanning and loading flows from curbside pickup ensures that drivers collect the correct totes for delivery. Then, when the driver arrives at the customer’s designated location (e.g. home or office), they are generally required to scan each of the relevant totes or boxes, and only then can they initiate the proof of delivery flow. This added step ensures that every customer receives every item they have ordered.
In traditional delivery flows, once the driver scans and delivers all of the appropriate items, they are prompted to collect the customer’s signature on their smartphone or tablet. In contactless delivery, the driver will be prompted to upload a picture of the grocery delivery at the customer’s doorstep. This proof of delivery will complete the delivery.
Grocery Delivery Returns and Rejections
Many grocers ask the delivery drivers to perform multiple on-site actions as part of a delivery flow. Each of these actions is programmed into the Bringg Driver App, and customized to each grocer. Automating every delivery flow through a mobile app expedites onboarding, improves process compliance and speeds up delivery flows.
For example, if a grocer is out of the 16 oz Kraft mayonnaise, they may choose to substitute a different brand or a different sized package. Using the Bringg Driver App, drivers can be tasked with showing each of these substitutions to customers, and confirming that they accept the substitutions. If they don’t want one of the substitutions the driver simply taps the relevant items to reject them. This initiates a rejection flow for the driver, and any subsequent teams.
Similarly, drivers delivering alcohol, cigarettes or other age restricted items can be asked – through the Bringg Driver App – if the customer appears to be of legal age. If the customer cannot provide a valid photo ID, those items, or even the entire order, will automatically be rejected by the platform (depending on the grocer’s preferences). At this point, an automatic return flow will be initiated for the driver through the app.
All substitution, rejection and returns data is automatically synced back to the grocer so that the customer’s account can be credited. This unique mobile-inventory management solution allows grocers to identify which substitutions are typically acceptable, as well as which pickers or suppliers may not be providing the optimal goods for delivery.
Take Ownership Over Your Digital Grocery Chain of Custody
Total digital chain of custody is a fundamental of modern digital grocery logistics. Identifying and addressing issues in today’s digital supply chain logistics not only improves visibility, but accelerates performance. Bringg’s end-to-end logistics technology solutions are fully integrated, automatically tracking chain of custody and proof of delivery as part of a holistics performance package.