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How do retailers get Track & Trace problem under control?


Published on: August 2, 2020

Updated: September 8, 2023

All retailers claim that they want to offer their customers an optimal shopping experience, but sadly few deliver on this promise. Many retailers think the customer experience ends at checkout and leave their customers to fend for themselves during delivery. This causes major issues, as this is in fact the most emotional phase of the journey. It can often have a huge influence on whether customers will order from the retailer again.

Our most recent E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020 – German Edition showed that there is a major problem in online retail. A huge proportion of these retailers fail to take control of their Track & Trace pages. They instead entrust this key customer touchpoint to a third-party carrier. As a result, retailers have no control over what information is shared with their customer at what time.

Online order tracking pages – what is the current situation?

Many customers buy from more than one online shop at a time. This means that they are waiting for multiple packages to arrive, and will receive links to a tracking page for each. This is particularly problematic if these parcels are sent with the same carrier, such as DHL or Hermes, at the same time.

Which tracking page belongs to which online shop?

Often it is impossible to decipher which link belongs to which package. What if one parcel was more important than another? The customer is faced with a minefield of emails to try and work out which tracking page belongs to which package.

The result? Either a very frustrated customer who has spent time searching through emails for the right link, or an inundated customer service line dealing with WISMO enquiries. Both of these outcomes could be easily avoided – I’ll explain how later in this post.

Unclear details on when parcel will arrive

Once the customer has worked out which tracking page belongs to which parcel, it is still often not clear when it will actually arrive. Plus, delays are rarely communicated by carriers. The retailer has very little control over which information is shared as they usually do not know what is happening with the package either. This can be very frustrating for both parties and again causes a great deal of strain on customer services lines. This can also be avoided – I’ll explain how later.

What are retailers currently doing post-sales?

Our E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020 – German Edition shows that nine of the top 100 German online retailers do not include a tracking link in their shipping communication. Although this is an improvement compared to the previous study we conducted (13 retailers), really this number should be zero. Tracking information is so important to customers, so by leaving it out, retailers are creating unnecessary stress during the most emotional stage of the customer journey.

The study additionally found that 61 percent of shops rely on the carrier to provide track & trace information. As mentioned previously, this can again cause unnecessary stress if the customer is unable to decipher which tracking page belongs to which parcel.

66 percent of the top 100 German online stores neglect their customers during shipping by either not communicating at all or relying on the carrier to communicate. As a result, retailers are leaving their largest marketing channel untapped. On the other hand, 34 percent of retailers do communicate with their customers themselves. This gives them the opportunity to decide when and how they want to share information with the customer.

Retailers need to take control of largest untapped marketing channel

By taking control of communication post-purchase, retailers are able to avoid any customer confusion. Gone are the days of trying to decipher which tracking page belongs to which order. Retailers can send customers branded pages, which include cross- and up-sell products, all hosted within their own eco-system.

In addition, retailers can decide which notifications they want to share with their customers, to ensure they are kept up-to-date about where their order is. Delays can be articulated in real-time so customers no longer have to wait around for a parcel that won’t arrive that day. Not only does the above leave customers satisfied, but it also reduces customer service enquiries.

Those who have not yet taken charge of their shipping communication (and unfortunately, this is the majority of online shops) are wasting a huge amount of potential. Many retailers are not aware of the advantages of personalised, branded and proactive shipping communication. From strengthening your brand, to reducing customer service requests, to increasing the repurchase rate – personalisation in the shipping process is worth it.


If retailers want to avoid customer confusion and annoyance, they should invest in optimising customer experience during the shipping process. Shipping offers retailers a lot of potential to increase their sales and offer their customers an all-round positive shopping experience. Thus, creating loyal customers who will shop again and again.

Have you already downloaded our 2020 E-Commerce Shipping Study? Find out how Germany’s top 100 online shops perform in the areas of checkout, shipping and returns.

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