Shipping Labels: How They Work And How To Print Your Own

Shipping Labels: Essential for Ecommerce Logistics

Shipping labels might seem like a small component of e-commerce, but they are crucial for both inbound and outbound logistics, significantly impacting your online store’s success and customer satisfaction. They convey vital information within your supply chain, aiding both technology and personnel in tracking the origins and destination of your package.

Without precise and clear shipping labels, there’s a risk of customers’ orders getting lost or mishandled, leading to a poor customer experience, decreased brand loyalty, and potential loss of sales. This article will delve into the details on a shipping label, how to create them for self-fulfilled orders, and how a third-party logistics (3PL) provider can simplify your shipping process.

What is a shipping label?

A shipping label provides essential information about a package’s journey to a carrier during transportation. It includes details necessary for determining the package’s endpoint and, in international shipments, the contents of the package.

Key elements of a shipping label include:

  • Postal code, country
  • Tracking number
  • Weight
  • Destination and return addresses
  • Shipping method (e.g., expedited, standard)
  • Additional pertinent information

Why are shipping labels important?

Shipping labels are crucial as they clearly display the necessary information for carriers to transport packages from their origin (like a warehouse or fulfillment center) to the customer’s doorstep. Inaccurate or missing shipping labels can lead to delays, incorrect deliveries, or lost packages, ultimately harming customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

Understanding shipping labels

Shipping labels encompass a range of information, making them complex. Here’s a breakdown of the critical elements found on different shipping labels:

  • Recipient Information: Includes the name, address, and phone number, ensuring the carrier delivers the parcel correctly and can contact the recipient if needed.
  • Sender Address: Helps the carrier know the return address and lets the recipient understand the origin of the package.
  • Tracking Number and Barcode: A unique barcode and corresponding tracking number allow both the carrier and customer to track the shipment’s journey.
  • Codes: Unidirectional codes, MaxiCodes, or QR codes contain digital information from the shipping label for machine reading.
  • Weight: Ensures that shipping rates are correctly calculated and packages are efficiently loaded.
  • Shipping Method: Indicates how the package should be handled and whether special considerations like expedited shipping are necessary.
  • Payment Status: Indicates whether postage has been prepaid, which is common when labels are printed online or through a fulfillment provider.

How to create a shipping label

Creating your own shipping labels can save time and money. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Visit your preferred carrier’s website: Most carriers provide an online platform where you can fill out, download, and print shipping labels.
  • Use online templates: Platforms like Shopify offer free shipping label templates. Input your shipping details, and the template will generate a label for you.
  • Adopt third-party solutions: For frequent shipping, consider using software solutions to streamline the process and access better rates.
  • Secure the label: Ensure your shipping label is securely attached to your package to avoid mishaps during transit.

Shipping label best practices

When creating shipping labels, consider these best practices:

  • Understand your shipping needs: Know the rules and regulations relevant to your shipments, such as for fragile or hazardous materials.
  • Double-check information: Verify all details on your shipping label to avoid delivery issues.
  • Budget for shipping: Include shipping costs in your business budget to ensure smooth operations.

Perfect shipping labels every time with a 3PL

Partnering with a third-party logistics provider can ensure perfect shipping labels for every order. A 3PL can handle the purchasing and generation of shipping labels, removing the stress from your processes and allowing you to focus on scaling your business.

Have a warehouse and need a WMS?

If you have a warehouse and require a robust warehouse management system (WMS), 3PL Center offers an all-in-one platform to manage orders, inventory, and shipping efficiently.

Securing Free Shipping Supplies from Major Carriers

Many major carriers offer free shipping supplies, including shipping label pouches, to their customers, which can be a significant cost saver for businesses. These pouches protect the label during transit, ensuring that the shipping information remains visible and intact. You can typically order these supplies directly through the carrier’s website or pick them up at local carrier stores. Utilizing these free resources not only helps maintain the integrity of your shipments but also enhances the overall professionalism of your packaging.

Partner with 3PL Center

Utilizing a 3PL like 3PL Center can revolutionize your shipping process. With exclusive discounted carrier rates, advanced warehouse management system features, and strategic warehouse locations across the country, 3PL Center helps keep your shipping costs low while ensuring that your shipments are accurate and efficient. Additionally, our rate shopping feature in the WMS guarantees that you receive the best available rates from various carriers, optimizing your shipping expenses without sacrificing quality or speed. Harness the power of a sophisticated 3PL to elevate your e-commerce fulfillment to the next level.


Shipping label FAQs

Can I reuse a shipping label for multiple shipments?

No, each shipping label is unique and should only be used for the shipment it was created for. Reusing shipping labels can lead to confusion in the delivery process, resulting in delays or misdeliveries.

How can I correct a mistake on a shipping label after printing?

If there is an error on a printed shipping label, it is best to void the label and create a new one. Altering a shipping label can cause issues during scanning and may lead to the package being undeliverable.

What should I do if my shipping label gets damaged in transit?

If a shipping label becomes damaged and unreadable during transit, the carrier might return the package to the sender. To avoid this, always ensure the label is securely attached and covered with a clear adhesive sleeve if possible. If a package is returned due to a damaged label, you will need to generate and attach a new label for reshipment.

Where can I obtain a shipping label?

For self-fulfillment, you have multiple ways to create shipping labels. Directly from carrier websites, you can print and pay for labels, or for a more streamlined solution, some platforms facilitate online label generation and connect with all the major carriers. Partnering with a 3PL allows for even smoother operations as they handle the generation and purchasing of shipping labels on your behalf, integrating seamlessly with your online store’s platform.

Do I have to pay for shipping labels?

Creating a shipping label itself does not cost anything, but you must pay for postage before you can send the package.

Can I print a shipping label at home?

Absolutely, you can generate and print shipping labels at home using tools provided by major shipping carriers, such as:

These tools allow you to input package details such as weight, dimensions, destination address, and shipping class, and automatically produce a barcode.

Can I handwrite a shipping label?

While you can write the shipping address by hand if necessary, you will still require a barcode from the carrier. Handwriting addresses is less efficient for large volumes of orders, so utilizing online tools is recommended for efficiency.

Where can I print USPS shipping labels?

You can print USPS shipping labels directly from their Click-N-Ship service available on the USPS website.

What is the cost of UPS shipping labels?

There is no charge for creating a UPS shipping label; however, you must pay for postage and any additional services such as tracking and insurance.

Can I tape over a shipping label?

Yes, you can use clear tape over a shipping label, but ensure that the address and barcode remain completely visible to avoid any issues during shipping.


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