When you think of shipping labels, what comes to mind? You probably think of a sticker on a package. But it’s more than just that.
The shipping label is the first thing a person looks at when they receive a package, but shipping labels are also vital to the inbound and outbound logistics of a business. They are even more crucial when it comes to the success of your online store, as they pour into your consumer experience, brand recognition, and overall customer satisfaction.
Why? Because shipping labels share important information within your logistics chain. Without clear shipping labels, customers’ orders are in danger of being lost or mishandled, which can lead to bad customer experiences, damaged brand loyalty, and ultimately, a loss of sales.
Without a clear shipping label, your package won’t get far (or anywhere).
In this article, we will cover:
- The anatomy of a shipping label
- How to print shipping labels
- The various kinds of shipping labels
- The best ways to promote your business using shipping labels
Let’s dive in!
What is a Shipping Label?
A shipping label, sometimes called a package label, can identify multiple features of a package.
The use of a shipping label can provide a point of origin, its destination, its weight, the carrier’s name, and so on. Shipping labels differ depending on the carrier you use, but they all consist of things like addresses, names, weight, and a tracking barcode.
Common Shipping Label Questions
There are a few things to consider when it comes to shipping labels. Typically, it’s not a difficult process, but there are still some basics we need to cover.
Are Shipping Labels Free?
Generally, the shipping label itself is free. However, to ship the package, the postage price must be paid.
Can I Handwrite a Shipping Label?
As long as the handwriting is legible, you can certainly write your own shipping information. But some vital information, like the barcode, will need to be generated from the carrier before you ship your package.
With this in mind, it’s typically easier to create and print shipping labels using online tools. This is especially true if you plan to ship products in high quantities.
Can I Print Out a Shipping Label at Home?
The simple answer? Yes! But we’ll go more in depth on the ways to print shipping labels a little further down.
How to Print Shipping Labels
Creating and printing your own labels offers a contactless experience and can save you time and money in the long run.
But where can you start? Through an abundance of online tools and services, you can easily print at home.
First, input your information and fill out the label template. Next, choose a service and pay the postage cost. Then, you can print the label. If you don’t have a printer at home, you can always download the label to your documents to print it at a later time.
Shipping Label Anatomy
Depending on the carrier that you use for delivery, you’ll notice some slight variations. But they all contain the same general information. A lot of the information will be automatically generated through the online tools you utilize to create the label.
Eight things you must include are:
- The sender’s name and address or return address, in case of non-delivery.
- The recipient’s name and address.
- The weight of the package (this includes the weight of items being shipped combined with the weight of the package)
- The unidirectional code or maxicode, designed to be digitally read in any direction
- The postal barcode or IMpb code (the recipient’s scannable ZIP code)
- The service type (this is your shipping method, i.e. Standard, Express, Priority, etc.)
- The routing number, which informs sorting tools about how to route the package
- The tracking number, which informs customers about the location of their package online
All of these features are important in getting your package where it needs to go!
Shipping Labels Through a Carrier
Some major service providers that offer shipping label services include:
Whether you’re looking for Etsy shipping labels for handmade products or UPS shipping labels for general deliveries, you can generate them through their online services.
Shipping Labels Using Software
You can automate the creation of shipping labels using online software. There’s a number of software solutions available to choose from. You can easily integrate these software solutions into your business model, and sometimes, you can find great discounts through these services, too.
Types of Shipping Labels
The safety of your packages relies on various types of shipping labels. Different labels convey a unique message about the contents of your package.
These are some that are commonly used you might come across:
You’ll often see this shipping label used on electronic products. The arrow’s direction lets carriers know which side of the package should face upwards.
Often used for glass or easily broken items, fragile labels indicate that the package should be handled with care. This warning helps to keep delicate items intact.
Dot labels let carriers know if any flammable, corrosive, explosive, or poisonous items are contained in the package.
International Shipping Label
When items are shipped from another country, you’ll see an international shipping label. These will typically contain a general description of the item and will inform the carriers if a change in temperature across regions will affect the contents of the package.
Shipping Label Options
There are a variety of shipping label materials to choose from, but the right choice will depend on the needs of your business.
Some examples include:
Paper Shipping Labels
This is a simple but fast and efficient option for printing labels using a standard laser printer with an online postage platform.
Thermal Transfer Shipping Labels
Although thermal shipping labels can sometimes be a more expensive option, they provide sharper printing results by using wax ribbons to transfer package information onto the label.
Direct Thermal Printer Shipping Labels
A lot of small businesses use direct thermal printers. They use heat instead of ink for printing and won’t smear, unlike other kinds of labels. They are commonly used for high-volume shipping because it is the fastest way to print shipping labels.
Adhesive Shipping Labels
For eCommerce businesses, adhesive shipping labels are usually the way to go. They are slightly more expensive than standard paper shipping labels, but they provide the convenience of adhering directly to the packages. Beware: If you have an oddly shaped package, an adhesive label will be more difficult to scan.
Specialty Shipping Labels
For specialty needs and custom solutions, many eCommerce businesses will use this type of label. These custom labels typically come at a higher price, but they are good for helping your eCommerce brand to stand out.
Order Picking Process
Before shipment, the order picking process is the operation used in warehouses to collect packages in a specified quantity.
First, an employee will receive a list of orders. Then, they will go to the warehouse, where they pick the products before packing and shipping.
Promoting your Business with Shipping Labels
Your choice of shipping label matters. No matter what you’re selling, your choice of shipping labels can have a big impact on your business. Since every order contains your unique shipping label, it provides the opportunity to tell the story of your business and your brand.
Custom packaging will help your brand to stand out amongst the crowd.
Use Customized Labels to Boost Holiday Revenue
Using custom labels is a great way to boost your brand at a low cost to your business. A recognizable custom label or sticker can help buyers to notice your brand in the midst of a busy holiday season.
Creatively Communicate with Your Customers
Custom shipping labels aren’t the only way to communicate information about your brand to your customers. Custom boxes and packages take your branding up a notch and make your business stand out even more in a busy marketplace. This can increase product visibility, but it also creates a lasting impression on regular customers.
Using 3PL Product Shipping Services
Third-party logistics (or 3PL) is the process of outsourcing your eCommerce logistics processes to a third-party business for things like inventory management, warehousing, transportation, and fulfillment.
In essence, a 3PL can store your orders and take care of the labeling and shipping process for you.
Partnering with Print Bind Ship
Print Bind Ship can help your eCommerce business to reach its goals when it comes to fast and efficient product delivery. More than just a fulfillment company, Print Bind Ship can help with managing inventory, affordable warehousing, shipping and packaging, and all returns.
At Print Bind Ship, we even offer free consultations to small and growing eCommerce businesses like yours. When you streamline your online sales by outsourcing your fulfillment process, you can increase revenue.
To request a quote, simply visit our website to chat with one of our representatives.