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‘Your order is confirmed with Order ID: FX-250123-110-12345. You can track the status of your order shipment with Tracking ID: LP-12345-628-110.’ If you use logistics, transport or courier services for business or personally, then the terms Order ID and Tracking ID (also known as Order number and Tracking number) must be familiar to you. These are common terms that logistics shipping companies use for shipping and order fulfilment.

Logistics

Today, with the rise of domestic and international shipping and e-Commerce business, logistics companies prioritise efficiency in transportation and delivery. Tracking order status is a key feature that customers demand making it necessary for businesses to build capabilities that facilitate order ID tracking. So, let’s understand what is Order ID and Tracking ID, how they are different, where and how these IDs are used, and how to track order ID status.

What is an Order ID?

An Order ID or Order number is a unique number that gets assigned to an order placed by the customer (online or offline). In several cases, it is also known as a Reference number and even Purchase ID.

An Order ID is provided when a buyer/customer places an order. Businesses have different Order ID formats that’s unique to their business and facilitates the entire order fulfilment process. The Order ID number format usually consists of letters, number, and characters in a structure unique to the business.

Order number example:

MET111ddddxxxxDEL – where ‘MET’ refers to the seller company code, ‘111’ is a specific code used by the company, ‘dddd’ refers to the order placement date, ‘xxxx’is the actual Order number for the customer, ‘DEL’ is the final destination code.

(This is a sample and not specific to any business)

Order ID number

What is the Order number?

Order Number is the same is Order ID. Businesses usually use either of these terms to denote the unique identifier when a customer places an order. An Order number can be used to:

  • Fetch details about a particular order
  • Get updates on its delivery ETA and status
  • Connect with customer service team or transport companies for any queries

In general, the Order number can be of 4 to 20 characters, with a mix of alphabets, numbers and special characters. It’s unique to every business.

In case a business is doing its own shipment, Order number can also double as the Tracking number. However, most businesses outsource logistics services and provide separate identifiers for Order ID and Tracking ID to simplify the process.

Why Order number is important?

Understanding the Order ID or Order number is crucial for both the buyer and seller and any 3PL logistics service provider involved in the actual transportation of goods.

It acts as a proof of transaction and facilitates communication. When a customer requires specific details about their purchase, the Order ID number helps the business to generate, track and fetch all relevant information pertaining to the specific order. Details like date of order, items and quantity, price, payment status, etc. can easily be fetched.

Similarly, details on packaging, labelling, shipment partners, delivery ETAs can also be fetched using the Order status tracking mechanism – though for tracking purposes, most businesses generate a separate Tracking ID.

What is Tracking ID?

A Tracking ID or Tracking number is a unique identifying number that is given to a shipment to track its progress. It is provided by the shipping company or carrier or 3PL service provider as the case might be and enables stakeholders to track their shipment during transit.

Similar to an Order ID, the Tracking number also consists of a series of alphanumeric and special characters.

Logistics

Tracking number example:

BALM123xxxxaaaaKOL – Where ‘BALM’ can stand for the code for the logistics services company, ‘123’ its unique identifier, ‘xxxx’ the customer Tracking ID, ‘aaaa’ codes related to date/type of shipment or any other, ‘KOL’ the final destination

(This is a sample and not specific to any business)

Why is Tracking number important?

The Tracking ID number is important as it enables customers and businesses to track in real-time the status and location of a package from its place of origin to destination. It further:

  • Ensures transparency in that customers can view their order’s journey
  • Reassures customers by providing ETA on delivery
  • Helps to address any delivery related issues and hence improves customer service

Tracking ID is critical in e-Commerce business where multiple delivery partners are used for last mile delivery. Tracking number provides status details on package such as – shipped from warehouse, arrived at distribution centre, delivery partner assigned, out for delivery, delivered to customer. 

To businesses and customers, both Order ID vs Tracking ID are unique and should be used accordingly.

Tracking ID number

What does Order number and Tracking number look like?

What does an Order number look like? What does a Tracking number look like? These are obvious questions at this point. We have discussed already the Order ID format and Tracking ID format. Here let us look at the sequence of alphanumeric digits and characters closely and understand the same.

Order ID format

Let us look at our example from before. Consider a fictitious India based company, FX Garments which receives an order and gives it the following identifier: Order ID: FX-250123-110-12345

A breakdown of this Order ID may read like:

  • FX – company code
  • 250123 – date of placing order
  • 110 – delivery location code
  • 12345 – order sequence number

Similarly, different companies can have different formats for Order numbers that can be understood by them and used for reference. As a customer, you only need to provide this Order number during all interactions with the company.

Tracking ID format

In the same context, let us look at, what does a tracking number look like? The Tracking number is usually provided by the logistics company – usually a 3PL partner offering services for warehouse logistics and last mile delivery or any other.

In our above example, consider FX Garments using LP Transporters (fictitious) as their third-party logistics provider.

Once the order is received, an agent in LP Transporters’s warehouse will check inventory and prepare the package (e.g., quantity, packaging, labelling etc.). Before shipping, a Tracking number will be provided (Tracking ID: LP-12345-628-110) to enable all entities to track the status and location of the package.

A breakdown of the Tracking ID may read like:

  • LP – logistics partner company code
  • 12345 – the original order sequence number
  • 628 – the unique shipment sequence number
  • 110 – delivery location code

As mentioned, the Tracking number and Order number are unique to businesses, and each follow their own nomenclature. For customers, what matters is knowing the respective Order vs Tracking numbers as a reference for Order related enquiries or Tracking status.

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How to find Order ID number?

Having access to your Order number is necessary. But what if you don’t know what is your Order number? Let us help you to learn:

  • Where to find the Order number
  • How to find the Order number online

When you place an order, the seller sends a transaction email and/or SMS (or even WhatsApp message) confirming your order. You can track the Order number mentioned in this email/SMS communication.

Similarly, if you want to find the Order number online, you can find it on the seller company website. In most cases, the journey looks like:

Login to account > Visit ‘My Orders’ > Click to view list of orders with Order ID number

The process is the same, if you want to find the Tracking number. When your order is ready for shipment, an email/SMS message will be sent, updating you with Tracking ID details to help you track the delivery timelines of your package.

Note: Many businesses today, especially those that have air consignments use AWB numbers or air waybill that provide details about the goods being transported.

What is Order ID tracking?

Order ID tracking refers to tracking the status and location of your order. It refers to how customers and businesses can check the status of a package using the Order ID. Though this is not the most common practice for checking the status/location of a package, many small businesses with limited number of orders use Order ID number as the single point of reference for fetching all details pertaining to a specific order, including its real-time status.

In most cases, customers can log in to their account (company website) and check the real-time order status. Most businesses provide critical information such as – date of order placed, order details, payment status, payment mode, any code applied, real-time shipment updates, and delivery ETA.

This is similar to a self-service function where customers can track order status without having to contact customer support team for updates. This is often considered a critical feature that enhances customer experience and engagement with the business.

Order status tracking

How to track order status?

Once you have the Tracking number it is easy to track the status of your order. All you have to do is visit the company website (3PL or freight forwarding company website) and enter your Tracking ID number in the search box to learn the status of your order.

It is important to note the follow about tracking the order status:

  • For security reasons, many websites require you to login to your account to view order status
  • For easy access, communications sent to your registered email ID and phone number comes with the Tracking ID
  • In some cases, email/SMS are sent for important status updates (e.g., order out for delivery, delivery attempted, etc.)

Real-time order status tracking is the norm today, especially for eCommerce business. Depending on the service provider, order status tracking can be basic or detailed.

  • Basic order status tracking: Order placed > Order Shipped > Out for delivery > Order delivered
  • Detailed order status tracking: Order placed > Order processed > Ready to be shipped > Shipped from warehouse > Arrived in distribution centre > Delivery partner assigned > Out for delivery > Order delivered

How to use Order number vs Tracking number?

As can be understood by now, when it comes to shipments and transportation, Order IDs and Tracking IDs are important for both the seller and customer. There are compliance and taxation details, payment updates, transporter details, and more that gets mapped to these IDs.

As a customer, use Order ID for checking purchase details and as a reference for support, and use Tracking ID to find the location and status of your delivery.

Check this table for a quick summary of the difference between Order ID and Tracking ID.

Order number vs Tracking number

Order ID number Tracking ID number
Provided by the seller upon confirmation of a purchase order Provided by the seller or logistics partner when the order package is ready to be shipped
There can be only one Order ID for every order placed There can be more than one Tracking IDs for a single Order ID if shipment is done in multiple packages or via different logistics partners
Can be used for tracking the status of a package adding to better customer experiences Is used for tracking the status and location of a package only

 

FAQs

Does Order number mean the same as Tracking number?

Order number and Tracking number are different. Order numbers are provided at the time of placing an order that confirms the purchase. Tracking numbers are provided when the order/package is shipped and enables sellers and customers to track the status and location of a package. (Note: For best results ensure that your shipping and billing addresses are updated)

Can a single order have multiple tracking IDs?

Yes. A single order can have more than one tracking ID if the packages are being shipped by different 3PL logistics partners or provided by different sellers or even arriving on different dates. For instance, while shopping on an eCommerce platform, if you have ordered for three different shirts from three different sellers, it is possible to have one Order Number and three Tracking IDs as provided by the seller’s transportation partner.

How many digits are Order Number and Tracking Number?

There is no fixed length or format of Order number and Tracking number. Companies follow their own nomenclature. In most cases, Order Numbers and Tracking Numbers range between 4-20 characters (alphanumeric and special characters).

Can Order Number and Tracking Number be the same?

In most cases, no. Companies provide different Order number and Tracking number for confidentiality and ease of tracking (especially when shipment is being carried out by different logistics providers). However, with small businesses with their own in-house logistics operations, they may be the same.

Can I track my order with Order Number (and no Tracking Number)?

This depends on the service provider. In general, if it difficult to track status without the Tracking ID. In many cases, when you login to the company website, and input the Order ID, the results display the status and location of your order. In such cases, you can track your order even without your Tracking ID. If transportation is being managed by a different provider, it may be difficult to track details without the Tracking ID. There are however providers who offer this additional feature, adding to overall positive customer experience.

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.