Why is Package Tracking so Complicated?

If you expect a package (for example, an order from an online store) you would probably want to know its whereabouts until you receive it. It can give you peace of mind, knowing that it's actually coming your way, and also gives you an opportunity to plan ahead for a pickup when it gets close.

But such a simple thing (at first glance) may actually become the cause of more headaches and frustration than you may possibly expect. Let's take a look at some of those.

Scattered tracking data sources

It is a very common situation when your package is handled by different carriers. This happens especially often with international deliveries, but can sometimes happen with domestic shipments as well.

For example, when a parcel is shipped from China to the USA, we have at least two carriers handling it: a Chinese one (usually it's China Post, but there is a big variety of different carriers in China) and an American one, for example, USPS. But since it's such a long distance for the shipment to travel, it usually has transit points, usually in the Netherlands, Belgium, or Luxembourg.

This means that in order to see all the package's movements you would have to know all the carriers that handle it, then locate their websites and perform package tracking on each of them. The parcel may also be assigned a different tracking number at transit points, which means that you wouldn't be able to track it with the destination carrier (the American one in our example) using the original tracking number received from the sender, so that's another thing to keep in mind.

Language barrier

Let's just continue with our previous example. As we can see, we may have to dig through the websites of carriers located in different countries. And not all of them have an English version (or any other language except their main one). For example, if you're tracking a package handled by a Chinese carrier, you will probably see tracking statuses in Chinese.

Sure, you can use Google Translate, but that's just another hoop you have to jump through, which adds more to the inconvenience, not to mention that it may not be able to translate the tracking statuses correctly. And some of those websites have parts of their interface not as text but as images, which will not be translated with Google Translate and make it even harder to navigate the website.

And keep in mind, that you would have to do it multiple times, because let's be honest, no one tracks their package just one time. You want to continuously monitor its movements, it makes perfect sense.

Fake package tracking websites

There are some websites that were created only to make profits from display ads without providing an actual service. Some of them may simply be a catalog of the carriers' websites, for example, the page on such website may have a header like Yanwen tracking and a form, but when you enter your tracking number in that form, it just redirects you to the Yanwen website.

This obviously doesn't help much, since it just redirects the visitor to the carriers' websites, where we may run into the aforementioned problems. Not to mention that you can easily google them yourself in the first place.

And some of them may just imitate a tracking process without actually doing anything behind the scenes, giving you an empty result after some time, or pretending that an error has occurred and you should check back later, hoping that you would click on ads in the meantime.

System outages

Sometimes, there may be a problem with a carrier's website's servers due to a technical issue or a planned maintenance. This may cause the website to be unavailable for some time, which means that you won't be able to track your package.

In this case you should simply check the system's availability later. If the issue persists, you should look at official communication channels like social media pages of the carrier handling your package. If the information about the outage and planned resolving time is present there, you may want to save from Twitter or another platform as a reference if you like.

Tracking number errors

The very first thing you should do is to double-check your input. Maybe you've made a mistake when entering the tracking number; in case of manual input, it's a very common situation, especially if the tracking number is very long. In this case, you should double-check the tracking number and try again.

It may happen that the tracking number you received from the sender is incorrect. It may be a typo, or the sender may have given you the wrong number. In this case, you won't be able to track your package, and you will have to contact the sender and ask them to provide you with the correct tracking number.

It may also happen that the tracking number is correct, but the carrier's website doesn't recognize it. This may happen if the carrier hasn't received the package yet, or if the package has been delivered a long time ago and the tracking number has expired. In this case, you should contact the sender as well.

So what is the solution?

Those issues are exactly the reason behind the making of Parcelous. Here's how we tackle those:

  • We automatically detect all the possible carriers that may handle your package just by your tracking number, eliminating the need to search for their websites or even know what to search for.
  • We also pull the tracking information from all of them at once and provide it to you in one place, so there's no need to jump through multiple websites (including automatic detection of transit tracking numbers, if present).
  • The tracking information also gets translated (we currently support 18 languages, and more is on the way).
  • We also cache the tracking information, so you don't have to wait for it to load every time you visit the page, which also helps with system outages, because thanks to the cache you will still be able to see the tracking information even if the carrier's website is unavailable.

But what if the issue lies with the incorrect tracking number received from the sender, or similar issues, like the package being lost or stolen? Well, we can't help with that, but getting in touch with the customer support representatives or directly with the courier is your best bet in such situations. As far as thefts or misplaced items go, those are inevitable when the delivery volume is large. But if you notice constant issues with your current delivery and order tracking providers, consider switching to alternatives if those are available where you live.

International package tracking can be tricky at times. If you are not familiar with which carrier companies are involved, don't complicate things for yourself. Use our order tracking service to be up to date with your packages and get all the necessary information in one place.