Key Takeaways:

  • Paper-based proof of delivery can be easily exploited because it provides little reliable proof of delivery or the condition of materials. 
  • Materials are vulnerable to fraud and theft, which costs distributors $1 billion annually. Customer dissatisfaction can also arise due to quantity, quality, condition, or the timely delivery of materials. Resolving these issues can be challenging without effective documentation. 
  • Electronic proof of delivery helps establish a solid digital paper trail and chain of custody with electronic manifests, picture capture, and delivery location coordinates.

In the bustling world of building materials distribution, every construction material delivery holds the promise of progress.

From the towering skyscrapers of big-city developments to the cozy confines of suburban homes, the materials delivered lay the foundation for dreams to take shape. However, amidst this hustle and bustle lies a hidden threat—a threat that jeopardizes not only the physical integrity of deliveries but also the trust and satisfaction of customers. 

Digitizing building materials chain of custody explainer video

Paper-Based Documentation: A Challenge for Building Supplies Distributors  

Imagine this: you're a distributor of building materials, and your trucks traverse the city streets, loaded with various materials destined for construction sites.

Your mission is clear: deliver on time, every time, and meet contractors’ high expectations. Yet, despite meticulous planning and tireless efforts, trouble arises because you use traditional, paper-based methods to capture important building material delivery information. 

With this method, deliveries are susceptible to fraud and theft due to the lack of substantive proof of the delivery or its condition, resulting in lost revenue, increased costs, and customer disputes. 

Theft, Fraud & Other Issues That Compromise the Chain of Custody 

Building distributors are particularly vulnerable to fraud, theft, and customer disputes when pen and paper are relied upon to document the chain of custody. Here are a few common scenarios: 

Inventory Theft 

The theft of building materials is a major problem—and opportunistic criminals aren’t the only ones responsible. Customers, employees (including drivers), and contractors seize opportunities to steal from sites. They take valuable cargo directly from trucks or job sites to resell it. And the longer goods sit unattended, the less likely they’ll be there. 

Material Borrowing 

There are times when crews borrow materials from one site to be used at another, especially at subdivisions. The dilemma is that the right people aren’t informed. This lack of communication results in inaccurate claims of short shipments to the distributor. 

Building Supplies in transit

Customer Disputes 

Customers can falsely claim that supplies weren’t delivered or that materials arrived damaged. They might also allege that the driver’s vehicle caused property damage. Paper proof of delivery lacks the robust documentation and tracking mechanisms necessary to swiftly resolve disputes. Issues related to quantity, quality, condition, and timely delivery of materials often arise, leaving both distributors and customers frustrated. 

Help Prevent These Situations with Electronic Proof of Delivery 

Electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) is a game-changer for the building supply and construction industry. By establishing a solid chain of custody through electronic documentation, these solutions help deter fraud and theft while providing comprehensive tracking capabilities. 

Key ePOD Features and Benefits 

ePOD solutions offer a suite of features designed to address the industry's pain points:

1. Electronic manifests

Replace traditional paper manifests with electronic versions, streamlining the documentation process and reducing the risk of exploitation.

2. Material scanning and picture capture

Employ advanced scanning and imaging technologies to accurately track order movements and goods. Mobile scanning during loading ensures the correct items are loaded onto trucks, while photographs taken by drivers validate the condition of goods and the delivery site.

3. Location tracking

Real-time tracking of truck locations during last mile delivery helps prevent unauthorized diversions, ensuring goods reach their intended destinations promptly and securely.

4. Time and location-based documentation

Barcode scans and photographs timestamped with location data provide irrefutable proof of successful delivery, facilitating swift dispute resolution.


By implementing ePOD technology, building materials distributors can significantly reduce the risk of fraud and theft related to delivery processes. These solutions enhance transparency, accuracy, and accountability, safeguarding the integrity of deliveries, reducing losses, and ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction. 

Descartes' fleet mobile apps and extensive expertise in the building supply and construction sectors combine to help businesses revolutionize construction delivery management and enhance overall efficiency. Discover how our comprehensive solution can help you achieve optimal delivery performance and meet contractors’ ever-changing needs. And if you have routing and mobile solutions for building supplies delivery, our experts can help you determine if it’s time to switch from your existing software. 

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