Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The differences between order tracking and order tracking

For over a century, people have been ordering goods via mail order, and that practice isn't going to disappear any time soon. In the 21st century, those of us who order goods often track the progress of our order online.

In some cases, the order tracking can be very detailed. Via the use of bar code technology, you can find out when the package left the point of origin, when it arrived at a local processing center, when it arrived at a major processing facility (for example, when FedEx packages arrived in Memphis, Tennessee), when it reached the destination city, when it got loaded onto a destination truck, and when it actually arrived at the destination (and who signed for the package).

In some cases, the order tracking is less detailed.

On Sunday, I went to a major department store to get some shoes. I won't reveal the name of the department store, which was founded by James Cash Penney. The store didn't have my preferred size and color in stock (actually, their computer said it was in stock, but it wasn't), so I requested a "ship to store" option. When I received my receipt, the receipt told me how to track my order.

This excited me, because I love to track these types of things. When we have international visitors, I track their flights ("they're over Quebec now!"). And I track packages.

So Sunday night, I went to the shipment tracking site - not that I was expecting much. According to the site, the shipment is pending.

Today, Wednesday afternoon, I went back to the site, which now says that the shipment is pending, and also says that it's shipped. And it doesn't say much else.

Order Information
Order Number: xxxxxxx
Order Date: 7/10/2011
Invoice Number: xxxxxxx
Status: Pending Shipment
Method: Ship To Store
Date Shipped: 7/11/2011

So I have no idea where the shipment originated, no idea where my package is, and no idea when it will arrive at my local store. All that I know is that it shipped from somewhere on Monday.

One can argue that the department store should NOT disclose the whereabouts of the item, because that could potentially reveal information that is valuable to competitors.

But this all goes to show you that "order tracking" can mean different things, depending upon who is doing the tracking.
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