Require Tracking Code

Something that internally we talk about a lot is - “Should we require tracking codes?” I think it would go a long way towards solving customer service requests when customers email us to ask where their order is.

The downside is a slightly higher shipping cost.

What do you all think?

To clarify do you mean:
Tracking for every step. Or just signature.

Tracking during shipping (not signature)…Good call thanks!

That’d just make things more expensive…

On a per order basis, yes. However if you factor in time and customer satisfaction, I think it could be very much worth it. Most of the time we handle the support cases that come in where a customer hasn’t received an order. That is shielding sellers from the true extent of this issue. We could definitely test it for a week or two and see what happens.

A real concern is how many people don’t tell their friends about Tindie because an order has taken weeks to get there and they don’t have a clue where it is.

Would add a huge wack onto shipping costs.

Also with royal mail international orders are only tracked till they leave the UK

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@electriclab you raise a good point - we should at least tell customers in advance when an order is international & there is tracking through a domestic postal service, the tracking stops at the border. We should 100% do that…easy thing to implement

That’s actually worse for us in the UK.

We have two main rates that most sellers use with Royal Mail

Large Letter
A large letter is normally what most sellers would be sending kits via or small items. This normally costs:

  • Second Class (2-3 Days) - £0.73; No Tracking or signature
  • First Class (1-2 Days) - £0.93; No Tracking or signature
  • First Class Signed For (Usually 1 Day) - £2.03; Just a confirmation signature
  • Special Delivery before 1PM next day - £6.4; Tracking & Signature

This is the RAW costs; the final price is normally at least 50p extra to pay for expenses (Hence I charge £1.5 instead of 0.93).

Small Parcel
Small parcels are what I send robots out via. Most bigger parcels and items go via this:

  • Second Class (2-3 Days) - £2.8; No Tracking or signature
  • First Class (1-2 Days) - £3.2; No Tracking or signature
  • First Class Signed For (Usually 1 Day) - £4.30; Just a confirmation signature
  • Special Delivery before 1PM next day - £7.15; Tracking & Signature
    Once again the raw costs. Hence why I normally charge £4.

International postage is even worse. Here’s the prices for 1 robot to America (Middle price range between Europe and Aus).
Small Parcel up to 100 Grams
This is normally what my electronics kits have to go via.

  • International Economy - £2.8; up to 30 days
  • International Standard - £3.8; Aim for 5-7 working days.
  • Tracked & Signed - £8.8; Aim for 5-7 Working days.

Small Parcel 500-750 Grams
Once again what I use for the robots

  • International Economy - £5.1; up to 30 days
  • International Standard - £7.45; Aim for 5-7 working days.
  • Tracked & Signed - £12.45; Aim for 5-7 Working days.

I normally recommend and advertise Standard. I allow customers to use economy as their own choice.

So I think the awnswer is obvoius by now. You make us use tracked; we have to charge customers more than get even less sales. No customer (not even myself) is going to want to pay £7 (1Pm Lrg Lttr ) on a product that costs £9.5

And actually posting it:
We then have another issue. If most sellers (like I do for my kits to save time) use a corner box on their street then you can not use tracked, signed for or anything. You need to go to a post office. Taking up more of the sellers time (I’m lucky I have a post office about 10 mins from where I live but I still prefer to walk with my dog to the local box which is quicker than going there and dumping it all off [I also have an account that allows me to skip the queues there])

There isn’t an “Add tracking fee?” In the US, it starts at $0.23 to add tracking.

Royal Mail argh. Ok I think we’ve figured out the answer this one…

I wrote code last night to at least start letting sellers add to shipping rates if they do include a tracking code. As we get more data on that, we’ll display that for customers.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and feedback!

Nope. No way just to add it but not normally needed due to 2day average time.

Emile, I’m glad you brought this up.

Although we offer free shipping without a tracking number I can tell you that USPS does have internal tracking numbers for all packages which I have been able to obtain for every package that they have lost of mine.

USPS has also lost packages which have tracking numbers.

I can tell you that having a tracking number does not help solve the problem of packages being lost and customers not noticing.

We have tried increasing the size of our package to make it harder to lose. We have tried changing to flat rate boxes instead of the cheaper polybag envelopes. We have tried making the packages heavier with additional fill.

Nothing seems to work. Especially for international shipping.

So far all I have been able to do is to expedite shipping of a replacement unit to customers who have contacted us. This cost us $20 vs the $3.80 or so we pay when we offer free shipping. I have managed to get the post office to cover a few of these but some of them we have had to take a hit on in order to keep our customers happy.

So to recap… I don’t think having a tracking number will solve the problem. I have filed several claims with USPS and DHL for packages that have tracking number and out of about 8 lost packages not a single one has been found. Only 1 domestic package went missing and the others were all international. For international packages the customs number can be used to track the package.

  • So I think the policy should be that sellers should have to list a
    clear policy for how they will handle lost or stolen packages.
  • Sellers should be educated on the different methods of shipping. (I.E. Registered packages are kept under lock and key and you can track them even if they are international.)
  • Maybe require that Tracking and/or Registered shipping be a shipping option but still allow the buyer to make the choice of selecting cheaper shipping.
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I agree slightly more on allow the seller the option. But not require it.

It then means that I have to go to the post office, write out extra labels etc.

Just no, keep it how it is with being optional. Otherwise tindie will loose sellers ffrom the extra work required.

I think we need to remember what Tindie is to most people. A hobby / side job! This isn’t everyones full time jobs. If they have to then do extra work by going to the post office to get it tracked then it will take more time. I know I’ve delayed parcels by a day from where I need to go to the post office instead of the box up the road.

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In my opinion it would be handy if you can assign tracking codes later during the process… I get most of my tracking codes later on an invoice days after it has already been shipped… On ebay for example you can sign tracking codes as well after an items has been shipped… this way you can let the customer know that you shipped it and update them later with a tracking code…

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I have to say I like that feature. The rare time I do decide to get a tracking / signature (To cover it insurance wise). I get the number after I say I ship purely because the post office give me the number after the next time I collect the receipts.

I get a stack of tracking numbers from the post office and put them on before I drop them off. This way I can enter the tracking info at the time I process the order.

I do think it would be nice to be able to update the tracking number at a later date. On more than one occasion I put the tracking number on and the post office messed up and had to put a new number on . I therefore had to e-mail the buyer the new number which means it’s not tracked in the Tindie system.

Also, some buyers are using spam accounts instead of their real e-mail address. So I am never sure if I have the ability to contact customers via e-mail.

One other thing while I’m thinking about it. If Tinidie could add a column to the Orders page that showed the status of the delivery it would make it more obvious that an order has not reached it’s destination. This would be tricky tho since the international orders usually stop being tracked at the border. I did find out that the USPS customs number works for DHL too. So if the system was smart enough it could possibly track the handoffs and follow the package beyond the border.

No way man. I cannot sell a little display for $14 and then add $30 for a tracking number. That’s how much Canada Post charges to ship a tracked package to some parts of Europe.


As a usps letter carrier I can tell you that our scanners are GPS tracked. So any parcels delivered can be seen on a map precisely whether at the front door, mailbox etc. by which carrier and time/date. Yes mistakes happen though we are all human and we apologize for that maybe someday they’ll have robots deliver your parcels.