Palmer & Harvey (P&H) is gearing up for the third and final phase of its drive to oust paperwork from its convenience stores delivery process with plans to integrate a new online customer portal possibly as soon as this summer.

Phase one saw personal digital assistants (PDAs) introduced to the delivery fleet last summer as part of what will be a total £5m investment on the paperless project.

Phase two of the Electronic Proof of Delivery system, announced today [Monday], sees the use of the PDAs to move further towards the paperless ideal.

Mark Leonard, P&H group operations director, said that phase two would reduce all retailers’ paperwork to a new single A4 summary sheet.

Retailers would sign the driver’s PDA, which doubles as a phone, to confirm the order had been received or to note any anomalies, such as damages.

“This will enable us to credit…and resolve any issues with that delivery more quickly…than we currently can.

“The level of efficiency this provides us with now means if there are any queries en route we can answer them far more quickly with the data that’s coming through our PDAs in terms of delivering on time, where our vehicle actually is and when the delivery is expected.”

Phase three would see the removal of all paperwork and to do that customers would be offered access on a mobile and tablet app as well as a desktop internet link to an online portal to allow them to access all their delivery details and to track credit and queries with the delivery online.

Leonard said the investment would produce cost savings and efficiencies for both P&H and for retailers.

He said it formed part of a roadmap to transform operations and supply chain.

The PDAs was the first proposal Leonard went to the board with 20 months ago when he joined. P&H is now also looking at Radio-Frequency Identification tagging of its cages – it is running a pilot in the South East and it is exploring how to roll that out.

It is looking, too, at its warehouse management systems and replenishment systems.

Leonard said he wanted to get all the systems to talk to each other to eventually provide full traceability.