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Real-Time Shipment Tracking: Why It Matters and How It Compares to Traditional Methods

Real-Time Shipment Tracking Why It Matters and How It Compares to Traditional Methods

As we all know, shipment tracking has been a crucial part of logistics for a very long time. It allows businesses to know where their products are at any given time, and it helps customers track their orders from the moment they are shipped until they arrive at their doorstep. In recent years, the industry has seen a significant shift from traditional tracking methods to new and innovative real-time tracking technologies. Real-time shipment tracking is like always being aware of the status of the shipments. Many companies have already made the switch, but others are still hesitant to take the plunge. Imagine an import/export company that knows all the exceptions and delays in the shipping process; this is a real level-up for the logistics industry.

 In this blog post, we will take a detailed look at these two tracking methods, explore their benefits and drawbacks, and help you decide which option is better suited to your business. So, get ready to dive into the exciting world of shipment tracking and discover the differences between real-time tracking and traditional tracking.

What Is Traditional Shipment Tracking?

Shipping tracking has been in use for quite some time now. Traditional shipment tracking refers to the use of manual processes and technologies that were developed in the past to track shipments. Generally, this involves assigning tracking numbers to packages and using barcode scanners to scan these numbers at various points throughout the shipping journey. Once the scanned data is collected, it is compiled into a report that is then shared with the relevant stakeholders.

A. Explanation of Traditional Shipment Tracking

Traditional shipment tracking primarily uses technology like barcodes, EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, and scanners to track shipments. These technologies automate the process of collecting shipping data, thereby making the process less time-consuming and error-prone. In addition, traditional shipment tracking allows businesses to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as transit times, delivery accuracy, and order-to-ship times, which can help businesses optimize their shipping operations.

B. The advantages of Traditional Shipment Tracking

While traditional shipment tracking may not be as advanced as real-time tracking, it still offers some advantages. For instance, it is a cost-effective method of tracking shipments, and small businesses can use it to manage their shipping operations without breaking the bank. Traditional shipment tracking can also be used in conjunction with other technologies, such as GPS, to improve the tracking accuracy of shipments over long distances.

C. The disadvantages of Traditional Shipment Tracking

The biggest disadvantage of traditional shipment tracking is the fact that it relies on manual processes, which are time-consuming and prone to errors. Data gathered through traditional tracking can easily be lost or misinterpreted, leading to incorrect data analysis that can have consequences for businesses. Moreover, traditional shipment tracking is not suitable for managing complex shipping scenarios, such as air freight, sea freight, or cross-border shipments.


A good example of traditional shipment tracking is the US Postal Service (USPS). The USPS uses barcodes to track shipments as they move through its various facilities. The barcodes, which are printed on shipping labels or directly on packages, are scanned by USPS employees to collect data on the shipment’s location and status. This data is then compiled into reports that can be shared with customers who want to track their packages.

What is Real-Time Tracking?

With the advancement of technology, new and improved forms of shipment tracking have emerged, and one of the most innovative methods is real-time tracking. Unlike traditional shipment tracking, real-time tracking provides up-to-the-minute visibility of a shipment’s location and status. This is made possible through the use of sensors, GPS technologies, and cloud-based software that constantly updates the shipment’s data in real time.

Explanation of Real-Time Shipment Tracking

Real-time shipment tracking provides businesses with a continuous flow of information about their shipments, such as the exact location of the package, its present status, estimated delivery time, and many more. With real-time tracking, businesses can also gain insight into how their shipping processes are performing and adjust them accordingly to optimize their logistics operations.

The advantages of Real-Time Shipment Tracking

Real-time shipment tracking offers numerous benefits over traditional shipment tracking. For instance, businesses can improve their customer service by providing real-time updates to the customers about their shipment status, resulting in a better overall customer experience. Additionally, real-time tracking helps businesses to mitigate the risk of shipping delays, as they can anticipate potential issues and take corrective action before they affect the shipment’s delivery times.

The disadvantages of Real-Time Shipment Tracking


One prime example of a company that offers real-time shipment tracking is FedEx. Through their FedEx Delivery Manager program, customers can receive real-time notifications and updates about the status of their shipment, including alerts for package delays, changes in delivery times, and even the ability to reroute the package to a different address. FedEx also uses GPS tracking to monitor their delivery trucks so customers can see the exact location of their package as it travels to their doorsteps. The program offers a wide range of customization options for businesses to tailor their tracking experience to their specific needs.

Real-time Tracking vs. Traditional Tracking: Which is the Way to Go?

Tracking is a crucial aspect of managing any operation, be it logistics or managing a team. Traditional tracking has been used for centuries, but in recent times, real-time tracking has become increasingly popular. The question is, which method is better? In this blog post, we will compare real-time tracking and traditional tracking based on adaptability, accessibility, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness.


When it comes to adaptability, real-time tracking takes the lead. This is because real-time tracking can be adjusted to suit any operation. With real-time tracking, you can customize your tracking system to meet your specific needs. For example, if you are tracking a fleet of vehicles, you can set up alerts to notify you when a vehicle deviates from its route or enters a prohibited area. Traditional tracking, on the other hand, is rigid and does not offer much room for customization.

Accessibility and Convenience

Real-time tracking is more accessible and convenient compared to traditional tracking. This is because real-time tracking uses the internet, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world. With traditional tracking, you need to physically access the tracking device to get the information you need. Real-time tracking also offers more convenience as you can access live updates on the go. For example, if you are tracking a delivery, you can monitor its progress in real-time without having to call or visit the delivery driver.


Both real-time tracking and traditional tracking are accurate to varying degrees. However, real-time tracking offers more accuracy as it provides live updates. With real-time tracking, you can track the location of the object you are tracking down to the second. Traditional tracking, on the other hand, provides updates at intervals, which may be minutes or even hours apart. This makes real-time tracking more suitable for operations that require minute-by-minute tracking, such as tracking the progress of a marathon.


When it comes to cost-effectiveness, traditional tracking takes the lead. This is because traditional tracking devices are cheaper compared to real-time tracking devices. For example, a basic GPS tracker can cost as little as $30, while a real-time tracker can cost hundreds of dollars. Traditional tracking devices also require little to no maintenance, unlike real-time tracking devices, which require regular updates and maintenance.


To put this into context, let us compare real-time tracking and traditional tracking in the context of a delivery business. A delivery business with a fleet of trucks can use real-time tracking to monitor the progress of their deliveries in real-time. With real-time tracking, they can know when a truck is delayed and take steps to rectify the situation. They can also monitor the temperature of their refrigerated trucks to ensure that their goods are stored at the right temperature. On the other hand, a delivery business using traditional tracking can only get updates at intervals, which may not be enough to make timely decisions. However, a small delivery business just starting up may find traditional tracking more cost-effective and manageable.

Applications of Real-Time Shipment Tracking

Real-time shipment tracking has revolutionized the way businesses track their products, and its applications go beyond just logistics. Real-time data provides timely insights into a shipment’s whereabouts, delivery status, and even temperature and humidity control. As a result, it has found its way into various industries and applications, simplifying processes and enhancing customer experience. In this section, we’ll explore some of the exciting applications of real-time shipment tracking in the e-commerce and online shopping, healthcare, and food and beverage industry.

E-commerce and Online Shopping

Online shopping has become a go-to solution for customers looking for convenience, variety, and good deals. However, after the purchase, customers want to keep an eye on their shipment and know when to expect their order. Real-time shipment tracking makes this possible, providing customers with real-time updates on the location of their package, and the estimated delivery time, and even providing temperature and humidity details to ensure the safety and freshness of products.

As an example, consider Amazon. As one of the largest e-commerce platforms globally, Amazon’s delivery services rely on timely and efficient shipment tracking to deliver goods to customers worldwide. Customers can track their shipment’s whereabouts in real-time using the tracking number provided, ensuring their package’s delivery.


In the healthcare industry, real-time shipment tracking has been an immense tool in ensuring medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals are delivered timely and safely to their destinations. Often, these supplies are time-sensitive and require specific storage and temperature conditions to maintain their efficacy. Real-time shipment tracking helps prevent spoilage and delays, ensuring that medical facilities and patients receive the supplies they need.

For example, let’s consider the transportation of a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine requires specialized refrigeration, and transportation companies use real-time tracking to keep an eye on the vaccine’s container’s temperature while in transit. This protects the vaccine from spoiling and ensures that patient safety is a top priority.

Food and Beverage Industry

Food and beverage delivery services rely on real-time tracking to ensure timely and safe delivery of perishable products, especially in the case of fresh produce or seafood. By providing real-time tracking, customers can ensure that their products remain fresh and undamaged during transit.

For instance, consider a seafood delivery service that uses real-time tracking to transport fresh crab. By using real-time tracking, customers can stay updated on their package’s location and quickly examine the temperature and humidity conditions during transit. In this way, they can ensure that the crab is delivered fresh, flavorful, and ready to be cooked.

In conclusion, real-time shipment tracking has revolutionized various industries, making it possible to offer customers a personalized and convenient experience while ensuring the timely and safe delivery of products. From e-commerce to healthcare and the food industry, the applications of real-time shipment tracking are vast and continually evolving, enhancing customer satisfaction and safety.

Last Words

Traditional tracking has been the standard for shipment tracking for some time. This method relied on scanning the shipment at different points throughout the transportation process. Still, it provided limited visibility and was prone to delays, hindering the efficiency of the logistics process. Real-time shipment tracking, on the other hand, provides a more detailed and timely view of the transportation process, including location, temperature, and humidity control.

With real-time tracking, customers can access a shipment’s status anytime, anywhere, without the need for manual checks or phone calls. This enhances transparency, improves customer satisfaction, and provides data that can inform future logistic decision-making.

An excellent example of easy-to-use real-time shipment tracking software is the Visiwise Visibility Platform. This software offers importers, exporters, and freight forwarders seamless visibility into their shipments, updating customers with real-time information from the moment a shipment is picked up until it reaches its final destination. It provides an easy and streamlined user experience, allowing users to customize notifications, shipping details, and visibility according to their preferences.

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