1) Introduction

Often after receiving a package, people quickly unwrap the packaging to check whether or not the item inside is safe. In their quest, they usually damage the prepaid shipping label pasted by the courier company for ease in delivery and returns. 

Generally, people consider prepaid shipping labels as mere stickers pasted on their parcels. However, for merchants and e-tailers, it's an important document without which packages can't reach their final destinations. 

Wondering how a small piece of paper has such high significance? Keep on reading to find your answer.


2) First, what's a prepaid shipping label?

Generated by courier companies or shipping partners, a prepaid shipping label is similar to a regular shipping label, only it's paid for beforehand. It's a sticker or document pasted on the package before loading it for delivery and contains all the necessary information required from shipment to delivery of goods. The document reflects the payment amount invested in the shipment along with details like shipping address, a destination address, shipment type, essential barcodes, and much more. 

Generally, prepaid shipping labels are used by courier companies to simplify the delivery process. However, they can be useful in smooth returns and ensure that the packages reach the merchants and e-tailers safely. 


3) Why are prepaid shipping labels important? 

In the early days, when courier and shipping services weren't as sophisticated as they are now, customers often complained about missing or wrong package delivery. The major reason behind these complications was a large number of verifiable documents. 

Humanly, it wasn't possible for people to go through such large volumes of documents and take necessary actions. Therefore when shipping labels came to light, courier companies didn't think twice before including them in their daily operations. Now, they've become such an integral part of the supply chain that without their presence movement of packages from the shipper to the recipient is not even possible.

Again, with further development, when prepaid shipping labels were introduced, eCommerce sellers quickly accepted the concept as it increased their chances of getting a successful sale. It was found that people who paid for shipments before delivery had a higher chance of keeping the package as compared to those who opted for cash-on-delivery options. Thus, from there on, prepaid shipping labels became a recognizable name in the eCommerce logistics industry. 


4) Benefits of prepaid shipping labels

Hoping that by now you have an idea about prepaid shipping labels, let's head on to their benefits.

4.1) Adds a professional touch 

Earlier, organizations relied on employees to manually write each shipping label. This took a lot of time and often led to errors and missing details. Sometimes it resulted in glitches like the ink fading even before delivery.  

However, with printed prepaid shipping labels, organizations could achieve more efficiency and generate more labels within a limited time. They could eliminate human error and meet customers' expectations within the required timeframe.

4.2) Saves money on sellotapes

Previously, using sellotapes to attach shipping labels on the packages was a general convention among couriers and shipping organizations. However, when merchants and e-tailers received complaints that shipping labels often come off during transportation and delivery, they switched to stickers. 

Stickers are easy to use and save the time wasted in cutting the sellotapes and pasting the document. Plus, they last long and simplify the delivery process. 

4.3) Offers flexibility

Generally, when people go for COD (Cash on delivery), they have to be present on the day of delivery to pay for their package. In case they are unavailable, they have to ask the receiver, be it their neighbor or friend, to pay on their behalf and accept the package.

Now, this isn't always preferred by people and could lead to them refusing your request. With prepaid shipping labels, people don't have to worry about the money and can easily receive couriers themselves or on behalf of an acquaintance.  

4.4) Reduces time and money

Often when customers opt for COD mode, courier employees have to wait until the customer arrives with the required amount. At times the customer doesn't have the exact amount and requests the courier personnel to adjust it for them, making them pay from their pockets. This not only results in a loss for the delivery person but also consumes a lot of their time. 

Prepaid shipping labels, on the other hand, eliminate these complications and provide faster service.

4.5) Provides security

Though packages are packed keeping in mind complete security, sometimes, during the delivery process, they open up giving everyone a glimpse into what has been ordered by the customers. 

Since prepaid shipping labels are mostly pasted on the opening of the package, they act as a barrier between the item inside and the packaging, providing full protection to the shipment. 


5) How to create prepaid shipping labels?

All prepaid shipping labels are created during the order processing phase. Online sellers can either opt for generating prepaid shipping labels through a post office or arrange a prepaid shipping label themselves by choosing from the options below.

5.1) Through a post office

A common practice by small-scale eCommerce sellers is to visit the post office and pay to create a label for their customers. However, as easy as it sounds, it's one of the most expensive ways to manage your company's eCommerce logistics section.

Since you're buying labels from the post office, you're charged for postages at retail rates. And in the long run, it will cost you more than partnering with a shipping service or generating your prepaid shipping labels yourself.

5.2) Creating a label by oneself

Creating prepaid shipping labels, on the other hand, can save you large amounts of money and give you the flexibility to customize labels as per your customers' requirements. Now, coming to the quintessential question of how to create prepaid shipping labels. 

You can do it in three ways: using a carrier's online tool, using shipping software, or fully automating with shipping tools.

a) Using a carrier's online tool

Popular carriers like USPS, DHL, FedEx, and so on have different online tools to help merchants and e-tailers create prepaid shipping labels themselves. You can visit their website, register on the portal in case you have never used that carrier service before, and choose a free trial to witness the difference it creates to your eCommerce logistics handling process.

However, it's not the perfect solution as you will have to punch in details for each order manually. Plus, it'll save you a lot in your initial operating days, but after attaining growth, it will require a lot of time to manage your logistics operations. 

b) Relying on a shipping software

A shipping label software is a much better option for printing prepaid shipping labels. It allows you to download a carrier's shipping label template and fill in the necessary details as per your convenience. Merchants and e-tailers can customize shipping labels or work in offline mode or even automate the label printing process through this method.

c) Integrating with the shipping tool

Integrating your store with a shipping tool can streamline your eCommerce logistics process. By using this method, you can retrieve data automatically every time an order is placed and create prepaid shipping labels hassle-free. You can even grant complete access to the shipping tool, making it compatible with multiple platforms and carriers. 

6) How to print prepaid shipping labels?

Printing a prepaid shipping label includes two main options: using a standard inkjet or laser printer or relying on a thermal label printer. In this post, we will enlighten you about the differences between both these methods and suggest the best option. 

6.1) Inkjet or laser printer

An inkjet printer is the first choice for most small-scale online sellers. Since it's the most affordable option among the three methods mentioned above, most merchants and e-tailers choose it over laser and thermal label printers. 

However, if you have a large monthly demand, it's better to go with a laser printer. 

Though laser printers come costly, they work at high speed and print accurate labels, limiting both waste of printing material and ink. Plus, they are more reliable than inkjet printers, which are known for ink fading issues over time. And since we all know how parcels are handled during the delivery process one must not take a chance with an inkjet-printed prepaid shipping label.

6.2) Thermal label printers

The best in the league, thermal label printers are the most efficient when it comes to printing shipping labels. They need less maintenance and no supplies like ink, or paper, except for the label rolls. They work by using heat to create shapes on the paper and print accurate results without any smudged or missing parts. However, they're the costliest option and generally suitable for large-scale businesses with high volumes of packages created daily. 

7) Tips for printing prepaid shipping labels

If you want your prepaid shipping labels to work efficiently, follow the tips given below. 

7.1) Have detailed instructions

The prepaid shipping labels attached to the packages are more than just identification tags. They provide valuable information about the product inside and how it can be delivered to its owner. 

Hence online sellers should add special instructions if needed to protect the package from being manhandled or delivered to the wrong shipping address. For instance, things like perishable, fragile, etc., should be mentioned if the product belongs to that category. 

7.2) Attach labels in the right position

Often courier employees paste labels at any position, thinking that they will be easily identifiable for the verifier. However, as mentioned earlier, they're more than identification tags. 

When placed in the right position, they add a layer to the packaging, keeping the product inside safe from popping out from the package during the delivery process. Plus, for special products with instructions like "this side above," etc., they should always be pasted accordingly.

7.3) Don't forget to add waybills

Waybills are essential for every online seller. They are usually placed inside the package or added above the package inside a plastic wallet. They carry important information about the sender and the receiver and include details about reaching out to the seller in case of any discrepancy. They are vital documents in the return process and must be clear for the receiver to act accordingly.

8) Conclusion

We hope this article was enlightening enough and touched upon all the important points related to prepaid shipping labels. In case you find yourself struggling to find the answer to any query, do check out our FAQs section. Still, if you feel things aren't resolved, feel free to reach out to us, and we will surely get back to you.


9) FAQs about prepaid shipping labels

9.1) What is a prepaid shipping label?

A prepaid shipping label is a document or sticker pasted on the package for ease of identification and delivery of packages. It includes details like the sender's name & address, recipient's name & address, package's weight, unidirectional code, postal barcode, shipping type, routing and tracking number, and so on. 

9.2) What is the best way to print a shipping label?

Shipping labels can be printed through an inkjet, laser, or thermal printer. Depending on the business size and money allocated to printing expenses, online sellers can choose which option would serve them the best.

9.3) Are printing shipping labels free of cost?

Yes, one can print shipping labels free of cost, but one needs to pay for the postage charges.