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ETD in Shipping: Know the Term and Its Significance

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

March 13, 2024

8 min read

ETD, short for Estimated Time of Departure, is a commonly used term in the logistics industry. It indicates the anticipated time of departure of a shipment. The ETD of every shipment must be determined and communicated to various channels involved in the transportation process to ensure seamless operation. Determining ETD is also important as the customers want to have a clear idea about when their parcels will be shipped. Statistics reveal that 70% of consumers give high importance to the speed and convenience of delivery. This includes knowing when their parcel will be shipped and the estimated time of delivery. ETD and ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) thus play an important role here.

In this article, you will learn more about the use, significance, and key facets of ETD in shipping. Read on to find out!

ETD in Shipping

ETD: Definition

As stated above, ETD represents the estimated time of departure set for a shipping vehicle from its point of origin. The origin may be a manufacturing facility, warehouse, or distribution center. The word ‘estimated’ is deliberately used here as the exact time of departure and arrival cannot be determined. This is because the shipments may face delays because of unforeseen reasons. ETD and ETA are mostly mentioned on the booking confirmation slip issued by shipping companies. It will also bear the description of goods, load quantity, and container type to be used for shipment. The journey plan and the booking confirmation number are also shared on it.

What is the Role of ETD in Logistics and Transportation?

Let us take a look at the role ETD plays in the logistics and transport industry: 

  1. Efficient Planning and Coordination

ETD helps in strategic planning of the shipment which gives way to a smoother process. When all the stakeholders involved in the process have information about the ETD of a shipment, they can plan their course of action better. They can coordinate well with each other and carry out the logistics activities in a planned manner.

  1. Better Allocation of Resources

ETD in shipping helps to allocate resources more efficiently. Having information about the estimated time of departure helps in scheduling the loading of goods and transporting them systematically. This, in turn, helps in saving substantial time as well as the cost involved in the process.

  1. Effective Client Communication  

ETD in shipping is crucial for enhancing client communication. Customers, these days, seek all the information related to their shipment. Companies are expected to provide all the information regarding the departure time, arrival time, and live location of the consignment. Communicating ETD and ETA and providing a live tracking option promotes transparency and builds customer trust. This helps them plan the receipt of their goods.

The Essentiality of ETD in Shipping

Now that you know the role of ETD in shipping, let us dive deeper to understand why it has become the need of the hour. Here is a look at the key reasons for the essentiality of ETD in shipping:

  1. Precision Handling

Achieving logistical precision is critical for managing the supply chain process systematically. Determining ETD is essential to achieve it. It helps in creating efficient transportation strategies and executing them accurately. Logistics firms that do not give importance to precision handling often face delays in delivery that impact their reputation and hamper growth. ETD gives way to a smooth shipment experience and helps in minimizing delays.

  1. Customer Satisfaction

Research shows that 5 out of the top 9 factors driving customer satisfaction are related to logistics. Conveying information about the whereabouts of the shipment, including its departure and arrival timings, plays a crucial role in ensuring a good customer experience. As more and more businesses provide this information to enhance customer satisfaction, they look forward to this data. Withholding this information can cause dissatisfaction among them and affect your sales adversely.

  1. Overcome Risks and Challenges

ETD helps in lowering or averting the risks and challenges involved in transporting the goods. As the information about the departure time is communicated across channels, they can assess the risk that the shipment may face during that period. Identifying the potential risks at the right time can help overcome them.

The Importance of ETD in Logistics

The importance of determining the estimated time of departure in logistics cannot be undermined. Here is why it is of great significance:

  1. Smooth and Systematic Operations

ETD is important to ensure that the operations run smoothly in the logistics firms. When your team has a clear idea about the departure time, it can plan the other tasks accordingly to ensure timely departure and delivery. Several tasks need to be finished before the shipment is ready. This includes completing the necessary documentation, packing the parcels, and loading them properly. A timeline is assigned to each of these tasks after the team is communicated about the ETD of a shipment. With a clearly defined timeframe for each activity, the staff members work efficiently, completing all the tasks timely.

  1. Transparency in Supply Chain

Sharing the estimated departure time increases transparency in the supply chain. This is because ETD is communicated to all those who are a part of the supply chain process. So, they can plan their respective supply chain activity accordingly and accomplish their tasks timely, giving way to seamless shipping and delivery.

  1. Timely Resolution of Problems

ETD gives way to proactive resolution of anticipated problems. Issues arising during the transportation of goods from their point of origin to their destination can cause delays in deliveries. ETD can help predict problems that may occur during the scheduled departure. Prior knowledge about the same can help address them timely and prevent delays in the departure and arrival of goods.

The Various Facets of ETD

Here is a look at the various aspects of ETD in shipping:

Availability of Essential Documentation 

A crucial part of ETD is the availability of the relevant documents. This includes the customs papers, essential shipment forms, and shipping labels. They must be completed and made available on time to ensure the departure is done on time without much hassle.

Communication across Channels

Proper communication across channels is important to share information about the estimated time of departure. Timely updates are necessary to ensure everyone knows the departure time and carries out their tasks within the given timeframe.

Order Processing and Scheduling

All the activities carried out to prepare the goods for shipment are taken into account while determining the estimated time of departure. Among other things, the order processing time, transportation schedule, loading procedures, and other similar supply chain activities play a vital role in determining ETD in shipping. 

Planning and Coordination 

Proper planning and coordination between different parties involved in the supply chain process is needed. The distributors, manufacturers, and transportation in charge need to work in coordination with each other to determine ETD and ensure synchronized departure.

Real-Time Monitoring

Real-time monitoring of logistical activities by all those involved in the shipping process is crucial. It helps in tracking the preparation process. Logistical activities are mainly divided into three parts including order processing, inventory management, and freight transportation. Earlier, 70% of the order cycle time was consumed by order processing. However, the implementation of advanced technology has helped speed up the process. Even as companies have employed new-age systems to streamline various logistical activities, there can be delays due to technical glitches and other reasons. If there are any delays at any level, then the ETD and other tasks can be rescheduled accordingly.  


ETD is a key term in logistics. It holds high relevance for everyone involved in the packing, loading, and shipping of goods. It helps in strategic planning and efficient allocation of resources that ultimately drive customer satisfaction. The simple phenomenon can mitigate shipping risks and give way to logistical precision, in addition to enhancing customer satisfaction. Readiness of documents, real-time monitoring, and effective communication and coordination among channels are key aspects of ETD.

Are customers informed about the changes in ETD?

Most companies inform their customers about changes in ETD, especially if there is a delay. The information is often shared through SMS or e-mail. Some of them may give an update about the same on their mobile application.

Do changes in ETD have an impact on customer experience?

Yes, changes in ETD can have an impact on the customer experience. Customers often plan their schedules as per ETD and ETA so that they are available to receive their valuable shipments. Changes in ETD can disturb their schedule, thereby impacting the overall experience. In a recent survey, 21% of the participants mentioned that even a one-day delay in the delivery of their package seems to be too much of a delay.

What can be the possible causes of changes in ETD?

Many factors can cause a change in ETD. There can be a delay at any level during the process, including inventory management, freight transportation, and order processing. All this can impact the estimated time of departure of shipment.

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