A shipping label is a crucial part of the supply chain—without the right information, packages can be held up in transit or delivered to the wrong address, neither of which is great for customer trust or your bank balance.
To give your customers the best experience possible, it’s important you include the right information on your shipping labels. In this post, we’ll show you how to get a shipping label and how to label a package by hand, and we’ll give you a shipping label template to get you started.
What is a shipping label?
A shipping label is a sticker attached to each individual package that identifies its destination, the recipient, its weight, and other vital pieces of information needed to get it from A to B when you use a delivery service like the US Postal Service, DHL, UPS, Fedex, etc. Unique scannable bar codes can track the package on its journey and give shoppers (and you!) a clear view of where their products are in transit.
How to write a shipping label
- Return Name & Address
- Destination Name & Address
- Total Weight of Package
- Machine-Readable Code
- IMpb Code
- Shipping Method
- Sortation Number
- Online Tracking Number
Shipping labels aren’t the place for creativity. They need to include important details to ensure it reaches its destination. What information you add to the label will depend on what type of package you’re sending—for example, an envelope doesn’t need as much information as a package.
Addressing an envelope
Envelope shipping labels should be attached to the center of the envelope with the return address in the upper left corner. It’s not mandatory to include a return address, but this can be beneficial in case the package doesn’t get delivered due to damage or an incorrect street address. It’ll be returned to you instead of lost in the ether.
Here’s what to include on an envelope shipping label:
- Recipient’s name
- Business name of the recipient
- Street address (including the apartment number, if necessary)
- City, state, and ZIP code (make sure they’re on the same line)
Place a stamp or postage in the top right-hand corner and your package is ready to go.
Writing a shipping label on a box
You need a little more information on a shipping label for a package or box. Again, stick the label to the center of the largest face of the package and include the following information:
- The method of shipping (e.g., Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, or expedited shipping)
- Sender’s name and return address
- Recipient’s name and shipping address
- Package weight
- Scannable bar code to track the package in transit
How to create shipping labels
Shopify Shipping gives you access to shipping labels from popular carriers, including UPS and DHL Express (see the full list of carriers here). If your fulfillment location is eligible for Shopify Shipping, you can purchase shipping labels when you’re fulfilling your orders. You can purchase shipping labels individually or in bulk and you can also create return labels.
Here’s a guide to buying shipping labels through Shopify Shipping:
You can connect up your shipping labels with custom forms and packing slips and print them in bulk to save time and shipping costs—but bear in mind that you’ll need to use a desktop printer or a Shopify-supported label printer to print your shipping documents.
How to label a package by hand with Shopify:
Our shipping label template makes creating an individual label a breeze. Before you get started, make sure you have:
- Sender name and address
- Recipient name and destination address
- Package weight
- Tracking number
You’ll be asked to enter this information and then click “Create shipping label.”
Your unique label will be sent to you via email or you can access it in your Shopify dashboard.
The finished label will look something like this:
You can print shipping labels and attach them to their corresponding packages. Voila! Your packages are ready to be shipped.
Alternatively, you can generate a shipping label through your chosen carrier’s site, kiosk, or counter. You’ll have to do this manually, and there’s no way of creating shipping labels in bulk, but it’s good for one-off purchases or if you only ship a handful of products each month.
Go to your carrier’s website, navigate to their shipping label template, download the file and print it out. Here’s a list of major carriers and their shipping label templates:
How to write a shipping label: Tips for success
Now that you know how to write a shipping label, here are some ways you can streamline your shipping strategy and make sure your packages get to the right place at the right time.
1. Add special instructions
Are the package contents fragile? Is it food or another type of perishable? Make sure you mark that on your package label. This will ensure carriers are extra careful when handling the package and that they’re delivered in perfect condition.
2. Include a packing slip
Packing slips (or “waybills”) go inside the package and act as a receipt. They should include your contact information, the recipient’s address, the order date and tracking number, and the names of the items in the package. You can generate shipping labels and print your packing slips at the same with Shopify Shipping.
3. Use your label as a “this way up” marker
Let handlers know which way up your package goes by sticking the shipping label to the top of the box. This will stop it from getting shaken around and ensure it’s handled as carefully as possible throughout its journey.
4. Ensure the shipping label is clear
Stick the shipping label to a flat surface of your package so it’s not bubbled or folded over the edge. This can obscure important information and render the tracking bar code useless.
Shipping labels are important for everyone in the fulfillment process. They let you and your customers know where the products are in the shipping process, and they help handlers get packages to their rightful recipients as quickly as possible.
How to write a shipping label FAQ
How do I fill out a USPS shipping label?
Fill out a USPS shipping label with the recipient’s name and address, the sender’s address, the parcel tracking code, and the package weight.
Can I just write the address on a package?
To ensure a package gets to its recipient as smoothly as possible, include the customer’s name and address, the sender’s address, the tracking code, and the package weight on the shipping label.
Do I have to print a shipping label or can I write it?
You can write a shipping label by hand, but most carriers require a tracking code, which will have to be digitally generated. To ensure your package reaches its recipient quickly, you should include the recipient’s name and address, the sender’s address, the tracking code, and the package's weight.