Shipment Tracking

What is tracking?

Tracking, also known as shipment tracking or track and trace, involves monitoring the movement of freight, parcels, and mail throughout the supply chain. It utilizes unique barcodes that are scanned at different points, creating an audit trail of the journey.

This process allows businesses to keep customers updated on the location and condition of their shipments while providing visibility into product flows across the supply chain.

Additionally, tracking data helps trace the milestones a shipment has passed and enables optimization of complex supply chains. Track and trace is commonly used for monitoring last-mile deliveries.

Why is tracking so important?

Tracking plays a crucial role in logistics by helping businesses achieve the following:

  1. Identification: Businesses can quickly understand the nature of items, packages, or cargoes they are handling.
  2. Location: Tracking enables businesses to locate items at any point along the supply chain.
  3. Handling and Delivery: By tracking items, businesses can see where and when they have been handled or delivered, as well as the responsible parties involved.

Reacting promptly to disruptions and avoiding delays is another advantage of tracking. Through real-time updates and proactive customer service, businesses can address irregularities and search for alternative transport options when needed. This ensures that urgent deliveries arrive on time.

Tracking also contributes to reducing losses due to theft or damage during transit, improving efficiency, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Other benefits include simplifying post-sale communications, optimizing operations, improving security, identifying supply chain bottlenecks, and eliminating manual spreadsheets.

What steps are involved in retail shipment tracking?

In retail logistics tracking, the process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Shipping Carrier Selection: Retailers choose their preferred shipping carrier(s) for order fulfillment.
  2. Shipment Label: Once an order is placed and the shipping provider is selected, a shipment label is generated. The process may vary depending on whether the order is shipped from a warehouse, brick-and-mortar store, or a combination of both.
  3. Customer Updates: Customers receive updates throughout the purchasing process, including order confirmation, order fulfillment, order shipped, and shipment status updates.
  4. Tracking and Communication: Tracking in logistics connects the shipping process with ongoing customer communication, ensuring that tracking information is effectively conveyed to customers.

How does shipment tracking work?

There are various methods available for tracking and tracing shipments:

  1. Online Portals: Utilizing online portals provides real-time shipment status at every point in the supply chain. It offers centralized access to track individual items and aggregate data on product flows across multiple locations.
  2. RFID Tags: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are electronic devices that communicate location and relevant information through radio signals. They are commonly used for tracking high-value or perishable products.
  3. Barcodes: Barcodes, often used alongside RFID tags, provide tracking capabilities and comprehensive data on product location and movement.
  4. GPS Technology: GPS technology is increasingly employed for tracking shipments traveling long distances by truck or rail. It enables continuous monitoring of shipment location and alerts businesses about delays or deviations from the expected route.

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