E-commerce order tracking: Why it matters & how to do it right

why e commerce order tracking

[Updated post from April 13, 2021]

Customer retention in e-commerce is no longer about offering the lowest prices or the biggest product selection; it's whether your customers receive a satisfying delivery experience of their online order.

Yet seamless e-commerce delivery is far from guaranteed. There can be unforeseen shipping delays, address errors, and the ever-present risk of a failed delivery. All of these circumstances have the potential to throw a spanner in the works and leave even loyal customers dissatisfied with the customer experience.

So, how can e-commerce businesses minimize friction during this critical stage of the shopping journey? By adding real-time e-commerce order tracking capabilities to your arsenal.

What is order tracking in e-commerce?

Order tracking is an essential service in e-commerce that allows brands and their customers to monitor the progress of an online order or shipment in real-time, from the moment it's first placed to when it arrives on their doorstep. 

The primary purpose of order tracking is to keep customers in the loop and give them certainty about when their order is going to arrive. This can take the form of an on-site order tracking page, periodic updates via email notifications or SMS messages, or giving customers a shipment tracking number to be entered on third-party websites belonging to parcel carriers.

Because both the customer and the customer support team have access to the same order tracking process, this helps to prevent confusion regarding whether an order has been shipped or its expected delivery date.

Customers will normally receive order tracking updates when the following milestones are reached:

  • When an order is received
  • When order fulfillment begins
  • When an order has been shipped
  • When an order is out for delivery
  • When delivery has been completed

The benefits of e-commerce order tracking for brands

So, why is a great e-commerce order tracking experience so important for boosting customer lifetime value?

Order tracking is a part of e-commerce customer expectations

Consumers don't just want free shipping and fast delivery; they also want complete oversight of their order during the fulfillment and shipping experience, including potential delays and estimated delivery dates.

According to a study by My Customer, 82% of consumers say that it's important for e-commerce brands to update them during every stage of the fulfillment and delivery process, with 85% choosing shipment tracking emails as their preferred communication method, while 45% opted for text messages. Interestingly, 81% of customers admit to tracking their order status two or more times during the fulfillment process.

The reason is simple; customers view the ability to see package movements in real-time as the norm, thanks to the likes of Amazon and Target turning order tracking into a standard offering. In sum, to offer a satisfactory brand experience, order tracking is no longer optional.

Order tracking eases pressure on your customer support team 

"Where is my order?" is easily the most frequently-asked question that customer support teams receive. If customers don't have a way to track orders when shopping with you, these inquiries are very likely to overwhelm your team and limit their bandwidth to deal with more complex issues.

By offering real-time order tracking information, your customers do not need to reach out for manual updates because this information is already being provided to them via order tracking pages or a tracking email sent at regular intervals. This enhanced level of customer service boosts the number of repeat customers who shop with your brand because they have confidence that their online orders will arrive on time.

Order tracking streamlines your fulfillment process

Order tracking isn't just useful for customers awaiting delivery. It's also valuable for e-commerce businesses who need to be able to troubleshoot problems with ease. Being able to track orders in real-time allows you to identify issues that occur during fulfillment and shipping and take steps to remedy them - before your customer is any the wiser.

Without an order tracking system, you may not find out about a delivery delay or misplaced order until it's too late to meet the promised shipping date - and that could lose you a loyal customer.

Order tracking alleviates delivery anxiety

Delivery anxiety is a natural but entirely avoidable part of the post-purchase experience. When customers worry that they won't get their order by the estimated delivery date promised, it's usually because they receive few or no shipping updates to assure them that everything is in hand.

Severe delivery anxiety is what drives shoppers to repeatedly contact customer service representatives (as outlined above) or even cancel online orders entirely. 

When frequent updates are lacking, it gives customers the message that a brand isn't interested in putting any effort into customer service once a sale has been made. Needless to say, this approach is hardly going to foster brand loyalty or a better relationship with customers.

Order tracking helps an e-commerce business to alleviate delivery anxiety by giving customers easy access to critical information when they need it. It helps to boost customer satisfaction, especially during that all-important last mile of delivery.

Order tracking is a profitable marketing channel

Order tracking isn't just the conclusion of one shopping journey; when executed well, this has the potential to kickstart another.

Choosing to provide detailed tracking updates, whether that's via an order tracking page or notification emails, adds multiple interactive touch points to the post-purchase experience. Customer engagement with tracking emails and hubs is extremely high, which opens up a huge marketing opportunity to augment order tracking with additional content.

While a classic marketing email may only achieve a 10%-20% open rate, emails that involve tracking notifications can garner open rates between 50% to 80%!

Strategies like this are referred to as shipment marketing, where order tracking is used as an additional channel to drive customers towards their next purchase.

For example, why not include personalized product recommendations on your order tracking page that high complementary items to a customer's order? Alternatively, you can use the customer data gathered from their order (e.g. location, contact details, order contents) to create better-targeted marketing emails.

By investing in shipment marketing, your brand can increase its share of repeat purchases and create a more positive customer experience.

What to look for in an e-commerce order tracking tool?

We've provided plenty of reasons why you should implement real-time tracking for your e-commerce orders. But what should look you for in an order tracking tool to reap the benefits of this strategy?

1. Integration with major e-commerce platforms

It's impossible to track orders effectively if you're using an order tracking tool that can't integrate effectively with your online store. Seamless integration with all major e-commerce platforms means that when an order is processed, your tracking system will automatically retrieve this information and create a new tracking number if needed.

Integrations avoid brands from having to make manual transfers of data that could prevent shipping and delivery notifications from being updated promptly, especially if you're operating multiple selling channels.

2. Ability to set triggers for notifications

It's time-consuming and inefficient for your customer service team to be constantly checking orders to see whether they've been shipped or delivered. Automated tracking software enables you to notify customers automatically by setting custom triggers for appropriate milestones in the order fulfillment and shipping process, such as 'order dispatched for shipping' or ‘out for delivery.' This massively streamlines your post-purchase customer care responsibilities by saving time spent looking up the order status of individual orders.

3. Customization order communications

It's not unusual for the order fulfillment and shipping process to involve several third parties, whether that's warehousing, 3PLs, or parcel carriers. But because this part of the e-commerce journey is hidden from the customer's view, the prospect of unknown partners handling their order can cause confusion and anxiety. 

After all, your customers made an informed decision to support your brand – not the rest of your supply chain.

This is why it's so important to provide your customers with a cohesive shopping experience that puts your brand front and center. If your order tracking system is sending out generic email updates with no brand voice or identity, it disrupts the flow of the customer experience. 

Being able to customize your tracking page or tracking email templates with custom logos, brand colors, and fonts builds brand familiarity and trust with your customers by reinforcing your identity throughout the shopping journey.

Offer smart order tracking with the Ryder platform

For superior order tracking capabilities, consider the real-time order management capabilities of Ryder's namesake e-commerce technology platform. In addition to superior inventory and shipment monitoring, the Ryder system offers e-commerce brands:

  • View, edit and filter through all outstanding customer orders according to custom criteria.
  • Detailed status updates in individual orders.
  • Seamless integrations with all major e-commerce platforms, including Shopify.
  • Custom email notifications that add meaningful touchpoints to the post-purchase customer journey.

As order tracking becomes a standard offering in e-commerce, it's never been more important to meet customer expectations for easy order monitoring. With Ryder, you can guarantee your customers a frictionless, end-to-end order tracking experience that promotes trust and loyalty to your brand.

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