The Best Apps for Tracking Your Online Purchases and Deliveries

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How much stuff do you buy online? In my household, we get at least two packages a week. We rely so much on online shopping that occasionally, a box arrives and we have no idea what's inside. It's easy to lose track of what needs to be ordered and what has been ordered but is pending fulfillment and delivery. For example, we have a recurring coffee shipment every two weeks. When we go through more coffee than normal because we've been entertaining, it's a pain in the neck to figure out if more beans are on their way now or if I have to wait until the following Tuesday for them.

Well, it used to be a pain in the neck, but now it's actually quite simple, because I have started using a package-tracking app. If you need help getting organized and you do a lot of online shopping, a really good package-tracking iPhone app or Android app is indispensable.

It might be hard to see the value of a package-tracking app until you're out of caffeine and are searching your email frantically for a confirmation notice about your next delivery of coffee beans. But the benefits extend well beyond simply knowing whether a purchase is on its way.

With a package-tracking app, frequent online shoppers benefit from having a way to review their purchase history across all online shopping sites and get other relevant information about the things they've bought. If a product is recalled, for example, you might be entitled to a new item, extended warranty, or free repair. Sometimes, when there's a price drop on an item you've purchased at full price, sellers will give you a partial refund or store credit, provided you get in touch with them quickly.

Inbox by Gmail does a decent job of keeping track of online purchases and deliveries, as does Outlook.com's Web interface, although neither one was doing a thorough enough job for me.

So I went looking for an app that could do better.

Slice (free for iOS and Android) is my favorite package-tracking app so far. You give the app permission to look in your email accounts and Amazon account for online purchase and shipping confirmations, and it pulls all the details into a neat little summary, similar to the way TripIt (another wonderful app for getting organized) makes travel itineraries. If you like updates at every stage of the shipping process, such as when a package is out for delivery and when it lands at its destination, Slice does that, too with push notifications.

What I really like, though, is that Slice keeps an eye on items you've purchased well after they've been delivered and alerts you if products are recalled. It also watches for price drops to help you get cash back if an item goes on sale right after you buy it. When you first set up Slice, you can import past purchases as well, meaning you'll still get a heads-up on recalled items, even if you bought them long before you started using the app. Plus, the app finds information for not just items that require delivery, but all emailed receipts. If you used PayPal or Square, for example, to make a purchase and received a receipt by email, those purchases will be tracked, too.

easilydo

EasilyDo (free for iOS and Android) is another app that tracks packages, although that's not its primary function. EasilyDo is a personal assistant app, so its areas of expertise are automation and push notifications. Similar to Slice, it finds tracking numbers in email accounts that you authorize. The app alerts you when packages are out for delivery and when they're delivered. Once you get word that the item has ended its journey, you clear it from your EasilyDo list of notifications. In this way, EasilyDo's package-tracking feature is well suited for people who want to track deliveries as if they were tasks on a to-do list. A delivered package is "done" and can be cleared from both your mind and the app.

Another useful tool in EasilyDo is the ability to share the status of a tracked package, which is great for households. If someone is home waiting for the delivery, I can let them know it's on the way with just a few taps on the screen.

While EasilyDo does have a Premium membership option for $4.99 per month, all the features related to package-tracking are totally free.

EasilyDo is a better option than Slice for people who don't shop online too much and only want to get alerts about the status of their shipments. I can see how Slice might seem like overkill if you only shop online, say, once a month or less.

I looked at a few other apps specifically for tracking packages but didn't find any that automated the process as well or provided as much value as these two. Be wary of apps that have you manually enter tracking numbers. They're beasts to keep updated.

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