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Real-time delivery tracking for buyers

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

At Vanoma, we aim to equip sellers with the tools and services they need to sell online. Our delivery service, in particular, allows sellers to deliver merchandise to their customers fast with zero friction. This blog post will explore improvements we made on our delivery service to provide buyers with more visibility and full transparency on ongoing deliveries.

How does Vanoma work with sellers to simplify deliveries?

Typically, a buyer interacts with our partner sellers on social media (e.g., WhatsApp, Instagram) or the seller's website for product appraisal and price negotiation. When buyers commit to buying merchandise of their interests, they typically pay the seller using Mobile Money, and from there, that's where Vanoma comes into the picture.

Usually, the seller asks the buyer their physical address where to deliver their merchandise. The buyer's address is often a house and street number or a landmark (e.g., church, school) close to the buyer's location. Landmark-based addressing works well if street and house numbers are not assigned in the buyer's area yet.

Once the seller has the buyer's physical address, they log into our website (https://dashboard.vanoma.com) to request a delivery. A delivery request has two important pieces of information: the pickup location, usually the seller's address, and the drop-off location, which would be the buyer's address. After the seller places the delivery request, they keep track of the delivery progress through push notifications and delivery events accessible through our website. However, this type of visibility into the delivery progress is not available on the buyer's side. Unless the seller constantly sends delivery updates to the buyer (which rarely happens since most sellers are busy helping other buyers), buyers are in the dark as far as the delivery progress is concerned. In most cases, the latest communication between a buyer and a seller is when they ask for their physical address.

How is Vanoma providing more visibility to buyers?

We released a new feature that makes tracking deliveries on the buyer side seamless a couple of weeks ago. When a seller requests a delivery, Vanoma sends an SMS to the buyer that they have a delivery. We send out the SMS once we assign a driver to the delivery request. The SMS contains the seller's phone number and a tracking URL (e.g., https://vanoma.com/tracking/?tn=4995592180597) that the buyer can use for real-time delivery updates. Screenshot of the tracking URL

A Vanoma delivery driver

On the tracking URL, we show the real-time location of the driver and delivery events beginning with the time Vanoma received the delivery request from the seller. Besides the initial SMS containing a tracking URL and the seller's phone number, we also send a second and final SMS when the delivery is complete. This last SMS serves as a way to close the communication loop so that even if the buyer is unable to access the tracking URL, they still get a final status of their delivery.

We believe these improvements will:

  1. Provide complete visibility into the delivery progress on the buyer's side.
  2. Reduce the number of phone calls between Vanoma and sellers or buyers and sellers about delivery updates.
  3. Help sellers offer a better online shopping experience. Sellers no longer have to constantly update the buyers about the delivery progress as the tracking URL makes it a self-serve process; by going to the tracking URL, a buyer can see in real-time the driver's location and the delivery events chronologically.
  4. And finally, provide proof of delivery completion. There are cases where the buyer may not be at the drop-off location when our driver arrives to drop off the package. In such cases, the last SMS we send will confirm the delivery completion.

-- Theophile Nsengimana