1) Introduction

Often when customers order a product, they’re presented with multiple documents containing information like the name and address of the seller, the weight of the package, postal code, barcode, and so on. Most customers never understand the relevance of these documents and either destroy them or dump them in the garbage along with other packing materials.

However, these documents play a vital role in the delivery process, and without them, the packages can’t reach the recipient or the seller (in case of a return). A waybill is one such document.

A waybill carries necessary information related to the product and the parties involved in sending and receiving it. It simplifies tracking for both seller and receiver and makes sure the eCommerce logistic channel stays smooth.   

Still not sure what a waybill is or what it does? Join us as we uncover the document and its role  in the shipping industry.

2) What’s a waybill?

Issued by a logistics or carrier company, a waybill is a crucial part of the eCommerce logistics process. It incorporates necessary information about the transportation of goods, including details related to the consignor and the consignee, the shipment that’s being delivered, the point of origin of the shipment, its destination, and the route it has been through to reach a certain point.

The document is either placed inside the package or fixed on top by securing it with sellotapes. It helps customers reach out to sellers in case of any discrepancy with the product and fastens the return process. Waybills also assist in real-time tracking for both customers and merchants and e-tailers and keep both parties in a loop throughout the delivery process.

3) What's the purpose of a waybill?

In the early days, courier employees had to complete a lot of paperwork to send a consignment from one place to another. The major concern was that the authority verifying the packages was satisfied with the information provided and didn't delay the delivery process. 

Despite covering all the points, somehow, the verifiers used to identify a flow or two in the documentation and returned the packages to their sellers. This often increased the merchant's work, making them go through the documents again to rectify the error or missing part.  

With the introduction of waybills, this issue got resolved. Since verifiers got a compiled set of data, there was no need to go through multiple pages to find little details about the sender or the recipient. Plus, with tracking ids, the need to inspect the previous hub-approved documents also lessened as everything was available online for sellers, buyers, and verifiers. 

Waybills soon became an identification tag that revealed every information about the package and where it was destined to. It even gave details about the contents of the package and the type of shipment they were sent through. 

4) Benefits of a waybill

If you still can't decide on whether or not you should provide a waybill, read through its benefits to find your answer.

4.1) Provides compiled data

Nowadays, nobody has the time to go through a lot of paperwork, especially when they have hundreds of packages waiting to be verified. 

For such people, waybills act as a knight in shining armor and lessen the work and time needed to verify each package. They provide a compiled version of all the necessary data required in the movement of a consignment and simplify the eCommerce logistics and reverse shipping processes.

4.2) Enables real-time tracking 

 Earlier, tracking packages required messaging and calling the seller just to know when you one expect the package. But nowadays, with tracking numbers being provided immediately after shipping the product, it's become easier for customers to keep track of their packages. 

Plus, they can even contact the hub in case of a delay in processing the order with little assistance from the online seller.

4.3) Streamlines the eCommerce logistics process

Previously, whenever a shipment lacked a piece of information, it was returned to the seller saying the package wasn't deliverable. Sometimes it remained at the courier office for days before reaching the seller and elongated the waiting period for the customer. 

With waybills, courier companies could easily reach out to either the seller or buyer in case of any queries. They could fulfill more orders and create a better brand image for themselves, thereby winning people's trust.

4..4) Secures the package

At times, due to a lack of proper packaging or manhandling of consignments during the delivery process, packages open up, giving everyone a glimpse of the product inside. 

With waybills pasted on the package opening, there's an extra layer of covering added to the consignment, stopping it from wear and tear even in the harshest conditions.

4.5) Saves money

When used in the sticker form, waybills can save the money courier companies spend on printing and pasting the document. They can easily remove the second layer and paste the label on top of the package making the order shipment process smooth and fast.

5) Types of waybill

Depending on the mode of transportation, waybills can be divided into four parts. Given below is a short description of the types of waybills you'll generally find in the shipping industry:

5.1) Air Waybill

An air waybill (AWB) is a document that reveals information on goods sent through international air couriers and helps people involved in the sending and receiving to track it. The air waybill is a type of bill of lading but contains more precise information about the shipment. It's a non-negotiable document and offers less protection than a bill of lading.

5.2) Road Waybill

As the name suggests, road waybills are created by logistics or carrier companies to move consignments through roads from one place to another. They act as an agreement between the buyer and seller and display their agreement on the movement of the shipment. Details like the name and address of the buyer and seller, contact details of the buyer and seller, place of origin of the consignment, etc., can be found on the road waybill.

5.3) Rail Waybill

Rail waybills are created by the consignor to provide details about the shipment to the rail authority involved in moving the shipments. It reveals information about the product and its type and lets the person handling it understand how to move it safely. 

5.4) Sea Waybill 

Sea waybills are similar to rail waybills, except they help in the movement of sea consignments. These documents contain information about the shipments, including a gist on the product inside, the sender, the receiver, their addresses, and contact details.

Other than the mode of transportation, waybills can be differentiated on the grounds of order volumes, the number of carriers involved in moving the shipment, and some other similar factors. 

6) How to create a waybill?

There are multiple ways a courier or transportation company can prepare waybills. They could either manually fill the documents by referring to the order id, shipment contents, details of the consignor and consignee, and all the information provided along with the consignment or work with an online order system to fulfill their requirements. 

In case you choose the second option, refer to the step-by-step guide given below to create an informative waybill for your customer.

Step 1- Register on the online order system

To generate waybills online, people must have access to the relevant online order system. For this, customers can start by registering with their email ids and creating a legit id to process people's requests. In case of having an id, customers can log in to the portal and begin with the steps below.

Step 2- Input information

Here onwards, the process is quite simple. Customers can go to the waybill creation subhead and add the consignor and consignee's details, such as their names, contact information, addresses, and other mandatory subheads. 

Just make sure whatever information you're providing is clear and readable for any person reviewing it.

Step 3- Provide a package description

It's crucial to add a product description so that the transport personnel handling the shipment knows what's inside and the kind of care it requires.

Step 4- Fill in the invoice information

Next, fill up the invoice information, including pickup time, service type, etc.

Step 5- Print Waybill

After all the information is uploaded, print the waybill and attach it to the document.

7) Conclusion

The eCommerce logistics process is a complex one, but due to the presence of documents like waybills, shipping labels, invoices, etc., it becomes easy for sellers and buyers to adopt it. It removes technical barriers and gives people ease in moving their shipments from one place to another. Above all, it bridges the gap between buyers and sellers and streamlines the eCommerce sales channels.

8) FAQs about waybills

8.1) What is a waybill?

A waybill is an integral part of the eCommerce logistics process. It incorporates necessary information about the transportation of goods, including details related to the consignor and the consignee and the shipment and its route.

8.2) Are waybills the same as bills of lading?

No waybills offer a more compiled set of data, whereas bills of lading are a more detailed and structured form of transportation documents.

8.3) Are waybills the same as an invoice?

Though waybills carry invoice details, they are not the same as an invoice. They just give a gist of the overall transaction and the parties involved.