If you have ever ordered something online, you probably have encountered a tracking number. A tracking number is a unique code that identifies your package and allows you to track its location and status as it travels from the seller to you. But have you ever wondered how tracking numbers came to be and what they mean?
The long and winding road of the tracking number
Tracking numbers have a long and fascinating history that dates back to the early days of air transport. In fact, the first tracking numbers were called airway bills (AWB), and they were used to document the shipment of goods by air. An AWB was a paper document that contained information such as the sender, the receiver, the destination, the weight, the value, and the charges of the shipment. It also served as a receipt and a proof of delivery.
The AWB was originally developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 1946 to standardize and simplify the documentation of air cargo. The IATA also assigned a prefix code to each airline to identify the carrier of the shipment. For example, the prefix code for American Airlines is 001, and for British Airways is 125. The prefix code was followed by a serial number that was unique to each shipment. Thus, an AWB number looked something like this: 001-12345678.
As eCommerce grew in popularity and demand, so did the need for more efficient and reliable tracking systems. Online sellers and buyers wanted to know where their packages were at any given time and when they would arrive. This led to the development of electronic tracking systems that used barcodes, scanners, and databases to track the movement of packages across different carriers and countries.
Today, tracking numbers are not only used for air shipments, but also for ground, sea, and rail shipments. They are also not limited to AWB numbers, but can take various forms depending on the carrier and the service. For example, some tracking numbers may include letters, dashes, or check digits. Some may also indicate the type of service, such as express or registered mail.
Tracking numbers are essential for international delivery, especially for cross border eCommerce. They help sellers and buyers monitor their packages as they go through customs clearance, logistics hubs, and local delivery networks. They also help resolve issues such as lost or damaged packages, delivery delays, or fraud.
Tracking numbers have come a long way since their inception in 1946. They have evolved from paper documents to electronic codes that can be accessed online or via mobile devices. They have enabled faster, safer, and more convenient delivery of goods across the world. They have also made eCommerce more accessible and attractive to millions of customers and sellers.
It actually facilitates the growth of eCommerce worldwide!
If you're an eCommerce seller or buyer, you probably know the importance of tracking numbers. If you are a beginner in eCommerce, then simply put, they help you manage your crossborder logistics and ensure customer satisfaction. Let’s explore some of the benefits of tracking numbers and how they can make your eCommerce business more efficient and profitable:
Tracking number provides visibility and transparency
One of the main functions of a tracking number is to provide visibility and transparency for both sellers and buyers. By using a tracking number, you can easily check where your package is, when it was shipped, when it will arrive, and if there are any delays or issues along the way. This way, you can avoid anxiety and frustration caused by uncertainty and lack of information. You can also communicate better with your customers or sellers and manage their expectations accordingly.
Tracking number enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty
Another function of a tracking number is to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers who receive a tracking number are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase and less likely to complain or request a refund. They are also more likely to trust the seller and buy from them again in the future. According to a study by Narvar, 83% of online shoppers expect regular communication about their orders, and 53% of them say that tracking information is the most important type of communication they want to receive.
Tracking number reduces costs and risks
A third function of a tracking number is to reduce costs and risks for both sellers and buyers. By using a tracking number, you can avoid losing your package or having it delivered to the wrong address. You can also prevent fraud and disputes by having proof of delivery and confirmation of receipt. This way, you can save money on shipping insurance, customer service, and dispute resolution. You can also protect your reputation and ratings as a seller or buyer.
Tracking number improves efficiency and performance
Its fourth function is to improve efficiency and performance for both sellers and buyers. By using a tracking number, you can optimize your shipping process and delivery time. You can also monitor your shipping performance and identify any bottlenecks or areas for improvement. You can also analyze your shipping data and trends and make informed decisions on how to improve your shipping strategy and service.
Tracking number enables cross-border eCommerce
A fifth function of a tracking number is to enable cross-border eCommerce. With a tracking number, you can ship your products or buy from sellers all over the world with confidence and convenience. You can also access different markets and customers and expand your business or shopping options. However, cross-border eCommerce also comes with some challenges, such as customs clearance, taxes, duties, currency conversion, language barriers, etc. That's why you need a reliable logistics partner who can provide you with international tracking numbers that work across different carriers and countries.
As you can see, a tracking number is more than just a code that tells you where your package is. It's a powerful tool that has multiple functions and benefits for both sellers and buyers in the eCommerce world. Whether you are shipping domestically or internationally, a tracking number can help you provide visibility and transparency, enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, reduce costs and risks, improve efficiency and performance, and enable cross-border eCommerce.
Interesting facts that you (probably) don’t know about the tracking number
- 90% of customers want tracking numbers. According to a report by DHL, 96% of consumers say that tracking is important when buying products online from another country, and 87% say that tracking is important for their cross-border purchases. This shows that tracking numbers are not just a nice-to-have, but an essential component of the eCommerce experience. Providing tracking numbers can increase customer satisfaction and trust in the merchant.
- Tracking numbers increase repeat business. According to a study by Pitney Bowes, 96% of consumers are likely to return to a merchant's website if they have a positive delivery experience, which includes the ability to track their package.
- Tracking numbers reduce customer inquiries. When customers have access to tracking information, they are less likely to contact customer support with inquiries about their order status. A study by MetaPack found that providing tracking information reduced customer inquiries by up to 50%, freeing up support staff to focus on more complex issues.
- Tracking numbers improve delivery accuracy. Tracking numbers not only benefit customers, but they also help merchants and logistics providers ensure that packages are delivered accurately and on time. According to a report by Pitney Bowes, 97% of merchants believe that tracking numbers improve delivery accuracy, and 87% say that tracking numbers improve their overall shipping process. A study by MetaPack found that providing tracking information can improve delivery speed by up to 25%, as customers are more likely to be available to receive their package if they know when it will arrive.
- Lost packages are costly. According to a survey by Shippo, 10% of packages sent without tracking get lost or delayed, which can result in costly chargebacks and lost revenue for eCommerce merchants.
- Tracking numbers increase trust in eCommerce. According to a survey by Pitney Bowes, 93% of consumers say that tracking is important to them when making an online purchase, and 60% of consumers are more likely to make a repeat purchase from a merchant that offers tracking.
Tracking numbers are truly the hidden heroes!
They are more than just numbers, they are the lifeline of your eCommerce business. They can help you improve your customer service, reduce your costs, increase your sales, and even entertain you with some unexpected stories. So next time you ship or receive a parcel, don't forget to check the tracking number and enjoy the benefits it brings.