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Here’s how to track your packages this holiday season

Online shopping is an American pastime, and the holiday season sends consumers into a frenzy. But it does get a little easier to keep track of all the boxes that go to your porch.

Many shoppers do so much holiday shopping online that it proves difficult to track all the packages they have ordered and when they will arrive. Heavy online shoppers may even forget which items they ordered. That scenario could go one of two ways: they could be pleasantly surprised when the package arrives or the item might not show up and the buyer would never be the wiser.

There are some easy ways to stay on top of all the online orders coming in over the next few months and beyond.

Gmail

Gmail users can take advantage of a new system that can save them time and headaches. In the coming weeks, Gmail will show a simple view of package tracking and delivery information in inboxes. If the order includes a tracking number, the package’s current delivery status will appear in the list view of the inbox. So right below the sender’s name and subject line, Gmail users might see a notification like “arriving Tue, 6 Dec” or “label created.”

And in the coming months, Google says it will ensure that an email notifying users of a delayed package goes straight to the top of the inbox. Gmail users will need to sign up for the service and should soon see an option for Gmail to track packages at the top of their inboxes.

For those who don’t use Gmail or who use multiple email addresses for shopping, an app will suffice. Yes, buyers can download each individual carrier’s app to track shipments, and FedEx, UPS, and USPS have them all. But to track every package, regardless of the carrier, a third-party app could be the answer.

Route

Route searches every email address connected for sequence numbers. The app only reads those emails and leaves the rest unseen. Route sends notifications and status updates for all deliveries, even to an Apple Watch and the map function visually shows where all packages are on their way.

It’s free, but offers an option to add “1-Click Protect” to every delivery for a small fee. Route is working with merchants on this feature to ensure customers are covered in the event an order is lost, damaged, or stolen in transit. The app is available in the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Parcel

Parcel works specifically for iOS and Mac and also offers web access to manage deliveries. The app supports more than 300 carriers around the world and also shows users the location of packages in transit on a map. If users want to receive push notifications or track more than three deliveries, a subscription of $4.99 per year is required. Customers can add a Message Center widget to quickly see deliveries that are expected that day or the next day.

Wallet

For hardcore Apple Pay users, iOS 16 brought the ability to track packages in the Wallet app. As long as users are signed in everywhere with their Apple ID, any purchase made with Apple Pay should appear in the Wallet app.

Tap the box icon in the top-right corner of the screen to view and track orders purchased with Apple Pay from participating merchants. Users can see order status, arrival time, and the ability to contact the merchant directly from the Wallet app. Apple already has partnerships with Shopify and Rout, and users can expect more merchants to adopt this feature over time.

Amazon

Shoppers may not be aware that Amazon allows real-time delivery progress for some orders, depending on the carrier. Customers can access Amazon Map Tracking by clicking “Track Package” in “Your Orders” or on a shipping confirmation email. On the delivery day, a map will appear showing when the driver is approaching.

Signing up for delivery alerts in the Amazon app lets a customer know when the delivery card becomes available. This feature is not available if the delivery is to a confidential location, such as a gift address.

It’s the season for online shopping and these tools can help keep all those deliveries manageable and organized.

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