Why does real-time shipment tracking matter for businesses?

A man in a blue shirt and khaki pants is holding a cardboard box while standing in a vehicle loaded with other boxes. The scene is magnified through a large magnifying glass, with a blurred map in the background, emphasizing the importance of shipment tracking.

Remember the days before real-time shipment tracking? Probably not worth thinking about. People used to just hand high-value consignments over to the postal service or courier and hope for the best. With online shopping making up an increasing share of sales in 2024, freight has thankfully become a much more precise operation. 

At last count, eCommerce has grown to account for 19% of all retail sales. This change in consumer habits has caused the freight industry to boom, while customer expectations have rapidly increased alongside demand. This means that businesses across all industries face a huge challenge to deliver when it comes to delivery.

Isn’t shipment tracking kind of standard these days, though? Well, kind of. But not all carriers provide the same data on the same kind of interface. So, how can you make it make sense to your customers across the board? Why is shipment tracking so important? How does it work? And does its purpose vary between B2B and B2C orders? Let’s find out.


What is Shipment Tracking?

As consumers, most of us are familiar with the concept of real-time shipment tracking. It does what it says on the tin. In the current era of online shopping, it’s seen as a mandatory inclusion for any purchase. It lets everyone know where a shipment is on its way from seller to buyer.

Shipment tracking provides up-to-date information about the location and progress of any given consignment. Orders are scanned at each step of their journey, including each pick-up or arrival at a new depot or storage facility. This keeps all parties — sender, recipient, and carrier — in the loop.

For businesses, it’s a crucial tool in controlling costs, optimising delivery times, and maintaining customer satisfaction. 

How Does Real Time Shipment Tracking Work?

Shipment tracking relies on a combination of GPS, sensor technology, and cloud-based tracking systems. GPS enables shipping companies to know each vehicle’s location. The data is transmitted in real time to the carrier’s Transport Management System (TMS) and will be visible via the sender’s freight management system,

Such detailed feedback is valuable for assessing how carriers go about handling and shipping materials. If items are turning up damaged and need to be replaced, this data may help identify why it’s happening, as well as influencing which carriers are best equipped to handle sensitive shipments. This level of visibility is especially valuable when coordinating multi-carrier shipments.

Learn more about multi-carrier shipping

Benefits of Real Time Shipment Tracking

  • Improved visibility
  • Efficiency & cost savings
  • Better customer experience

Real-time shipment tracking provides a number of benefits. Obviously, it manages expectations and provides peace of mind for customers. In this sense, shipment tracking plays a key role in automating customer service.

For businesses, real-time tracking data helps to spot any bottlenecks and quickly respond to disruptions. It also keeps carriers accountable. When you have visibility over delivery times and delays, business owners are in a position of power to be able to monitor the most efficient, reliable carriers.

When freight carriers, businesses and customers are all on the same page with real-time tracking data, it results in vastly improved customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Tips for optimising your freight management process

What’s the Difference Between Tracking For B2B and B2C Freight?

For B2C freight:

Customer experience tends to be a higher priority in B2C industries, as it’s a more intimate transaction between individuals and the goods they want. Online shopping doesn’t have the same instant gratification of buying something in-store and physically holding it at the point of sale. 

Whether delivery takes 4 hours or 4 weeks, there’s still a certain sense of vulnerability until the product is in their possession. It’s imperative that consumers have a good experience in the time between payment and delivery to offset any anxiety. And pretty much the only way to do that is through tracking. 

It only takes one bad experience for customers to decide to never shop with you again. They don’t necessarily need super fast delivery, but they do need reliability. Expectation management is everything. Real-time tracking, therefore, becomes extremely important for those individuals as they wait for their shipment to arrive. 

For B2B freight:

With B2B, ‘experience’ tends to be less critical. It’s more about efficient supply chains. 

Ultimately, business customers are still people though. Expectations and clear communication around time frames is still important, as you need to ensure teams are on hand to receive potentially large or expensive equipment deliveries. That might be moving stock within the same company — from a regional storage hub to the loading docks of their various retail locations, for example. Or it could be an equipment purchase to a location without any on-site loading facilities — where employees need to be alerted to the exact time of arrival so that someone’s on hand to allow access to the building.  

Either way, the visibility provided by accurate, real-time tracking is crucial to the customer experience. You might not ‘win’ repeat business directly because of it. But you’ll certainly lose the chance of repeat business without it. 

Real Time Shipment Tracking Solutions

An all-in-one freight management platform allows you to see exactly where your shipments are. When your business is equipped with freight visibility, oversight, and automated workflows, you’re empowered to work smarter and streamline costs. Some of the tangible benefits include:

  • Saving money by identifying overcharges
  • Saving time by automating time consuming manual processes
  • Defined workflows for lodging carrier credit requests
  • Linking invoices to jobs and allocating to cost centres more easily

With a cloud-based delivery management system, you have a centralised dashboard to maintain full oversight. This is absolutely vital for scalability, keeping you in control regardless of order volume — whether you’re experiencing high demand as your customer base grows, or a relatively quiet period due to lower seasonal demand. The software pulls live data from your transport carriers to allow visibility over key milestones in the dispatch process and, crucially, the last mile of delivery — which has the biggest influence on customer satisfaction.

How does MachShip’s tracking system work?

With MachShip, you can create custom in-house solutions to prioritise the data that matters most to your business. Instantly access a consolidated view of all your carriers and tracking statuses — from warehouse pick-up to final delivery.

Our consolidated ‘Active Consignment’ dashboard displays all tracking statuses for both live and completed consignments.

Your customers will receive real-time email and SMS notifications to reduce delivery anxiety and keep them updated at every stage of the journey. MachShip also enables you to provide your customers with a branded tracking page, regardless of carrier, provided via email or SMS to ensure a consistent customer experience, decoupled from the carriers.

This real-time data allows businesses to see and solve any delivery disruptions quickly. Additionally, oversight of carrier performance is essential for informing your carrier selection and strategy in the future. With a dashboard like MachShip’s at your fingertips, you can determine the DIFOT score (delivery in full on time) of all your carriers instantly. 

Learn more about MachShip’s seamless integrations