Without a shipping label, your package is just a cardboard box. To reach its destination, it needs some identification.
In this post, we’re talking everything shipping labels– why you need them, what they include, and how to create affordable shipping labels with pro-level efficiency.
Importance of shipping labels for small businesses
Shipping labels are an essential pillar of e-commerce. This is especially true for small businesses without the time, manpower, and capital necessary to correct mistakes and resend returned packages. Packages with inaccurate or incomplete shipping information may end up late or lost.
Accurate shipping labels make sure packages reach the right customer quickly, even when supply chains are going haywire.
Types of shipping labels
Shipping label types vary based on the carrier and shipping speed. Most businesses shipping from the United States use one of the following carriers:
Note: Additional services can be added to certain packages, like signature confirmation and proof of age.
Shipping with USPS
USPS shipping label types:
USPS First Class Package Service
USPS Priority Mail
USPS Priority Mail Express
USPS Parcel Select
Shipping with USPS Pros
USPS is the most common choice among small businesses, mainly due to its affordability.
They are the cheapest option for small domestic shipments and are the most reliable option for remote deliveries.
They offer free home pickup and scheduled delivery. Priority packages are insured up to $100.
Shipping with USPS Cons
Cons include slower delivery times, a slower tracking system, and the inability to ship over 70 lbs or 108 inches long/wide.
Shipping with UPS
UPS shipping label types:
UPS Next Day Air® Early
UPS Next Day Air (can be used for UPS Worldwide ExpressSM)
UPS Next Day Air Saver
UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.®
UPS 2nd Day Air®
Shipping with UPS pros
UPS specializes in domestic ground package delivery.
They’re the best choice for larger shipments and offer a guaranteed service refund for late packages, so long as your claims are made within 15 days from the ship date.
Shipping with UPS cons
UPS is typically more expensive than USPS for small packages.
Shipping with FedEx
FedEx shipping label types:
FedEx Home Delivery®
FedEx Express Saver®
FedEx Standard Overnight®
FedEx Priority Overnight®
FedEx First Overnight®
Shipping with FedEx pros
FedEx specializes in international air freight and is priced similarly to UPS depending on the package.
They’re known for rapid overnight and expedited 2 and 3-day deliveries and meticulous tracking.
FedEx doesn’t require package weight and dimensions during checkout. They also ship some packages that USPS doesn’t support.
Shipping with FedEx cons
While shipping with FedEx might get you the fastest delivery times, it’s typically more expensive than USPS, sometimes pricier than UPS, and isn’t the most economical option for small domestic packages.
Shipping with DHL
DHL Domestic shipping label types:
DHL SameDay Sprintline
DHL Express 9:00 Domestic
DHL Express 10:30 Domestic
DHL Express 12:00 Domestic
DHL Express 18:00 Domestic
DHL Express Easy
DHL International shipping label types:
DHL SameDay Jetline
DHL Express 9:00 International
DHL Express 10:30 International
DHL Express 12:00 International
DHL Globalmail Business
Shipping with DHL pros
DHL is the best international delivery option for fast, affordable shipping. Their broad global presence makes them the most efficient carrier for international deliveries.
Shipping with DHL cons
While DHL does promise to refund transportation charges for late arrivals, the process of filing those claims isn’t user-friendly. Make sure claims are filed within 15 days of the original ship date.
USPS is more reliable and affordable for domestic shipments.
How to create a shipping label for small businesses
Your business may be small, but that shouldn’t hold you back. Purchasing labels at retail rates is expensive, time-consuming, and lacks the order management benefits shipping software provides.
Here’s how to create shipping labels for your small business without the hassle of long lines, lost receipts, and high retail prices.
1. Use shipping label software
A simple, effective order management system prevents shipping errors and also facilitates easy adjustments when mistakes do occur. This lowers costs and improves productivity long term.
How to choose a shipping label software
Chances are, you don’t have the time or manpower to chase receipts, correct errors, and resend packages on the regular.
Automating the shipping process is essential not only for reducing headaches but also for improving profit margins and growing your business.
To accomplish this, find a shipping software that integrates with your e-commerce and marketplace sites and offers features like:
Automated label printing
Carrier selection and integration
Discounted shipping rates
Automated inventory management
2. Include the right information on your shipping label
While shipping label contents can vary by carrier, most require the following information:
Sender information: Name and address of the sender.
Recipient information: Name and address of the recipient.
Package weight: Products being shipped, packaging used, and the total package weight.
Unidirectional code: Maxicode designed to be identified by a machine, no matter the direction.
Postal barcode: Scannable zip code for the recipient, also called the Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb).
Service Type: Indicates the package’s mode of shipping (priority, standard, express or other).
Routing number: Outlines the package’s route.
Tracking number: Customers use this number to follow their package’s progress online.
Transportation instructions: Fragile, this side up, flammable, etc.
3. Print and apply your shipping label
If the barcode on your label can’t be scanned, your package is doomed no matter how accurate the information was. Here are two tips to keep your label scannable:
Place your label on the largest, most visible flat surface. Ensure the information is clearly visible and doesn’t straddle any edges. For smaller packages where this is inevitable, just make sure the barcode is completely flat.
Print on durable paper. If using sticky labels, smooth out the bubbles so that the edges don’t lift. If you use copy paper and packing tape, make sure the tape isn’t covering the barcode (this can interfere with scannability).
How to create a shipping label for free using Veeqo
Veeqo offers free shipping label software that helps small businesses streamline and automate the shipping process. Here’s how it works:
Design a custom shipping label template
Step 1: To design a custom template, click your “Settings” tab then select “Printing Templates” from the dropdown menu.
Step 2: Choose your template type (packing slip or label).
Step 3: Click the “Edit” button next to the template you want to use.
Step 4: Use the drag-and-drop editor to adjust your template layout, add or remove fields, and change the font colors and sizes.
Step 5: Preview and save your changes.
Create your shipping label
Step 1: Log into your account and click on the “Orders” tab.
Step 2: Select the order you want to create a label for, then click the “Create Shipping Label” button.
Step 3: Complete your shipping details.
Step 4: Select your shipping label from the list of quotes.
Step 5: Pay for your label.
Step 6: Print your label and attach it to your package.
Choose your discounted shipping rate
When you reach the point in your workflow when you need to select a shipping method, Veeqo will automatically populate the lowest shipping rate based on your package’s size, weight, destination, and customer delivery promise.
You save up to 78% on UPS Ground labels just by using Veeqo. Your negotiated rates can also be integrated into the system.
Shipping label printing options
Veeqo offers a few ways to print your shipping labels:
DirectPrint: Print templates from Veeqo on the web straight to your printer without pausing to download the PDF in between.
Print multiple orders at once: Head to the “Orders” page, click the orders you want to print, then click the “Actions” button.
One-Click printing: Ideal for printing a bunch of orders in a short amount of time.
Automated shipping label workflows
Automated shipping workflows help you streamline your entire shipping process. Create rules to automatically assign shipping methods according to criteria (like your package contents or destination).
For example, you can set domestic orders below a certain weight to be shipped through USPS.
Veeqo will automatically select the best rate and print up to 100 labels in one go. You can print integrated return labels simultaneously or wait until the need arises.
After printing your labels and packaging your orders, distribute tracking information in one click by pushing tracking details to your store or emailing your customers.
Create shipping labels that save you time and money
The right shipping label workflow saves time, impresses customers, and improves profit margins. Here are a few parting tips for creating the best possible shipping labels for your small business:
Use accurate scales: Packages can be returned for weighing 1/10 of an ounce over the weight listed. Accurate shipping scales ensure package weight is correct the first time.
Use a thermal label printer: Thermal label printers are more affordable and less prone to smudging than laser and ink-jet printers, which makes them ideal for printing shipping labels in bulk. Make sure your thermal printer can print between 4” by 6” and 5” by 8”.
Integrate your labels: Integrating shipping labels with returns labels, invoices, and packing slips improves efficiency, reduces errors, and simplifies recordkeeping.
Ready to slash your small business dispatch times and save money on shipping labels in the process? Give Veeqo a try. Did we mention it's free?!