Are tracking and delivery important to retention?

In ecommerce, merchants are always thinking about how to increase acquisition rates and boost conversions. After all, you want as many site visitors to become customers as possible. However it’s often what happens after checkout that can have the biggest impact on a customer’s impression of your store. And whether or not they’ll return to place another order. 

Once the customer clicks checkout, they immediately start waiting to get the email that says their order has been dispatched. After that, it’s all down to how good your tracking and delivery experience is.  

Why tracking and delivery is so important

Have you ever had a package delayed? Or had issues with a courier’s tracking tools? These issues can be frustrating, and like it or not they influence how we feel about a brand. 

  • 97% of customers expect to be able to track their orders in real time
  • 70% would rather continue to check tracking than contact customer service
  • 91% of customers actively track orders, and 39% do so at least once a day
  • 82% of US customers say they have high expectations for an accurate delivery experience
  • 54% of US shoppers say an easy delivery process defines a positive customer experience with a retailer - more so than easy purchasing, product information, or support.

It’s easy to see why customers are so concerned with tracking and delivery. Before a customer makes a purchase, they’re only considering the products and thinking about making a purchase. One they’ve clicked checkout, they’ve parted with their money and are now waiting on the product being shipped and delivered. Until it’s on their doorstep, they’ll be anxious to know what’s happening. Especially these days when many are accustomed to the fast and efficient shipping services offered by retail giants like Amazon. 

That means it’s vital that merchants looking to capture and retain the attention of customers need to do more when it comes to tracking and delivery. Many won’t have the volume or capacity to compete with a business like Amazon, but they can still provide a great experience nonetheless. 

4 tips to improve your delivery experience 

#1 - Offer more robust tracking tools

Step one in improving delivery for customers is simply to offer better tracking tools. The default for many retailers is to provide the tracking information for their chosen courier, then the customer uses that courier’s tools to track their order. This feels like an obvious solution, however there are things that can go wrong. 

Every courier has their own version of tracking tools, sometimes these are straightforward and other times they’re confusing. In either case, you as the merchant don’t have any control over that experience. The customer can only see details of the package’s whereabouts, but not the details of the order, what the package contains, and any other details that they’d find useful. This can prove inconvenient at best, and frustrating at worst for the customer. Despite this not being your tracking tool, the customer will still see it as part of their experience with your brand. 

An alternative solution instead is to offer more robust, real-time tracking tools that bring the experience more under the merchant’s control. Apps for Shopify like Order Lookup give merchants the ability to customize their tracking portal so it’s completely in line with their brand, and offers more detail that customers look for. They’ll get an overview of their order, real-time updates, and the merchant can add notes about the order for the customer to see when they check tracking. 

#2 - Provide better order updates

You now have the right tools, but are you communicating with your customers effectively? The standard for most merchants is to have an order confirmation email, followed by an order dispatch email, and perhaps an email after the order has been delivered. And that’s kind of it as far as order communication goes. That means there’s a lot of unknown, empty space between the point where the order is dispatched and when it actually arrives with the customer.

By bridging that gap, you can provide a better customer experience that reduces the customer’s anxiety and keeps them informed. This in turn can reduce the number of “where’s my order” queries that pop up in your customer support channels. The best way to do that is by making better use of email and SMS. 

Consider when would be helpful to send more order updates, and what those order updates might contain. For example, perhaps you could add an email when the order is at the customer’s local depot letting them know it won’t be long until their package arrives. What would also be useful here is to include the real-time tracking info, how to contact customer support, and information about returns and exchanges. Or while the order is in transit but taking a little longer, perhaps an email to reassure the customer the order is still on the way. Then provide them with resources about tracking and support, plus some helpful resources about product use and care for when the order arrives.

As for adding in SMS, you could add in automated messages throughout the journey such as when the order is at the local delivery depot, the order is due for delivery, and then a follow-up SMS when the order has been delivered. 

#3 - Follow up for feedback 

Feedback is an extremely useful tool for any merchant. It allows you insight into how your customers really feel about your brand, your products, and the experience you provide. Feedback on the shipping and delivery experience is especially helpful, as you can learn about what you could do better as well as potentially if your courier is underperforming. After all, their performance has an impact on how the customer sees your brand experience. 

So, be proactive about asking for feedback. 85% of customers prefer when a brand is proactive, and 51% expect brands to seek feedback. What’s more is that 98% of customers surveyed said they’d provide feedback if asked. 

Merchants can be proactive in seeking feedback simply by adding it to their post-purchase communication strategy. Add in an extra email after an order has been delivered asking the customer about their experience. You can ask about their experience overall, or you can get specific feedback about the shipping and delivery process. This can be an earlier, separate request than asking for reviews, which will normally happen some time after the customer has had time to actually use the product. 

#4 - Have a plan for when things go wrong

As mentioned a few times now, whatever happens when the order leaves your warehouse will have an impact on how the customer views their experience with your brand. Even if they understand that the courier messed up somewhere, they may still blame you for using that courier. And when something does go wrong, it’s a huge asset to have a plan in place. 

There are a couple of ways you can be prepared for issues in the shipping and delivery process. The first is if a package is delayed. This can be hugely frustrating for the customer, and they’ll start to wonder what has happened. This is when you’ll start to see those “Where is my order?” queries rolling in. Especially in the run up to the holiday season when couriers are busier, this is more common. In these cases, you want to preempt the customer’s curiosity - send an email or SMS update automatically when a package is either marked as delayed or has been in transit for longer than average. For example if your shipping rate states an order takes 3-5 business days and it hasn’t arrived by the end of the 5th day, an email is automatically sent letting the customer know there’s a delay. It’s important to stay on top of your couriers also, so that if there is a widespread issue you can let your customers know right away.

The second is by thoroughly preparing your support team with the different scenarios that could arise. This should include:

  • Dispatch delays due to warehouse 
  • Delivery delays due to courier 
  • Packaging issues e.g. damaged packaging 
  • Order unboxing issues e.g. missing or incorrect items

Your team should be prepared with how to respond, how to resolve, and how to escalate. This will ensure they can speed up response times, and customers will be satisfied with their support experience.


Shipping and delivery may be important, but it can also be unpredictable. Thankfully, that unpredictability can be mitigated by merchants who take a proactive approach to the process. By ramping up communication and providing customers with better tools, merchants can easily set themselves up for post-purchase success.