Australia’s eCommerce market has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 12 months, as thousands of businesses have pivoted to selling online. If that’s you, congratulations! There’s a lot of room for growth and innovation in this sector as long as you don’t get bogged down in manual processes like hand-writing or printing individual shipping labels. This might work if you’re sending out a few orders a day, but not dozens.
When it comes to fulfilment — the process of picking, packing and preparing your orders for delivery — it doesn’t matter if you’re in your garage or an automated warehouse the size of the MCG, time is of the essence. The faster you can get orders out the door and on their way to customers, the better the overall experience will be, and the more likely your customers will be to buy from you again.
The shipping labels and printers you use can actually have a big impact on your fulfilment speed, especially as you grow, so it’s important to set up your business with time-saving systems and processes now to help you scale later. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing a shipping label printer for your online business.
Why do you need specialised shipping labels and printers?
If you’re new to online retail, you might be wondering why you need to use specialised shipping labels and printers to begin with. Can’t you just print a label on a sheet of A4 paper with your inkjet printer at home?
While you might think this will save you money, it won’t in the long run, since courier scanners can’t easily read A4 paper, so you — and your customers — may not be able to track parcels if they go missing. Plain paper can also get easily damaged in transit, which can cause delays, not to mention the time it takes you to individually print and attach each label and the cost of ink.
Most specialised shipping label printers are thermal printers, which use heat to print the mailing information on the label rather than ink, so they are easily scanned and won’t smudge or fade. Most thermal printers also use adhesive paper, so you don’t need to bother taping labels onto each parcel, you can simply peel and stick, saving you time.
Which thermal printer is right for you?
Shippit stocks a range of thermal printers in its Supply Store, along with shipping labels. It’s just a matter of choosing the one that’s right for you. The key factors to consider are your monthly order volume, budget and operating system compatibility.
The Dymo LabelWriter 4XL Professional 300 DPI Direct Thermal Printer is one of the most popular thermal printers due to its affordable price at $335 and fast printing capabilities. It can print 53 labels per minute and is suited to online retailers shipping out around 300 orders per month. It’s also compatible with both PC and Mac computers, making it a solid choice for anyone.
On the other end of the price spectrum is the Zebra GK420D 4 – Direct Thermal & Thermal Transfer Printer, which costs $829. This printer is heavier duty, catering to businesses sending over 500 orders a month. It prints up to 5 inches per second and supports both fanfold and roll-fed labels.
If you’re just starting out, you might lean towards the TSC DA-210 – Direct Thermal Printer, which costs $396 and is ideal for merchants with around 50 orders per month, or the TSC TC200 4 – Direct Thermal & Thermal Transfer Printer, which costs $699 and is suitable for merchants with around 100 orders month. The TC200 4 model also utilises a thermal transfer ribbon, making it useful for inventory and asset tracking or document management. Both TSC models, however, are incompatible with Mac.
How else can you improve your delivery offer?
Besides shaving seconds off the pick-and-pack process by using a thermal printer and shipping labels, which can really add up over the course of a day, you should also consider branding your labels and online tracking page. This will help reinforce your brand to customers throughout the delivery process and, if you’re just starting out, give your business a professional edge.