Why aren't clipboards a thing of the past?

By : Bonnie Lawrence

October 14, 2015 01:00 PM

Wouldn’t it be a shock to walk into a store and have your order manually calculated by a clerk whose only tools were a pencil, paper and cash box? Retail technology is everywhere in the store, ensuring proper inventory levels, accurate pricing, and efficient and secure payment processing. In fact, the point-of-sale (POS) was one of the first technologies created for the store, since it had such a tremendous impact on customer satisfaction and accurate payment collection.

Following this logic, why then do we still see most distributors verify deliveries using paperwork on clipboards? Using pre-printed invoices and capturing adjustments and signatures with pen and paper causes drivers to lose precious time during the delivery, and can lead to confusion and errors upstream as the paperwork is processed back at the office. Most wholesalers and distributors have made significant investments in technologies to cut costs and improve efficiency throughout their supply chain but have neglected the final mile. In today’s omni-channel world, this is an obvious gap.

Not that I have anything against clipboards, per say. But, relying on handwritten notes and paper-based processes causes a lot of challenges. Most common are unconfirmed deliveries, quantity discrepancies, the inability to process returns and lost revenues that are also impossible to recover. So, why is it that companies invest in everything else – from enterprise planning to warehouse buying, to warehouse management, dock and yard management, and optimized routing, just to drop off their precious inventory with only some paperwork to sign with no verification that even the right cases were delivered? To me, that would be like having state-of-the-art technology running every aspect of a store, except for the POS – and having that clerk use pen and paper to close the sale. Supply chain networks continue to get more complex, and paperwork and clipboards just don’t cut it anymore as a business process. Companies who continue to overlook the costs and complications of the final mile fulfillment will be a real disadvantage.

Final mile optimization is just as important as every other step in the supply chain, as customers continue to expect excellent service and access to data in real time via any fulfillment channel. Not to mention, the quality of your delivery operation ultimately influences your consumer’s experience with your brand.  For example, your product could be excellent and the price could be seen as a good value, but if your associate fulfilling your customer’s order is inaccurate, slow or unprofessional, it damages your customer service quality. This is just as true for orders fulfilled via delivery (from your warehouse or for home deliveries) as it is for cashiers or store associates.

With NCR Power Delivery, inefficient delivery processes and reconciliation problems are a thing of the past. An automated mobile delivery solution, Power Delivery allows the driver to scan inventory as they make the delivery, verify location and time, capture electronic signatures, and allows for adjustments in case the customer rejects all or part of the delivery. As a result, you can prevent the “he said, she said” game over what was delivered and money due. The system also eliminates paperwork, which cuts down on the cost of paper, and more importantly the paperwork processing cost on the back-end of filing and reconciliation.  Plus, Power Delivery helps you get paid faster, since the invoices accurately reflect verified orders. So, why continue wasting time and money with outdated and inefficient delivery methods, such as the good old clipboard? Let Power Delivery deliver a higher level of performance and help increase profits.

We will be showcasing our NCR Power Delivery solution on our new Android™ platform at the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference this October 26-28, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit us at Booth #640.

Bonnie Lawrence

Marketing Leader, Retail Solutions Division

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Bonnie helps to execute marketing strategy for the Global Enterprise Merchandising and Supply Chain Solutions business unit worldwide. She has also worked as Product Manager and was an integral member of the team that launched the new product, Power Mobile.