Searching for a way to set up WooCommerce shipment tracking for your store?
Shipping timelines are important for both online store owners and customers.
Has a package reached its destination? Is it still sitting in the fulfillment center? Did it get stuck in Ohio because of inclement weather?
These are all valid questions for figuring out how long a shipment takes to reach the customer, and they’re particularly important considering online shoppers have come to expect a certain level of transparency when it comes to shipments from online stores.
All modern ecommerce shops need to provide tracking codes (along with fast shipping) to customers.
💡 To that end, this article will explain how to set up WooCommerce shipment tracking, send the tracking numbers to customers, and manage every order’s tracking number from your WooCommerce site.
📚 Table of contents:
Is shipment tracking really that important?
Yes. Shipment tracking codes provide several benefits to your customers, and they help streamline your own ecommerce operation.
- Cut costs: It’s expensive to deal with customer questions and complaints about deliveries. Tracking codes minimize customer support costs from shoppers asking about delivery times.
- Make customers happy: 80% of customers want the ability to track an order from start to finish .
- Help control the fulfillment operation: The merchant can view shipping statuses as well, allowing them to address issues by contacting the carrier, answering customer questions, or even giving refunds.
- Reduce fraud: One aspect of ecommerce fraud involves customers receiving items but reporting them as undelivered for a refund. With tracking, the merchant sees if packages get delivered (and where they get delivered to). There are also options to require a delivery signature or have carriers take pictures of the package when delivered.
- Decrease shipping errors with automation: Shipment tracking tools help automate messaging, shipping code generation, and the processing of orders in general, cutting down on human error.
How to set up WooCommerce shipment tracking
You have a number of options for setting up WooCommerce shipment tracking. The option you choose depends on which shipping provider(s) you’re using, whether you’re using a tool to help you fulfill orders, and whether you need merchant tracking or are just looking to provide tracking to customers.
We’re going to cover three different methods. You can use a single method by itself. Or, these methods will also integrate with one another if you need more comprehensive functionality:
- Official WooCommerce shipping extension– if you’re already using the official WooCommerce Shipping tool, it provides a built-in feature to add shipment tracking. The only downside is that it only supports USPS and DHL at this time. If you’re using a different provider, or you just don’t want to use the WooCommerce Shipping extension, this method won’t work.
- Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin (AST) – this plugin lets you add shipment tracking for any shipping carrier, with thousands of supported options. The free version is capable enough, while the premium version adds more useful features. It offers standalone functionality, but you can also integrate it with the official WooCommerce Shipping extension if desired.
- TrackShip for merchant tracking– while the other two methods are focused on helping you provide shipment tracking to customers, a tool like TrackShip can also help you keep track of all your shipments, which is another important aspect of WooCommerce shipment tracking. TrackShip also integrates with AST, which lets you create a full shipment tracking stack.
1. Official WooCommerce Shipping extension (USPS and DHL only)
By default, WooCommerce has no way of adding a tracking code to orders. There are some workarounds, but they only make sense for stores with extremely low sales volume. Those workarounds involve creating tracking codes in a small business portal from your carrier (USPS, UPS, and FedEx all have these), then either sending a direct email to the customer with the tracking information or adding it to the order notes (and sending it as a Note To Customer).
However, that method is both tedious and unrealistic for growing businesses. We’re interested in achieving a more automated solution that’s still free and available from one of the default WooCommerce extensions.
To make it all work, you must first install the WooCommerce Shipping extension. You may already have it installed, since the WooCommerce onboarding process usually installs it automatically.
Once activated, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping > WooCommerce Shipping. This is a new section added by the WooCommerce Shipping extension. Here, you should link a payment account (for printing labels) and choose a paper size.
Under the Packaging headline, click the Add Package button to pick the types of packaging you plan on using. The WooCommerce Shipping extension links directly to DHL and USPS for selecting standard packages from those services and generating labels with tracking numbers.
Add whichever boxes, envelopes, and other packages you plan on using. Then click the Save button at the bottom of the page.
Open an order by going to WooCommerce > Orders and selecting from the list of orders. On the Edit Order page, click the Create Shipping Label button.
Check to make sure that the Origin Address and Destination Address are accurate. Under the Packaging tab, pick the type of packaging to use with the Packaging Details drop-down field. Also fill in the Total Weight (With Package) field. Click the Use These Packages button.
This brings you to the Shipping Rates tab, which displays pricing for all shipping methods based on the packaging you decided upon. In order to generate a shipment tracking code, double check to see if your shipping method includes that with your purchase. Most USPS and DHL methods have tracking.
Check the box that reads “Mark this order as complete and notify the customer.” This changes the order status and sends an email to the customer with a shipment tracking number.
To finish the process, click the Buy Shipping Label button.
As a result, you should now see the shipment tracking number (with a link) under Shipment Tracking on the Edit Order page.
Additionally, the customer receives an email with the tracking code and link included.
Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin (supports all carriers)
The previous method has its advantages since merchants can print shipping labels, generate tracking numbers, and send out notification emails with the tracking information. And much of it’s done automatically. The only downside is that you’re limited to using USPS and DHL.
What if you’d like to ship with providers like UPS or FedEx, or even country-specific carriers, like Australia Post, Deutsche Post, or La Poste?
👉 In that case, you must turn to a third-party plugin with access to those providers. For that, we recommend the Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin (AST) – here’s how it works:
Pair your provider’s business account with the Advanced Shipment Tracking (AST) plugin
This method requires some manual work with the free version of the plugin, but it’s more automated in the premium version, and it provides access to hundreds of global carriers. Essentially, you’re generating shipping labels and tracking codes using the small business portal from your shipping provider. After that, the plugin lets you paste the tracking code into any order and specify the carrier.
The true automation comes into play when you activate the plugin’s premium plan, since that allows you to skip the manual tracking code generation and instead print shipping labels with tracking (using a wide variety of carriers) from the WooCommerce Shipping plugin (covered in the previous method).
To begin, install and activate the plugin from WordPress.org.
Under WooCommerce > Shipment Tracking, you can specify which shipment providers you plan on using from the long list of options.
The plugin activates a module within each Edit Order page to choose a Shipping Provider and paste in a Tracking Number. This method requires you to use the business shipping portal from your favorite shipping provider in order to create shipping labels and tracking numbers.
You can then mark the order as Completed to send out an email with the tracking number to your customer.
The Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin links to the provider of your choice, includes a logo, and lists the tracking number within each tracking confirmation email.
It also pairs with the TrackShip WordPress plugin for tracking every order you ship.
TrackShip even links to a customizable order status page for customers to gain a full view of where their item goes.
Automating label and tracking number creation with the AST plugin
The free version of AST opens up access to several carriers, but it still requires you to use your provider’s business portal and manually paste shipping numbers into each WooCommerce order. Luckily, the premium version of AST integrates with the WooCommerce Shipping extension so that you can generate shipping labels right from WooCommerce from way more major shipping providers. That means you can buy and print labels from WooCommerce, and the tracking number gets added to the order (and sent to the customer) automatically.
ℹ️ Note: The WooCommerce Shipment Tracking extension is another plugin that works in a similar way to AST.
TrackShip (merchant tracking for all WooCommerce shipments)
The last part of WooCommerce shipment tracking involves the merchant organizing and monitoring all those tracking numbers. Along with improving transparency for customers, shipment tracking allows merchants to have greater control over the entire logistics. With so many orders, you truly need a separate dashboard that organizes the tracking information, provides filtering tools, and gives you a quick view of what’s going on with your shipments.
👉 We recommend using a tool like TrackShip, AfterShip, or ShipStation to manage all order tracking.
The TrackShip plugin is our go-to option, since it integrates with the AST plugin from the previous method, offers a free plan, and has an intuitive dashboard within WordPress.
Overall, the combination of WooCommerce Shipping + Advanced Shipment Tracking + TrackShip makes for the simplest, most automated tracking solution, since then you’re all set up with ordering labels, sending out tracking codes, and managing order tracking from the same WordPress dashboard.
All WooCommerce shipment tracking plugins to consider
Overall, ecommerce shipment tracking comes in different forms. You need to generate a tracking number, but that also means you must order the printing label with your shipping provider. After that, you’ll want to send the tracking number to your customer and track every shipment from your merchant dashboard.
Here are the solutions we covered in this article, along with some alternatives to try:
- WooCommerce Shipping: Purchase and print shipping labels (with tracking codes) for USPS and DHL only. Automatically send emails to customers with tracking numbers included.
- Advanced Shipment Tracking: Add tracking numbers from hundreds of global shipping providers (not just USPS and DHL like the previous plugin). You can pay for the premium version to integrate with WooCommerce Shipping and auto-generate tracking labels and numbers from most shipping providers in WooCommerce.
- TrackShip: An excellent integration with the Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin for merchants to track all shipments from WordPress.
- AfterShip Tracking: An alternative to TrackShip for merchants to track all shipments.
- Orders Tracking for WooCommerce: Similar to the Advanced Shipment Tracking plugin, with tools for inserting shipment tracking codes into WooCommerce orders. Supports a wide range of shipping providers.
- ShipStation: An all-in-one paid solution for printing shipping labels, linking to providers, generating tracking numbers, and tracking all shipments from one dashboard. It’s one of the most widely used shipping tools for ecommerce stores, but the WooCommerce plugin has poor reviews, so we don’t recommend it as our first choice.
Improve your store’s shipment tracking today
Adding WooCommerce shipment tracking to your online store makes for happier customers, less fraud, and more transparency for both the customer and the merchant. For smaller online stores, you can manually insert shipment tracking codes for all orders, but growing ecommerce businesses require more automated solutions.
👉 That’s why we recommend going with multiple WooCommerce shipment tracking plugins for more customization and automation.
If you have any questions about how to set up WooCommerce shipment tracking, or if you have experience with some of the methods discussed in this article, share your thoughts in the comments section!