eCommerceShipping

Make Your Shipping Profitable.

Whether you’re new to the world of eCommerce, or you’ve been at it for years, the world of shipping labels can be complicated. Getting it right makes things easier for you because when it goes wrong, it can be costly in terms of both time and money.

Shipping labels ensure that products arrive with customers in a timely and efficient manner, and if this process goes wrong, your customer satisfaction could decrease. In this guide, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of shipping labels.

Keep reading to learn more about what shipping labels are, how they work, and much more about using shipping labels in your e-commerce business.

What Are Shipping Labels?

So, what exactly is a shipping label?

In the most basic terms, a shipping label is an identifier that describes what the contents of a parcel are and where it is headed. The layout and structure of a shipping label may vary from courier to courier, but most include information like name, address, weight, and a barcode that will allow for tracking.

Every label you or your 3PL partners create is totally unique and cannot be reused. A fresh shipping label is necessary for every single parcel that you send out.

Shipping labels are integral to the inbound and outbound logistics of your business and so getting this part right is important. If parcels get lost on their way to customers, you may find that they don’t return to buy more from you.

How Does A Shipping Label Work?

Shipping labels hold all of the information that is needed for a parcel to get from your production facility and into the customer’s hands. When generating shipping labels, it is essential that all of the information is correct, up to date, and clear.

A shipping label needs to contain the name of an addressee along with their shipping address. An address should include a house number or name, a street address, a town or city, a region, state, or province, and a post or zip code. Shipping label generation software is useful to ensure that you properly copy the information the customer has given to the shipping label you print.

You should include sender information, for if the parcel cannot be delivered. This includes your name and a return address.

A shipping label will also have information for the courier, including a routing code, a postal barcode, and a MaxiCode to be scanned, along with a tracking number. This information will allow customers to track their parcels if you allow for this service within your shipping rates.

Finally, a shipping label displays the method of delivery, i.e. if the customer has paid for express shipping.

Almost all of this shipping label information is automatically generated by the courier you chose to use. The only information that you will need to gather from your customers is their name and a shipping address and a chosen method of shipping.

How To Create Shipping Labels

Creating shipping labels is the most important part of the shipping process in that, if it goes wrong, it can cause a lot of problems. There are a few ways that you can create shipping labels and these include going to your local post office and creating shipping labels there, or arranging to create shipping labels yourself.

If you decide to head to the post office to create USPS shipping labels (or shipping labels from other national postal services), then you are actually opting for the most expensive option. This is because creating a shipping label, like a USPS shipping label, at the post office means paying commercial rates for postage.

If you want to optimize your shipping process, the best option is to arrange to print USPS shipping labels and other courier labels yourself. There are a few ways you can do this.

Using The Couriers Site

On almost all couriers’ sites, you will find a space where you can create shipping labels using their shipping software. It is relatively easy to input all of the information that you need and print labels off yourself.

This method means heading to the site each time and inputting data manually. If you run a small online store, this method may work for you, however, larger e-commerce retailers may need a way to create shipping labels that is quicker.

Using Shipping Label Software

Software that creates shipping labels for you may be the next option if you’re looking for a way to optimize your shipping label creation process.

Generally, different software options to create shipping labels work in the same way. You simply need to download your courier’s template and then input the information into the software.

This process allows for some customization, like choosing different shipping label sizes, and lends itself well to automation too.

This could be a good option for medium-sized businesses that have the time to input the information themselves.

Fully Automate The Process With A Shipping Tool

A shipping tool is software that is linked with your store that automatically creates new shipping labels as orders come in. This allows you to simply download the generated shipping label and print it off.

This is one of the best choices for those who own large businesses and deal with lots of shipments each month.

When choosing a tool you will need to consider a few things, including which platforms the shopping tool works with to ensure it is compatible with your e-commerce business, how many orders you get each month, and where you ship to, i.e. will you need to deal with international shipping too.

Use A 3PL

Using a third-party logistics company may not be for everyone, but if you don’t want to deal with the shipping of your products then it is your best choice.

A 3PL will deal with the ins and outs of all inbound and outbound logistics pertaining to your business, meaning creating and printing shipping labels is totally out of your hands.

How Best To Print Shipping Labels

When it comes to printing shipping labels, you’re going to need a printer. The different printing and paper options you should use depend upon the kind of business you’re running and the number of orders you are shipping each month.

For smaller businesses with fewer shipments each month, inkjet or laser printers will offer a good enough standard for shipping labels. You will need to ensure that your printed shipping labels are clear, sharp, and can be scanned with a machine.

Using regular printer paper should be okay, but be aware that if your shipping label comes into contact with water, the information could smudge. You can protect your shipping labels using clear tape, but this is time-consuming and costly.

The other option is to invest in thermal label printers. These devices are useful because they use label roll, which is waterproof and hardier than normal printer paper. They print by creating shapes on the page using heat, meaning there is no ink left behind to run.

A thermal label printer is a good option if you print lots of shipping labels each month. The cost of thermal label printers starts at around $100, so you should consider whether it is worth the investment for your business, or whether you can continue to print shipping labels with a regular printer for now.

Can I Hand Write My Shipping Labels?

If you are a small business, you may still enjoy an element of the personal in your shipping labels and you may wonder if it is okay to handwrite each shipping label out. While handwritten labels can offer something unique over a bog-standard courier or USPS shipping label, a handwritten shipping label may be a liability to your business.

Handwriting your own shipping labels could result in mistakes in the information for the shipping address etc. and it is more likely to smudge if it comes into contact with water.

Shipping labels are meant to communicate relevant information to couriers to ensure that your products reach your customers in a timely manner. Why not add something unique in your packing, like a handwritten thank you note, instead of handwriting each shipping label.

Shipping Labels When Working With A 3PL

Choosing to outsource your logistics to a third-party company is a really easy way to take the stress out of packing and shipping all of your own products. A third-party logistics company will be able to create and print all of your shipping labels, as well as deal with the delivery of your products.

Logistics is a complex field and if you do not have the expertise in-house to properly strategise your supply chain, then it may be time to outsource. A 3PL will take care of everything from sourcing materials to manufacturing and production to ensuring every last shipping label is printed and stuck onto its parcel before it is sent.

Why not get in contact with a 3PL today and see how they can help you with your supply chain logistics today?

Final Thoughts

A shipping label is an incredibly important part of your packaging process. It contains all of the information necessary to ensure that your products arrive in a timely and effective manner to your customers.

You can create and print your own shipping labels, use software to create them, or have a 3PL deal with the packaging and shipping part of your supply chain. Whatever you choose, ensure it is right for the size of your business and the way you operate.

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