Ecommerce businesses have a number of decisions to make before they can sell their first product. Often, a single decision – right or wrong – can have a tremendous impact on the business. The right decision can set the company up for success. The wrong decision can be a weight holding back business growth.
The choice of shipping labels can have that impact. No matter the product you sell or the ecommerce marketplace you use, you will be shipping to customers. Every order will need a shipping label. The label is another touchpoint between you and your customers, and will help tell the story of your business.
In this guide, we’ll look at ecommerce shipping label options, and review the strengths and weaknesses of each option. We’ll also look at the strategies and best practices for rolling out a new format for your shipping labels.
Types and Options for Ecommerce Shipping Labels
Before selecting a label option, it’s important to identify your requirements.
If an ecommerce business is selling a high-end, premium product, then a high-end premium label may be necessary – after all, your brand is your business. In a high-speed distribution center, speed and accuracy are critical with labels. Other businesses may prioritize flexibility over speed in shipping labels.
Consider your requirements as you review possible options.
Shipping Label Options
There are a wealth of choices when it comes to printing and using shipping labels. We’ll cover a few of the most common and conventional options, then look at a few custom possibilities for your business.
- Paper Shipping Labels: Printing labels from a standard laser printer using an online postage platform like Stamps.com or Click-N-Ship from the USPS (United States Postage Service) is a fast and easy option. Label materials are as simple as a standard pack of printer paper. For many new businesses, this is the cheapest and most convenient option. There are potential problems – like the need for tape to affix the label to the package. This can mask the barcode and lead to mistakes and shipping delays. Smeared or damaged ink, or a damaged label, is another concern. You can also use a shipping pouch for your label; however, there could be additional costs involved with this option, as well.
- Thermal Transfer Shipping Labels: A thermal transfer shipping label uses wax ribbons to transfer shipping information to the label. They are a great shipping option with sharp printing results, however, because you do have to replace ribbons, the price on consumables can be quite high.
- Direct Thermal Printer Shipping Labels: A direct thermal printer, which uses heat rather than ink in printing, is the fastest printing option and is common in high-volume shipping operations. The labels won’t smear, though they can be damaged by heat. Direct thermal printing isn’t a viable option for many small businesses. Start-up costs can be high, and you will need a reliable source for the specialty label material.
- Adhesive Shipping Labels: An excellent option for many ecommerce businesses are adhesive label cut sheets that run through a laser printer. The label can be easily adhered to most packages, without the need for tape that can make using barcode scanners difficult. Keep in mind, adhesive shipping labels are slightly more expensive than standard copy paper, and the ink is susceptible to smearing after printing. There may also be difficulty affixing the label on packages with an odd shape.
- Specialty Shipping Labels: For some ecommerce operations a specialty shipping label solution may be necessary. For example, the business may need a label that contains the invoice for some customers, or another specialty need that requires a unique label. Custom or specialty labels typically have a higher cost, but for some ecommerce businesses the increase in efficiency or value will quickly pay for the custom solution.
How to Implement New Options for your Shipping Labels
Once you identify your requirements, review the shipping label options out there and select a solution, it is time to implement it.
We suggest working with a vendor or supplier that specializes in shipping labels, ecommerce, and printing supplies. They can often provide the expertise you need to ensure project success. With knowledge of the market and the buying power in the industry, they can often lower your overall costs.
Keep in mind, every business is different, and every business will have different priorities. Work with an ecommerce shipping label supplier that understands your business, and can provide a solution focused on your needs.