Should you buy a shipping label printer? Which one? What shipping software should you use with it?
The Facebook group I started for shop owners is a real gem. The advice in there is top notch stuff that you can’t always find on Google. This example was so helpful, I thought I’d share it with you. One of our members asked,
“Morning! I’m looking into getting a label printer for my shipping labels. I currently just print them on regular paper, cut them, and use shipping tape to adhere them to the envelopes. Anyone know if using a label printer will be more/ less expensive than doing it like this? I’m sure it will save me time, but wondering if it is worth the purchase. Thanks!”
Dozens of experienced shop owners chimed in, and here are the pros and cons of buying a shipping label printer.
DIY label printing
Quite a few people had a manageable amount of orders, and were able to print labels simply, just using their own home printers. They buy self-adhesive half sheets of labels off Amazon, Uline, or the like and run them through their printers. Please note that an inkjet printer can get very expensive. If you use a printer with a toner cartridge it will last quite a bit longer and you won’t have to keep buying ink.
- low initial investment
- no extra equipment to have around
- can start doing this right away if you have a printer and paper
- purchasing ink cartridges can get expensive
- taking time to cut labels to size
- taking time to cover with tape to prevent smearing from rain
- cost of tape
- may not look professional
Thermal label printers
The DYMO 4XL label printer was called a game changer by many shop owners, and described as, “one of the first and one of the best business investments I ever made.”
“I use the Dymo 4×6 label printer and it is one of the best, if not the best, investments I have ever made for my business. The time it saves and frustration it saves is incredible. Every time I use it it’s like Christmas morning quite honestly hahaha”
It uses thermal technology to print, using heat to create a smear-proof, weather-proof print. You can use it to print labels with your logo, bar codes, and postage.
People who ship many orders a day told us they were spending $400+ a year on toner alone, and the DYMO was a big time and money saver for them. We were told that the price on Amazon fluctuates, and it’s easy to get it for well under $200 if you watch for a deal. The more labels you print, the more likely this machine will save you money over using your inkjet.
- special thermal paper means you don’t need to spend money on ink or tape
- saves time by preventing the extra work of cutting and taping
- prints quickly (up to 129 labels per minute!), and labels are on a roll, so you don’t have to feed them in manually
- looks professional
- initial investment in printer and paper
- ongoing investment in paper refills (depending on your shipment volume)
- need to find room on your desk for it
There are a variety of DYMO label printers, but the 4XL was mentioned specifically in our group. After we first published this post, one of our Facebook group members recommended a different thermal printer:
“By the way, there’s another label printer making the rounds that I ended up purchasing instead of DYMO after reading reviews (because it seems like DYMOs can suddenly stop working and then customer service is no help). It’s called ROLLO, and so far I haven’t had any issue with it and their customer support is fantastic. The bonus is that you can use ANY label paper with it (instead of needing to buy DYMO-specific labels).”
Another alternative that was mentioned with praise was the Brother QL-570 professional label printer.
Label paper refills
DYMO recommends you use their label paper only, but some of the shop owners in our group save money by using other brands. Know that using off brand labels voids the warranty on the printer. One of our members had a printer break and DYMO sent her a brand new one, but required photos and to ship the old one back to see what had happened to it.
Another shop owners told us, “It’s definitely something for which you have to assess the risk. The amount of money I saved by buying off-brand labels for the duration of the two-year warranty was actually more than the cost of just purchasing a new label maker if mine had broken, so it was worth it to me. But for someone shipping fewer items, it might not be.”
One shop owner even suggested this tip, “You can also get rolls of 200+ labels from UPS for free that work perfectly with the ROLLO printer, so now I don’t even have to pay for label paper.”
Another big time saver is using software to speed up the shipping process. The most recommended tools were:
- Shipstation, a service that combines your orders from different sales platforms and creates and prints postage with great rates (it’s affiliated with, and includes a subscription to, stamps.com). That’s an affiliate link, and a lot of our clients use Shipstation.
- Shippo, which integrates with Etsy and Shopify, and lets you create your own labels and use carriers such as UPS. It can cost less per label for low volume shipping (and has the cutest logo!).
- ShippingEasy is feature rich, and if you send less than 50 packages a month, you can use their starter plan with no monthly fee. My husband uses it, and that’s our affiliate link.
Each of these services work well with with the DYMO label printer, and are a great step toward growing a business.
Get your questions answered in our group
Hey there! Do you run a creative business that sells stuff online? I think you’d really like our Facebook group. We have everyone from brand new to established businesses in there, sharing the real stuff that goes into making sales online. It’s a super helpful group of over 4,000 now, and I make sure that no one in there is trying to sell anything to you. It’s a cozy place to give and get advice between peers. Subscribe here (and then search “shipping” in the group, or whatever else you have a question on. Odds are, we’ve sorted it out).