Tracking numbers? Old school. Sure, they’re useful to see where your package is in a pinch, but there are plenty of better ways to see what’s shipping to your home or apartment—and when—without having to click on links, copy and paste complicated alphanumeric codes, or anything like that.
UPS My Choice
Sign up for UPS’ service—it’s free for basic membership—and you can automatically receive emails or text messages the day before any UPS-shipped package is scheduled to arrive at your home or apartment.
If you opt for the emails, you’ll usually get an estimated delivery time for the package, the name of the shipper (in case you get a lot of stuff and forget what is coming when, and from who), a clickable tracking link, and a notification of whether you’ll need to be home to sign for the delivery. You can also pre-sign for some packages, if you’re both lucky and trustworthy.
Be sure to check out UPS’ My Choice website, where you can also track incoming packages via a handy calendar or table view, change the delivery to a different address (or day), have UPS hold your delivery for you at a local UPS center, and sign up for additional alerts if you really, really want to know what UPS is doing with your shipment at all times.
I tend to stick to the emails except for rare cases where I need to make a change to a shipment. I also stick with UPS’ free features, as I don’t feel like paying $40/year for unlimited delivery changes.
FedEx Delivery Manager
FedEx offers a similar service to UPS’ My Choice. Create a FedEx account and register your address, and you can then set up text, email, or voice notifications for a variety of shipping situations: when FedEx first receives a package that’s addressed to you, when a package is hitting your doorstep tomorrow, and when Fedex has delivered the package—to name a few scenarios.
You can see everything that’s shipping to you (or that you’ve shipped, via your FedEx account number) on this less-than-pretty screen. If you have incoming shipments, you’ll be able to tell FedEx to hold your packages at a local office, you can sign for them remotely, and you can set up more detailed alerts for particular shipments. If you want to pay a small fortune, you can also have FedEx reroute your packages to another address, or deliver it on another day (or at another time).
USPS Informed Delivery
I didn’t know about this little post office feature until recently, and I love it. Sign up for Informed Delivery—also free—and you’ll get an email every day with scanned images of any mail that’s going to land in your mailbox later. That’s in addition to the usual package-tracking features, which include pre-signing for incoming shipments, rerouting packages, and setting up special notifications for all the goodies headed your way.
The one caveat with the post office’s service, handy as it may be, is that it’ll show you all the mail that’s going to be delivered to your address, not to you, specifically. If you live in a shared house or apartment with roommates (hi guys), you’ll see their mail, too. Really, though, you’d see it anyway if you picked it up from the mailbox and sorted it out for them, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If it feels weird having this all in your inbox (or your roommates’ inboxes), it might be worth a quick chat to see how you all feel about this.