Shipping labels are not the first thing ecommerce businesses think of when refining their fulfillment process, but they’re the first thing they wish they had when something goes wrong. Shipping labels represent a vital piece of information that connects your supply chain’s process to your customer’s needs by clarifying where packages are going, where they came from, and what they contain.
We created this guide to help ecommerce businesses create shipping labels that are clear and useful in order to fulfill a crucial step in their fulfillment process. Shipping labels not only help shippers send things to the right places, but lost items must have shipping labels to make it back to their correct destination.
In this article, we discuss:
- What shipping labels are
- Why they are important to ecommerce businesses
- How to write a shipping label properly
- How a 3PL can help
What is a shipping label?
A shipping label, which can differ depending on the mail carrier you choose to fulfill your orders, displays where a package is being shipped from and to, the tracking number, the shipping class, and the contents of the box. They display barcodes to aid carriers in package confirmation services as well as device IDs to streamline the process.
For carriers, this information is important in several ways. Faster shipping classes are shipped on different vehicles, heavier packages are stored differently, and lost or mishandled items can be put back on track by the information on the shipping label.
Therefore, shipping labels not only direct your packages to the correct destination but also provide crucial tracking information each step of the way. The labels are designed to be readable by scanners, computers, and human mailers so that no matter who needs to check your packages, whether by barcode or by eye, that entity can do so.
However, carriers are not the only ones who need clear, correct shipping labels. Your business’s internal fulfillment process also needs shipping labels to be in order.
Why Shipping Labels are Important for Ecommerce Businesses
For ecommerce businesses, shipping labels provide crucial information for your team of packers and shippers. If you use multiple shipping plans, such as by offering customers expedited shipping options for an extra cost, shipping labels help ensure that your customers always get what they pay for.
To drive home why shipping labels are important in ecommerce, consider what could happen to your fulfillment process without them. A failure to provide a customer with the priority shipping they paid for can reduce your business’s reputation and create customer service conflicts. If you have to manage more returns and exchanges from unsatisfied customers, your profit margins will continue to diminish.
Any time a package becomes lost or misrouted, your team needs correct shipping labels to set the record straight. Additionally, knowing the weight of the contents of each package helps your team pack everything correctly and ship it with the right shipping class and carrier.
Where to Get Shipping Labels
Each carrier requires certain information on their shipping labels. Therefore, we cannot provide a template or specify a generic format for ecommerce businesses to create their own labels other than the necessary included information we mentioned.
Mail carriers may accept labels with hand-written addresses, but your business will still need to generate and print the necessary barcodes. Doing both will be more time-consuming for your business, which is why the post office offers services to create your product’s shipping label, ensuring that it meets their requirements. Wherever you post the package, you can pay for the label.
However, your business can generate labels using online services. This has several advantages, including being able to schedule your own pickups, circumvent lines at the post office, and even secure discounts on postage.
How to Create Your Own Shipping Labels
There are several ways that ecommerce businesses can create shipping labels.
- Mail carriers provide tools on their websites to create labels for your business that meet their exact specifications. These downloadable templates must be customized for each order, however, which makes this method more time-consuming for businesses that ship numerous orders, especially when multiple shipping plans are available.
- Software designed to create shipping labels can not only speed up the process but, in some cases, can even fully automate your shipping label needs. Apps like ShipStation can accomplish this.
- Multi-platform shipping tools can connect to your store and build shipping labels based on your information. This can save a business time and effort by eventually being able to automate the shipping label process. Integrating with a selling platform or app can help a business save time by offloading the work from their shippers and onto a dedicated software application.
How a 3PL Can Help
Outsourcing the shipping label process, as well as your other fulfillment needs, to a third-party fulfillment company can save your business time and money. At eWorld Fulfillment, we are experienced in creating labels for specific mail carriers to take the strain off your fulfillment process.
By guaranteeing that labels are always correct, it will never be a flaw in your packing process that causes a package to be late or misdelivered. The responsibility will be the carrier’s if something goes wrong. 3PLs also specialize in securing discounts in shipping volume with major mail carriers such as UPS and USPS, which ensures your deliveries are made as cheaply as possible.
The Takeaway for Ecommerce Businesses
Anything that keeps your supply chain informed, clarifies delivery information with your mail carrier, and aids in getting your packages to their correct destinations on time is a vital step in your business’s fulfillment process. Since shipping labels often work fine, ecommerce businesses are not concerned about them.
However, incorrect or incomplete labels can wreak havoc on your fulfillment process by causing packages to be lost, delayed, or misdelivered. Use a mail carrier’s services or an online shipping label service to ensure they are complete and correct. A 3PL familiar with these tools can automate the process to take the strain off your team and save you time, money, and worry when making sure your packages get to their intended destinations on time.