What makes tracking outstanding on an International shipment?

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On Saturday evening I made a purchase on eBay from a German retailer and thought it worth noting the way that they supplied tracking information because it’s a text book case of how great tracking helps the consumer and averts any questions from customers.

It’s a slightly more complex delivery than normal because although they despatched the item in Germany via DHL, it’s being delivered in the UK by Parcelforce. This means that there are two tracking sites to contend with. Plus the retailer naturally uses German sites and my grasp of German leave a lot to be desired.

The first thing the retailer did was to upload tracking information to eBay which is useful. The item is expected for delivery today according to the pre-purchase delivery estimate from eBay and the link is to the German version of the DHL website. eBay now displays the tracking link but only to the German version of the DLH website but the retailer made getting the information in English easy for me. As a bonus for the retailer it looks like they’ll get an automatic on-time delivery tick from eBay.

The retailer also sent added my email address to their upload to the courier website which resulted in an email written in German with the tracking information from the DHL to me. Many retailers miss this step but it’s crucial and easily achievable with most multichannel management software solutions.

The great thing about DHL is that they automatically recognise that the shipment is for an English address and so duplicate the tracking email in English beneath the German version. This naturally saves the German retailer from having to bother with translating the information and frankly works well for people with a lack of linguistic skills like me.

DHL’s tracking page also contains a link to the Parcelforce tracking website and so has made it easy to see that the parcel has left their Basingstoke depot and is out with the driver to be delivered today. Once the shipment is in the local UK depot, DHL doesn’t display that the parcel is out for delivery so supplying the Parcelforce tracking site link is a genius move! Naturally I won’t be going out until it arrives now that I know it’s definitely out for delivery.

Experienced retailers may be reading this thinking that it’s all pretty obvious and nothing much new. For those that are new to online selling and especially for those who are selling internationally it is worth highlighting the steps that make this delivery outstanding:

  1. The retailers delivery expectation on eBay matched reality
  2. Tracking information was uploaded to eBay
  3. The retailer added my email address to the courier booking. Many couriers also allow you to add a mobile number for SMS notifications
  4. DHL sent notification in both German and English. This is great service by a courier and one to consider in your courier choice when selling internationally
  5. DHL ensured that tracking information was passed to the the courier (in this case Parcelforce) handling the delivery in the UK. In the future, certainly within the UK, this will become easier as courier adopt GS1 SSCC tracking labels. SSCC means that both DHL and Parcelforce will use the same tracking number, at the moment Parcelforce change to their own UK tracking numbers for the UK leg of the delivery
  6. Parcelforce (as do most couriers) have full tracking once the parcel lands in the UK and DHL made this easy for me to access.


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Stuart Hill Ex Matches COO on transitioning to logistics at DHL

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