In the world of ecommerce, USPS (United States Postal Service) remains a critical player, providing key shipping services that businesses rely on. Among its broad range of services, USPS’s tracking system is particularly valuable. This system allows both merchants and customers to monitor their package status online, giving them peace of mind and reducing queries to customer service.

What are the most common USPS tracking updates?

There are many different types of USPS tracking updates that businesses and their customers might encounter. Here’s a breakdown of some common USPS tracking status meanings:

  1. Pre-shipment: This status means the USPS shipping label has been created, but the label has not yet been scanned into the USPS system.
  2. Accepted: This update is given when USPS has physically received the package for shipment.
  3. In transit: As the name suggests, this status means that the package is currently on its way to its destination. The status may also say “arrived at USPS facility” or “departed USPS facility.”
  4. Out for delivery: This status means the package has reached the customer’s local post office and is out for delivery to the recipient.
  5. Delivered: This notice signifies that the package has successfully reached its final destination. The delivery status may either specify “picked up” if the item was picked up at the recipient’s local post office, “delivered to agent” if someone at the customer’s residence or business accepted the package.

Each of these updates provides a snapshot of the package’s journey, making the shipping process more transparent and predictable for both businesses and consumers.

Why might a delivery exception occur?

That said, there are a number of reasons why a package may not be delivered on time (delivery exceptions), many of which can be detected from the USPS tracking information.

Some examples include:

  • Insufficient address

    This status update will appear if the customer’s address is incorrect, incomplete, or nonexistent, and the package can’t be delivered. In this case, the package will be returned to the sender.

  • No access to delivery location

    This status update will occur in the event that something is blocking access to the residence, such as a loose dog, a truck blocking the mailbox, lack of access to a gated community, or other factors. In this situation, a redelivery attempt will be made on the next business day.

  • Notice left (no authorized recipient available)

    In this situation, the USPS package requires an individual to sign for acceptance, and no one was available. The delivery person will leave a note on the customer’s door with multiple options: Scheduling a redelivery at a time when the customer will be home; picking the package up from the post office; or requesting that the package be returned to the sender.

  • Available for pickup

    In this case, the package is not eligible for home delivery, and the recipient must pick it up from their local post office. They will have a set period of time to claim the package before it will be returned to the sender.

USPS tracking

How can you monitor USPS status updates?

Both ecommerce merchants and their customers can easily track status updates in the USPS tracking system, making it easy to alert your customers when an item is scheduled for delivery.

USPS tracking information integrates with a wide number of logistics apps, so that you can pull together all the data you need to understand where your packages are on their journey.

Many USPS mail services, including economy shipping and priority shipping, offer tracking numbers, which can alert you to the shipping or delivery status of your item as it progresses through the system, from leaving your warehouse all the way to the customer’s destination. Both merchants and customers can sign up for real-time tracking information updates, so that they’ll be alerted to status changes.

For customers, tracking information is helpful to alert them when a package is out for delivery, so that they know to be on the lookout for the delivery person, especially if the package requires a signature. It can also alert them if the package has been delivered, so that they can bring it inside or ask a neighbor to pick it up on their behalf. They’ll also get notifications if the delivery is running late, or is subject to one of the delivery exceptions listed above.

On the merchant side, you can use tracking information to be proactive in offering high-quality customer support. You can set up automated delivery messages tied to a successful USPS delivery notice, with a branded message asking them for feedback on the item and the shopping experience. If a delivery is running late, you can apologize for the delay and let them know the new delivery date, inviting them to check in with USPS for follow-up status updates. And if the delivery has been lost, you can file a claim for the package value with USPS, and offer to send your customer a replacement item immediately.

Track your USPS returns with Loop

Keep in mind that if a customer wants to return a package, it’s still important to get access to all of the same tracking information as you’d get on the front-end when the shipment is on its way back to your warehouse or 3PL.

As part of our returns management platform, Loop offers integrated returns tracking with USPS and other shipping carriers to help your brand and your customers track the status of returned items.

Your shop can get access to status updates as soon as the returned merchandise is scanned into the system — either during a pick-up from the customer’s home with a pre-printed return mailing label, or if the customer drops off the item to be scanned in at a nearby drop-off center. Both your brand and your customer will then have access to tracking information as the shipment makes its way back, and the customer will stay in the loop on whether there are conditions that need to be met before they can receive a full refund, such as inspection of the package for damages or signs of use.

For both the initial shipment to the delivery address, and reverse logistics to your warehouse, USPS tracking gives both the buyer and seller peace of mind throughout the delivery process and makes it easy to determine next steps if the delivery attempt doesn’t go as planned. Make sure that you take advantage of this valuable tool by signing up for updates on the USPS website, or integrating tracking information with your existing logistics tools.

Want to see how Loop can help you streamline return shipping on your USPS packages? Sign up for a demo.