5 Ways to Make Shipping Less of a Time Suck

When you’re running a business, there’s a ton of stuff that can eat up your time. One of these things is shipping. To help you spend more time selling and less time on the operational details, here are five tips to help you streamline your shipping process and better manage inventory.

1. Buy a thermal label printer.

Direct thermal printers use a chemically treated material that blackens when the thermal printhead applies heat to the surface of the material. These printers require no ink, toner, or ribbon to apply print to the label surface.

While you can see the obvious cost benefit of using this type of printer (no more ink, toner, or ribbon to buy and replace), there are many time-saving benefits of using a thermal label printer. Here are a few:

  • Having a dedicated printer for printing postage means that you don’t have to feed labels into your laser or inkjet printer when you need to prepare a label. You also don’t have to worry about someone accidentally printing on your labels, or accidentally printing postage on normal paper.

  • Jamming is less likely on a thermal printer because the printer path is straight, which means fewer errors, saving you time and money.

  • Printing on a direct thermal printer means shipping labels won’t smear and there’s no need to wait for the ink to dry, which saves time, especially if you have hundreds of labels to print!

  • You can get a good, new direct thermal printer for around $250, and refurbished ones for less. You’ll want to use four-inch labels for shipping. ShipStation is compatible with almost any 4” x 6” thermal label printer.

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2. Print your shipping labels in batches.

Whether you have three labels to print or a hundred, you want to get through them as quickly as possible. That’s why you should consider using the batch printing functionality in your shipping software. ShipStation gives you the option to print 500 labels at a time, which makes the process a snap.

3. Include return labels in all your shipments.

No, we’re not trying to help you get more returns. But including a return label does make it easier for those folks who want to return items. That leads to more customer satisfaction. In fact, a strong return policy was the most important decision-making factor for online shoppers, in a recent analysis by Granify.

Providing labels and clear instructions on your return policy also greatly reduces the amount of time you spend handling return issues, which helps you streamline your shipping and receiving process overall. ShipStation makes it easy to create return labels automatically.

4. Set up carrier pickups from USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

Hauling items to the post office, FedEx, or UPS is not the most fun activity. Save yourself time (and standing in lines) by scheduling automatic pickups from carriers. Every carrier offers different pickup options. UPS and FedEx generally charge to pick up from your house or office, but the fees vary depending on whether you need a daily scheduled pickup or an occasional pickup. USPS pickups are generally free—you can either hand packages to them as you see them daily, or go online to schedule a free pickup.

For the couple of dollars per shipment (worst case) or ten to twenty dollars per week, it’s probably worth it.

5. Create product shipping automation rules in your shipping software.

When possible, use technology to help you automate. Especially when it comes to mind-numbing tasks such as determining how to ship each product (depending on weight, fragility, geography, price, etc.). ShipStation allows you to set up automation rules in the system, so when an order comes in, ShipStation does the work to figure out the best way to ship it, not you. Fewer errors and less time spent. That’s a win for sure.

Bonus tip: Last but not least, save time managing your shipping by setting up your physical shipping space for maximum efficiency. You can check out some tips here.

We hope these five ideas will help you make the shipping process less of a hassle, giving you time back to focus on what matters—making more sales!