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Package Tracking

Learn about package tracking and its benefits.

Package tracking lets receivers know when to expect their packages. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Package tracking lets receivers know when to expect their packages.

Package tracking software is beneficial to both a packages recipient and sender. Package tracking grants the recipient peace of mind by recording the shipment's every move and frees the shipper from constant inquiries as to the package's whereabouts. All of the popular package shipping companies provide e-mail tracking updates that contact senders immediately once their package has safely arrived. Such up-to-date information is valued by clients who frequently send large or long-distance shipments and are also helpful to the casual or infrequent shipper.

Package Tracking Clients

The four main package delivery companies are FedEx, UPS, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). All four rely on tracking information to provide their clients with the most current information about the location of their shipments.

FedEx offers numerous options for tracking packages. Clients can track their package by using the basic tracking number; the packages door tag number, which starts with the letters DT followed by 12 numbers; or the FedEx order number. If the package contains an item ordered online, the tracking number should be provided by the company when the order is shipped. UPS ships more than 15.5 million packages daily, which is one of the reasons why customers utilize its tracking software programs. UPS's tracking system is similar to FedEx's and allows clients to track numerous packages as well as receive updates via e-mail or mobile phone whenever a package has arrived. Members of My UPS, UPS's premier tracking system, can access its Signature Tracking service, where users can view the image of the recipient's signature along with the signer's full name and delivery address.

DHL allows users to track both national and international packages. Clients will need to use the specific button on the tracking site to differentiate between the two. Since DHL also deals with large freight shipments, clients can track these through the packages' respective codes. The U.S. Postal Service offers tracking, confirmation and proof-of-delivery options.

How Package Tracking Works

Package tracking was first developed to help package senders determine why shipments did not arrive at their final destinations. With advancements in technology, shippers could use tracking information to keep track of their package once it left their hands. Package tracking provides an extra sense of security for both the shipper and the recipient, as both sides can keep an eye on a package's location until it arrives at its final destination.

In order to track packages, barcodes are placed on parcels. The barcodes require only a small amount of space, despite the fact that they hold up to 100 characters that help with the auto-sorting process. Scanners then capture the data presented on the postage-size barcode that provides the tracking information. If the scan is taken from a truck or airplane, satellites are used to transmit the data; if the package is scanned at a shipping facility, the information is uploaded to the company's software database program. Either way, the information is updated instantaneously.

The information from the barcode is provided to clients when they seek out the packages tracking status, which can be accessed online, via e-mail or on their mobile phone. Tracking information includes:

  • Date and time
  • Activity, such as if the package is arriving or leaving
  • Location
  • Other pertinent details, such as information about the packages contents

These key pieces of information help clients notify recipients of when their package should arrive, or it can alert clients to potential delays by showing them where the package is currently located. Either way, the information provided is vital in ensuring that a package arrives on time.

Package Tracking Tips

How far the package needs to travel determines how many times the item is scanned. According to FedEx, every shipment sent through its company is scanned about 12 times before reaching its final destination, as the package is picked up, loaded, transported and delivered.

In addition to specific shippers sites, certain Web sites, such as TrackThePack, allow senders to search tracking numbers for different carriers all at the same time. This eliminates the hassle of switching back and forth between different shippers sites, which becomes confusing when the sender runs a large business and relies on several shipping methods and carriers. Clients can also choose to become members of these sites, which will allow them to save all of their tracking numbers, eliminating yet another step.

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