A Beginner's Guide to USPS Tracking

Run Your Business Jul 07, 2020

Established in the year 1775, USPS today touches almost every address in America

While primarily known for its mail delivery services, the United States Post Office -USPS is ranked one of the top three parcel carriers in America. Established in the year 1775, the delivery service today touches almost every address in the nation: 160 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes.

Today it is at the core of the $1.6 trillion U.S. mailing industry that employs more than 7.3 million people including 97000 military veterans. With about 260,000 vehicles, the  USPS has the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world supported by more than 34,000 retail locations. The Postal Service has an annual operating revenue of more than $71 billion and delivers 48 percent of the world's Mail. USPS however old has kept up with the evolving times, and  it's digital destination USPS.com is also one of the most frequently visited online destinations with around 7.1 million

Over the years, the nature of shipping has changed, especially with the advent of the e-commerce industry. Information about the shipments became as crucial as the shipments themselves. As encyclopedia.com mentions that" Of the many different aspects of the shipping process, shipment tracking was of the greatest concern to consumers and companies alike in the early 2000s."

Moving with the times and technology, USPS introduced the USPS Tracking® to track all the types of packages and shipments that go through USPS. USPS Tracking® provides end-to-end package tracking and is accessible for most products that are addressed to domestic locations, USPS is continuously working towards making the tracking process really robust and the site uspsoig states that USPS has introduced 263,000 new mobile scanners since 2014, which has increased Tracking of the packages from five to 13 possible scanning events. More tracking events essentially mean more updates from the start of the journey to the destination, which can be really helpful for businesses.

What does USPS Tracking® really mean to the customer?

USPS tracking is a service whereby the system shares a tracking number for almost every item that is shipped through USPS. With the help of the tracking number, you can get the current status of an item along with other tracking information. You can also provide your customers and clients with the tracking number, which will help them stay aware of the delivery status of their orders and, at the same time, reduce pressure on the customer response teams. USPS tracking is fairly simple and mainly requires you to familiarize yourself with the process and a few jargons.

This article is a step by step guide aimed at helping you understand the package tracking with USPS  and make the process more efficient for the shipper and the customer.

Step by step process to start using the USPS Tracking

1.Understanding the type of package

When using USPS for your Shipment, please be aware that not all packages will be tracked automatically by the postal system. If you need the package to be tracked, then ensure that the method you are using does allow for Tracking.

  • Domestic first-class and media mail shipments do not automatically include tracking though you can request Tracking to be added at additional charges.
  • Most other forms of shipping like Priority Mail almost always include Tracking.
  • Not all forms of Tracking are the same. Information that you can derive from USPS Tracking is based on the type of shipping form.

2. Finding the Tracking number.

To keep track of your Shipment, the most important thing is the tracking number. You can find this tracking information from multiple sources. Here we have listed the main ones.

  • Your Post Office™ shipping receipt: Once you pay postage on your shipping product at the Post Office, USPS Tracking® gets activated.
  • You can find the tracking number which is also sometimes called the label number on the bottom of the mailing receipt that you will get from the post office.
  • The tracking number is also mentioned on the sales receipt if you bought insurance at the Post Office™
  • Online: If You don't want to  visit the post office you can get all the information regarding your Shipment online as well
  • Create an account on  USPS.com®. Once you have your online account, you can print USPS Tracking® labels, purchase mailing/shipping services, buy stamps, etc. The tracking label gives you both the label affixed to the product and a receipt with your tracking number. You can access your account anytime for tracking information or status of your Shipment.
  • The tracking number will also be available on the email confirmation that you receive if you have shipped from USPS.com

3. Retaining the receipt and the tracking number: Whichever option you choose — post office or online the information that you will have access to remains the. The most important part is to retain the shipment receipt as it is tough to locate a shipment without the tracking number.  Pre-printed USPS Tracking labels have a peel-off portion at the bottom that can be retained for records and Tracking.

4. Understanding the tracking number: A tracking number is a unique number/code/ or an I.D., which is designated to each package, which is shipped through USPS. The number of digits in the tracking number and sometimes the format may differ based on the type of Shipment and delivery. Usually, the tracking number is 20 – 22 digits long, and there are no letters in it. The tracking numbers of USPS Express Mail are 13 characters long, begin with two letters, and end with "U.S.." Here are a few samples of the tracking numbers in the table below taken from USPS.com.

Types of USPS tracking numbers
Different types of services have different USPS tracking numbers

5. Tracking the USPS package :Once you have recognized your tracking number, you can check the progress of the Shipment from any of these options by using the tracking number.

  • Online from the USPS website -The site has links on almost every page that will take you to the pages for tracking packages. The search icon on the site and the general search box on the site's homepage will also track the package if you enter the tracking number there.
USPS.com homepage showing the search symbol for tracking packages
Source: USPS.com | You can Track your package with the tracking number from almost anywhere on USPS.com site
  • By phone at 1 (800) 222-1811
  • Message your tracking number to 28777
  • By the USPS Mobile App available for iPhones, Android devices and Blackberry mobile devices.

6.Receive confirmation of shipment delivery- once the package is delivered, you will be able to receive confirmation of delivery if you have requested for the service. You can also request Extra information like " signature confirmation or a return receipt on the delivery of the shipment

How does USPS Tracking ® work

The label of your package is scanned multiple times throughout the process starts as soon the sender ships out the package through whichever option he chooses. The tracking information keeps getting updated through the transit process. It will update the status in a particular terminology like arrived at UDSPS original facility or arrived at Post office, out for delivery, delivered or unable to deliver if the package had some specific instructions for delivery, which were not fulfilled.
With e-commerce and pick pack ship becoming critical to businesses there is a lot of emphasis on choosing the right kind of shipping company. There are multiple options available but a lot of small businesses still prefer USPS because of it’s cost effectiveness especially for smaller packages and a relatively reliable tracking system.Now that you understand the USPS tracking well, you can take a look at the comparisons between the costs and delivery services of other large shipping companies Fedex Vs UPS VS DHL vs USPS Tracking and take the best decision for your business.

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