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How To Provide Order Tracking for Your Ecommerce Customers

Ryan Baum
Ryan Baum
Last updated on 
November 15, 2022
June 7, 2022
How To Provide Order Tracking for Your Ecommerce Customers

The competition to provide customer satisfaction in ecommerce today is fierce. Now, shoppers demand free shipping on every order and expect lightning-fast order processing and fulfillment. What once were “nice to have” differentiators for small businesses have become necessary for growth and success. 

Similar to getting orders quickly and with no shipping fees, customers expect a tracking number to see an order’s status and its location at any given time. Even better are real-time alerts and SMS or email notifications at each point in an order’s journey from purchase to doorstep. 

Below, explore the benefits of tracking customer orders and why you should consider implementing an order tracking tool for your business. 

Why your online store should track customer order status

Customers have been trained by huge ecommerce vendors like Amazon and tracking to track their online orders from the order processing stage to the moment a delivery person from FedEx, UPS, or USPS drops it at their doorstep — with photo evidence. This has set high expectations. 

Offering real-time tracking data for purchases benefits both your customer and your business in four distinct ways.

The benefits of providing order tracking for customers: provide a sense of security, allow customers to plan, build customer loyalty, and free up your customer support from repetitive WISMO questions.

Gives shoppers and business owners a sense of security

Once customers place an online order, waiting for it to arrive can be both exciting and stressful. Questions like, “Will it get here on time?” or “Is it ever coming?” are heightened if customers can’t check the delivery status in real time themselves. Plus, as a business, you can follow along to ensure that orders are getting where they need to go. 

A 2021 survey by OptimoRoute found that 24.6% of online shoppers said they were extremely likely to return for additional shopping if a brand provides real-time order tracking.

Allows customers to plan ahead

There are reasons beyond “I'm just curious” that consumers need to know an order is on its way and when it will arrive. For example, if a product is expensive, customers won’t want it to sit on their front porch all day. If a signature is required, they might have to work from home to accept the package. In these instances, status updates are crucial.

According to ProShip, "80% of customers want to track their order status not only online, but also on their mobile devices. And of that 80%, 76% of them want SMS communication throughout the entire shipping process." 

Keeping in constant contact with their order at home and on the go via a mobile device gives customers the transparency they need to plan ahead for a fun unboxing or essential item they can’t live without. 

Builds customer loyalty 

The customer experience you provide on your ecommerce platform is essential to business growth. Providing shoppers with tracking information, email notifications, and delivery dates can create a positive association with your brand, build a better customer experience, and drive loyalty and retention.

The Effortless Experience found that 96% of customers who have high-effort experiences feel disloyal to those companies afterward. And forcing customers to dig or compose an email just to know the status of their order is a high-effort experience.

96% of companies who have high-effort experiences feel disloyal to a brand.
Source: The Effortless Experience

New customers appreciate seamless experiences and are more likely to make repeat purchases from businesses that offer them. Creating a cycle of repeat business will help your business grow, so encouraging loyalty through an easy-to-use order tracking tool is a big advantage.

📚Recommended reading: Our guide to offering free shipping and boosting customer loyalty at an affordable price.

Frees up your customer service team (by deflecting WISMO tickets with automation)

Many ecommerce companies are looking for ways to alleviate customer service workloads and reduce time spent handling simple requests. Providing real-time order tracking is one of those ways since customers no longer need to ask, “Where is my order (WISMO)?” 

Instead of calling and emailing to check their order status — one of the most common questions customers ask any ecommerce business — tracking systems proactively send email notifications or provide access to a portal where customers can take a look at progress in real-time. This solution streamlines the process and cuts down on call volumes. This increases productivity for you or your customer service team because they’ll be freed up to address more complex issues.

Typically, you can automate customer order tracking notifications via SMS, app notifications, or email — we’ll cover this in more detail below. Or, create a self-service portal where customers can use their purchase order number to access order status — we’ll cover this more in a later section.

📚Recommended reading: Our guide to customer service automation for faster, friendlier service.

Lowers the number of returns you can expect 

People often return items because they arrive late and the customer no longer wants or needs them. With detailed and up-to-date order tracking (as well as a clear returns policy), customers can better anticipate the arrival date of the product, making it less likely they’ll just ship the package back to you when it finally arrives. And, as you might expect, reducing returns has a great positive impact on your business’s revenue.

📚Recommended reading: Our list of best practices for reducing returns in ecommerce and our list of the best returns management software.

Why ecommerce businesses should think twice before building a custom order tracking system 

There are numerous advantages to using a customer order tracking system. We recommend using a pre-built solution — and put our recommendations below — because maintaining a manual tracking system is time-consuming. 

A custom-built tracking page may require more data entry than necessary with other solutions. Not only do manual processes open your system up to human error, but they also eat up productivity.

Manual systems require extensive set-up

If you try to provide order tracking yourself, you’ll save in the short term but end up spending plenty of time building and maintaining a system to send tracking information. 

For example, once you sync your tracking components up successfully, you'll need to create different templates that collect or communicate information to your customers. For example, you might build an order form that collects order information like a customer’s name, address, phone number, and credit card information. Or, write a pre-written email that you can use to send out shipment notifications for each step of the order process. 

You might also create templated responses that answer common questions like, “Where is my order?” or that provide tracking information or shipment and delivery updates. 

You need seamless integrations to avoid tab-shuffling

For an order tracking system to work properly, your manufacturers, website, helpdesk, social media commerce, SMS, inventory management software, and shipping carriers’ information must all "talk to" each other. If they don't, information gets bottlenecked or not communicated at all. The result is that your customer isn't able to access their order status, which causes frustration and has them calling your customer support team.

How to set up order tracking: Let customers see the status of shipments in real time

If you’re manually recording and sending out order tracking information in an excel document, you’re likely feeling very frustrated right now. 

One of the most common incoming questions teams get is Where is my order? (WISMO). And the best way to mitigate those messages is to implement an order tracking system that allows for self-service order tracking and automates shipping tracking notifications.

Tracking customer orders with automation decreases the number of "where is my order?" (WISMO) tickets your team gets.

This creates an overall better customer experience by providing transparency and reducing stress or frustration — customers see exactly where their orders are at any point in time. You’ll also be available for customers when they’re most engaged. 

Here’s how to implement one. 

Decide on an order tracking tool 

First, you’ll choose an order tracking tool like ShipBob, ShipStation, or AfterShip — we discuss each in more detail below. These tools take order information like tracking numbers and shipment status and automate their delivery to a customer. Many order tracking apps integrate with different ecommerce systems like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, 3DCart, or WooCommerce. So, you’ll need to make sure that the tool you choose integrates well with the ecommerce system you use. 

As an example, we’ll walk through setting up order tracking with AfterShip on a Shopify store. 

Integrate your order tracking tool with your ecommerce platform 

This is usually quick and easy, depending on the tool. You can add AfterShip from your Shopify store by visiting the Shopify App store from the apps section on the sidebar of your store’s dashboard. Then, click “Customize your store” and search for the AfterShip app. 

Set up order tracking with Shopify.
Source: AfterShip 

Or, you can sign up for an AfterShip account, visit the apps section, search for Shopify, and add it that way. Either way, visit the integrated app section on your Shopify/AfterShip account to make sure that the installation succeeded. 

Configure your tracking app’s settings

Now, you’ll want to make sure your courier mapping, import settings, and tracking page settings are good to go. You can access these from your AfterShip account’s app page — here’s AfterShip’s help doc on to assist with setup

  • Courier mapping: Add all of the shipping couriers you use so that AfterShip’s automation can pick them up. 
  • Import settings: Choose your order fulfillment timeframe and select the timeframe you’d like AfterShip to pull orders from. 
  • Tracking page settings: Choose the tracking page you’d like to use (in the case you had created multiple in AfterShip). 

Let automation do its thing 

Now that you have AfterShip set up, it will sync every three hours and pull shipping information from any new orders via a shopping cart, CSV file, or marketplace. You can also opt for AfterShip to send out automatic notifications via email or SMS at each milestone in the shipping process. 

Integrate your order tracking software with your helpdesk

Create a seamless experience for your customers and support team by integrating your order tracking tool with your helpdesk. By linking all shipping data and tracking information, you can get resolutions to customers faster and access all necessary information in one place. 

Why is this helpful? Well, in case customers end up bypassing your self-service order tracking information and ask your support team about the status of their order. Without the integration, you’ll have to switch tabs and copy/paste order information like tracking number, shipping address, and estimated delivery date. 

With an integration set up, that information automatically populates. Take a look at the image below. On the left is a Macro (or template) sent by a customer service agent, which contains variables that auomtatically pull tracking information from the integration. On the right is the personalized message the shopper receives.   

Use Gorgias to provide personalized order tracking to customers without any copy/pasting.

Set up is as simple as creating a connection between the two platforms so that they can talk to each other. To get an idea of what this looks like, take a look at the step-by-step installation guide to setting up the integration between AfterShip and Gorgias.

Save time, provide order transparency, and create better customer experiences by linking Gorgias and AfterShip  

“With all the Gorgias integrations, my team doesn't need to jump between tools. This has helped us dramatically improve customer satisfaction.”
— Amanda, Director of Operations at Darn Good Yarn

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Make tracking information easily accessible

Once you have your automated order tracking system set up, you’re not quite off the hook yet. While many customers will opt in for email and SMS notifications, some may ignore those notifications, lose the tracking link, and still come to your website (or support inbox) looking for the status of their order.

That’s why we recommend putting an order tracking portal in (at least) the following three places:

Order confirmation emails

Whenever a customer places an order, they should get an order confirmation that includes a receipt and any additional information they could need between that moment and the arrival of their new item. This includes a prominent tracking number, and a link to the order tracking portal, whether that’s with a service like AfterShip or directly on your carrier’s website. 

If your fulfillment process doesn’t let you send this information right away, consider adding an additional shipping confirmation email to your post-purchase experience flow.

If you don’t currently send order (or shipping) confirmation emails, take a look at this guide (for Shopify users) on setting one up.

Embedded in the chat widget

While the primary function of the chat widget is to connect with customer support agents in a conversational way, some live chat apps like Gorgias allow you to embed buttons shoppers can click to track their order. In Gorgias, this is called a self-service order management flow.

Self-service order tracking in chat is possible natively in Gorgias, no integration required.

Here’s how the flow works for customers:

Self-service order tracking in chat, with Gorgias

Self-service order management is convenient for customers, and it also serves as a last layer of protection for your customer support inbox. Right when a customer opens the chat widget to send a question, they get the opportunity to see the status of their order, much faster than an agent could tell them.

Embedded in your knowledge base (or FAQ)

If you have an FAQ page or a larger knowledge base (which we call a Help Center), you can also embed order tracking here for customer accessibility.

Standalone self-service order tracking in the Help Center is possible natively in Gorgias, no integration required.

Much like order tracking built into the chat widget, this feature lets customers track their order with just a few clicks, right where they’d find other help content:

Self-service order tracking with Gorgias Help Center.
Source: ALOHAS

To direct customers here, you can include a link to your Help Center at the bottom of all your customer support and automated emails, in an email signature, for easy clicking.  

The best customer order tracking app options for ecommerce stores

There are several great choices on the market for customer order tracking systems that are both scalable and flexible depending on your needs and the ecommerce platform that you use. 

Start with customer support software that acts as your central hub

A powerful customer service team is the building block of a successful order management system. Helpdesks like Gorgias help centralize the communication of tracking requests via apps into one place. From there, customer service teams can respond/automate responses related to tracking and order statuses. These tools optimize the response time and increase the instances of a positive customer experience.

Gorgias integrates with a ton of popular ecommerce tools, making it a great single-view hub. A few of the most popular integrations are NetSuite, Reveal, Tolstoy, Magento, ChannelReply, and Shopify.

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Apps that help automate customer order tracking for Shopify and BigCommerce

Choosing the best tools to automate your customer order tracking can be overwhelming. The good thing about having so many options is that you’ll end up with an order tracking system that works exactly the way you need it to. Here are some of the best order tracking providers that you can use to create a successful project management pipeline when it comes to tracking customer purchases.

ShipBob

ShipBob is a global logistics platform that provides online companies best-in-class order fulfillment, so customers receive fast and affordable shipping. With reliable fulfillment services and connected technology that powers their fulfillment network, they help improve transit times, shipping costs, and the delivery experience for your customers.

Check out this app in the Shopify App Store or the BigCommerce App Store. And if you use Gorgias, check out our integration with ShipBob.

AfterShip

With its seven notification triggers, easy-to-use email editor, and filter tracking tools, AfterShip helps your online business provide transparent communication to your customers. It also helps you keep an eye on delivery issues, so you can address them before they become problems that could end up damaging your customer experience.

Check out this app in the Shopify App Store and the BigCommerce App Store. And if you use Gorgias, check out our integration with AfterShip.

ShipStation

ShipStation helps you save time, money, and sell more. You can compare rates and delivery times for all your carriers in one place to get the fastest, most cost-effective shipping for your customers. The app automates almost every facet of your shipping process, and offers intuitive dashboards and seamless interfaces for an optimal workflow.

Review this app's full offerings in the Shopify App Store and the BigCommerce App Store

Extensions that help automate customer order tracking info for Magento 2

Below, take a look at three recommended order tracking extensions that integrate with Magento 2. 

ShipStation

ShipStation is highly scalable and provides everything you need for order management in one location. It integrates with Magento 2, as well as Shopify and BigCommerce. 

See if ShipStation is right for your ecommerce business in the Magento Marketplace.

Easyship

Whether you're shipping 50 or 50,000 orders a month, Easyship can help you lower shipping costs and increase conversion rates. Use this extension to manage your post-purchase process the way it makes the most sense for your business.

Read more about Easyship in the Magento Marketplace.

📚Recommended reading: Our list of best practices for ecommerce shipping and our list of the best shipping software for ecommerce.

Mageworx

The Mageworx Order Editor extension lets you edit errors customers have made with their street number, phone number, name, and other shipping and billing details that they accidentally get wrong during checkout. You can also add or remove products, change pricing, and add coupons after an order has been placed. This saves your customer support team from having to cancel the order and start it again from the beginning.

Learn more about Mageworx in the Magento Marketplace.

Centralize your order status tracking and customer support management with Gorgias

Employing automation to facilitate easy order tracking, status updates, and real-time delivery information for your customers is a smart move for your online business. By committing to an end-to-end order tracking system, you make it possible for your company to cut costs, increase productivity, and encourage customer retention.

Gorgias is a powerful and comprehensive ecommerce help desk solution that can help you deflect repetitive tickets so your team can spend more time on higher-value conversations. 

Reach out today to learn how we integrate with your order status tracking system.

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