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Shipment packages, whether for B2C or B2B deliveries require tracking numbers to ensure they are easy to identify and track. Shipping tracking numbers enable customers and businesses to track in real time the status of the order package – shipped, in-transit, reached warehouse, despatched, delivered or any other. Considering the enormous volumes of goods being shipped on a daily basis, a package tracking number is the smartest way to track shipping delay or even if it’s lost in transit. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of a tracking number, its anatomy, the different types of tracking numbers used in the shipping, and how to track orders using tracking numbers, and how popular logistics and eCommerce companies are using tracking numbers.

Logistics

What is a tracking number?

Let’s start with the definition of a tracking number.

A tracking number is a unique identifier for shipments. It consists of a series of letters and numbers that is distinct to every order/package. It ensures transparency and allows customers and businesses to get real-time updates on the shipment’s journey and delivery.

The format of a tracking number varies between service providers as each have their own unique structure of tracking ID.

FedEx tracking number example:

Let’s take the example of logistics giant FedEx’s tracking number.

Their standard format consists of 12 to 15 digits mainly for Ground and Express shipments. The first part is the prefix, followed by the package’s unique identifier, and a check digit for verification.

Sample order tracking sequence:

0000 0000 0000

Prefix – Package Unique Identifier – Check digit

For details, visit the FedEx website: fedex.com/en-in/home.html

How do I find tracking numbers?

When you want to track package tracking number, all you have to do is check your order confirmation receipt. You can check your email or log in to your account on the website to find order details. Once the order is confirmed, the tracking number will be displayed.

If you have made the purchase in physical store, check your bill/invoice. The tracking number will ideally be printed in your bill. If not, once the purchase is complete, you will receive a digital communication via email or SMS on the tracking ID status.

In the worst case, if you cannot identify your Tracking number ID, simply contact the customer support team of your logistics service provider.

Also read: Importance of customer services in logistics

Order ID vs Tracking ID

When it comes to packages, order number and tracking number should not be confused.

Logistics
  • Order number: This is the unique reference number given to you upon placing the order. It gives sellers details on the items in the order. Customers can use this number as a reference point for any queries.
  • Tracking number: This number is provided by the logistics or courier company shipping the order. It enables the seller and buyer to track in real time the status and location of the package.

How can I track my parcel tracking number?

If you want to track a shipment, you will need your parcel tracking number. In today’s modern era of logistics, this has become simple and instantaneous. You can do so anytime from the comfort of your home using the logistics provider’s mobile app or website.

Here are the general steps to track a parcel online:

  • Identify your tracking ID number on your receipt/bill (or log in to the logistics company website > go to My Accounts > check order history > fetch details)
  • Visit the company website (or app) and go to the order tracking section
  • Enter the tracking number
  • Submit the request by clicking ‘Track’ or similar
  • View the flow of events and the real-time status of your package (including estimated delivery dates and transit updates)

Example: India Post tracking

India Post is the government’s postal service. It offers a host of postal services and customers can use their India Post tracking number to track the status of their package. The consignment number is an alphanumeric code.

Tracking consignment:

For consignment tracking, follow the steps below:

  • Visit India Post official website: indiapost.gov.in/
  • Scroll down the page to the section on ‘Track N Trace’
  • Enter the consignment number or reference number
  • Enter the verification for ‘Evaluate the Expression’ and click ‘Track Now’
  • View the package status updates

Alternatively, you can visit the ‘Tools’ section on the homepage and track your consignment:

  • Visit India Post homepage > Tools & Help > Track & Trace
  • Enter consignment number and verification number (captcha): indiapost.gov.in/_layouts/15/dop.portal.tracking/trackconsignment.aspx
  • Click ‘Search’ or ‘Reset’ to view results

Example: Speed Post tracking number

Similarly, if you are using their Speed Post services for domestic or international shipping, you can visit the website to track shipping details:

  • Visit the Speed Post section in the India Post website: indiapost.gov.in/MBE/Pages/Content/Speed-Post.aspx
  • Enter ‘Consignment number’ under ‘Track N Trace Consignment’ section
  • Add up and fill in the number-based captcha
  • Click ‘Track Now’ to view details

Note: You can also send an SMS to their official number with your 13-digit consignment number to track the status of your package (consignment number is also known as article number)

(*This is for reference and informational purposes only. For more details, please visit the India Post official website.)

What is shipment tracking number?

A shipment tracking number is useful when you have to track a shipment. In today’s world of e-Commerce shipping, a shipment tracking number is provided when an order is shipped and can provide the latest updates on the package’s location and delivery timelines.

Tracking vs Shipment vs Consignment number

At this point, you must be wondering if there is any difference between tracking ID, shipment tracking number, and consignment tracking number. Let’s find out:

Tracking ID Shipment Tracking Number Consignment Number
A unique identifier provided by the logistics provider to track a package during transit Can be the same as tracking number but refers to tracking parcels in shipping Unique identifier for a batch of goods
Used for couriers, packages, or any other Used mainly in shipping and e-Commerce logistics Used for multiple packages under one Order ID or Reference number for ease of tracking
Real-time tracking details on status and location Tracking details on the shipment process Tracking details of multiple packages across the journey grouped as one consignment

How to track a package with shipment number?

To track orders and shipment with a shipment number, the process is the same as any other.

  • Visit the logistics provider’s website and go to the shipment tracking section (in most cases, this is provided on the homepage so you don’t have to browse much)
  • Enter the ‘shipment number’ as per your receipt (Note – Alternatively you can use the Order ID number, AWB number, or any other provided by the service provider)
  • Click ‘Track’ or ‘Submit’ (or similar) and view the details displayed

Details usually contain order details, end-up-end status update on your shipment, courier provider details, contact details for customer support, and may also have a section to provide feedback or remarks.

What is a courier tracking number?

A courier tracking number is your package’s digital footprint when you ship with a courier company. You can track orders and shipment with this number, which can range between 8 and 40 characters made up of alphabets and numbers.

Courier companies have their own distinct courier number format to distinguish packages.

For example, a 13-digit courier tracking number could look like:

XX 0000 00000 XX

Also read: Top 10 COD courier services companies in India

How can I check my delivery status?

When you want to check your package’s delivery status, you can:

  • Visit the logistics provider’s website or app and visit the ‘Orders’ section for status update
  • Check your email and SMS for delivery status update

In general, logistics companies are being driven by technology today. Technology enables them to stay updated on every stage of the logistics process flow. With basic details, customers can easily access order details. In many cases, delivery statuses can be accessed using the customer’s phone numbers.

At Logistics on Tata nexarc we have simplified the shipment booking and tracking process for you. We have partnered with leading logistics service providers and offer PTL services at the best prices. You can easily track the status of your shipment online and stay updated on delivery ETAs and other details. Book a shipment today.

Sohini Banerjee

Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.