Love it or hate it, the pandemic brought e-commerce front and centre and it’s not going back. In Q2 2020, Shopify alone recorded a 71% growth in the number of stores on it’s platform, Shopify have developed their own parcel tracking app and it automatically imports your orders from Shopify sites and the tracking with it. That’s great, but today’s consumer shops in a lot of places – Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Bol.. the list goes on. Our orders get scattered, our tracking numbers end up a mess and what is coming from where and when is confusing to follow – sometimes with several emails in our already overflowing inboxes.
For all of these apps I will be using the free versions of them since we’re all getting a bit tired of subscriptions… So here it is, in no particular order, the consumer tracking tool showdown!
All Deliveries in One Place
Available on iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS & macOS
I like Parcel as a concept, I really do, it supports a lot of carriers (Over 300) and it does a great job at it. But I have my reservations about the free version’s offerings compared to some of the other apps on this list. For one, you can only track three deliveries at once, you don’t get any push notifications and you can’t use the web version. Credit where it’s due, the subscription is surprisingly low at only £1.29 for the first year then £4.49 thereafter.
You get a nice tracking map, location tags (They can be a bit off sometimes), Siri Shortcuts, Amazon Integration and some small features such as delivery sharing, contacting carrier support and tracking on the carrier site. For the free version, I’ll give it a 3/5.
Shopify’s own parcel tracker!
Available on iOS & Android
Kudos first of all to Shopify for not locking Shop to just Shopify orders, I appreciate that. The app itself is, as you would expect from a large developer, very well designed. For shipments from Shopify you get to see all the items in your order, the tracking number is automatically imported, and you even get notifications for status changes. Like Parcel, Shop offers a tracking map and location tagging in the history. They even manage a pretty incredible feat, they support Royal Mail tracking, which is something pretty hard to find for UK residents. I’m afraid on the flip side however, they don’t support PostNL due to the data protection level they provide of postcode verification.
Shop supports inbox importing, so if you use Gmail or Outlook, Shop will find the tracking numbers in your inbox and automatically add them to your app. Sadly, I hadn’t had any recent carriers that were supported by Shop to test this feature. They, like Parcel, support Amazon importing and unlike some of the other apps on this list, only have a free version – No features are limited or restricted. Due to the lack of carrier support, I have to knock a point off but it’s a solid 3.5/5 for Shop.
Available for iOS, iPadOS, Android & Web
Spoiler alert – Aftership steals the show.
Aftership supports over 800 carriers, including Royal Mail and PostNL. The application is completely free, supports an unlimited number of parcels and supports Outlook and Gmail import. Much like Shop and Parcel, Aftership has scan locations, a nice history map, a nice iOS and Android widget showing all your parcels or your next parcel in small mode.
The automatic carrier detection when you enter a tracking number is very accurate and a lot more extensive than the other apps in this list due to the vast number of carriers Aftership supports. My only issue is that, unlike some other apps, Aftership does not support email forwarding, so if I use my own IMAP mail then I cannot forward or import those emails and I have to do it manually through the app.
Aftership did have a very nice feature that I found on one other app, Translate, for status updates. Of-course when I purchase things from a Dutch carrier all my updates are in Dutch, but Aftership, at the click of a button, lets me see them in English! Afterships website was a slightly letdown, you can enter your tracking numbers on the website to track your package, but I couldn’t find a way to login and retrieve those that I’d imported on the app. On the website there is a nice email notification feature which I couldn’t find in the app sadly.
Overall though, a solid 4.5/5 for Aftership.
All-in-one Package Tracking Platform
Avaliable on iOS, iPadOS, Android & Web
I really tried my hardest to love 17 Track, and for a while I did. The UI is not too bad, there’s no map tracking but there’s a Microsoft Translate feature for status updates. The thing that attracted me to use 17 Track was it’s web tracking portal. I’m a big fan of multi-platform support and often like to have an overview of my parcels or not have to grab my phone, find the app and launch it when I’m on my laptop or desktop.
17 Track’s web portal syncs up with the parcels you put in the app and provides a nice little dashboard with the count of parcels in a current status (Cool if you’re a big company receiving a number of parcels per day). The other nice part is being able to forward your tracking emails to them without having to share your entire inbox. Simply provide up to 3 emails, forward them to email@example.com and it imports the found tracking number and carrier.
Sadly, 17 Track doesn’t support carriers with authentication at this time, so PostNL does not work for me and nor does GLS NL, Royal Mail however does work. With a bit of work and expansion on carriers, 17 Track really could be up there fighting with Aftership, but for now, it’s a 3/5Track, control and manage all yours and your team’s parcel deliveries in one place.
Track, control and manage all yours and your team’s parcel deliveries in one place.
Avaliable on iOS & Web
With just two reviews on the iOS app store, Packenda is by far the least known app on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst. Far from it. Packenda is a bit of a dark horse in this list, it’s platform support isn’t the best, they don’t have a map of status updates and status updates can be a bit slow to come it. I slate it a little, but they still offer an email import when you forward it to a specified address, a very nice web UI with filters (Great for companies receiving a lot of parcels again) and you can define an expected date when you add the shipment, they give you a heads up if they think it’s going to be delayed, or is delayed but I’ve found it to give a lot of false positives when the package is arriving in the evening.
You can add people to your ‘Mailroom’ as they call it, up to five on the free version which is just right for a small household and people want to understand if parcels are due that day. Their carrier support has been fairly good for me, they support PostNL and GLS but they were missing some Danish ones and also Royal Mail. For real, like 17 Track, if Packenda can bring in a few carriers and add a bit of a faster refresh on their statuses, then they’re in with a real chance of scoring higher than a 3.5/5
And that’s it, there’s my list of the top tracking apps! It’s such a shame to see so much platform support missing, some not supporting Android, some not supporting iPadOS and only one app supporting WatchOS. For sure Aftership has the lead just now, but watch out for the rising 17 Track and Packenda. They’re coming and once they fix their niggles, they’ll be up there with the big boys in terms of feature coverage.