Do Ecommerce Businesses Really Need Order Tracking Software?
August 12, 2022
As soon as we set up delivery as part of making a purchase online, we start anticipating its arrival. And while no one likes waiting, deliveries that meet (or exceed) our expectations make for a positive post-purchase experience. But it’s unwise for business owners to assume everything from checkout to delivery will always go according to plan, because poor post-purchase experiences can actively tank brand loyalty.
Thankfully, business owners can optimize the impact of post-purchase customer experience by embracing ecommerce order tracking software. Used correctly, it can actually turn the time a package is en route into a positive customer experience.
But how exactly does order tracking do this for ecommerce? Great question. Below we’ve broken down the order tracking essentials so you understand what you may be missing out on. We cover:
- What Is Ecommerce Order Tracking?
- What Makes Order Tracking So Important?
- Order Tracking for Different Types of Sales
- Order Tracking for Different Types of Shipping
- Order Tracking: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Ecommerce Order Tracking?
For retailers, ecommerce order tracking is the method through which customers and sellers can see the status and shipping process of their online orders.
For customers, ecommerce order tracking provides a valuable window into their order fulfillment process. Post-purchase, customers can keep tabs on the status and timing of their purchases through tracking pages and tracking numbers.
If you use order tracking software, you can give customers even more capacity to keep tabs on their purchases using opt-ins for real-time notifications (via SMS or email).
What Makes Order Tracking So Important?
A full 43% of customers say that fast, reliable delivery is the most important factor to them when shopping online. That fact alone makes it pretty important. But ecommerce order tracking provides significant benefits to business owners as well.
Ecommerce business owners benefit from:
Real-time ecommerce order tracking eliminates the need for customers to contact your business for delivery status updates. With customers empowered to track their own orders, business owners need less staff and resources to handle what can traditionally amount to a lot of low-complexity customer support issues.
Almost 90% of customers surveyed say that ecommerce order tracking makes their online purchases more enjoyable. That’s great! But…why’s this the case?
Simple. Ecommerce order tracking gives customers control. When customers know when (and where) their order will be delivered, they aren’t “held hostage” by impending deliveries. Information is power, and order tracking empowers customers to plan their day around deliveries without worry.
Real-time ecommerce order tracking also builds trust between businesses and their customers. For owners, delivery deadlines may function as a goal. But, to customers, a delivery date is a promise. And, viewed as a promise, tracking updates become a valuable succession of touchpoints, reinforcing customer expectations. At least when everything goes according to the order fulfillment plan.
Conversely, order tracking helps owners go on the offensive when things don’t go to plan, ensuring owners can proactively manage customer expectations while resolving outstanding issues.
Order Tracking for Different Types of Sales
While any ecommerce business can benefit from order tracking technology, the business benefits (and opportunities) do vary depending on the type of sales involved. For instance:
DTC order tracking
Again, order tracking is now table-stakes in direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce. But just because it’s commonplace doesn’t mean it should be a low priority for business owners.
Quite the opposite; owners need to align their teams around order tracking success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), like order status and order accuracy. Without this alignment (and buy-in), it’s difficult, if not impossible, to transform a DTC post-purchase experience into a true competitive advantage.
While not exclusive to DTC, order tracking software can automatically sync order tracking info with receipts, increasing operational efficiency and simplifying record-keeping.
Marketplace order tracking
In marketplace ecommerce, responsiveness to customers is a fundamental part of good marketplace etiquette. Along with social media reviews (i.e., social proof), the ability to keep in touch with customers can make or break a marketplace business.
So, owners are wise to utilize the content of your marketplace order tracking system (confirmation emails, for example) to encourage customers to leave you product reviews as part of a responsive post-purchase messaging strategy.
B2B order tracking
In marketing, educating your buyers is always a good thing. But, in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, it’s especially important. And for a good reason.
Business owners (like you) are constantly overwhelmed and have a lot on the line when making business-related purchases. This is why, when compared to DTC customers, B2B audiences take longer to make decisions and want more information to feel confident those decisions are the right ones. In fact, research shows you’ve got about 5% of their time within the buying journey to make your case heard.
So, in B2B, ecommerce order tracking offers an invaluable chance to connect with customers when they’re, arguably, most open to hearing from you. Post-purchase also provides an opportunity to help business owners be fully prepared to implement your product into their operation.
Subscription order tracking
Finally, resist the temptation to snooze on post-purchase potential in subscription-based businesses.
Post-purchase order tracking is an opportunity to upsell subscriptions or, at the very least, remind customers how much you appreciate their business right before each invoice arrives.
Order Tracking for Different Types of Shipping
Much like sales types, order tracking works differently depending on which type of shipping an ecommerce business relies on. So, below we cover the major types of ecommerce shipping and how order tracking factors into each.
In general, any ecommerce orders that weigh over 150 pounds are considered freight. And freight is collected and transported in bulk, typically by air, sea, or overland via trucks.
With a tracking number or PRO number, customers can locate what they ordered at any point along the shipping process, helping to build trust with customers, as noted with order tracking in general. But freight order tracking also helps owners locate orders that go missing during long, often international, journeys.
Hybrid shipping refers to one delivery that is accomplished by coordinating multiple parties, from warehouses to collection centers to drivers. Customers don’t need to know all the complicated details of how hybrid shipping gets packages to the door on time. But they still expect to see progress as part of their post-purchase experience.
Whether a few or many players are involved, hybrid ecommerce order tracking benefits the customer, providing updates via SMS and email notifications. And, since hybrid shipping can entail similar logistical complexities as freight shipping, ecommerce provides business owners the same advantages when problem-solving for stuck or delayed purchases.
Expedited shipping refers to customers who opt to pay extra for their order to arrive faster than it would via regular transit times. And, by paying more, customers raise the stakes for business owners to deliver both an exceptional post-purchase customer experience and the actual purchases on time.
For these reasons, order tracking that offers multiple, accurate additional means of tracking purchases pays off, as customers expect “real-time proof” that they’re getting what they paid extra for, literally.
And, in the inevitable case where a customer won’t receive their order on time, responsive order tracking ensures business owners contact (and appease) their customers in advance, hopefully heading off a negative customer experience.
Self-fulfillment is a shipping process businesses handle on their own, in-house. And this type of shipping is the opposite of the methods we’ve described above, collectively referred to as outsourced fulfillment.
Due to the nature of the business, self-fulfillment offers operational advantages, but typically at the cost of being harder to scale as the business grows.
But ecommerce order tracking software provides efficiencies of scale, which can offset the challenges of scaling self-fulfillment shipping models, helping to keep them from becoming a problematic cost center.
Order Tracking: Frequently Asked Questions
The benefits of order tracking for ecommerce businesses are pretty straightforward. But there are so many factors involved in the world of ecommerce that it’s natural for additional questions to arise. Here are answers to a few that business owners typically have:
“What sort of fees and charges are involved with order tracking software?”
Good question, because with an increasing number of ecommerce brands and order tracking tool providers on the market, pricing structures can vary widely. Before vetting options, make sure you have a good idea of how the addition of order tracking will, ideally, impact your profitability in the long term. This helps ensure you’re looking at this investment holistically.
Then, as you’re weighing your options, remember that a given provider’s order tracking software may also come with implementation fees, per-user fees, and support fees, in addition to monthly subscription fees. So, again, think long term, but make sure to read the fine print!
“Are there important features I should ask about before investing in an order tracking/ecommerce platform?”
As order tracking software gets more advanced, it’s easy to get distracted by all the available features. But make sure you’re proactive about discussing a given platform’s ability to be integrated across multiple channels.
What seems like a promising investment quickly becomes a costly problem if you’re constantly looking for workarounds to leverage info across all the channels used in ecommerce today.
“Any tips for talking to software vendors?”
Yes! Ask for references.
As much as best-in-class ecommerce solutions should speak for themselves, go out of your way to ask for happy customers who will speak on a given platform’s behalf.
This will allow you to ask specific questions and address any particular concerns you may have related to your particular business.
Ecommerce Order Tracking Software: Turning the “Last Mile” Into Your Competitive Advantage
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking business ends at the point of purchase. As order tracking software shows, the post-purchase phase is ripe with opportunities to surprise and delight your customers, let alone increase the chances they’ll buy again from you in the future.
Make sure they do by making sure part of your post-purchase mastery includes overdelivering on your last mile delivery.
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