Courier companies deal with hundreds, thousands and even millions of parcels every single day. Therefore in order to provide peace of mind to customers that their parcel isnâ€™t going to get lost amongst the volume, they have to have robust tracking systems in place.
Every parcel that you send with a courier will have a label that youâ€™ll need to print and affix to the package prior to collection. This will have either a barcode, QR code or similar which the driver will scan when he picks the parcel up from you.
From here your parcel will be scanned a number of times â€“ every time it arrives at a depot and every time it leaves en route to a new destination. This can happen manually, with someone using a handheld scanner, or it can happen automatically. And every time this happens, the data is sent to a central cloud to update the system of the courier so that the parcel is tracked at every stage of its journey â€“ including when the delivery driver picks it up to deliver it to its intended recipient.
Any major courier will have an API in place that lets customers log on and see where the parcel was last scanned, so that they know where the parcel is and when it is likely to be delivered. This can be reassuring not only for the sender but also the recipient â€“ tracked parcels may cost more but they offer a customer increased confidence and can be a factor in the buying decision.
Tracking technology has improved even further in recent years. Once a parcel is scanned as being on a delivery van, GPS systems can provide live updates on the location of the vehicle and therefore your parcel. More metrics are available too with some examples of recorded data including exposure to light, temperature and humidity, which can be important when transporting certain perishable goods.
For a recipient, being able to track the parcel as it gets closer to them can also be helpful if they realise itâ€™s due for delivery on a day where they arenâ€™t available to receive it. Itâ€™s estimated that up to 12% of deliveries fail on the first attempt, which costs the delivery industry around Â£1 billion in re-deliveries. If they can see that a parcel is due for a delivery on a day theyâ€™re busy, they can reschedule in advance and save themselves time, and the courier a wasted attempt.
New tracking technology is constantly being developed to make the parcel delivery system as streamlined as possible, but even in its current state it provides both senders and recipients a wealth of information.