If you're an ecommerce business owner or avid shipper, the chances are that you've done your fair share of creating and sticking on shipping labels. Most people think adding a shipping label is a task that takes a few moments, but there is more that goes into it than you’d think. For instance, you need to consider the type of information the shipping label carries, how shipping carriers track packages, and, overall, how to make sure the right person receives it.
If you’re new to the world of shipping packages and creating labels, stay tuned for this ultimate guide to shipping labels. Let’s start by breaking down the definition of a shipping label and what it includes before we dive into where to buy shipping labels.
What is a Shipping Label?
A shipping label is an identification tool used to quickly highlight and describe the interior contents of a package and information about where the package should be delivered. When a carrier scans your package's barcode, they should see the names, addresses, and weight of the package.
The package weight will not only determine the cost of shipping but the means of delivery. Most items under 100 pounds that ship domestically will be delivered by plane or truck.
Shipping labels serve as the critical information required for carriers to ensure your package is accurately delivered to its destination. Though the requirements for different carriers may differ, the general information is the same, and it's vital for carriers.
Information Found on a Shipping Label
- Destination and return addresses
- Shipping barcode and tracking number
- Package weight
- Shipping date and class
With a shipping label serving as a quick snapshot of the vital information of a package, carriers can efficiently and effectively track, sort, and ultimately deliver the package to the correct and intended recipient. Whether you’re shipping with USPS, FedEx, or UPS, all shipping carriers will require a shipping label when mailing packages.
What Information Should be Included on a Shipping Label?
When creating a shipping label, a return address and destination address are the two most critical pieces of information. The return address not only helps recipients to identify where the package is from before opening the box, but it allows mail and delivery carriers to identify the sender in case a return is necessary. When creating return addresses for ecommerce businesses, this also helps calculate shipping costs and even sales tax.
The destination address should include complete shipment information, including the recipient's name and their street address, city, state, and zip code. Carriers reference a customer's zip code to help sort packages on a delivery truck or other shipping methods.
Sometimes, a shipping date is used to help carriers understand any timing restraints. For example, suppose a package is shipped with a three-day delivery service. In that case, the carrier can look at the shipping day and tell whether they are within the restraints of the intended timeline and plan accordingly. Shipping class is also an indicator of delivery time and is communicated via the shipping label.
In addition to shipping date and class, shipping labels also contain package weight. Package weight is critical in calculating shipping costs and determines how delivery carriers sort their packages. The weight of a delivery truck should always be in a proper balance, so package weight helps carrier companies provide an accurate total weight that the truck will be carrying.
Not only are big shipping companies dealing with hundreds of thousands of packages on a single truck in one day, but shipping logistics are highly complex. That’s why the information found on a shipping label is critical.
The barcode and tracking number on a package's shipping label help to keep track of each package in the carrier company’s database. Customers may also use tracking number information to check on the status of their shipments.
Shipping Label vs. Packing Slip
While both a shipping label and packing slip help provide a package information snapshot, a shipping label and packing slip differ significantly. We know that a shipping label is adhered to the exterior of a package and provides information about the logistical aspects of delivering a package.
In contrast, a packing slip provides information about the interior contents and is found inside the box once opened. As an ecommerce business, your packing slip will likely contain all of the items in the package and information such as the specified quantity and the total price that the customer paid.
The packing slip summarizes the customer's order and is not relevant to shipping carrier companies. Though both provide essential information, a packing slip is not necessary to ensure effective shipping and delivery. Still, it can be helpful to customers to confirm or reiterate the details of their order.
How to Create a Shipping Label
While each carrier may have different methods or processes for creating a shipping label for their specific service, the process is very similar. On each carrier website, like UPS.com, you will be able to create a shipping label online.
To create a shipment on UPS.com, start by adding the necessary information for your shipping label. First, enter the shipping destination contact and address before entering your return contact and address information.
Next, you will enter the number of packages, package type, and declared value. The declared value of a package is not to be confused with the amount of shipping insurance. Instead, this value helps the carrier to understand the maximum liability for a package in the case of a lost shipment or damaged package.
Once that information has been completed, you will then select the shipping class or service type. If you have a rush order, you may select next-day shipping, but most likely, companies will be using UPS ground to keep shipping costs low.
Before you finalize your customized shipping label and pay for the shipping costs, take a final step to review the accuracy of the information.
Learn more about understanding shipping labels before buying shipping labels and sending out packages to your customer. The more you know, the less room there is for error.
Where to Buy Shipping Labels
When it comes to purchasing at-cost shipping supplies, we have you covered with a full collection so that you can buy shipping labels easily.
Instead of spending unnecessary time and money at big box office supply stores, opt for wholesale instead and consider buying shipping labels online. We carry a variety of different labels, so make sure you have a chance to review them all to choose the right one for your needs.
Check out the different types of shipping labels and other labels we carry:
2-Up White Shipping Labels - Two labels per sheet, compatible with inkjet or laser printers
4x6 Thermal labels - 1000 labels in one roll can be fed directly into a thermal printer, like a Zebra printer.
6-Up White Shipping Labels - Print six self-adhesive labels on each matte white sheet
30-Up White Shipping Labels - Each box comes with 100 sheets of 30 shipping labels per page for maximum efficiency
Warning labels - Suffocation warning labels can be stickered onto any clear poly bag or other plastic material to provide a clear warning of choking hazard or possible suffocation.
When you have easy-to-use, self-adhesive shipping labels, you can spend less time fussing with a printer, tape, and other shipping supplies and focus more on other areas of your business.
Next up, let’s see how you can optimize your packaging and shipping process.
Optimizing Shipping Labels and Address Labels
The process of labeling and packaging up your products can be very time-consuming. You want to be thorough and make sure everything is prepared correctly for the shipping carrier service. Let's dive into all of the ways you can optimize your shipping process, starting with your shipping labels.
When it comes time to buy shipping labels, there are a few key characteristics to look for that will make labeling much easier:
- Labels that can be fed through your printer
- Self-adhesive labels to cut out the fuss of tape, glue, or other tools
- A label sticker that is crisp and clean to ensure legibility of the printed shipping label
Our shipping labels are a blank slate that is crisp and clean with a matte white finish, so you never have to worry about your carrier or customer having a hard time reading the contents on the label.
Printer compatibility is another consideration to address before you buy shipping labels. The good news is that whether you have an inkjet printer or a thermal printer for your shipping labels, our labels are compatible with both to make printing easy.
How to Properly Apply Shipping Labels
Applying shipping labels and determining placement may vary slightly depending on the type of shipping carrier you use. Carriers will commonly request that the shipping label be applied to the upper left of the package.
In addition to the placement, the shipping label should be clear and legible, allowing for a quick and accurate reading of the label to be sorted, transported, and delivered to the intended and correct destination.
Once you have the placement down, it’s time to apply the shipping label. To avoid bumps or creases in your label, start by applying the shipping label one corner at a time, moving from left to right and top to bottom. Once the label has adhered to the package, give it a firm press down to ensure it will stay in place.
Different carriers may have different shipping label layouts. Still, regardless of which carrier you ship with, these tips on proper placement of shipping labels will aid in the accurate reading of the labels, ensuring effective transport and delivery. More often than not, services will ask to secure these labels in the upper right-hand corner of your package, so be sure to check before applying and shipping.
Learn more tips on how to properly apply shipping labels with these shipping label tips and tricks.
Finding the Best Shipping Supplies
Finding excellent shipping supplies doesn't have to be complicated. At Shop4Mailers, we carry a collection of highly desired shipping supplies. Our wholesale shipping warehouse is equipped with everything you need for your ecommerce business. So, while you're stocking your product inventory, don't forget to buy shipping labels and other shipping essentials for a proper stock up!
Before you buy shipping labels, check out some of our top-selling shipping supplies that you can add to your cart:
-Poly mailer bags available in white, colors, or designs
-Clear poly bags for extra protection
-Suffocation warning bags or labels
-Clear and flat cellophane bags
No matter what kind of products your ecommerce business is shipping out, we can help you pick the right mailer and other shipping supplies to maximize efficiency and minimize cost.
The Benefits of a Packaging and Shipping Station
Optimizing your shipping and packaging starts by using high-quality shipping products. When you have the right products, it's best to store them in an organized fashion for easy use. We recommend setting up a shipping station for the most efficient way to package and prepare your items for shipping.
Regardless of size, this area should always be a clear and clean space with shipping supplies and tools at an arm's reach. Arrange the shipping station in an order that aligns with how you would package your products. If you always start by grabbing a poly mailer bag or printing a shipping label, have those supplies ready before you gift wrap and top off your package with marketing materials.
If you’re creating a packaging station for the first time, here are the tools that you’ll likely want to have nearby:
- Packaging tape
- Tissue paper
- Marketing materials
- Poly mailers
- Bubble wrap
From establishing the best packing procedures to helping you place your shipping station in the right location, we can help! Learn more about setting up your packaging station so that you and your team can start working smarter and shipping more efficiently today!