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Gmail to roll out package-tracking feature

Perk will be available across ‘most major US shipping carriers’

Down the line, Google also hopes to add a feature notifying users of delays (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Online shopping isn’t what it used to be. Today, 30% of millennials make an e-commerce purchase every single day, and it’s getting more and more difficult to keep track of them all.

And consumers have been vocal about the problem — 9 in 10 of them say they want the ability to know where their package is along the delivery route.

A delivery or logistics company might seem like the obvious candidate to fill that need. But one of the largest tech companies in the world just announced a simple solution that could help customers get their orders in order.

Alphabet-owned Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) last week introduced a new component to Gmail that will allow users to track their shipments directly from their inboxes. The feature, which will roll out in the coming weeks, is compatible with “most major U.S. shipping carriers,” Google said in a blog post, though it did not name any specific providers.

“With the holiday season coming up fast, it won’t be long before your inbox is filled with more order and shipping confirmations, tracking numbers and even the occasional delay notification,” the post reads. “So this year, Gmail is introducing new features to help you save time and stay on top of all your shipments.”

Watch: It’s visible, now what?

Shippers and carriers have long tried to communicate with consumers via email updates on things like order status. But too often the result is inundated inboxes full of emails that will never be read. 

Google is doing something incredibly simple by compiling all of those updates. But it could have a profound impact on the user experience.

Gmail package tracking will use automation to scan through inboxes and identify email receipts for any orders with tracking numbers. From there, it will display delivery statuses at the top of the user’s inbox, as well as in a summary card that can be accessed within individual emails.

The statuses will provide important order updates such as the estimated arrival date and labels like “Arriving tomorrow” or “Delivered today.” To boot, users can opt in to the feature from their inbox or Gmail settings — which means that if Google does choose to use consumer shopping data, it can only be shared voluntarily.

In the blog post, Google also mentioned that it would be adding proactive notifications in the coming months, such as a label that surfaces to the top of the inbox when there’s a delay.

While simple, the new updates to Gmail could prove effective in helping customers keep track of their packages. Shippers and carriers know that data consolidation is key, and that’s exactly what Google is doing for consumers — making their lives easier by aggregating all delivery information in one place. And that place just so happens to be one that most people visit several times per day.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.