If you know anything about shipping labels and why they are used in the e-commerce market, you probably already know that they are integral to e-commerce and shipment. But why? What are shipping labels, and why are these small labels so critical to the logistics of any e-commerce business?
There are a lot of different purposes that shipping labels serve, such as customer retention, increasing brand loyalty, and enhancing a positive customer experience.
But the most vital purpose is to help you control your orders. Even though it is a simple piece of paper, there are many layers to understanding and using it to its full potential to increase your profits.
In this article, we will help you understand what shipping labels are, how to create a shipping label, and why they are so crucial for your e-commerce business.
What is a Shipping Label?
Essentially a shipping label is an identification label you must put on your package. The label describes all details regarding the contents of the package. It is used to identify what is inside a certain package. It also carries other important information like names, weights, addresses, and the tracking barcode.
It might seem a tiny part of an e-commerce company’s shipping process, but you must remember that this information is crucial to running a successful business. One mishap in the shipping label can result in you losing a customer or damaging the product. Either way, it will damage your company’s reputation. So when you create and print shipping labels, you must be extremely careful about what information goes there and whether that information is accurate.
Shipping labels help you track all your packages and manage and control your orders properly. They also ensure that the right package reaches the right customer and that they are happy with the shipping process.
For both inbound and outbound logistics of an e-commerce company, shipping labels are incredibly crucial. In the article, we will tell you how to structure and make a shipping label, how they work, and what makes them an essential aspect of online businesses.
Structure of a Shipping Label
Now that we have discussed what a shipping label is let us move on to its structure. As we have mentioned, it carries many crucial information about the package it is on. And even though all the carriers might have different layouts and structures for their shipping labels, they all carry the same basic information necessary for all packages to be delivered to the right customer without hiccups. In this section, we will talk about the crucial information that every shipping label, no matter its structure, includes.
Depending on if the shipping label is on a product being delivered to a customer or returned to you, it must have the origin and return address. This means that while you are packing and shipping an order, the name and address of the sender, or yourself, should be there in case the customer wants to return it.
This address will, of course, be of the place from where you ship your items, for example, your warehouse or fulfillment center. This is a significant part of your shipping label.
Then comes arguably the most critical information on any shipping label: the destination address. This is where the address of the receiver or the customer will be written.
One mishap in this part and your customer might never get their package on time or to their address. So you have to ensure that your shipping label’s destination address is always correct.
We have already mentioned that other than words, some numbers on shipping labels also have essential functions. These numbers are the order id and the tracking id.
As you might have already guessed from the name, an order id is a unique number generated when a customer places an order with you. This number is a unique id that makes it easier for everyone to understand what the package contains.
Usually, there are one or two barcodes on all shipping labels. One is a postal barcode to identify the postal service and the package. It has information about the zip code where the package has to be delivered. But there is also a QR code in these packages that can be read from any direction and they carry all the details of what is within the package. It is also known as a Maxicode. All of these barcodes and QR codes are uniquely generated for each different package.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. This section contains information about how much the package weighs. Sometimes even additional info like what is inside the package and what it is made of. This information can prove helpful if the item inside is fragile and needs to be handled with care.
Shipping class is also known as the level of service. This section contains all the information about the chosen shipping method the carrier offers. It could be standard delivery, express delivery, and much more. This information is essential because it lets the carrier know how high-priority this package is.
Electronic Tracking Number
The Electronic tracking number or tracking ID is one of the most critical sections of any shipping label. This is the unique ID with which the customer can track the package and see where their package is after ordering the product at any given moment. It also tells them the time when they can expect their package. Also, if you run an e-commerce business, this article will show you how to create an easy and informative shipping label.
How Do Shipping Labels Work?
An e-commerce business owner needs to understand the function of shipping labels for a multitude of reasons. If some information on shipping labels is wrong, it can result in additional costs, delayed deliveries, and even undelivered packages due to incorrect information.
Even though some basic details remain the same in shipping labels across all carriers, each has a different label template. So, for example, if you are using a 3PL company for your fulfillment process, you have to understand their shipping label.
With a 3PL fulfillment partner, your fulfillment process becomes much easier, and you do not have to worry about shipping. But if you are trying to ship these products through other carriers by yourself, you have to ensure that you have an easy yet informative template for your shipping label. Both machines and humans read them; thus, they should be easy to understand. You must make sure you use the correct template for your carrier when shipping your products to make the process as smooth as possible.
There are many numbers and letters in these shipping labels, all serving a purpose in the supply chain. You have to ensure that these are correctly filled, so packages reach the designated customer securely and without a hassle.
The Importance of Shipping Labels
Many people think that shipping labels play a minor role in a company’s massive supply chain. Well, the role may be small, but it is in no way insignificant. In fact, without accurate and easy shipping labels, e-commerce companies will not be able to function at all. So here are some of the reasons why shipping labels are such a big part of a company’s shipping and return process.
Offers accurate information
The shipping label is meant to provide accurate information, both to the carriers and to the customers. The name, shipping address, delivery address, product description, and every other important detail can be found on a shipping label. They even have barcodes and written information so that humans and machines can read them quickly, and the package reaches the end customer without any problems.
Shipping labels make it easier for shipping companies to transport the package to the right customer at the right time. Instead of constantly checking their logs or contacting the business owner, they can just read the information on the shipping label or scan the codes to get all the info like shipping name, address, and what type of delivery it needs right away. They can see if the package needs a standard or express delivery and arrange the shipping time accordingly.
Helps in tracking customers’ packages
Not only are shipping labels important for the carriers, the business, and the customer. A tracking ID on every shipping label helps the customer see where their package is. It will also help the business track and control the package once it is out of their inventory.
So if there is ever a problem in delivery, the business can figure out what went wrong right away and resolve the issue, so the customer gets their package on time. It helps build customer satisfaction and improves the company’s reputation.
We have already mentioned that shipping labels have the address of the receiver and the address from where they were sent. It could be a business warehouse or a fulfillment center they use. But it makes it really easy for the customers to return the product to the business if it is damaged or otherwise unfulfilling.
Easy return policies are significant for an e-commerce company as they build the customers’ trust and encourage them to buy from your business again if they think your company’s shipping and return policies are fast and hassle-free.
If you want to impact your customers with your company’s services, then make sure to add your company’s logo to your shipping labels. It gives the package a touch of customization that tells your customers you care about them. This is great for your company’s branding. It is also pretty easy to add your own logo to your shipping label, and it will help you show off your capabilities and seriousness to your customers.
What is a Return Shipping Label?
There is a lot that can go wrong in an e-commerce business. And one of them is your customer realizing that they do not like the product or have received a damaged product upon delivery. So what do they do next? They need to return the product to your company so they can get a replacement or get their money back.
Either way, returning is an essential part of the shipping process, and that is where return shipping labels or return labels come in. A proper return label is the first step towards an efficient return policy that your customers will love.
A return label is very similar to a shipping label. It is a paper attached to the package that the customer wishes to return. The paper contains important details such as the return address or the warehouse address, a tracking ID, a shipping barcode, and various other details to make it easier for your carrier to get the package safely back to the warehouse after your customer chooses to return it.
Some businesses choose to mail their customers a copy of the return label. That way, when they try to return it, they can print a copy of it and attach it to the package. But it can cause problems for the customer and consume extra time.
The standard and more efficient practice in the business is to attach the return label to the package when you ship it off to your customer. That way, they can just order a return, and the package will be received from their doorstep and returned to your business safely. This is a straightforward and efficient solution that most successful companies use.
How to Create a Shipping Label
If you are wondering how to make shipping labels, we have you covered. Creating a shipping label sounds complex and time-consuming. But like everything else, this has also become relatively easy in the last few years.
You can always order bulk shipping labels from your carrier, which will cost you more. You should only opt for this when you send out many packages every day and it is hard for you to keep track of everything. Hiring a 3PL partner for your fulfillment needs is also better if you have to ship many orders.
However, if your company only ships a few times weekly, you should make shipping labels yourself. Customizing your shipping labels on a website is far more cost-effective than paying for them in a post office.
Every carrier has its shipping label templates available on its websites. If you ship low-volume products, this is the best practice for you. You can visit the carrier’s website, fill out all the necessary information, take a printout of the copy of the shipping label and stick it to your package. But remember to fill out all the information correctly. You can put a handwritten shipping label on a box, but it can be time-consuming.
You still have to manually generate a barcode and attach it to the package. But it also adds a personal touch that customers may like. You can choose the one that best suits your business type. Most shipping labels are customizable and can be altered according to the size of your package or other needs. Some research before choosing the perfect style would help.
Shipping Label Best Practices
When customizing your shipping labels, you must remember to follow some guidelines and tips to make them more effective and easy to understand. If they are easy to understand, the carriers and the customer will be happy with them.
If you print a label from a carrier’s website, you will already have some formats to choose from. You can choose the one you think is the most suited for your business. But if you are making a shipping label yourself, you must be careful about all the information you put in there and their format. Straightforward formats make it easier for the carrier to understand it.
Follow the provided guidelines while filling up a shipping label. Put all the correct information and double-check every detail before you print it out. Every carrier has different guidelines that they use in their shipping labels. So make sure to follow them, so there are no problems with the shipment later.
Packing slips are also essential to a shipping label, and you should include them when you print yours. A packing slip is a piece of paper stating the exact contents of a package. If you are delivering multiple products or have something in the box to be handled carefully, putting the packing slip on the shipping label ensures the carrier does not make a mistake while delivering it.
One of the most important things to remember while placing your shipping label on your package is where you position it. The best place to put a shipping label is on either large side where it can be seen easily, and the codes can be scanned with ease as well.
If you put it on the smaller sides, then the labels will fold once the package is packed, and the scanners will not be able to scan the codes if folded. So make sure there are no folds in your shipping label.