When you place an online order for a new pair of dancing shoes, you don’t really think about how those shoes are going to get to you. All you really care about is the estimated delivery date. Of course, if you want more specifics you can always track the order using the tracking number you received when the order shipped. And if you’re really desperate for those shoes, you can opt in to receive delivery status updates every time the package moves an inch.
One status update you might not understand is the one that says, “Arrived at Carrier Facility.” Here’s what that mysterious tracking status means and how it affects your delivery date.
First Things First: What is a Shipping Carrier?
That’s easy. A shipping carrier is just another name for a shipping company. In the case of your eCommerce order, the shipping carrier might be FedEx, UPS, DHL, or USPS. Your package might also start out with one shipping carrier then go the “last mile” with your USPS mail carrier.
Each carrier has its own format for creating tracking codes, and may use different terminology in their tracking apps to describe the delivery status of your order.
How Do Shipping Carriers Track Packages?
After you place an order, the eCommerce seller’s software automatically routes the order to their warehouse or fulfillment center to be processed. Fulfillment centers, also called 3PLs (third-party logistics providers), store merchandise for eCommerce merchants in large, well-sorted, and tech-enabled warehouses, where they “pick and pack” orders for shipment. This is where your dancing shoes are “picked” off the shelf and “packed” in a bag or box.
A 3PL like ShipMonk uses proprietary software to automatically choose the best shipping carrier based on price, destination, and the delivery speed selected at checkout. Our software platform integrates with the shipping company’s platform. The 3PL generates a shipping label that assigns the package a unique barcode and tracking number in the shipping carrier’s tracking system. This barcode is scanned every time the package is loaded onto a truck or moved to a new location. That’s why you might get tracking updates every day with statuses like “In transit” or “Arrived at Carrier Facility.”
What is a Carrier Facility?
A carrier facility is a large warehouse that acts as a regional hub for the shipping carrier, whether FedEx, UPS, DHL, or USPS. These carrier facilities are similar to distribution centers; they receive bulk shipments of packages from other regions of the country and sort them into smaller vehicles for delivery to specific addresses in their own regions. For example, packages headed for New York might be shipped to a UPS carrier facility in New Jersey where they are sorted and loaded onto smaller trucks for delivery into Manhattan.
Packages traveling internationally or across the US might spend time in more than one carrier facility, each one a little closer to a package’s final delivery destination. In this case, you might get a notification each time your order arrives at a new shipping carrier facility.
Does This Affect My Delivery Date?
In most cases, a stopover at a shipping carrier facility has already been factored into your package’s estimated delivery date, so, no; a notification that your package arrived at a carrier facility wouldn’t indicate a delay or problem of any kind. In fact, since shipping carriers are all about improving logistics, it usually means your package is taking the fastest, most economical route to your house.
Occasionally, and especially during peak holiday season, there might be backups due to the high volume of packages being shipped and the limited number of trucks and workers available. Extreme weather is also a common delay in the winter months. Because of these, and other factors, your package might spend more time than expected at a carrier facility. If you’ve been tracking your package and it hasn’t moved in a few days, check with the shipping carrier. Most carriers provide a means to get help with finding a lost or delayed package.
If you are an eCommerce merchant and your order management system is integrated with a shipping platform, you can also opt in to receive notifications whenever there’s a longer-than-expected delay between scans or the shipping carrier issues a delivery exception. Even though the delay is not your fault, you are in a better position to troubleshoot the issue than your customer—and they will thank you for it!
We Got This
A 3PL like ShipMonk has multiple fulfillment center locations that help reduce transit time and shipping costs by helping eCommerce companies store merchandise closer to large, highly populated areas. That way, your eCommerce orders can sometimes avoid carrier facilities altogether. Give your eCommerce business the reach of multiple national and international fulfillment center locations, and the advantages of a best-in-class 3PL software platform.