Shipping labels are attached to packages and provide couriers with information about them: origin, destination, shipper, receiver, and more.
Although it is true that they are a basic element in the management of any online store —without them shipments aren’t possible— they can mean high costs for the logistics of your eCommerce business if they are not generated properly.
Mistakes related to shipping label generation are one of the main reasons for shipping issues and returns within the industry. This problem is aggravated when the labels are created manually.
In the following guide, we show you everything you need to know to be able to start creating labels by yourself, without errors.
What are shipping labels?
Shipping labels are documents that provide the necessary information for the courier to take goods from a warehouse to the end customer.
Generally speaking, shipping labels include the following information: nature of the goods, postal code of origin and destination, address of origin and destination, country, tracking number, date and weight. They can also indicate the level of urgency of the shipment: express delivery, same-day delivery, 24-hour delivery, etc.
Thanks to this information, the package reaches its destination within the agreed terms and conditions.
Shipping labels must contain a barcode that will be used by the messenger to scan the information with a barcode reader. Thus, enabling the circulation of the package between the different stages of the supply chain without issues or delays.
Most commonly, online stores generate a shipping label for each order — with one or more items inside.
There are also times when an online business has to make two shipments for the same order, due to a lack of stock, for example. If that happens, two labels must be printed; one for each shipment.
Automating the label generation process prevents you from making errors in the information and losing the shipments along the way.
Parts of a shipping label
Knowing the parts of the label will help you avoid future mistakes and speed up their creation.
Here’s an example of a shipping label by UPS.
- Sender: This section includes all the information related to the company or person that is shipping the goods.
- Receiver: This section includes the information about the receiver. Any error in these fields will result in delays, shipping issues, or even returns.
- Barcode: A combination of bars, letters, or numbers that can be scanned to access the information about the shipment in a matter of seconds.
- Chosen shipping method: This can include the level of urgency or the delivery period.
- Information about the package: This section includes the product weight, labeling date, and type of delivery.
- Shipping cost: The rate that the shipper has to pay for sending the package.
- Package or shipment code: A numerical sequence linked to the shipment. Thanks to it, couriers, online stores, and customers can track the location of the package and its shipping status.
Shipping labels are essential for making claims about any shipping issue.
Creating a shipping label
There are many ways to create shipping labels; it all depends on the number of orders, the technology you have, and the couriers you work with.
When someone wants to send a package, the most common thing is to go to the post office to provide the shipping information. Then, they’ll create the shipping label for you.
However, this option isn’t efficient for online stores since it takes time to go to the office and create labels for every shipment manually.
These are the 3 methods that exist to print shipping labels as an online store:
- Create shipping labels on the courier’s page. Most couriers provide a form on their website in which you can enter the data and create a label. The main drawback is that you need to enter all the information manually. This slows down the process and increases the possibility of making a mistake.
- Create shipping labels with software. With a label-printing program integrated with your online store, you can fill in the shipping templates automatically. While this does reduce the chance of errors considerably, they may not have the ability to print them in bulk and may only be available for certain couriers.
- Create shipping labels with automation programs. Advanced solutions like these allow you to automate label creation and printing to reduce workload and costs. Nowadays, its use is almost mandatory for businesses with a high volume of sales.
Once you have created your shipping label, you need to print it.
Shipping labels sold directly by the courier often come with a surcharge. Some couriers also provide the labels for free, although this depends on the conditions of the contract.
Shipping labels: examples
It’s common for couriers to create a specific label format for their labels. Luckily, all of them share the essential fields, so you just have to follow the required steps.
DPD shipping label
If you’ve ever wondered how to create a DPD shipping label, you’ll be pleased to know that the process is very simple.
Simply go to the form on their website and add the essential data: origin, recipient, and package data. Remember to be very careful when entering all this data to avoid any possible shipping issues.
DHL shipping label
To create a shipping label from DHL we recommend using one of the automatic methods that we described previously. Another option is to go to the web form and generate the DHL shipping label manually.
UPS shipping label
To generate a shipping label for UPS, go to their website and fill out the form with all the necessary information, or automate the process with advanced software.
FedEx shipping label
FedEx's shipping labels can be obtained from their website, visiting their post office, or automating the process of generating the shipping label with a professional tool.
FAQ about shipping labels
Where to put shipping labels
It’s recommended that the label always be in the upper area of one side of the package. However, online stores selling fragile goods usually stick more than one label to ensure its visibility, reducing the chances of breakage during transit.
What does a shipping label look like?
You can check the ‘Parts of a shipping label’ section to see an example of what a shipping label looks like.
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