Creating a delivery note: what is a delivery note and how do you design one?

When supplying goods to a customer, it’s advisable to write an accompanying delivery note enclosed with the goods. It’s not compulsory but is nevertheless a service that many customers appreciate. It makes it easier for the recipient to check which items have been delivered and if any are missing.

What is a delivery note?

A delivery note (also referred to as 'dispatch note' or 'goods receipt') is a document that lists all the goods included in the delivery. The note accompanies the shipment and lists quantities, not values i.e. the price of the goods. A copy of the delivery note is returned to the seller as proof of delivery.

On the one hand, it gives customers an overview of the products they’ve ordered as it’s easy to compare the products you receive with the actual order. On the other hand, suppliers can confirm that everything was fine with the delivery after it’s been signed and sent back since it serves as proof that all goods were received and the recipient is satisfied.

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What is the purpose of a delivery note?

As soon as a customer places an order, you should send the goods as soon as possible. If you create a delivery note to send along with the shipment, it has the following advantages: you can use the note as a checklist and, as mentioned above, it can also serve as proof of delivery. In addition, it’s an extra service that puts the customer’s mind at ease.

If you choose to create a delivery note yourself, you must ensure that the goods contained in the shipment are included on the note (the invoice can also be sent with the shipment, or at a later date).

You can also use the delivery note to communicate your corporate design: if you make it appealing, include your logo, and choose the design elements and colors wisely, you can strengthen your company’s recognition value.

Creating your own delivery note: content, structure, and checklist

It is a good idea to use the articles on writing quotes or order confirmation as templates for the delivery note. In principle, the delivery note is similar to an invoice for a shipment of goods: both list the delivered products and contain the usual formal details of a commercial letter (company name, your address, customer’s address, date, etc.).

However, the delivery note differs slightly from the invoice since the prices of the products aren’t listed. That’s why a delivery note isn’t a replacement for an invoice, so you must always produce an invoice.

The delivery note’s layout structure is really quite simple. In the heading, you should label the document with the quote number or delivery note number. In the main body of the text, the customer should be thanked for their order and then you should list the products contained in the shipment. An empty field should be left where the recipient signs to confirm they have received the goods. If you are using the traditional form of delivery note, you should ideally include another copy for the customer, which acts as proof that they accepted the state of the delivery.

In the meantime, however, more and more delivery notes are being sent by e-mail as soon as the goods are dispatched. Since the e-mail (as opposed to the goods) reaches the recipient immediately, this can be a way of reminding the customer that they are expecting a package. The customer also has an overview of the incoming order when they receive the delivery note by e-mail, which can be especially advantageous for large deliveries. For a digital delivery note, you do not need a space for the customer’s signature.

You have free rein when creating the delivery note since there are no compulsory fields to include. You might want to consider using a template though to make sure you don’t miss any important details. This checklist is a recommendation for what should be included:

  • The name and address of your company as well as that of the recipient (including invoice and shipping address if they aren’t the same)
  • Date of order, shipment, and delivery
  • Order number/order name
  • Packing list (description and quantity of individual goods)
  • Subsequent deliveries, if these occur

As with all business correspondence, it makes sense to prepare a delivery note from your company that you can include with each shipment. If you don’t have one, there are multiple delivery note templates designed for Microsoft Word and Excel. It’s simple to do and totally free.

Safekeeping of a delivery note

Although a delivery note isn’t compulsory, you should keep a copy of each one if you do decide to use them. This is so that you have written proof that the customer confirmed that the delivery was received.

Two copies of the delivery note are required: the first one is either printed out or sent to the customer and the second one is kept and archived by you. When it comes to delivery notes that the customer has to sign, it might even make sense to make three copies: with one of the copies, you can confirm that the transport company has successfully delivered the goods. The second note is kept by the transport company as proof that the job was fulfilled and that the goods arrived and the third copy is kept by the customer.

If you have a physical delivery note that has been signed or has a date stamp, this can be digitalized easily. As long as it’s legible, you can simply scan the document and place it in your computer files. Storing the notes digitally will save you a lot of money and you can quickly access all of your dispatched delivery notes on your computer whenever you need them.

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