The 411 on Container Track and Trace (Plus 7 Steps to Improve Visibility!)

Updated on July 18, 2023

container tracking

Container track and trace is essential in supply chain management, providing the visibility required for optimized customer support, inventory management, and much more. Despite all the technological advancements the logistics industry has embraced over the years, the ability to track/trace sea cargo still presents many pressing challenges to organizations.

Tracking and tracing your shipping container with ease requires the right combination of tools and strategies. This article explores everything you need to know about track and trace container tracking:

  • What it is and why it's important.

  • The challenges that make it difficult to track n trace container shipments.

  • And how solutions such as FreightMango and VIZION can help your organization overcome these challenges and enjoy the many benefits of improved supply chain visibility.

Why is Track and Trace Important?

The ability to track and trace container numbers means that you will always know where your cargo is within your supply chain and when it will arrive. Along with revealing the real-time location of your cargo, container trace capabilities also provide real-time updates about cargo status, including:

  • Vessel departure.

  • Container arrives at the port terminal.

  • Cargo is pending customs clearance.

  • Consignee has claimed possession of the container.

These real-time location and status updates allow for a much more transparent supply chain that provides a broad range of advantages. Improving the quality of your customer support and helping you reduce demurrage and detention fees are two of the many benefits of supply chain visibility provided by container tracking track/trace.

What are the Challenges & Problems Related to Container Track and Trace?

At a time when consumers can track the location and status of their online orders with relative ease, it would seem that the ability to track/trace container shipments shouldn't be too challenging. However, a few compounding factors make it much more difficult to track/trace sea cargo than first meets the eye. Some of the biggest obstacles preventing organizations from achieving supply chain visibility via container track and trace, often referred to as container tracking, include:

  • A lack of synergy between automated systems and manual processes.

  • Inefficiencies in collecting, organizing, and processing data.

  • A lack of standardized data and coordination between stakeholders.

  • Poor supply chain planning, integration, and execution.

  • The lack of a single data model to connect data from disparate planning and execution systems.

Thankfully, shippers can mitigate or avoid these challenges altogether with the right technological solutions and a strategic approach to freight visibility.

8 Steps to Improve Track and Trace

If you would like to eliminate the various obstacles that are preventing your organization from achieving a more transparent supply chain via effortless real-time container tracking, here are a few proven steps to improve your organization's track and trace capabilities:

1) Implement APIs

Utilizing a real-time container tracking API is an effective ways to dramatically improve your organization's track and trace abilities in a single stroke. With visibility, global shipments and receive real-time location and status updates pushed via API to any software system or spreadsheet.

FreightMango offers its customers industry-leading container tracking API via VIZION, enabling them to access all of the solutions and services needed for complete supply chain visibility from a single platform.

2) Integrate into Any TMS, WMS, or System of Record

Integrating a container-tracking API into your TMS, WMS, or system of record enables you to manage all transportation operations and data from a single system. For example, FreightMango integrates via API container tracking visibility so that users have the visibility right next to their shipment bookings.

3) Collaborate With Suppliers

True supply chain visibility requires efficient collaboration between all supply chain partners, and this type of collaboration is only possible with standardized container tracking data. By providing organized, enriched tracking data between all stakeholders, VIZION makes it much easier to communicate and collaborate with all partners in the end-to-end supply chain.

4) Leverage Tracking Software that Allows for Customizable Features and Services

There is no "one size fits all" solution for container track and trace. Using solutions such as FreightMango and VIZION that are designed with customization in mind, you can implement the exact features and services your organization needs to optimize its supply chain rather than trying to fit your processes to the solution.

5) Create an Alerts System to Identify Deviations and Exceptions

One of the most significant benefits of real-time container tracking is the ability to respond to shipping deviations and exceptions as soon as possible. By setting up a system that sends out an automated alert anytime an anomaly or exception occurs, you can respond to these events as they happen. This technology enables a supply chain that is much more agile and less prone to disruption.

6) Streamline Shipping Processes With Real-Time Data and Reports

Shipping ocean freight, whether by FCL or LCL, requires a lot of documentation that requires accurate data and seamless input. With real-time container tracking data and reports, you can streamline your shipping processes with data that is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to access.

7) Communicate With Customers in Real-Time

The ability to track the location and status of freight in real-time means you can provide far better support to your customers and will always have the answers they are searching for regarding their orders. This responsiveness is a crucial benefit of real-time container tracking and one your organization should certainly leverage by communicating with customers in real-time and using quality tracking data to improve the customer experience. This is especially important during peak season.

Various Methods Currently Utilized for Track and Trace

There are several different types of track and trace solutions that organizations can leverage. Each one offers its unique benefits and drawbacks. Check out the table below for a complete breakdown of the various methods currently utilized for track and trace container tracking:

shipping container tracking

Why Quality Data is Important


With a wide range of data sources to choose from, container tracking data is easy enough for most organizations to access. Finding quality container tracking data, though, is much more challenging.

Carrier ETAs and status updates are notoriously unreliable, and many carriers don't even provide the most basic vessel-specific status information. As a result,  track and trace data from carrier websites will not be adequate for most organizations. It also means that any carrier tracking solutions based on web scraping will have the same limitations.

Solutions such as VIZION utilize alternative data sources such as AIS and PCS data to verify the accuracy of carrier ETAs and status updates and fill in the gaps when carriers don’t provide essential data. This technology allows organizations to access container tracking data that is much more reliable and comprehensive.

What are the Benefits Gained With Improved Track and Trace?

Improving your organization's track and trace capabilities via quality container tracking data offers plenty of benefits, including

  • Improved ETA predictions

  • Status updates for every container shipment event

  • Improved drayage planning

  • Reduced demurrage/detention fees

  • Improved customer support

  • Greater cost control

By including track and trace as a bolt onto your digital freight marketplace, FreightMango's partnership with VIZION enables organizations to enjoy these benefits and more!

With Robust Digital Freight and Visibility Partners, Container Track and Trace is Easy

Improving the visibility of your supply chain with quality container-tracking data can improve your supply chain in more ways than one. At FreightMango, real-time container tracking via VIZION is just one of the powerful features offered by our industry-leading digital freight marketplace. To learn more about the many features, uses, and benefits of FreightMango, feel free to contact us today!

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