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Shipment Tracking

Shipment tracking systems: the complete guide

Order tracking is a vital asset for your eCommerce business. It allows you to easily monitor the shipment of your products, quickly address any issues that arise, and build strong customer loyalty. Let’s dive into the details!

  • Shipment tracking: how it works 
  • Tracking strategies for shipments 
  • Improving shipment tracking systems 
  • Improving shipment tracking systems:
    • GLS tracking 
    • DHL tracking
    • UPS tracking 
    • TNT tracking
  • How to make tracking a marketing tool

Shipment tracking: how it works

Tracking is a synonym for monitoring or locating. It refers to shipped parcels, so you can control the shipment as a seller and communicate to the customers the movements of their order, enhancing their shopping experience. 

Knowing where the product is, that has already been paid for, and when it arrives is a nice relief for your customers!

Not having any news about your order until it arrives is not very reassuring, not to mention that, on an organizational level, this could create difficulties for the order delivery and in communications between the e-Commerce and the carrier. Also, the buyer not knowing when the products will arrive may not be available when the courier comes. This phenomenon leads to products being kept in storage and arranging a new delivery by the e-Commerce or buyer.

Basically, tracking is a service that enhances the customer experience and also allows you to be there in case problems to be solved arise. This can let you build customer loyalty. Even if there are hiccups, you will be ready to solve them right away, proving you’re a great salesperson, in fact the best!

If you rely on external companies to manage your shipment, it’s also a good way for them to operate transparently, giving you proof of their excellent service and strengthening your partnership. 

Shipment tracking can become your competitive advantage.

To track the parcel the shipment is assigned a unique number — the tracking number — and a series of notifications regarding the flow of goods is sent.

Multiple orders (each with its order number) can have the same tracking number, in the case of a shipment with multiple parcels for the same customer. On the other hand, the e-Commerce owner can monitor the status of the various orders through a control panel. Through specific apps or companies that provide services for e-Commerce, you can manage all couriers from the same dashboard, with a considerable saving of time, energy, and mistakes. With Qapla’, you have the chance to monitor international multi-courier shipments for example.

control panel tracking spedizione


The final customers, instead, will receive different types of notifications, such as e-mail or SMS. They can also monitor the shipment status by entering the tracking number in the dedicated area of the courier site. The tracking number may be sent by the seller or by the courier, depending on the chosen strategy. If you are the one communicating with the final customer, you will have many touchpoints, which can be customized and thus become an excellent chance to promote your online business! Last but not least, among these touchpoints is the creation of a branded tracking page that your buyers can visit whenever they want and that, in addition to shipping information, will also contain promotions, suggestions for future purchases, and content of interest

Here are some examples of the shipping statuses you can find in the control panel or the message box:

  • Shipped — the goods have left the hub and begin their journey to the recipient.
  • In transit — the package is traveling from one checkpoint to another.
  • Out for delivery — the package will be delivered on the same day.
  • Delay — the package is delayed. In addition to this message, it is usually specified the reason and if the delay is due to unknown reasons.
  • Wrong address — the parcel was not delivered due to a wrong address. It’s one of those events for which contacting the courier promptly is a good idea to avoid bad reviews.
  • Consignee not present — despite the tracking, the buyer could not be available at the delivery time. Contacting him to arrange a new delivery could make you one of his favorite sellers! (thus avoiding the goods returning to your warehouse).
  • Delivered —  the product is in the hands or at the buyer’s door, who can unwrap the packaging and begin the new phase of customer experience.

stati spedizione tracking

This technology is partly automated and partly based on the work of the different operators. Using special devices, the shipping staff will scan the number on the parcels, so the system will be automatically updated and make the information visible. The shipping company and the seller will make use of the control panel, while the final customer will receive notifications and monitor the tracking page. The communication with the buyer can be automated through a specific software that allows you to customize the messages and synchronize everything without further work on your part.

Tracking strategies for shipments

To really get the situation under control, tracking starts even before the shipment, when the operator takes over the goods. The products are assigned each an alphanumeric code, so that during the handling and processing of the order, you can keep track of their location. This is all about warehouse management software, the Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

Therefore, two types of tracking information can be distinguished, internal (before shipping) and external tracking (once the shipment has been created).

Having a digitized tracking system is essential for any company that provides secondary transportation services. This allows effective monitoring of shipments both in-house and for all those who enjoy the service. In turn, the sellers who use this service will benefit from the chance to update their customers in real time. This will be incredibly reassuring for all the buyers waiting for their orders, and it will also significantly improve the opinion they have of the seller and their delivery experience.

As a matter of fact, even though they usually buy online, the buyers still feel distrustful of stores and companies they don’t know well. A sound tracking system can help customers increase trust in your company even before they receive the goods.

Detailed tracking also allows you to provide better customer care. Through the codes assigned to the goods and automatic synchronization, everyone involved will know where the parcel is and possibly take the necessary measures to resolve any issues

The most commonly used systems to make the transmission of information uniform are the following:

  • Bar codes (UPC, EAN) — these are a sequence of numbers associated with a series of vertical bars.  There are coding standards that establish the type of product based on the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) identifier. In addition to this number, there may be the SIN (Shipment Identification Number) or the SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) identifiers.
  • RFID — these are identification systems that transmit data through radio waves. These labels are automatically activated when the RF scanner is directed towards them.

Integrating the coding of goods from the beginning of the process can also improve the activities of storage, picking, and everything related to the movement of goods. This allows for maximum automation and synchronization of every step, from warehouse to delivery. 

Once you’ve found the best way to identify the goods, all the information must be synchronized through software. Basically, you have to coordinate the flow of information and the flow of goods, so this software must be able to collect, process, and return structured data. 

It must, therefore:

  • Collect and store information on the transit of goods.
  • Structure this data so that it is usable.
  • Create effective checkpoints between devices and operators involved along the supply chain.

The main systems used are:

  • ERP system, which integrates information from multiple sources and sectors of the company (sales, management, production, etc.)
  • WMS (Warehouse Management System), which optimizes flows within the warehouse and coordinates with the ERP system.
  • TMS (Transport Management System), which traces courier routes. It is very important to manage e-Commerce shipments and what is provided by the external tracking system that is much appreciated by the customer (and seller). It can be integrated with the WMS in order to optimize the labeling process and information exchange between systems. Transportation management systems can be used by all companies that need to ship, move, and receive goods regularly, such as manufacturers, distributors, e-Commerce and retail owners, and obviously companies that offer logistics services of any kind (3PL, 4PL, LSP).

Through the tracking number, you and your customer can monitor the movements of the parcel. However, there are various options to make this possible. 

The seller can track packages from the courier’s control panel, but it’s pretty complex with multiple couriers! Anyway, there are software designed to enable you to monitor all shipments from a single dashboard, for example with Qapla’! 

As far as the final customers are concerned, you can provide them with the tracking number and a link to the specific section of the website or the tracking page. In this way, they will monitor the status of the order by themselves. Strategically, you can think of relying on marketing automation tools that allow you to send customized emails to keep the buyer updated on the movements of the package, also taking the opportunity to show related items or promotions. Thanks to this kind of tools, you can also create a branded tracking page, providing yourself the opportunity to constantly monitor the products in transit. 

That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Tracking systems of the different couriers:

Let’s examine how the various couriers manage tracking.

GLS tracking

GLS is an English courier with different franchise branches. Both employed delivery people and drivers do the deliveries. Through the Trace-ID provided by the company, the sender and recipient can locate the parcel at any time. Tracking information includes the day of delivery. It shows multiple shipments on the same page, both for the sender and the receiver. The entry system is by a scanner and the codes have precise coding standards, as far as numbers of letters or digits are concerned.

DHL tracking

It is an American-born transport company which was acquired in 1998 by Deutsche Post. Today it operates all over the world thanks to its great air fleet and troop on wheels, and with large warehouses and owned terminals. The delivery personnel are all employees and this guarantees an excellent service. Indeed, the company is renowned for being specialized in fast and valuable shipments. The package details are entered through the DHL ProView portal either from the web or mobile, and the tracking number is generated automatically and is immediately usable. Through this code, it is possible to identify the parcel’s location in real time, and the customer can also choose various options for delivery. Through the portal, the shippers can view all their shipments simultaneously. It also provides notifications via email and SMS when shipments are picked up, delivered, or delayed.

UPS tracking

As an American multinational company, it has local and independent offices. It also has its own air fleet and troop on wheels. It is well known for its reliability and offers customized solutions logistically and contractually. Since it provides a shipping service at higher rates, it also offers advantages on the tracking side. Through the mobile app or website, you can schedule a pick-up, search for shipments, or make a payment. The tracking number is created immediately, along with the label, and is immediately usable. UPS also uses SMS and email, and a real-time tracking page is always available on the site, both for the sender and recipient. 

TNT tracking

This is a Dutch company that is part of PostNL. American FedEx has recently acquired it. It operates throughout Europe and relies both on employees and external staff. It will use the FedEx InSight tracking system that allows real-time tracking of all shipments made and received, also sending notifications via email and SMS.


How to make tracking a marketing tool

Don’t let your customers get anxious while waiting for their order! 

Often the notification emails about the shipment status are checked several times by buyers looking for some more information. That is why you shouldn’t delegate this aspect to the couriers. Instead, make tracking an opportunity to grow your business

Couriers have no interest in promoting your business, so messages are often anonymous and do not even show your logo. No matter what happens to the goods you’ve shipped, for the customer it will be your responsibility (this is also a legal aspect, see Dirett. Consumatori Jun. 2014)! 

So why not also take credit and use this kind of communication to inform the customers better and send them promotions and tailored communications?

About Qapla’…

Managing the shipments of an eCommerce platform requires precision and a certain amount of time. Qapla’ is the right tool to always have your orders under control, manage them from a single platform, and save a significant amount of time.

It also allows you to increase the number of conversions, thanks to the possibility of sending transactional emails and tracking the shipment in a totally customized way, according to your brand’s needs.

Discover even more benefits of the platform with a customized demo.

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