How to Make a Shipping Label for Your Small Business

Whether you run a physical store or an online business, you’ll need to use good quality shipping labels if you’re mailing products to customers. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of a clear, neat label to ensure a smooth journey and thus maintain that all-important customer satisfaction.

Fortunately, this is something that you can do yourself without too much time and effort. Here, we’ve outlined the key information regarding shipping labels including how to make great labels suitable for your business.

What is a Shipping Label?

In a nutshell, a shipping label is a sticker attached to your package containing its key delivery information. This is used by the delivery service not only to identify its destination but also to understand any specifications.

Accurate shipping labels can help avoid common problems when shipping goods, such as lost or delayed packages which can damage customer feedback for your business.

What is a Shipping Label?

The level of information on a shipping label can vary. Typically, it can include:

  • Recipient name and address
  • Sender name and address
  • Chosen shipping service, e.g. standard, economy or express
  • Item tracking number and barcode (some modern packages also have a QR code)
  • Package weight
  • Item name and description
  • Shipping payment information, for example whether shipping has been pre-paid

You can use various types and styles of shipping labels to suit your business needs. It doesn’t matter what you sell or whether you’re a small sole trader or large multinational enterprise. Variations include:

  • Size – the standard size is 4”x6” but smaller and larger are available
  • Label type – for example, paper or adhesive vinyl
  • Choice of standard black & white or colored
  • Printer model – our labels are compatible with models such as Brother, Dymo and Zebra

How to Make a Shipping Label

You can create the perfect shipping labels for your business by following these simple steps:

Step One: consider your printing capabilities

A basic, but important, pre-step. You can print your labels using an ink-jet printer or a thermal printer. Ink-jet machines are fine if you’re a very small business that is not sending out large quantities. However, they can be costly and slow for big workloads. Thermal printers are more affordable and also less likely to smudge when printing labels.

Make a Shipping Label

Step Two: purchase your labels

To start off with, you should buy the labels that you will print your shipping information onto. Pay attention to:

  • Sticker size – will it be adequate for the information you want to include? You don’t want to run out of space or have big blank gaps
  • Quantity – how many labels do you want to print?
  • Your printer model

Step Three: choose your printing option

You have three main options when it comes to printing your shipping labels:

  • Printing using software
  • Printing via an e-commerce site
  • Using one of the major shipping companies

There are a number of shipping label software options that allow you to design your own labels from a range of templates. Popular sites include ShipStation, or Veeqo which is used by many ecommerce traders. These sites can be good for bulk label creation and automating workflows.

Another option is to use a template from an e-commerce site. For example, Shopify has a free shipping label template tool. This can be ideal if you’re an online business using a particular platform.

Finally, you can create your shipping label using one of the big shipping company websites. These include USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL. We’ll discuss a couple of these in more detail in the following sections.

Step Four: design your shipping label

You can use the templates to guide you through what you can include on this. Bear in mind all of the typical information we mentioned earlier. Be sure to include any special instructions such as if the package is fragile or contains flammable/hazardous materials. If you want to truly personalize your labels, you can think about adding a logo or emblem here.

Step Five: print and apply your label

Finally, print out your design and secure it to your package. Ensure that it is placed in a prominent position and securely attached. There’s no point in following steps one to four if your label falls off or is not easily seen!

How to Make a USPS Shipping Label

As already mentioned, one option for creating shipping labels for your business is to use one of the big shipping providers. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the most popular and cost-effective methods, especially for small businesses. The USPS has a user-friendly Click-N-Ship process which allows you to design your own tailor-made shipping labels.

All you need to do is register a free account and the service will then walk you through what you need to do. At the end of designing your shipping label, you can print it off and attach to your shipment. Through Click-N-Ship, you can also save information such as addresses or delivery specifications, track sent packages and access user discounts.

How to Make a Shipping Label for UPS

United Parcel Service (UPS) is another reliable choice for shipment and label creation. It’s proved very suitable for e-commerce traders due to its reliability and range of shipping options.

The process for making a shipping label is largely similar through UPS as it is with USPS. One of the main differences is that you don’t need to register an account. You can simply create a shipment as a guest if you prefer.

As with USPS, the UPS tool is easy to navigate. You just have to follow the step-by-step procedures to design your label, make the necessary payment and print your shipping labels off.

Do Shipping Labels Expire?

In short, yes. Shipping labels do tend to expire. However, expiry dates depend on the delivery service you use. In general, validity periods for the major companies are:

  • USPS – standard validity period of 28 days from the purchase date. Beyond this, flexibility depends on the post office you use. This can vary across locations, from no extension at all to a grace period of a few weeks.
  • UPS – typically 90 days from the creation date. Again, extension periods can vary across locations. It is entirely discretional and usually doesn’t extend beyond a few days.
  • FedEx – dates depend on label format. Printed labels are generally only valid for two weeks whereas emailed labels intended for later shipping can be used for up to two years beyond the issue date.

Whichever carrier you use, it’s wise to double-check the expiry date to avoid getting stung and having to pay out for more labels. The way you can do this is by checking the date of issue and calculating the expiry date using the company’s standard validity period.

You should avoid using expired shipping labels unless granted an extension by licensed locations. If you happen to have expired labels, you can contact the carrier for information on what your options are. These can include reissuing new labels, refunds or permitting a fresh extension.

You can purchase standard 4”x6” shipping labels, as well as other label sizes, from Betckey. These are compatible with a range of desktop printers including Brother, Dymo and Zebra.