Online shopping for the holidays is so hot right now. In a report recently released by Comscore, $24.6 billion has been spent online during the first 39 days of the November to December 2011 holiday season. This means that $24.6 billion of merchandise will be shipped online to millions of people across the US during the next few weeks. As many shoppers are primarily shopping online this year, this translates to millions of packages being shipped via USPS, FedEx, and USPS, and many of them require tracking numbers. These carriers provide easy ways for consumers to track online orders via their individual websites, but managing these orders can be complicated and chaotic, especially as weather delays and inopportune delivery windows can make receiving orders a nightmare — double the chaos if consumers are ordering multiple packages and expecting delivery to different locations.
A new service called Fara has launched just in time for the 2011 holiday season to help make tracking an online order easier than ever. The site was initially started by Josh Chen as Packagetrackr.com in 2009 to help users track over one million packages. Josh then teamed with Leo Chen (the two are unrelated, but met at Geeks on a Plane in summer of 2010) to form what is now Fara, a Web-based service that is also available as an iOS app that aggregates all of your shipments with tracking numbers. Fara users can simply visit faranow.com and enter a tracking number — the system will automatically detect the carrier, such as USPS or FedEx. You can also forward any shipment confirmation email to email@example.com to get started with Fara. (You will then be guided to set up an account.) Once you set up a free account with Fara, you will be able to create a dashboard to track unlimited packages via their tracking numbers — you don’t even need to remember the carrier, as Fara will always auto-detect whether it’s UPS, FedEx, or USPS.
Via the Fara dashboard, you can also name the shipment to help you identify your orders, such as whether the item is your sister’s Christmas gift or a replacement screen for your iPhone. This is an especially useful feature for the holidays when trying to easily identify the dozens of gifts you have ordered, especially if one is lost or delayed. You can can also see a sidebar with information provided about each shipment provided directly from the carrier including a map of its last currently known location, estimated delivery date, and a link to the carrier’s tracking website (from which Fara pulls its data).
LockerGnome contributor Craighton Miller explains that he especially likes how Fara “instantly has the estimated arrival date and current location right there without having to dig in deeper. Those are the two big things everyone looks at and it’s nice to see it right there without digging any deeper than I should have to.” The dashboard also features the ability for users to choose to get push, email, or SMS notifications when a package has been delivered — I live in a rural area and only check our PO box a few times per week and love getting notified when I actually need to visit the post office.
Fara also recently launched its iOS app to help users track shipments on the go as well. The app features the same functionality as the Web-based version, allowing users to not only track packages, but also add tracking numbers. Users can also use their mobile devices to forward tracking numbers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here at LockerGnome, we’re already huge fans of Fara; many of us are already using it to track our holiday and even personal purchases we’re making this time of the year. In fact, we’re partnering with Fara to give away two Kindle Fires to two LockerGnome readers who try out Fara this week. So how do you enter to win?
Just forward one of your current and active tracking numbers to trackwithChris@faranow.com and be sure you’re also subscribed to the LockerGnome newsletter. The contest starts now and ends at 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Friday, December 23rd. But what if you don’t want a Kindle Fire?
Winners can also choose from:
- A Kindle Touch 3G + $50 Amazon Gift Card
- A Kindle + $120 Amazon Gift Card
- A Kindle Keyboard 3G + $60 Amazon Gift Card
We’ll announce the two winners of our Fara/Kindle giveaway on next Monday’s TLDR, so stay tuned to see if you won, and also be sure to check out Fara at Faranow.com.