How to keep track of your Christmas shopping deliveries

Ensure your Christmas gifts arrive on time  (PA Wire)
Ensure your Christmas gifts arrive on time (PA Wire)

With Black Friday and Christmas both looming, you’ll need to keep an eye on the delivery of loads of parcels. Checking individual deliveries from multiple couriers is a pain – but there are easier ways to keep tabs on exactly where your parcels are.

Google recently confirmed that Gmail will show new parcel-tracking updates directly within emails over the next few weeks. Sadly, this feature is only for its US-based shoppers for the foreseeable future.

The good news is that there plenty of other ways to help Santa keep the show on the road right now. Here’s our guide about to how to stay on top of your festive shopping.

How to track Amazon deliveries

Amazon is the 10-ton gorilla of the shopping world, so it’s highly likely you’ll be tracking a few of its parcels.

The Amazon Shopping smartphone app provides detailed tracking information for any outstanding deliveries. Click on the ‘little person’ icon at the foot of the screen, click Your Orders, and you should be able to check the status of each order. (See the iOS and Android apps we’ve selected below for details of how to track multiple orders from a single screen.)

However, if you have lots of Amazon devices in the home, such as Echo smart speakers, Amazon can actually be too informative, for example, showing details on screen of presents you’ve ordered, which you might not want other people in the household to see.

Amazon does withhold the precise detail of package deliveries as you get closer to Christmas, to avoid giving secrets away. However, if you want to eradicate the risk of ruined surprises at any time of year, open the Amazon Alexa app, click More in the bottom-right of the screen, then choose Settings > Notifications and turn off the option that allows Alexa to blurt out the items being delivered.

Now, we’ll show you how to keep tabs on ALL your parcel deliveries more discreetly.

How to track parcels in iOS

iPhone or iPad owners should check out the brilliant Parcel app. This allows you to track parcels in a variety of ways. You can securely sign into your Amazon account, so that all your Amazon deliveries are automatically pulled into the app. You can also enter tracking numbers individually or scan a barcode, if you’re trying to track a parcel you’re sending with pre-paid labels.

The tracking information is detailed and you even get a little map charting the progress of the courier, although the accuracy of that depends on how much location information the courier is sharing. Our Amazon deliveries were updated as soon as the item was delivered, which is useful if the courier has handed the package to a neighbour, for example.

There are restrictions in the free version of the app. You can only track up to three parcels at a time and you don’t get push notifications. The premium version of the app costs £4.49 per year, and that also removes any ads and allows you to get delivery updates via a web browser, too.

How to track parcels in Android

Sadly, we’ve not been able to find anything as good as Parcel for Android users.

Among the Android alternatives is Parcels. This app securely integrates with Amazon and eBay, so you can keep track of all your deliveries from those stores, as well as entering tracking numbers from other couriers manually, or scanning barcodes on parcels you’re sending.

The biggest problem with Parcels is it failed to update properly once we’d performed the initial sync with Amazon/eBay. There are a number of reviews reporting this bug to the developer on the Google Play Store, so cross your fingers this bug is soon fixed for what is a very highly rated app.

Another Android alternative is the AfterShip Package Tracker. This claims to work with many UK couriers, including DPD, Royal Mail, and Parcel Force. It takes a slightly different tack by asking for permission to scan your Gmail or Outlook email accounts for parcel-tracking numbers. Even though this app promises it’s all done securely, we’re not sure that we would want a parcel-tracking app scanning our email, but you can enter tracking numbers manually instead.