what does dispatched mean in shipping

What Does Dispatched Mean in Shipping

The e-commerce industry has grown exponentially over the past decade as people have become more comfortable purchasing necessities and goods online. Whenever an online shopper places an order, they are bound to come across multiple shipping statuses. 

The most common shipping statuses online buyers come across are processing, dispatched, shipped, and delivered. Although some of these statuses may sound synonymous and easy to understand, they relate to different stages of the shipping process. 

Dispatched means that the order has been packed, the shipping documents have been prepared, and the goods have been handed over to the delivery agent or forwarding company but are not yet on the way to the buyer (meaning that they have not been shipped yet). 

In this guide, we’ll explain the shipping status dispatched and when it occurs in the overall shipping process. We’ve also made sure to provide examples for better understanding.

What Happens During the Dispatch Stage?

An order is dispatched after the buyer has placed the order and the seller has processed and fulfilled it. This means that after the seller has located the product, packed it, attached the packaging labels, prepared the shipping documents, and created the invoice. 

When an order is dispatched, it is handed over to a third-party logistics provider (typically a freight forwarder, freight broker, or courier). This also means that the goods have not been shipped yet.

Before an order can be dispatched, it needs to be located, picked, and packed from the warehouse. After the goods are packed, several documents need to be generated, before an order can be dispatched:

  • Shipping Documents – Documents required for shipping are typically a packing list, transport documents (e.g. air waybill or bill of lading), forms, records, and certificates. 
  • Invoice – A commercial invoice is also prepared at this stage and reflects the value of the order, buyer and seller details, as well as the production description and quality. 

During the dispatch stage of an order, the cargo and its respective documentation have been handed over to the third-party logistics provider who will proceed to ship the goods upon verification of the shipping documents. 

What Is the Difference Between Dispatched and Shipped?

The terms dispatched and shipped are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Many buyers assume that an order is shipped when they receive a dispatch notification, which is not the case. If a buyer receives a notification stating “Order Dispatched”, it means their order is prepared for shipping. 

As outlined in the previous section, during the dispatch phase, the goods are handed over to a logistics provider that is responsible for shipping the order. It simply means that your order is ready to be shipped to you, once the logistics provider has verified the shipping documents and the transport is arranged. 

On the other hand, if the buyer receives a notification stating “Order Shipped”, it means that the order is with the delivery company and is on its way to you. It’s also important to note that there are various transport legs during the shipping process. 

Therefore, an order is shipped after the logistics provider has reviewed the shipping documents and has released your consignment for transportation.

What Is the Difference Between Dispatched and Delivered?

As explained previously, dispatching is the phase when your package has been handed over to the logistics provider who is responsible for the transportation. This also means that all shipping documents have been prepared for shipment, including the invoice and packing slip. 

On the other hand, an order is delivered when it has reached its final destination (either to your doorstep or to a nominated location). It’s important to note that there are several shipping stages that occur before the final delivery, such as In Transit and Out for Delivery

At the end of the delivery phase, the package is delivered to the final destination, and the goods are handed over to the buyer.

Does Dispatched Mean the Order Will Arrive Today?

An order that’s dispatched does not necessarily mean that it will arrive today (or on the same day), as there are several processes that occur between dispatching and the final delivery. 

As previously mentioned, an order that is dispatched has been handed over to a logistics provider – typically a freight forwarder, broker, or courier. It does not mean that your order has been released for transport. 

Nevertheless, if the goods are shipped locally and not internationally, it is possible that your order may be delivered to you on the same day it is dispatched. Take note that even for local deliveries, there are factors that can cause delays. 

When an order has been dispatched and is handed over to a logistics provider, they typically pick up the consignment and transport it to a sorting or distribution center. There, goods are consolidated and delivered according to a delivery schedule.

If there are no delays (i.e. backlogs, documentation errors, etc.) and your order is received before a cut-off time, it is shipped on the same day. However, this also depends on the shipping process of the logistics provider and other external factors. 

How Long Does an Order Take to Arrive After It’s Been Dispatched?

In order to estimate the time frame of an order arriving once it has been dispatched, let’s review the shipping process once more. Once an order has been dispatched, it has been labeled with the shipment details and is ready to be shipped to the buyer. 

The package is handed to a logistics provider once it is dispatched, who will verify the shipping documents and ship your order. Subsequently, it reaches a sorting facility and is then transported to the final delivery location. 

During its final leg, your goods are out for delivery and on their way to you, where the order will be marked as delivered. 

Therefore, it typically takes a few days to a few weeks for your package to be delivered to your doorstep after it’s been dispatched. This is because the transportation leg can take anywhere from a single day to several weeks, depending on where it’s shipped from. 

Here are some guidelines that you can take as reference:

  • Local Orders: 1 to 5 days 
  • International Order: 3 to 45 days

As you can see, there is a difference between local and international orders. International orders usually involve multiple modes of transport and also have longer transit, leading to longer delivery times.

What Dispatched Means When Ordering Products Online?

When ordering products from online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, you’ll notice various shipping stages that your order goes through, including the dispatch stage. Although most platforms have a common understanding of when an order is dispatched, there are additional details that are important to understand.  

Meaning of Dispatched on eBay

When ordering from eBay, goods are dispatched the moment they are handed over to a carrier for shipping. Buyers will be handed a tracking number upon dispatch, with which they can track their order. 

Meaning of Dispatched on Amazon

Only certain Amazon locales indicate once an order has been dispatched (in the United States, it’s marked as “shipping soon”). When an order has been dispatched on Amazon it has left the seller’s location and has been handed over to the logistics provider. 

Meaning of Dispatched on Zaful

When ordering on Zaful, a dispatched status means that the order has been collected from the warehouse and is now with the courier. This also means that the shipping order, such as item, quantity, and delivery address cannot be changed anymore. 

Meaning of Dispatched on Boohoo

Boohoo dispatches orders between 8am and 9pm after which a tracking number will be presented through an email notification. Order details cannot be amended after an item has been dispatched. 

Case Study 

We’ve prepared a case study where we’ll be able to illustrate at what point items are dispatched. In our example, Irwin Baker from Columbus, Ohio, orders some educational books from an online bookstore in Covington, Kentucky. 

Below, you’ll find that the online bookstore has updated him with the following shipping updates:

Date & TimeStatusRemarks
1st August  
10am 
OrderedThe order for books is confirmed by the bookstore from Irwin Baker within minutes of receiving it.
1st August
4pm
ProcessingThe store arranges and packs the ordered books within the same day.
2nd August
9am 
DispatchedThe next day, they prepare the shipment documents (including the invoice), label the package, and hand it for delivery to a delivery company.
2nd August
3pm 
ShippedThe package is now received by the logistics provider and is moved to a sorting center in Covington, Kentucky. It’s then transported to a distribution warehouse near Columbus, Ohio.
3rd August  
2pm 
Out for DeliveryThe following day, the delivery man picks up the package of books from the distribution center and is on his way to deliver the books to Irwin Baker’s exact location in Columbus, Ohio. 
3rd August 
5pm 
DeliveredA couple of hours later, Irwin Baker receives the books from the delivery company.

The complete timeline of the process including ordering, processing dispatching, shipping, out for delivery, and delivered stages in our case study took 3 days. Take note that for international shipments, the entire process can take several weeks, depending on the mode of transport and where the order is shipped from.