Chain of Custody Logistics: How it can Benefit Your Delivery Business?

keyKey Takeaways:


  • In logistics, a Chain of Custody (CoC) plays an important role in tracking and documenting the movement of goods throughout the entire supply chain.
  • Top companies can get help with CoC and ensure compliance with regulations and standards, reducing the risk of fraud & counterfeiting.
  • If you want to implement CoC, it requires technology like GPS tracking, barcode scanners, and proper training for personnel handling goods.

In general, the chain of custody documentation is widely used in a variety of industries in both the public and private sectors, especially in the law and medicine field.

However, the concept is also utilized in the supply chain sector. In fact, the chain of custody acts as the core of a sustainable supply chain. This is why the chain of custody documentation holds high importance for many businesses.

It offers three things: it helps increase transparency, improve efficiency, and bring more accountability to the opaque processes that occur within the supply chain. This article walks you through the chain of custody logistics, its importance, and the benefits of the chain of custody routing.

What is the Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody is known in many ways, but in terms of business, it refers to the chronological documentation of a purchased product, from the collection, through continuous possession, and finally to the delivery. 

It requires tracking from the moment the product is collected and at the time of purchase. Plus, the purpose of the transfer and the persons who handled the transportation. 

It is quite similar to an online purchasing experience. After a product is purchased, the customer gets a tracking number. This unique number functions as a digital passport for the product on shipment. The package gets stamped at each stop along the way. So the customer can track the shipment status in real time.

Custody documentation is a verifiable receipt that helps control inventory and transactional processes. 

Tracking the supply chains and keeping all documentation is extremely vital for government organizations, law enforcement agencies, small business owners, logistics service providers, and shipment providers.

Chain of Custody Routing and its Significance

The chain of custody in routing covers the transportation section only. It records every transfer of evidence from person to person and every location the item passed through on its way to the final destination.

Here is how the chain of custody documentation helps run a routing business: 

1. Customers want to stay in the loop

Customers want to know where their order is and when it will be delivered. Nothing can be better if you provide them with all the information. So, many delivery and transportation companies enable updated routing programs on their online portals, where the receivers can track their order. 

2. Transparency in the supply chain

Sometimes human factors affect transportation. As you know, human performances vary from individual to individual. So, sometimes you may fail to deliver some items within the expected delivery date. This can be due to heavy orders, holidays, labor shortages, extreme weather conditions, etc.

But the receiver will stay calm if they can track their shipment status. Detail documentation makes the supply chain more transparent and you, as a trading partner, more accountable.

3. Get rid of false claims

If your company is responsible for the transportation of products, you often run into a situation where you need to show where the item is now and where it was at a particular point in time.

Let’s say a customer is asking for a refund by claiming that any field employee never arrived at the delivery address. Whereas, your field employee has actually made the delivery.

In the case of customers, you may process the refund for them, as they have a valid complaint. On the other hand, your employee may not agree to refund your customer, and you are likely to lose a customer.

In case of any loss, you can easily identify the step of disruption, relocate the lost products and take a step for resending them to the assigned delivery address. 

Hence, if your logistics management team keeps track of all distribution lines, it would be easier to get rid of false claims.

Main Difference Between Chain of Custody and Tracking

Chain of custody: The chain of custody includes all steps and persons who take possession of the products, such as manufacturers, processors, transporters, and exporters. 

The record of the mining agency, which has custody of minerals, should also be documented in the supply chain. It allows them to trace a material back to its origin. 

The chain of custody system is strict on the truthfulness of mineral origin claims. So, it requires a mining origin certificate, factory receipt, transport documentation, and detailed import and export records.

Tracking system: On the other hand, the tracking system monitors a package from the warehouse to the delivery destination. In the tracking system, information regarding the country of origin is mentioned on the package. But they hardly follow the trail of mineral supply by tracking the associated chain of custody system.

Chain of custody or tracking – Which one is most preferred?

The major logistic service providers often claim that they have the best tracking services and provide genuine chain-of-custody systems. But the fact is, most of them can’t provide all custody documentation details for two reasons:

  • Firstly, most of their shipping containers are not sealed or tracked from access to the destination for access. 
  • Secondly, the signature of the person who verifies the goods and their quantity may not be present on the package.

Without the signature and identity of the person, any delivery package can’t be a part of a chain of custody rather than only a tracking system. 

It doesn’t affect the delivery of any food products or regular online purchased products. But the distinction is extremely important when transporting any drugs, weapons of mass destruction, and other counterfeit products through a global supply chain.

For the global supply chain, the chain of custody has been more widely adopted than the tracking system. 

Why? In the global supply chain, a chain of custody begins with the identity of the person who has verified the goods under the contract of carriage. 

From loading to unpacking the box of goods, every step should be verified by the associated persons. There must be signatures of the concerned persons. 

Such a detailed and strict custody system prevents fraudulent manipulation of paper documentation and improves the efficiencies in international movements.

What are the Benefits of Custody Logistics?

Every field of operation includes a chain of events. The chain could be short, simple, or complicated, involving the item changing hands multiple times. 

Whether it is a complex supply chain or a simple one, it is extremely important to track an item when transporting it from one location to another. Some of these benefits include:

  • It allows you to trace products electronically and physically to offer better control over inventory.
  • Provide a better understanding of the supply line of materials, used components, and final products. 
  • Give public and private entities access to documenting their associated products and services. 
  • Chronological documentation helps find out any disruption or loss.
  • Helps identify the area that creates loss and delivery delay and develop the best solutions.

Get a 360-degree View of Your Logistics Process with Upper Route Planner

The prime stages of supply chains are integration, operation, purchasing, and distribution. However, the distribution part can cause some trouble if you don’t have efficient routes. It may result in a delay in transporting the goods and products.

Late deliveries are sure to happen if the delivery route isn’t optimized well. By opting for the best route optimization software, such as Upper Route Planner, your worries are dispersed once and for all. 

The route planner helps you get a birds-eye view of your ongoing process. The admin or dispatch manager can scan reports to analyze driver performance and the history of past deliveries as well.  

Using Upper means you don’t have to be involved in manual calculations as it uses a fully automated process. That’s right, from calculating optimized routes to delivering products on time, Upper ensures a better customer experience. Hence, the software is capable of simplifying the chain of custody logistics to a great extent.


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For instance, you can take the example of the wood industry, which supplies wood materials for construction projects or wooden products worldwide. They track the trees collected and delivered, as well as focus on sustainable resource management systems to ensure benefits for current and future generations.

Generally, global supply chains that involve multiple parties and hand-offs use the power of blockchain to handle complexities and potential threats, like – product diversion, unauthorized introductions, counterfeiting, spoilage, grey market distribution, etc.

With a robust chain of custody documentation, a company can make deliveries faster, limit the disruption to the customer, save money and maintain the brand’s reputation.


A supply chain mainly contains suppliers and customers. So, the custody documentation tracks the movements of producers or manufacturing units, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and customers at every step of the supply chain.

Thus, it solves any area that creates any negative influence on the product’s delivery, value, or quality. Additionally, the chain of custody routing gives a clearer picture of what is happening in the supply chain. 

If you are experiencing routing issues on a daily basis, we recommend you use Upper. Upper, the route optimization software, takes care of your entire process and helps you schedule routes for multi-stop deliveries. Try a 7 days free trial.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.