Blockchain technology is a platform that allows an unlimited amount of technological innovations to take place in the next few decades. While most of that focus is currently aimed at the financial sector, blockchain technology could start having an impact on our daily lives very soon. Imagine a world in which the tracking of parcels would take place on a blockchain, rather than centralized services belonging to couriers and whatnot.
Keeping The Couriers, Removing The Centralized Tracking Systems
From a convenience point of view, it would only make sense if we could track any type of package around the world using one single system. Rather than using a centralized system, such as 17Track for example, blockchain technology could give us real-time information regarding the whereabouts of a shipment.
We have all been there: an item has been ordered from a foreign country, and it comes with a tracking number that just won’t update the status at all. This is especially true for people who regularly purchase goods in China. Despite offering very cheap shipping methods, tracking a package before it enters the country of the recipient is pretty much impossible.
Granted, any customer will appreciate cutting down on shipping fees for an item, even if that means waiting up to a month for delivery. But at the same time, it would be nice if they could properly track the package shipment status at any given time. This is where centralized tracking systems fail more often than not.
Going back to our China shopping example, most of these workshops will mark an item as shipped and provide a tracking number that gives no information whatsoever. Even though the courier is listed in most cases, there is a high chance the package will not be trackable until it reaches the country of destination. Or in a handful of cases, it’s not trackable at all, and it magically appears on the customer’s doorstep all of a sudden.
None of this is to blame on the courier companies, mind you. They process the packages as expected, and put a tracking code on it that works for their internal system [in most cases]. However, for the customer desperately trying to track the shipment, there is no way to access that internal system and gain any information about the item’s transit status.
Asking about the status at the recipient’s local post office will yield no result either, as the tracking code is received is not recognized by their internal system. It has become clear that all of these postal services and courier companies use their own fragmented system, creating a problem for the customer who wants to get up-to-date information about a shipment.
All of these fragmented internal systems – which are centralized in their own way – work well within the country the shipment is coming from. Yet communication between postal services and courier companies around the world is pretty much non-existent unless you use a more expensive option such as DHL, Fedex or UPS. This adds higher fees for shipping would take away the fun associated with buying tons of small items in China, and getting free shipping to boot.
There is the old saying of “you get what you pay for”, and that statement holds merit when it comes to free shipping options. But that doesn’t mean these services could not be improved over time, by adopting new technologies such as the blockchain. This does not automatically mean the shipping will become more expensive all of a sudden, as the underlying technology has been available for quite some time now at zero cost. All it takes is building a platform on top of the Bitcoin blockchain to accomplish real-time worldwide parcel tracking, regardless of which courier or postal services have been used.
Is It Worth Investing Time and Money?
That remains the million dollar question. From a customer perspective, using blockchain technology for parcel tracking would be a major step forward. Not only can anyone check a package status at any given time, but it would also be done in a very transparent manner. All events can be timestamped, and notes can be added regarding potential import fees for example.
For the couriers and postal services around the world, blockchain technology would also mean they don’t have to invest in keeping up their own tracking database either. As a result, overhead costs will be cut down, and more focus can be put on making the shipping process more streamlined, and perhaps even how it can be made faster.
After all, shipping companies and services are all about providing that one service to customers: ensuring packages reach their destination in a speedy manner. Yet that service also entails giving customers insight as to where the packages are at any time and in any location. That part of the service is not being provided most of the time right now.
What are your thoughts on using blockchain technology to track parcels? Let us know in the comments below!
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