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How To Successfully Track Your Freight Shipments?

Updated: May 10, 2022

how to track freight shipments

Today, a package has to make it through several checkpoints before it gets delivered. From being picked up in one country, getting exported to another, & going through the customs clearance process. A package goes through a long and exciting journey to reach the final customer. In this long journey, the real question that arises is– how to track freight shipments?

Your export package can get easily lost, misplaced, or seized by the customs department in its long journey from the shipper to the importer. As you can only imagine, freight carrier tracking is an essential aspect of the exports/imports business. A freight tracking number is used for logging the journey of parcels, mails, shipping containers, and other items. It decreases the percentage of export packages lost or damaged in transit. Therefore, knowing how to track your shipment will help you run your business smoothly and without worries.

We at Giant Leap Systems offer a comprehensive solution to run your entire exports and imports business using only one software. Our customized software can not only handle freight carrier tracking but also contains features best tailored to gain valuable insights for more profitable options. Read further to know the benefits of using freight tracking, how to track your freight shipment, and how GLS is the best solution for your business.

Table Of Contents

Benefits Of Freight Shipment Tracking Via Software

A freight tracking system has several benefits that will not only boost your business profits but also help your customers. They are:

how to track freight shipments

1. Increases Customer Satisfaction

One of the critical benefits of tracking shipments is that it allows customers to track their exports and imports in real-time. It is intrinsic for customers to keep checking when their freight will get delivered. They often worry over a package's safety & fast delivery, especially if it's urgently needed or valuable and paid. Being able to track a package will increase customer satisfaction with your service.

2. Giving Delivery Information

Tracking numbers and management systems allow the customers to track their exports’/ imports' entire route. It gives them information about when the freight has been shipped, which location it has reached, and when it might get dropped off. Customers can also get updated if there is an unexpected delay in the delivery and the delivery date changes.

3. Increased Transparency

Shipment tracking allows carriers and shipper companies to be completely transparent about their process. It makes customers trust companies that are open with them and dump companies that they believe are manipulating them. Giving clients the power to track their purchases will help you build trust with the customer.

4. Decrease In Customer Service Costs

Allowing the customer to track their exports and imports will save your customer service department a lot of money, time, and effort having to update them on where the shipment has reached. This frees up the department to focus on more severe customer issues than answering package status update calls.

5. Locating A Lost Package

If a package gets lost or gets sent to the wrong destination, the company can track its location using tracking numbers. The number gets scanned at several checkpoints. So it becomes easy to narrow down the possibilities of where the package went by checking the recent most scanned location.

6. Faster Rerouting Of Shipments

Many times unexpected delays occur in delivery due to traffic jams or vehicle breakdowns, or other such reasons. Freight tracking would allow you to respond immediately to the situation so that you are still able to deliver on time. You can also update the customer about the delay. They will appreciate the update and would also adjust their expectations accordingly.

7. Optimizing Shipping Related Costs

Freight carrier tracking would enable you to analyze patterns in your shipping operations. It would allow you which freight carriers you use frequently and what routes they are apt to most often. These details would give power when negotiating shipping contracts.

Numbers Used To Track Freight Shipments

Every package has a designated number or alphanumeric code assigned to it. Every time the package goes through a terminal or a port, the number gets recorded to track the package's location. This is called freight tracking, and the number or alphanumeric code is generally called the freight tracking number.

There are several numbers that are used to track shipments:

1. Bill Of Lading (BOL) Number

It is an essential document for the entire shipping process. Aside from the BOL number, which is helpful for freight tracking, it contains details about the goods, shippers, and receivers.

2. Progressive Rotating Order (PRO) Number

It is the most standard way of tracking a freight shipment. It is a 7-10 digit number and is usually paired with a four-letter Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) to form a barcode. This barcode is stuck on the package, so it is visible and gets scanned to track the entire freight shipment journey.

3. Purchase Order Number

It's a number printed on the receipt issued by the buyer. The purchase order document contains details of goods delivered, their per-unit rate, quantity, payment terms, P.O. number, and date. P.O. number is unique, it is used to track freight shipment.

4. Shipment Reference Number

A shipment reference is a unique identifier that can be defined by completing the 'reference' fields during the shipping process. It can be a P.O. number, a BOL number, or a phrase. It can be any combination of letters and numbers up to 35 characters.

Freight Shipping Tracking Systems

1. Track Management System (TMS) Software

A Track Management System (TMS) Software is responsible for storing shipping information. It allows you to search for the best carriers for your goods while reducing your shipping times and costs. It also sends updates to your carriers when your packages are ready to be shipped.

2. Barcodes

The barcode is a combination of the PRO and SCAC numbers. It is attached to the order and gets scanned on its journey. This allows the users to track where the cargo is in its journey. It's one of the most cost-effective ways of freight tracking.

3. GPS Tracking

One method that you could use to track your goods is to purchase an off-the-shelf GPS tracker and attach it to your ship crate. You could also add GPS tracking to your TMS software. The biggest concern would be that the GPS tracker would need to be exposed to the open sky to be able to send its signal.

4. Website Tracking

Some carriers offer freight tracking on their website, which allows customers to track their shipments themselves. They can track their packages by just putting in the tracking number and seeing where their cargo has reached.

Why Choose Giant Leap Systems?

how to track freight shipments

There are several day-to-day challenges faced in the export/import industry. The competition is intense as the barriers to entry are low in the industry. Customs clearance is a prerequisite condition for the successful delivery of goods. Since real-time tracking isn't available with the shipping companies, unexpected disruptions can cause delays in the delivery of goods. This can also lead to poor customer service and loss of trust on the customer's part.

Giant Leap Systems provides an end-to-end solution from pickup to delivery. It gives customized software solutions according to your individual business requirements and export/import transactions. It has a real-time tracking solution available for exports and imported goods. Their arrival and departure from customs and various checkpoints till delivery. It allows you to keep your customers updated and part of the process without much effort.

GLS' integrative solution allows filing in export documentation (AMS Fillings, ISF 10+2) once for all the systems. Rather than interacting with multiple systems, it helps you save a lot of time by integrating data with the stakeholders. It also has features to allow you to gain insight into your competitor's trade activities. It will also manage global shipments with the right insights and strategies to save costs. With our customized software solutions benefits, you would get software for your specific organizational processes and needs.


1. What is a cargo tracking number?

Cargo tracking numbers are assigned to packages when they are shipped. These numbers help locate a package anywhere in its export journey so it doesn’t get lost, misplaced, or seized. This number can be the Bill of Lading (BOL) number, the PRO number, the Purchase Order (P.O) number, or the shipment reference number.

2. What is a freight tracking system?

A freight tracking system is a technology that allows shipping companies to control and track their cargo at any point in transit via real-time information. Inbound freight tracking deals with the incoming cargo of a company. Outbound freight tracking is used to track customer shipments. It also allows you to track your shipping times and reroute shipments.

3. How can you track your container number?

You can track your cargo using a container tracing tool. There are both free and paid tools available in the market. Enter one of the container tracking numbers and the system will give automated updates on your container.

4. What is a container number?

A container identification number is assigned to a freight container for legal and commercial purposes. It is an alpha-numeric sequence of four letters and seven numbers that identifies the container internationally. It is printed in three places on each freight container. One on the end of the door, the other on the sidewall, and the last on the top of the container.


Export/import is a competitive industry and every bit of edge matters. GLS offers that with their customizable end-to-end software solution. You may have been using a generic freight tracking software solution to track your exports and imports till now. But our customized solution would automate your organizational processes. It will also be tailored to deal with your specific operational requirements. This would allow you to build a business advantage over your competitors and maximize your performance over time.

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