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What Does Shipped Really Mean? Shipped vs Delivered

March 13, 2024
Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Is “Delivered” the Same as “Shipped”? What does “Out for Delivery” mean? How Long After an Item is Shipped Does it Arrive? As a retailer, you are probably surrounded by questions like these. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery behind what does shipped mean in the context of your online orders.

Decoding the Meaning Behind “Shipped”: What Happens When Your Order is Shipped ?


When your online order is tagged as “shipped,” it means that the shipping process start and your item is on its way from the origin location to the final destination. Essentially, “shipped” indicates that the seller has passed your package onto a courier service for transit, like UPS, USPS, FedEx, or DHL.

Let’s break down the process to help you understand better. 

The first step is “order processing.” This step kicks off once you place an order. Here, the seller gets your item ready for transit by packing it and adding appropriate labels.

The next step? The packed item is handed over to a courier service – this is when the status changes to “shipped.” This denotes the commencement of your product’s journey from the seller’s warehouse (Point A) to your doorstep (Point B). 

However, your package’s journey might not be as simple as going straight from A to B. The process might involve multiple stages and couriers, particularly if the seller and buyer are located far apart.

Eventually, your package will arrive at the local delivery facility or post office nearest to you in a stage known as last-mile delivery, a term that signifies the final step in the shipping process. From here, a local courier service takes charge and ensures the package gets to final destination.

Some order tracking systems might update your package’s status to “out for delivery” once it leaves the local delivery facility. This status means your order will soon be in your hands.

The Difference between “Shipped” and “Out for Delivery”

While both statuses signal that your package is in transit, there’s a marked difference between ‘shipped’ and ‘out for delivery’.

The ‘shipped‘ status usually precedes the ‘out for delivery‘ status. When your package is marked as “shipped,” it means the item has left the seller’s facility and has been handed over to a shipping carrier.

But hold on, this doesn’t mean that the package is just around the corner. It might still take several days, or even weeks, to reach you, depending on various factors like distance, courier service efficiency, and logistics.

The story changes a bit when the status updates to “out for delivery.” This means that package has reached the final delivery center near you and is now in the process of being delivered to your doorstep. Typically, you will receive the package within the day or by the next day at the latest.

Is Shipped the Same as Delivered?

The answer is no, “shipped” doesn’t mean “delivered.”

When the term shipped applied to package, it denotes that the parcel has left the initial location (the seller or distributor’s facility) and is en route to the final destination customer. This status means the package could be anywhere in transit.

In contrast, delivered status means the package has arrived at its final destination – customer’s doorstep or chosen delivery location. The delivery driver has successfully handed over the package and updated the tracking system to confirm that the package has delivered.

Shipped starts the journey from origin location, but delivered confirms arrival at the final destination. The delivery company coordinates this shipping process, ending in last-mile delivery.


Your Order Status: When is an Order Shipped?

Many people think that once you place an order online, it immediately starts being shipped. But there’s a processing stage before that. This is where your order gets prepared for shipping.

Big companies like Amazon, with advanced technology at their disposal, can zip through this stage quickly, getting your order ready to go in no time. For other businesses, especially those that offer customized products, it can take longer.

Moreover, the processing stage also involves checking your payment. If there’s an issue with your payment, everything pauses until it’s sorted out.

Once everything’s good to go, it’s handed over to the courier for shipping and you’ll receive an notification informing that your item has “shipped“. That’s when your order really starts its journey to your doorstep.

As your package nears its final destination, the delivery process focuses on last-mile delivery. This stage is where the delivery driver’s efficiency and the shipping service’s reliability are most apparent.

Discover: Inspiring Shipping policy template for Shopify store [with Examples]

The Shipping Process Explained

Here’s a simplified look at the average Shipping Process:

  1. Order Processing: This is the first stage where the product gets packaged and labeled, ready for its journey.
  2. Shipped: The package is handed over to the initial courier, marking the start of its journey to you.
  3. Shipped (Continued): The package might be transferred to another courier or shifted to a smaller vehicle to facilitate the final stage of delivery.
  4. Out for Delivery: The package is in the local delivery company’s vehicle and en route to your doorstep.
  5. Delivered: Congratulations! The package is now in your hands.

It’s important to note that “shipped” is just one part of a more extensive process that takes an item from the manufacturer to you, the customer. By understanding what “shipped” signifies you, as a consumer, can keep track of the process more effectively and have a better idea of when to expect your parcel.

How Long for a Product to be Shipped

Shipping times vary widely based on many factors. Typically, domestic shipments take 1-4 business days. The range of delivery options today means you can choose how quickly you receive your orders.

For instance, Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery gets your items to you much faster than their standard free shipping, which usually takes 4-5 business days. This speed is possible thanks to Amazon’s nationwide network of warehouses. However, not all businesses can offer such quick delivery.

Shipping outside the contiguous US, like to Alaska and Hawaii, usually takes 3 to 7 business days, but can be longer. Moreover, international shipping can range from 7 to 21 days or more due to the distances and coordination between postal systems.

For a precise shipping estimate, tools like Easyship can help by providing detailed information. Remember, each order’s delivery time is unique, depending on various factors, so patience is often needed in online shopping.

Why Some Items Take Longer to Be Shipped

Shipping time can be influenced by several factors, some of which are more within our control than others. Here’s a rundown of some of the reasons why your item might take longer to ship:

  • Geographical Distance: Quite logically, the further you are from the seller or manufacturer, the longer your item will take to reach you. The more miles a product has to cover, the more time it needs to pass from one courier to the next, and the higher the chances of in-transit issues causing further delays. That’s one reason many businesses strategically locate their warehouses close to customers.
  • Shipping Budget: The speed of your package’s journey can also depend on the seller’s shipping budget. A smaller budget might mean they can’t afford faster shipping methods, like air transport. Budget constraints can lead to opting for cheaper courier services, which might not prioritize the package, slowing the process.
  • Weather Conditions: Deliveries can often slow down during bad weather, as adverse conditions like fog, snow, or storms can disrupt the normal operations of trucks and airplanes, delaying the package’s journey.
  • Technical Difficulties: Mechanical issues with the vehicles used in shipping can also cause delays. If a truck or plane breaks down, the packages need to be transferred to another vehicle, and the more severe the issue, the longer this will take.
  • Late-night Shipping: Surprisingly, late-night deliveries could slow down the process. Couriers working round the clock might not unload their trucks if they reach a logistics facility late at night. The packages still need to be sorted before being dispatched to you.
  • Unpredictable Events: A multitude of unpredictable socio-economic and political events can hinder shipping timelines. For example, the global pandemic in 2020 resulted in extensive shipping delays due to canceled flights and closed borders.

Bottom line

Understanding what does shipped mean takes the guesswork out of tracking your online orders. Armed with this knowledge, your e-commerce experiences will be more informed, efficient, and satisfying.

What does “Shipped” mean? Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

No, “shipped” is not the same as “delivered.”

  • “Shipped” means that the package has been sent out by the sender or retailer and is in transit to your location. That means the package could be anywhere between the origin warehouse and the destination.
  • “Delivered” means the package has reached its final destination and has been handed over to the recipient, with all tracking systems updated to confirm successful delivery.

When the order is out for delivery, the shipping company will send updates to their customer. In some cases, you may need to visit their website or use their app and input your tracking number to check the delivery status.

However, most customers just want to know when their order will arrive, not exactly where it is at all times. They aren’t interested in the package’s location during transit unless there’s a delay. Therefore, providing clear instructions for tracking can significantly reduce customer inquiries.

In summary, the more effectively you provide tracking information, the less likely customers will need to contact you for tracking package assistance.

Common tracking terms for a typical delivery:

  • Accepted by carrier: The shipper has started the delivery process by giving your package to the delivery company.
  • Arrived at regional carrier facility: Your package is at a regional facility before reaching your local one.
  • Arrived at local carrier facility or post office: Your package is getting closer to you.
  • In transit: Your package is on the move.
  • Out for delivery: A delivery person has your package and is on their way to deliver it to you.
  • Delivered: Your package has been successfully delivered.

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.