Being an online seller is not as easy as it might look. On top of sales, you're constantly thinking about shipping, stock levels and customer experience. Printing labels might seem like an afterthought, but if done right, it can save you a lot of manual hours hundled over your desk. When it comes to printing tags and labels, a great shipping label printer is a necessity. But with all the variety out there, it's easy as a new business owner to get lost in the terminology. In an effort to streamline your shipping processes, let's break down the shipping label printer lingo.
Should I get a label printer?
Let's address the elephant in the room. If you're a business owner who is shipping more than two items per day, then the answer is a resounding yes. While many eCommerce platforms like Esty and Shopify provide you with digital copies of your shipping labels, having to cut each of them out and stick them to your parcel can quickly become a time consuming and mundane task. Especially if you're running things by yourself. It's not uncommon to get lost in all the labels once your orders hit double digits.
Additionally (and this one is a biggie), courier scanners can't scan regular paper well. This means you and your customer are missing out on important tracking information. Don't get us wrong, your parcel can still be delivered, you just might not get any information about your parcel's whereabouts. Now, if your piece of paper rips, tears, gets wet or even comes off, your parcel might not be able to be delivered at all. And that's a bigger problem.
What are the types of label makers?
There are three types of shipping label printers: Inkjet, Laser and Thermal shipping label printers. Let's take a closer inspection...
If you've ever worked in an office, you've probably seen one of these printers. It's the standard decor for most homes and offices, and probably the most common type of printer. These printers cost anywhere from $60 to $600 and that doesn't include the ink and toner you'll need to purchase. These printers will be able to print immediately, at roughly 20 pages per minute. When you think about how many labels you need to print as orders start to stack up, these printers are on the slow end of the spectrum.
Comparatively, Laser printers are much faster than Inkjet printers. They print in monochrome and color, but they handle simple graphics the best, so if you intend to print text with some simple graphics, this might be the better option for you. Laser printers are better equipped for high-volume print jobs but where they fall short is their warm-up time and their high upfront costs. If you're looking to purchase a Laser label printer, you should be prepared to spend at least $130. The toner cartridges are also more expensive.
If you're a business owner that's selling a stable amount of products every week and looking to expand operations, you're probably looking for a Thermal shipping label printer. These printers are able to print labels on a roll, and therefore have no limitations as to how many you can throw out in a day. They are extremely fast printers, and do not require expensive toners or upkeep. They are, by far, the most expensive investment out of the three, but the amount you invest in a Thermal printer can be recouped by not having to spend on toners and ink.
What's the best shipping label printer for your business size?
If you're a small business sending out 1-20 parcels per day an A4 Laser printer will do. You can easily purchase one from Officeworks for around $250.
If you're a medium online business sending out 21-50 parcels per day, we recommend investing in a Thermal printer. DYMO, Brother and Zebra are well-known brands for their reliability and quality.
How much is a shipping label printer?
This really depends on two things - the size of your business, and the type of label printer that you choose. For smaller online businesses you can get away with spending $60-$250 for a decent quality Laser or Inkjet printer. If you're a medium to large online business, you want to invest in a good quality Thermal printer. The reason why, is because you'll end up spending a lot more intangible resources not doing so. As a business owner, one of your most important assets is your time. You don't want to have to spend it cutting and pasting shipping labels to hundreds of customers. Thermal printers can be categorized in two price ranges, the lower end Thermal printers cost anywhere from $100-$300, and the higher end Thermal printers can reach up to $1000.
How to get shipping labels for all your couriers?
Once you choose your shipping label printer (and hopefully we've made it easier for you), the question becomes how do you streamline your fulfilment process to collate all the carriers you work with into one easy to manage dashboard, where you can print off your shipping labels all at once. The answer is to work with a third party tool to your eCommerce platform, like Interparcel's Shipping Manager. Our integration allows you to import all your orders into one dashboard, choose between the largest range of top courier companies and deliver orders in just a few clicks. You don't need to hunt around to find the best courier with the best price, our courier comparison tool filters all that information for you, so you're always getting the best prices and service. From there, all your shipping labels will be emailed to you, simply print, stick and wait for your scheduled courier pick-up.