How to Select Labels for Ecommerce Shipping

4 min read
May 31, 2024 1:53:32 PM

Choosing the right shipping label can eliminate common ecommerce and distribution headaches before they happen.

A well-labeled package ensures that your packages are handled properly throughout the shipping process. They prevent misdeliveries and contribute to a seamless customer experience. And let’s not forget about cost efficiency. Proper labeling reduces errors, minimizing costs associated with returns and reshipments.

There are many choices when it comes to printing and using shipping labels. We’ll cover some of the most common and conventional options, then consider some custom possibilities for your business.

Types and Options for Ecommerce Shipping Labels

When selecting shipping labels, consider factors like label size, adhesive quality, material durability and printing options. Align your choice with your business goals, target audience and product type. Whether you’re aiming to increase brand recognition, expand market reach or improve operational efficiency, the right label type can be a game-changer.

Paper Shipping Labels

These labels are printed from a standard laser printer using online postage platforms like or Click-N-Ship from the USPS.


  • Fast and easy — Printing paper labels is straightforward, making it ideal for small businesses with limited resources looking for a quick and hassle-free solution.
  • Cost-effective — If you’re on a tight budget, paper labels are the most affordable option.


  • Tape requirement — The need for tape to affix the label to the package can mask the barcode and lead to mistakes and shipping delays. Avoid them if barcode visibility is critical.
  • Ink and label damage — Be cautious if your packages may encounter moisture or rough handling during transit. Paper labels are susceptible to ink smudging and tearing.

Choose these labels if...

  • You’re a small business with limited resources.
  • Cost-effectiveness is a priority.
  • Your products don’t require frequent barcode scanning (e.g., non-fragile goods).

Thermal Transfer Shipping Labels

These labels use wax ribbons to transfer shipping information to the label.


  • High-quality printing — Thermal transfer labels produce sharp, professional prints. If your brand image matters, these labels enhance presentation.
  • Durability — These labels withstand handling, temperature changes and exposure to light. They’re suitable for long-lasting shipping labels.


  • Consumables cost — If you prioritize print quality over cost, these labels are a good fit. However, be prepared for ongoing expenses related to ribbon replacement.

Choose these labels if...

  • You want high-quality prints for premium products.
  • Professional presentation is crucial.
  • You can manage the consumables cost.

Direct Thermal Printer Shipping Labels

Direct thermal printers use heat (instead of ink) for printing and are common in high-volume shipping operations.


  • Fastest printing option — Direct thermal printers are known for their speed. They are ideal for large-scale fulfillment centers where speed matters most.
  • Smear resistant — Direct thermal printing doesn’t use ink or cartridges; it relies solely on heat to create images and text. This simplicity prevents smearing, reduces maintenance and ensures consistent printing quality.


  • Dependency on special paper — Direct thermal printing isn’t a viable option for many small businesses. Start-up costs can be high, and you will need a reliable source for the specialty label material.
  • Limited lifespan — Direct thermal labels are sensitive to heat and light, which can cause them to darken or fade over time. This can lead to poor readability or loss of information.

Choose these labels if...

  • You operate a high-volume warehouse.
  • Speed is critical for your shipping process.
  • You have short-term durability requirements.

Adhesive Shipping Labels

These labels run through a laser printer and can be easily adhered to most packages without additional tape.


  • Clean look — Adhesive labels adhere directly to packages, eliminating the need for additional tape. The result is a professional, neat appearance.
  • Barcode scanning efficiency — Adhesive labels allow barcode scanners to read codes accurately, improving tracking and delivery.


  • Ink smearing — Ink smearing can be a concern, especially if the labels are printed using inkjet printers or if they are exposed to moisture or friction before the ink has fully dried.
  • Adhesion issues — Adhesive shipping labels may not adhere properly to certain surfaces or materials. This can be due to factors such as surface texture, irregular shapes or moisture.

Choose these labels if...

  • You prioritize a professional appearance.
  • Barcode scanning efficiency matters.
  • Your packages generally have standard shapes.

Specialty Shipping Labels

These custom labels are designed for specific needs like containing an invoice with the label or handling fragile items.


  • Efficiency and value — Specialty labels are a great choice when standard options don’t meet your unique requirements. For example, you can use them for personalized branding or to include extra information.
  • Operational efficiency — For certain use cases (e.g., including return instructions), specialty labels streamline processes and enhance customer experience.


  • Higher cost — Specialty labels come at a premium. You’ll need to evaluate whether the benefits justify the expense.

Choose these labels if...

  • You have specific use cases (e.g., including invoices).
  • Customization would enhance your brand or improve efficiency.
  • You’re willing to invest in tailored solutions.


Choosing the right labels for your ecommerce shipping is crucial for ensuring smooth and efficient order fulfillment processes. Remember to prioritize factors like label readability, adhesion strength, resistance to smudging and damage, and compatibility with your printing equipment.

Work with Ecommerce Experts to Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiency

Whether you're unsure which labels are best suited for your needs or are ready to implement a new label program, reach out to the experts in label printing and logistics. Working with professionals can help you navigate the complexities of label selection, reduce costs, and increase efficiency in your shipping processes.

At GO2 Partners, our industry experts can provide valuable insights and solutions tailored to your business requirements. Together, we can optimize your label strategy and take your ecommerce shipping operations to new heights. Get in touch with us today to discover how we can help you achieve your shipping goals efficiently and affordably.

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