‘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 are familiar with ordering online, or using courier services, or logistics services for business, then order number and tracking number are terms you must have come by. These are two distinct terms that logistics shipping companies usually use in the order fulfilment process.
The growth of eCommerce business in India has made it vital for companies to prioritise efficiency in transportation and delivery. Tracking order status is a service that most customers demand, making it important for businesses to build capabilities and work with logistics providers who make it possible.
But before that, let us look at the difference between order number and tracking number and their significance in shipping and goods transportation.
What is an order number?
Also known as Order ID or Purchase ID or Reference Number, this is the unique number that gets assigned to an order placed by the customer (online or offline).
It helps both the seller and customer to get details on the order such as date of order, items requested, quantity, order price, and more. Customers can use the Order ID number as a reference for any support services required, while sellers can use the number to identify the exact details of the order and proceed with its fulfilment (e.g., packaging, labelling, delivery etc.).
Details like buyer’s name and contact details are usually not included in the order number for purposes of confidentiality and security.
What is a tracking number?
A Tracking ID or Tracking Number on the other hand, is also a unique number assigned by the logistics services provider to every package before shipping. The tracking number enables customers and businesses to track in real-time the status and location of a package, from its place of origin to destination.
For instance, in eCommerce, the tracking ID provides package status details such as: shipped from warehouse, arrived at distribution centre, delivery partner assigned, out for delivery, and delivered to customer.
FAQ #1: 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.
FAQ #2: 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 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.
Order vs Tracking number: What does it look like?
The next obvious question to ask is, what does an order number look like? The Order Number format is different for different companies. It is usually a mix of numbers, alphabets, and characters such as hyphens (-). The length of the Order ID can also vary.
Let us look at the example we cited in the beginning. Consider it for a fictitious India based company, FX Garments: 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.
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.
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 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 and tracking numbers as a reference for order related enquiries or tracking status.
FAQ #3: 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).
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.
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 logistics operations, they may be the same.
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 or the 3PL service provider 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
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.
How to use Order number and 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|