In the world of E-commerce, shipping labels might not be the most glamorous topic to discuss, but they are an essential component of any online business. Despite this, many E-commerce owners tend to overlook the importance of shipping labels, which can cause significant issues for both themselves and their customers.
Creating and managing shipping labels play a critical role in ensuring that packages are delivered accurately and on time. Without proper shipping labels, packages can easily get lost, delayed, or delivered to the wrong address, leading to unhappy customers and additional costs for business owners.
In this beginner’s guide to creating shipping labels, we’ll explore the importance of shipping labels, their components, and the best practices to follow. Read along!
What is a Shipping Label?
A shipping label is a piece of documentation that carries key information about a package, such as a recipient’s information, sender’s information, tracking number, etc. It serves as a way for the carriers to identify and route the package to its intended destination. A shipping label is also sometimes referred to as a package label.
How does the shipping label work?
Every organisation uses a specific template for its shipping labels. After printing the shipping label, it is affixed to the outside of the package. These labels are scanned at the source, destination, and intermediate facilities, thus offering real-time tracking information of the package’s location and delivery status. Also, each label is unique, and one cannot reuse them.
Components of shipping label explained
A shipping label includes a variety of critical components that provide valuable information about the package. Let’s take a closer look at all these key components and why they are important.
The name and full address of the person or business who sends the package. This information helps the carriers to reach out to someone in case of any issues with the shipment or delivery.
The name and full address of the person who will receive the package. This information ensures that the carriers deliver the package to the right person.
The weight of the product in kilograms or grams. It helps the carriers determine how to handle the package at each stage of the shipping process. For instance, if a package is very heavy, it may require special handling or equipment to load and unload it from the truck or airplane.
Special handling information
This includes instructions such as “fragile” or “handle with care.” This is to ensure that the package is treated appropriately during transit and there is no damage to the product.
Routing and tracking number
These unique identifiers help in tracking the package throughout the shipping process, right from the point of origin to the final destination.
This is applicable only if the package is being shipped internationally. It may include the contents of the package, the value of the contents, and any other necessary customs documentation. This information ensures that the package clears customs quickly and easily.
Here is an example of a shipping label –
Different types of shipping label
Different types of packages need different types of labels. Here are some of the commonly used types of shipping labels -.
As the name suggests, these labels contain an arrow indicating the correct orientation of products during transit. Orders containing electronic items and hazardous materials use these kinds of labels.
These labels indicate that the entire content of the package is delicate and should be handled very carefully. The word “Fragile” is often written in bold and in large font with bright background for easy readability.
They are used for packages that contain flammable, corrosive, explosive, or poisonous products. These labels are extremely important to avoid any risk to life and property while handling the package. They are also printed in bright colors and have bold text.
International shipping label
Such labels are specifically designed for packages that will cross international borders. They contain important information required by customs officials and shipping carriers in different countries. It always includes the sender’s and recipient’s addresses, the weight of the package, the contents of the package, any customs declarations, and special instructions or warnings for handling the package.
How to Create a Shipping Label
There are two common ways to create a shipping label,
Creating Shipping Labels Through a Carrier
Most shipping carriers like DHL, UPS, FedEx, and USPS have software to create shipping labels. These in-house tools come with ready-made templates that fit their specific label requirements. All you need to do is enter the necessary shipping information, download the label, and print it at your home or office. You can then attach it to the package and drop it off at the carrier location or schedule a pickup. However, this is not the best method in terms of efficiency and cost, especially if you handle hundreds of orders daily.
Creating Shipping Labels Through Software Solutions
You can use specialized software designed explicitly for creating labels. These programs can be installed and integrated with your E-commerce platform, helping you automate shipping. For instance, it can directly connect with your E-commerce store, retrieve every order information from the database, and automatically create the label. This is the more efficient and cost-effective method if you are shipping large volumes of packages.
Shipping Label Best Practices To Follow
Here are 3 special tips you can follow while managing shipping labels for your E-commerce business –
1. Special Instructions
No amount of bubble wrap can protect your package if it is not handled properly during transit. And that’s why it is very important to mention special instructions such as “Fragile,” “Flammable,” “This side up,” etc., on your shipping labels. Adding these special requirements will ensure that your package arrives at your customer’s doorstep in perfect condition.
2. Label Placement
You should always place the label on the top of the package, preferably near the center. This makes it easy for carriers to scan the package. It also ensures that the label is easily visible throughout the shipping process – very important if there is a “This Side Up” or “Fragile” instruction. Also, make sure that the label is not folded over any edges and is affixed securely. This will make sure that it is not covering any important information, such as the recipient’s address.
3. Packing Slips
Make sure your order includes a packing slip, also known as “waybill”. A packing slip typically contains information such as the customer’s address, order date, order number, product details, quantity, customer service number, etc. This is usually placed inside the package or outside in a plastic wallet. A packing slip also sometimes serves as the receipt for the customer. This will help ensure that the recipient receives everything they were expecting and that they have a record of the items that were shipped.
Use Third Party logistic services to streamline the shipping process
As you have seen in this post, creating and managing shipping labels is a time-consuming task. It requires attention to detail, as well as an understanding of shipping carriers and their unique label requirements. Not to mention the added pressure of ensuring that packages are delivered on time and in good condition.
This is where ANS Commerce steps in – we are India’s leading E-commerce service provider specializing in taking care of every aspect of online selling – from managing your brand store to ensuring ROI driven performance marketing and warehousing & logistic services – we provide it all!
By partnering with ANS Commerce, you can focus on growing your brand and delivering excellent customer experiences while leaving everything else to us.
To know more about how ANS Commerce can help you, book a free consultation today!
Shipping Label FAQs answered
What is a prepaid shipping label?
A prepaid shipping label is a label that has already been paid for by the sender, which means that the recipient does not have to pay for shipping. E-commerce businesses offering free shipping use prepaid shipping labels.
Can I print a shipping label at home?
Yes, you can print a shipping label at home. You just need access to a printer, label sheets, and dedicated software for creating labels.
Can I handwrite a shipping label?
Yes, you can handwrite a shipping label, but it is generally not recommended. Handwritten shipping labels can be difficult to read, which can result in delivery delays or even lost packages. You would still need to have barcode labels for tracking.
How much does it cost to get a shipping label?
The cost to print a shipping label can vary depending on the mode you use to create labels. Using softwares to print labels is usually cheaper than getting shipping labels from courier service providers.
Do shipping labels expire?
Expiry policies for shipping labels can vary depending on the shipping carrier. Most shipping carriers have an expiry date of anywhere between 2 weeks to 1 year for the labels generated through their software.
Are there size requirements for shipping labels?
Yes, there are size requirements for shipping labels, and they can vary depending on the shipping carrier. Generally, shipping labels must be large enough to accommodate all of the necessary information, including the shipping address, return address, tracking barcode, and any other required information.
Where should I put a shipping label on a package or box?
Place the label in a location that is visible and easy to scan. It is generally recommended to place the label on the largest flat surface of the package, such as the top or one of the sides. The label should be placed so that it is not obstructed by any seams, flaps, or edges and is positioned straight and flat.
If the package is a box, the shipping label should be placed on the same side as the opening or flaps of the box. This ensures that the label is visible when the package is opened and scanned during the shipping process.