Online shopping: 6 top tips to getting an accurate delivery date for orders

Tracking your parcel is the only way to know the package's exact location - and being in possession of a tracking number makes the process a lot easier.

Tracking your parcel is the only way to know the package's exact location - and being in possession of a tracking number makes the process a lot easier.

Published Jan 16, 2023


When it comes to online shopping, waiting for your carefully chosen order to arrive can be both exciting and frustrating.

Shipping delays are, in most cases, announced by sellers before the finalisation of the order. However, these time frames are only approximate and do not reflect the actual time the package will take to be delivered to your address.

If you are looking for precise information on the current location of your parcel or an accurate delivery forecast, you will need to use your tracking number on package tracking sites.

Here are six tips to locate your packages and get accurate delivery dates:

1. Tracking numbers – the key towards delivery information

Unique codes are assigned to packages and are composed of numbers and letters. These codes are created as soon as the packages are handed over to the courier, and differ from the order numbers provided by the sellers. The tracking number is usually sent to customers with an additional email, can be used to find the current location and parcel status from specialised tracking websites such as Ordertracker, or directly on the courier websites.

2. The most reliable methods to track parcels

Tracking your parcel is the only way to know the package's exact location. However, you cannot follow a parcel without being in possession of a tracking number. If you plan on tracking the package directly via the courier website, you will need to know which delivery company has been handed your package. Otherwise, third party websites remain the only option as they will identify the courier company directly from your tracking number.

3. Tracking websites

Many shoppers assume they need the courier website to track their parcel to know its location. However, there are tracking websites that can help you get full information about the location of your shipment. These tracking websites collaborate with courier companies to provide unbiased information about the package's location.

Tracking websites tend to be more complete and transparent than courier tracking services. This is especially the case for international deliveries, as these services combine information from multiple couriers in order to provide the delivery journey of the package; whereas couriers don’t display these steps.

During international deliveries, parcels pass through multiple courier companies until the last mile delivery. Some tracking services provide users with an estimated time of arrival (ETA). When using a tracking website such as Ordertracker, the ETA is provided by artificial intelligence and is based on packages that previously took the same delivery path.

These projections tend to be the most realistic, as they take into consideration fluctuating changes and ongoing disruptions of the delivery processes instead of stating the average delays provided by couriers.

4. Courier websites

The tracking information that the courier website will supply includes the parcel's current location and the calculated estimated time of arrival. The courier website has a section where you can insert the tracking number to get information about your parcel. The process of tracking your parcel on the courier's website takes less than two minutes.

In addition, the recipient's name and delivery time will also be supplied if the parcel has reached its destination.

5. Tracking pages on seller’s websites

Some e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Etsy or AliExpress willing optimise consumer experience to reduce support queries related to deliveries, implement tracking functions directly on its websites, and provide full package traceability to its customers. Even if shipment tracking is considered by e-shoppers as a crucial feature for ecommerce, the vast majority of online stores have yet to utilise this feature.

6. The required information to be eligible for tracking

If the full tracking information is not provided by the seller, you would need the tracking number or at least the name of the courier company in charge of your delivery, in order to track a package.

This information is usually provided by the seller via email or in your store’s personal account. If you are not in possession of the tracking ID, the best solution would be reaching the seller’s customer support, as extracting information from courier companies is much more delicate and takes longer. With a tracking number in possession, you will be able to access all the information regarding your parcels.

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