Essential Shipping Tools and Tips for New Sellers

New to selling and wondering what shipping tools the pros use to ship their orders?

New sellers generally spend more money on shipping than veteran sellers. If you’re a new seller and taking your packages to the post office to ship, then you’re not getting commercial rates. You’re also wasting time waiting in line.

Sellers with any volume of sales will generally have a process and tools to streamline shipping. Even if they’re using another service to get commercial shipping rates, they’ll still need to enter dimensions, weights, and print labels.

What can you do to help streamline your shipping process? You’ll want to consider purchasing one or more of these tools.

Scale

Even if you’re using USPS flat rate boxes and envelopes to ship your products, there will be many instances where you can save on shipping by using cheaper services.

Sellers who offer free shipping are losing money by not buying a scale in order to get the best possible shipping rates.

Consider purchasing a cheap digital scale on Amazon.

Digital scales should be around $20 to $30, though if you need legal-for-trade or NTEP scales, that’ll cost even more. It’s not likely you’ll need a legal-for-trade scale if you’re shipping, but sellers who need it will already know.

Below are three top results for “shipping scales” on Amazon. Note the weight limits. Consider how and where you’ll be placing these scales. Some are designed for tables, like the first ACCUTECK scale, requiring a lot of lifting, while others can be placed on the ground with the display placed elsewhere.

The last thing you want is to purchase the first ACCUTECK scale only to realize that you’ll have to lift every single package onto and off the table just to weigh it.

If you’re shipping or expect to ship heavier packages, you’ll want to get a scale that can handle those.

Amazon shipping scales results

Printers

Avoid using an inkjet printer for your shipping station. While inkjet printers may be cheap, the cost of ink can be extremely expensive, sometimes exceeding the cost of the printer after just one replacement.

While inkjets do provide color printing, you’ll almost never need to provide invoices or packing slips in color. Most customers just throw those away anyhow.

Instead, consider using a cheap multifunction laser printer, or even better, a thermal label printer. Save your inkjet printer for color or photo prints.

Laser Printers (or Multi-function/All-in-One Laser Printers)

Laser printers have multiple advantages over inkjet printers. First and foremost, the cost per page is just a few cents compared to an inkjet printer.

Take a look at the images below for the price per page cost of an HP inkjet printer and an HP laser printer from Best Buy. The HP 63 Black Ink cartridge (single) retails for $18.99, while the HP 17A toner cartridge retails for $65.99.

Also note that some printer models will not allow you to print black only if other colors are out, and color cartridges may cost more. If you don’t often print color, then those nozzles may clog. You’ll then have to run cleaning processes or replace the cartridge altogether.

HP 63 Black Ink Cart

HP 17A Toner specs

Cost per page for the HP 63 black ink cartridge: $0.0999, almost 10¢ per page.

Cost per page for the HP 17A black toner cartridge: $0.0412, about 4¢ per page, less than half the cost of an inkjet print.

Consider getting a multi-function or all-in-one laser printer so you can also scan, copy, and fax.

Some features to look for:

  • Automatic duplex printing (automatically print on both sides of the paper)
  • Availability and quality of generic toner replacements
  • Drum units (Brother printers generally have a separate drum unit compared to other manufacturers)
  • Refills (if you’re attempting to refill instead of replacing the toner cartridge)
  • Wireless printing or compatibility with Windows, Mac, or mobile printing
  • Purchase enterprise models for high-volume printing
  • Multiple input trays for different paper types (regular paper and label paper)

Thermal Label Printers

Many sellers like using thermal label printers because they eliminate the need for ink and toner. They’re also more convenient and less wasteful. While you can print, cut, and tape shipping information onto a box, it doesn’t look as professional. And it’s very time-consuming.

Another option is to print labels through the laser printer. But this can be a waste if you’re also printing invoices or packing slips. You’ll often have to switch out paper types or print invoices or packing slips on more expensive label paper unless you have a printer with multiple input trays.

Consider purchasing a direct thermal label printer that handles wide 4″ x 6″ shipping labels. These will also handle smaller labels, giving you more flexibility.

The most popular thermal label printer is the Dymo LabelWriter 4XL, pictured below. The 4XL uses label rolls that have a hole, so you’ll need to purchase either original Dymo labels or generics that are specifically compatible.

Generic labels come in various designs and specs, so be sure to check the description if you need the labels perforated or waterproof.

Dymo 4XL

Another option is to use a thermal label printer that is compatible with free UPS shipping labels. If you’re already using free UPS labels, then the Rollo label printer may be a good choice.

Rollo Label Printer

Check out our article on thermal label printers to see even more models you can use to print wide 4″ x 6″ shipping labels.

Shipping Supplies

Have an eBay store? eBay sends store subscribers a coupon for free shipping supplies every quarter.

If you ship primarily using USPS Priority, then you can request free USPS Priority boxes and envelopes.

Some sellers like to recycle boxes. This is an option if you’re not selling a lot of products or if you don’t have your own brand. If you have a brand, you may want to use new boxes for better brand perception.

The customer’s first perception of you is the packaging, so you’ll want to make a good impression for your brand.

Make sure you remove any previous labels from the box instead of taping over them. Not only is leaving a previous label on unprofessional, but it exposes the previous customer’s information.

Buy bulk shipping supplies from vendors like Uline for better pricing. If you’re purchasing shipping supplies like padded envelopes from your local Walmart or office supply store, then chances are you’re spending more on shipping supplies than you should.

Check out our article on shipping supply vendors for a comparison of prices.

Shipping Services

While Amazon and eBay give you better prices than retail locations (including USPS), they’re not always the lowest.

Try getting quotes from other services like PirateShip to see if you can save even more on shipping. Or connect with a shipping integration for your eBay and Amazon business in order to get commercial rates and easily manage all of your shipping in one place.

Some of these shipping integrations offer a free trial or free service for low-volume sellers.

Check out other free tools new eBay sellers can use in order to streamline their sales.

If the majority of your shipping goes through USPS, consider using a SCAN form to save both your time and the postal worker’s time. These forms will allow the postal worker to scan one barcode to receive all associated packages. Many shipping integration services will give you the ability to print SCAN forms.

Shipping services may also give you access to cubic pricing, which is great for shipping small and heavy packages.

Read our article on different types of carton and box sealing methods including tape. See if using quieter tape or a different sealing method will help for your needs.

The upfront cost of purchasing all this hardware may be a bit high, but the long-term savings far outweigh initial costs. Even switching to a label printer will save you on ink, toner, and paper costs (if you’re using free labels).

Shipping shouldn’t be a frustrating process. With the right tools in place, you can streamline your shipping operation and devote more time to growing your business.

6 Direct Thermal Label Printers for Wide Shipping Labels

Looking for direct thermal shipping label printers so you can save on toner and ink? If you’re still printing shipping labels with printers that use ink, you’re wasting time and money. Laser printers don’t use ink, but you’re still replacing toner cartridges and maybe drums. Both are very costly if you go OEM, and if you use generics, you’ll end up getting smudges and smears.

We’ll survey some of the more popular direct thermal shipping label printers on Amazon and elsewhere that print wide 4″ x 6″ shipping labels. Choose one that will work for you. Prices listed are at the time of publication. You can always check the price history at a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel.

Why direct thermal instead of thermal transfer? Direct thermal printers have some advantages over thermal transfer printers for shipping purposes. The main advantage is that direct thermal printers don’t require ribbons and are more flexible with labels. Thermal transfer printers require ribbons and specialized labels for compatibility.

If you use UPS labels, then you’ll need a direct thermal printer.

All the printers we survey in this article are Windows and Mac compatible, and they’re connected via USB unless otherwise stated. Extra features like Bluetooth connectivity may be available on the upgraded models.

Looking for some shipping integrations? Read our article on 8 popular shipping integrations for Amazon.

Citizen CL-E300 LAN as Standard Desktop Printer

Citizen isn’t really a well-known consumer brand when it comes to printers, but it’s a familiar name in for enterprise users. Many small businesses use Citizen products for logistics and retail solutions.

This printer is currently on sale at Newegg for $211.19. Online reviews for this unit are scarce, but that can be a good sign since people are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones.

Some features of the CL-E300 are:

  • Onboard LAN with Citizen LinkServer and USB and Serial interfaces
  • 203 dpi and 300 dpi
  • Prints at 200 mm/s at 203 dpi and 150 mm/s at 300 dpi
  • Has different versions for 203 dpi, 300 dpi, cutter and peeler

Brother QL-1100 Wide Format Thermal Label Printer

Many organizations use Brother printers, so you may already be familiar with the brand. If you’re a fan of Brother printers, then this may be the printer for you. One feature that stands out is Android support and SDK, allowing you to create your own apps to integrate this printer with your workflow.

This Brother label printer is $179.99, so it’s roughly the same price as the other competitors on this list.

The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 1 star from M D K claims that the printer is difficult to configure.

The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 4 stars from E Garcia says that the printer works with El Capitan and Endicia after some minor printer setting adjustments.

Like the DYMO printer, this Brother label printer recommends Brother labels, though you can find generics at a lower price on Amazon.

Features of the Brother QL-1100 model include:

  • Barcode crop function to select barcodes and UPCs for printing from templates (for Windows only)
  • Create and print labels without software (for Windows only)
  • Brother SDK for Windows and Android
  • Automatic calibration and cutter
  • 300 dpi
  • Mobile support for Android printing via USB (or wireless with QL-1100NWB)

DYMO Label Writer 4XL Thermal Label Printer 1755120

DYMO is one of the most popular label printers on the market. This label printer has 3.5 stars with over 2,100 customer reviews. Chances are you’ve heard or read about DYMO printers or you’re using one already.

The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 1 star from Sherilynn Macale claims that it stops working randomly.

The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 4 stars from VGReviews states that the printer prints from the USPS site only through DYMO Stamps (Endicia) and that the workaround requires a lot of steps (approximately 14 clicks).

This printer is currently priced on sale at $177.80 down from the listing price of $279.00 for just the machine (no labels). The DYMO label printer uses DYMO labels, so you won’t be able to use your UPS labels with this printer. There are cheaper generics available if you don’t want the DYMO labels.

Features of the DYMO LabelWriter 4XL include:

  • over 60 label templates to customize your shipping labels
  • print labels directly from eBay, Amazon, Etsy
  • compatible with Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and more
  • compatible with all major shipping carriers
  • 300 dpi
  • prints extra large shipping labels up to 4″ x 6″

If you’re looking for other DYMO label printers (non-wide), then other popular models on Amazon include:

MFLABEL Printer

The lowest priced printer on this list, the MFLABEL printer costs only $109.99 and has 3 stars with over 40 reviews. This generic label printer is very barebones, with no software like DYMO or Brother included. The printer includes a link to the drivers for installation. If you’re willing to take some time and configure the printer and learn, then you may be able to save a few bucks with this printer.

Otherwise, you’ll probably want to go with the major brands like DYMO or Brother for ease of setup and availability of support.

The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 2 stars from jusbzness says that the printer may work for PC users but that it didn’t work for Mac despite the specifications. User jusbzness claims to have followed instructions for setting up with Mac but that it ultimately didn’t work.

The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 5 stars from Alana S. tells customers to be patient. Alana S. advises that Paypal users should change the printer setting to Zebra LP2844 to print labels correctly.

Features for the MFLABEL printer include:

  • Compatible with Windows XP and above as well as Mac (see critical review above)
  • Works with eBay, Etsy, UPS, USPS, and more

Rollo x1038 Commercial Label Printer

This Rollo label printer is marketed as a fast, commercial-grade thermal printer. It has 4.5 stars at over 500 reviews. There’s also an additional label holder accessory for $19.99 that you can purchase for your roll labels.

The most helpful Top 1000 Vine Voice critical review at 2 stars from Kevin Nicholls claims that integration with ShippingEasy required a lot of configuring to get it to print correctly. Calibrating the printer for different labels between prints was also problematic.

The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 5 stars from RestoreYourHouse lists several features of the printer that are excellent, including the ability to print different label sizes, the use of any direct thermal labels, automatic calibration, and fast printing.

It’s currently priced at $169.99 with free shipping.

Features for this Rollo thermal label printer include:

  • up to 5,000 labels per day
  • prints up to 150 mm/s (about one standard 4″ x 6″ shipping label per second)
  • supports label width between 1.57 inches (4 cm) to 4.1 inches (10.4 cm)
  • automatic label size detection
  • compatible with any direct thermal labels, including UPS labels
  • can print barcodes
  • compatible with all shipping platforms like ShippingEasy, ShipWorks, Shippo, Ordoro, and more

Zebra GC420d and Zebra GK420d

What about all the Zebra label printers? The latest Zebra printer models aren’t readily available on Amazon. Those Zebra printers that are available are outside the scope of this article, or they are older models that may have discontinued support. One popular Zebra printer that is now discontinued is the Zebra LP2844. You should be able to find this on eBay for about $100 shipped.

Instead, the link is from Monoprice for the GC420d and GK420d models. One major difference between the two models is the printing speed. The GC420d prints at 240.9″ per minute, while the GK420d prints at 300″ per minute.

Monoprice currently sells the GC420d model for $259.99 and the GK420d model for $399.99.

Both printers support wide-format shipping label printing for 4″ x 6″ labels. Zebra devices are very sturdy and reliable, and they’re used in many industries. If you’re also looking for an enterprise printer, then the industrial Zebra label printers may be the solution for you.

Other features include:

  • Compatible with 500-label Zebra roll
  • 203 dpi for clear prints
  • Parallel, serial, and USB ports for legacy devices
  • All-metal printhead for more durability

Most, if not all, of the direct thermal printers in this article will work with any shipping integration you’re using. So long as the printer is installed properly, you’ll just need to configure the printer and integration a bit.

Two other direct thermal printers that you may be interested in are listed below.

Printing, cutting, and taping pieces of paper for shipping isn’t an ideal process for many sellers. First, it’s difficult to scale up that type of operation since it’s so time-consuming. Secondly, it looks very unprofessional to cut pieces of paper or labels. While many customers won’t care, it doesn’t look professional for the business. Finally, all that wasted time can be reallocated to other parts of the business for better efficiency.

Use of these thermal wide-format shipping label printers to speed up your shipping workflow. Many of these will integrate with the 8 shipping integrations we’ve linked at the beginning of this article. Then it’s just a matter of clicking on print to quickly print all the labels you’ll need. Save time. Save labor costs, and reduce shipping mistakes with any one of these printers.

Looking for impulse sealers? Check out this article to see the 5 top-rated impulse heat sealers on Amazon.