What is a Shipping Label? Unpacking the Essentials

what is a shipping label

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Shipping labels play a pivotal role in the modern logistics and e-commerce landscape, serving as crucial navigational tools that ensure efficient and accurate delivery of goods. 

At its core, a shipping label is a piece of paper or adhesive sticker that facilitates communication, efficiency, and accuracy in transporting goods across towns, countries, and continents. These labels are repositories of vital information, ensuring that packages reach their destinations promptly and correctly.   

In today’s digital age, the pace of deliveries mirrors the rapid clicks of online orders and the expectation of instantaneous order fulfilment. Understanding the significance, composition, and evolution of shipping labels in this context is crucial.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of shipping labels. We will delve into the various types of shipping labels, how shipping labels work, and their practical applications. Additionally, the discussion will cover the necessary equipment for creating shipping labels and guidelines for selecting the appropriate tools. Finally, we will address some common queries related to shipping labels.

Let’s begin by delving deeper into the specifics of what a shipping label is. 

What is a Shipping Label?

What do you mean by shipping label

At its most fundamental level, a shipping label is a printed paper or sticker typically affixed to the outside of the package that contains all the essential information required for the shipment’s journey from sender to recipient. It acts as an official identifier for the package, ensuring it is routed correctly through the complex networks of the shipping and logistics systems. 

To learn about labelling in general, please see our article What is Labelling?

The primary role of a shipping label is to ensure the accurate and timely delivery of the package. It provides postal workers, couriers, and logistic handlers with the necessary data for correct routing and handling. 

In essence, a shipping label acts as an identity card for the package, giving it a unique identifier that links it to the sender, the recipient, and the journey it needs to undertake.

In modern logistics operations, particularly in the fast-paced e-commerce sector, shipping labels have become more sophisticated. They often incorporate advanced features like QR codes and RFID tags to enhance tracking and handling efficiency, ensuring even greater accuracy in the shipping process (More on these technological advancements are discussed later). 

To understand how QR codes and RFID technologies differ and complement each other, consider exploring this comparative article: QR Code vs RFID

Why are Shipping Labels Important?

List of nine points why shipping labels are important

Shipping labels play a crucial role, serving as the backbone of efficient package delivery systems. Their importance cannot be overstated, as they ensure that packages are delivered to the right location and handled appropriately throughout their journey. 

Here are the major benefits of shipping labels. 

Facilitating Accurate Delivery

The primary function of a shipping label is to guide a package to its correct destination. 

Shipping labels provide clear and concise information, essential for accurately routing packages to their destinations. The use of barcodes and other machine-readable information reduces the likelihood of human error, thus increasing the efficiency of the sorting and delivery process. 

Real-Time Tracking and Transparency

With tracking numbers on shipping labels, both senders and recipients can monitor the progress of shipments in real-time. This transparency is crucial for managing expectations, planning inventory, and enhancing customer satisfaction by keeping all parties informed about the whereabouts of their packages.

Enabling Efficient Handling

Shipping labels streamline the handling process at every stage of a package’s journey. From sorting at warehouses to final delivery, handlers rely on the information on these labels to make quick decisions. 

Compliance with Shipping Regulations

Shipping labels are also crucial for complying with various shipping and customs regulations, especially for international shipments. They can contain information about the contents of the package, its value, and any necessary customs declarations, which helps avoid delays and ensure smooth passage through different jurisdictions.

Understanding specialised labels like Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) labels is essential for businesses engaged in international shipping. Learn more about the role and significance of SSCC labels in global trade by visiting our dedicated guide – Understanding SSCC Labels.   

Supporting Automated Systems

Automated systems play a significant role in modern logistics, and shipping labels are key to their effectiveness. The barcodes and other machine-readable information on labels enable automated sorting and routing, increasing the speed and reducing the labour costs associated with manual handling.

Tracking Sales and Inventory

For retailers, shipping labels are invaluable in managing and tracking inventory. The information on these labels helps monitor the movement of stock in and out of storage facilities. 

This data is crucial for maintaining optimal inventory levels, informing restocking schedules, and understanding sales trends. It provides a tangible inventory flow record, essential for efficient supply chain management and informed business decision-making.

Error Reduction

The use of shipping labels significantly reduces the potential for human error. With standardised information and barcodes for scanning, the chances of mistakes in package handling and delivery are markedly decreased. 

Understanding the critical role of accurate scanning in logistics, Triton offers a range of advanced barcode scanning solutions to complement your shipping label system. Our selection of barcode scanners from industry leaders like Zebra and Honeywell is designed to meet diverse business needs, ensuring seamless integration into your logistics workflow.

Our product range is designed with the diverse requirements of our customers in mind, ensuring that there’s a perfect fit for every need. Our extensive inventory includes mobile terminals, general-purpose barcode scanners, rugged barcode scanners, fixed scanners & sensors, USB barcode scanners, wireless barcode scanners, 2D barcode scanners, and Bluetooth barcode scanners

Our commitment to enhancing your operational efficiency doesn’t stop at just barcode scanners. Triton is dedicated to providing a comprehensive selection of vital barcode scanner accessories and spare parts and cables, meticulously chosen to guarantee that your equipment operates at its optimal best consistently.

Opting for Triton is choosing unparalleled quality and exceptional support. Our expert team is always on standby via the live chat widget below, ready to offer personalised assistance and guide you through our diverse product range.

Process Returns

The ease of processing returns is a critical aspect of customer satisfaction. Shipping labels facilitate this by tracking numbers, allowing retailers to quickly verify the return shipment’s date and contents. 

This system streamlines the return process, making it more efficient for both the customer and the retailer. It ensures that returns are processed accurately, with the correct items accounted for and restocked as needed.

Enhanced Security

Shipping labels contain essential details that help ensure packages are handled correctly and delivered to the right recipients. They also aid in the security of shipments, as the tracking and identification features make it harder for packages to be lost or stolen.

Types of Shipping Labels

Shipping labels come in various forms, each designed to address specific needs in the logistics and delivery process. Understanding these types is essential for ensuring packages are handled correctly and comply with all relevant regulations.

Here’s a detailed look at each type of shipping label.

Address Labels

Address labels are the most fundamental type of shipping label. They typically include the sender’s address, recipient’s name, street address, city, state or province, and postal code.  

Address labels are crucial for standard shipments, ensuring that each package reaches its intended destination accurately. 

Address Labels
International Shipping Labels

International Shipping Labels

International shipping labels are designed for global transit and contain vital information beyond standard address details, such as content description, value, and country of origin. They also contain additional details like customs declarations and harmonised system codes. 

International shipping labels are key to navigating customs clearance and may need to provide information in multiple languages. 

Directional Arrow Labels

Directional arrow labels indicate the correct orientation of a package during transit. They usually contain arrows pointing in different directions (up, down, left, right) to indicate which side of the package should face upwards or which end should be opened first. 

Directional arrow labels are used for fragile items, liquids, or goods with specific handling requirements that need to be kept upright or in a specific position to avoid damage.   

Directional Arrow Labels
Fragile Labels

Fragile Labels

Fragile labels are used for items such as glassware and electronic devices that require careful handling due to their delicate and breakable nature. Marked with words like “Fragile,” “Handle with Care,” or similar warnings, these labels alert handlers to the need for special attention and care, thereby reducing the risk of damage during transit.

Hazard Labels

Hazard labels identify packages containing hazardous materials. They are a critical safety feature, providing specific information about the nature of the hazard.  

Hazard labels include symbols and text that describe the nature of the materials, such as flammable, corrosive, or toxic substances, and the necessary precautions for safe handling. These labels are essential for complying with safety regulations and ensuring the safe handling and transportation of dangerous goods.

The handling and shipping of chemicals, in particular, demand meticulous attention, governed by stringent labelling requirements. For a comprehensive understanding of these regulations, including the Global Harmonization System (GHS) label requirements, signal words, hazard statements, and the use of hazard signs, explore our detailed guides:

Hazard Labels
DOT Labels

DOT Labels

DOT labels, short for Department of Transportation labels, are required for shipments that comply with specific transportation and safety guidelines in the United States. They indicate the presence of materials that fall under Department of Transportation regulations, such as certain chemicals or industrial products.

DOT labels have different colours and patterns of the dots, providing quick visual recognition of the hazard type and ensuring that such packages are handled in compliance with safety standards. 

Special Handling Labels

Special handling labels convey unique handling or storage requirements due to a package’s size, weight, sensitivity, or other distinguishing characteristics. They include instructions such as “Keep Dry,” “Do Not Stack,” or “Handle With Care” for how the package should be handled, stored, or delivered. 

Special handling labels
Temperature sensitive labels

Temperature-Sensitive Labels

Temperature-sensitive labels indicate the required temperature range for the package during transit. They are typically used for perishable items or chemicals that react to temperature changes.

Temperature-sensitive labels change colour or display a warning if the package is exposed to temperatures outside a safe range. 

Return Shipping Labels

Return shipping labels simplify the process of returning purchased goods. They are often pre-filled with the seller’s address. They may include prepaid postage, making it easy for customers to return items without additional hassle.

Return shipping labels are especially prevalent in e-commerce, offering a convenient return solution for buyers.

Check out our dedicated article What are Return Labels to learn more. 

Return shipping labels
E-Commerce Platform specific labels

E-Commerce Platform-Specific Labels

E-commerce platform-specific labels are special labels designed to meet the requirements of specific e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon or eBay. 

Each platform has its unique logistics system, requiring different label formatting and information requirements. Therefore, these labels streamline the shipping process for sellers who use these platforms.

Freight Labels

Freight labels are used for large-scale shipments and contain comprehensive information about the cargo, including weight, freight class, and destination. They are essential for bulk shipping operations, providing detailed data for logistics planning and cargo handling.

Freight Labels

Shipping Label Anatomy: A Detailed Breakdown of the Components of a Shipping Label

Anatomy of Shipping label

Shipping labels are crucial for the accurate and efficient delivery of packages. Each element on a shipping label serves a specific purpose, ensuring the package’s safe and timely arrival at its destination. 

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key components of a shipping label.

Sender Information

This section of the shipping label includes the name and address of the person or company sending the package. It’s essential for identifying the shipment’s origin and crucial in case the package needs to be returned.  

The presence of sender information also instils confidence in the recipient about the package’s source.

Recipient Information

The recipient’s information is the most important and detailed section on a shipping label. It includes the recipient’s name, their complete address (with city, state, postal and ZIP codes, and country) and the recipient’s phone number. Additional contact methods such as secondary phone numbers might also be provided. 

This comprehensive information is vital to ensure the package is delivered to the correct person and location. 

Tracking Number

A tracking number is a unique alphanumeric code assigned to each package. It enables the sender and recipient to track the parcel’s journey through the shipping system. This feature is essential for monitoring the package’s location, estimating delivery times, and addressing any shipping issues that may arise.

Tracking numbers are often encoded within barcodes. These barcodes are scanned as the parcel enters or exits a carrier facility, allowing customers to conveniently track their package’s progress through the carrier’s website.


Barcodes on a shipping label displays encoded information essential for automated sorting and tracking systems. They often include postal barcodes and routing codes. Some shipping courier services also have specific barcode requirements to align with their internal tracking systems, ensuring the package moves efficiently through different delivery stages.

Explore the following guides to delve deeper into the world of barcoding technology:

MaxiCode or QR Code

MaxiCode or QR codes are advanced barcodes capable of storing a large amount of data. They are particularly useful for complex shipping operations, such as e-commerce and international deliveries, allowing quick access to detailed shipping information.

Additionally, they sometimes serve as parcel identification tags, encoding a digital version of the information found on the shipping label. As QR codes and MaxiCodes are omnidirectional, they enable scanner devices to read the code from any angle or orientation, significantly enhancing efficiency in handling and tracking packages.

Please refer to the following dedicated guides to learn about a Maxicode and a QR code. 

Shipping Date

The shipping date indicates when the package was dispatched from its origin. This information tracks the package’s journey and calculates the expected delivery date, helping both senders and recipients estimate when the package will arrive.

Package Weight and Dimensions

Weight and dimensions are key in determining the shipping cost and method. Additionally, having the accurate weight and dimensions clearly stated on the label ensures that packages are handled correctly and transported efficiently. 

Shipping Class/Service Type

The shipping class or service type section indicates the type of shipping service chosen (e.g., standard, express, overnight). This helps the shipping company prioritise packages and manage their delivery schedule effectively.


The payment section of the label indicates how shipping fees are covered. It can be marked as prepaid, collect (where the recipient pays upon delivery), or billed to a third party. This information is essential for managing financial transactions related to the shipment.

Special Handling Instructions

Shipping labels often feature handling instructions, which provide crucial guidance on how a package should be treated during transport. These instructions ensure that packages requiring special care are correctly addressed, minimising the risk of damage or mishandling.

Typical handling instructions on labels may include directives such as “Fragile,” “Keep Upright,” or specific temperature requirements. These instructions become particularly important when dealing with fragile items, temperature-sensitive materials, or hazardous substances.

It’s worth noting that handling instructions are not typically included on all packages; they are selectively applied based on the nature of the contents and any specific handling needs they may have.

Return Instructions

Return instructions provide clear guidelines and pre-filled information, streamlining the return process for customers. These instructions typically feature text such as “If undelivered, please return to…” or “Please return to the sender’s address.” This information ensures that in the event of a return or non-delivery, the package is returned to the intended destination easily and efficiently.

Note: While most shipping labels adhere to this general structure, specific requirements can vary based on several factors. These include the shipping service used, the nature of the product, destination regulations, and industry-specific requirements. For instance, hazardous materials will have more detailed safety and handling instructions, while international shipments require customs-related information. 

How Do Shipping Labels Work: The Process Explained

Four steps on how do shipping labels work

Shipping labels play a vital role in the logistics chain, acting as the roadmap for packages from dispatch to delivery. Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how shipping labels work in the shipping process:

1. Creation and Application

When a package is ready for shipment, a shipping label is created, usually through a digital shipping service or a carrier’s website. This label contains essential details like sender and recipient information, package weight, and dimensions. Once created, the label is printed and securely attached to the package.

2. Initial Scanning and Entry into the System

At the first point of entry into the logistics chain (like a post office, courier drop-off point, or warehouse), the shipping label is scanned. This scan records the package into the carrier’s tracking system, marking the beginning of its journey. The tracking number and barcodes on the label facilitate this process.

3. Routing Based on Barcode Information

As the package moves through various stages – from local depots to sorting centres – the barcode on the shipping label is scanned multiple times. Each scan reads the encoded routing information, guiding the package along the most efficient path to its destination. This includes decisions about which trucks, planes, or other transportation methods it should be transferred to.

4. Ongoing Tracking Updates

Each scan updates the package’s location in the carrier’s tracking system, which can be accessed online by both the sender and recipient using the tracking number. This continuous tracking provides transparency and reassurance about the package’s status and estimated delivery time.

5. Final Delivery Scanning and Confirmation

Upon reaching its final destination, the shipping label is scanned one last time to confirm delivery. This final scan updates the tracking status to “Delivered,” completing the journey. In some cases, this scan also records the recipient’s acknowledgment of the package, especially for deliveries requiring a signature.

6. Return Process (If Applicable)

If the package needs to be returned, the return shipping label (if provided) is used. This label follows a similar process – scanning, routing, and tracking – to return the package to the sender or a specified return address.

Through this intricate process of scanning and routing based on the shipping label’s information, packages are efficiently and accurately delivered, making these labels an indispensable component of modern logistics and e-commerce operations.

Applications of Shipping Labels

Nine applications of shipping labels

Shipping labels are a fundamental component in various sectors, playing an essential role in the movement of goods globally. Their applications extend across multiple industries, showcasing their versatility and importance. Here are some key applications of shipping labels:


In the rapidly growing e-commerce industry, shipping labels are critical for order fulfilment. They facilitate the accurate and timely delivery of products to customers, streamline returns, and enable efficient inventory management. E-commerce platforms often use specialised shipping labels that integrate with their logistics systems.

International Trade and Customs

Shipping labels are vital in international trade, including detailed customs information, product descriptions, and country of origin. They help comply with international shipping regulations, ensure smooth customs clearance, and avoid delays in cross-border shipments.

Supply Chain Management

In supply chain operations, shipping labels aid in tracking inventory as it moves through various stages – from manufacturing to distribution centres and retailers. They enable businesses to monitor stock levels, manage warehouse organisation, and optimise the supply chain process.

Courier and Postal Services

For courier and postal services, shipping labels ensure the efficient sorting, routing, and delivery of parcels. They contain all the necessary information for postal workers and couriers to process and deliver packages to the correct recipients.

Learn about postal barcodes from the following guides. 

  1. What Are Intelligent Mail Barcodes?
  2. What Is A POSTNET Barcode?
  3. What Is A USPS PLANET Barcode?
  4. POSTNET Vs PLANET Vs Intelligent Mail Barcode

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

In the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, shipping labels are used to transport medical supplies, equipment, and medications. They often include special handling instructions, temperature requirements, and tracking features to ensure the integrity and timely delivery of sensitive materials.

Food and Perishable Goods

For shipping food items and perishables, shipping labels often include temperature-sensitive indicators and special handling instructions to maintain the quality and safety of the products during transit.

Hazardous Materials Transport

Shipping labels for hazardous materials contain specific information about the nature of the material, hazard warnings, and handling instructions. These labels are crucial for safety compliance and informing handlers and carriers of the potential risks of transporting such materials.

Retail and Warehousing

In retail and warehousing, shipping labels facilitate the movement of goods from distribution centres to retail stores or directly to consumers. They assist in inventory control, order processing, and ensuring the accurate distribution of products.

Returns Management

Shipping labels are integral to the returns management process, particularly in e-commerce. Return shipping labels simplify the process for customers, enhancing the overall customer experience and efficiency in handling returns.

What Shipping Label Equipment Should You Look For? And How to Choose Them?

Choosing the right equipment for creating and printing shipping labels is essential for efficient logistics management. Whether running an ecommerce business, a small office, or handling large-scale shipments, having the right tools can significantly streamline your shipping process. Here’s what to look for in shipping label equipment:

Label Printers

Four types of label printers

A high-quality label printer is the cornerstone of your shipping label setup. Consider the following factors:

  • Type: Thermal label printers are the most common and popular choice for shipping labels. They come in two types – direct thermal (no ink required, but labels can fade over time) and thermal transfer (uses a ribbon, offering more durable labels). Thermal label printers don’t require ink or toner, which can save costs in the long run. Refer to our Direct Thermal vs Thermal Transfer Printer guide for more information. 
  • Print Resolution: Higher-resolution printers produce clearer and more readable labels, which is crucial for barcode scanning accuracy. A resolution of at least 203 DPI (Dots Per Inch) is recommended for clear and scannable labels. However, for more detailed graphics or smaller text, opting for 300 DPI or higher can provide better clarity.
  • Print Speed: If you’re handling high volumes of shipments, a printer with a faster output can save valuable time. Look for printers with a speed of at least 8 inches per second (203 mm per second). For higher volume operations look for at least 12 inches per second (305 mm per second) 
  • Compatibility: Ensure the printer is compatible with various operating systems (Windows, macOS) and integrates well with your shipping and inventory software.
  • Ease of Use – Look for printers with user-friendly interfaces, easy setup, and minimal maintenance requirements. Features like easy label loading, clear error messages, and intuitive software can save time and reduce frustration.
  • Connectivity Options – Consider how the printer connects to your systems. Options include USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or even Bluetooth, offering flexibility depending on your setup.
  • Reliability and Durability – Look for printers with robust construction and the ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions. 


Triton is your go-to destination for all your thermal printing requirements. Our handpicked selection features cutting-edge thermal printers sourced from industry leaders like Epson, Element, Senor, Honeywell, Zebra and TSC. Additionally, we offer a range of coloured label printers from OKI, ensuring a diverse range to cater to your specific needs.

Our inventory covers a wide spectrum of thermal printers, including direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, barcode label printers, desktop printers, industrial printers, mobile printers and receipt printers. We are your comprehensive solution for all your thermal printing needs.

But that’s not the end of our offerings.

At Triton Store, we understand the importance of maintaining your printers in top-notch condition. That’s why we provide an extensive array of spare printer parts and accessories, waterproof printer enclosures, cables and cleaning wipes to ensure your printers remain operational. 

To ensure peak performance from your thermal printers, we provide top-of-the-line thermal print heads from industry leaders like Zebra, Honeywell, TSC, Intermec, Datamax, SATO, and Bizerba. These printheads are the lifeline of your printers, delivering reliable, high-quality printing with every use.

What distinguishes us is our unwavering commitment to delivering top-tier products at unbeatable prices. Our dedicated team of customer service experts is just a click away, ready to assist with any inquiries or issues you may encounter. Connect with us through the live chat widget below to experience exceptional service and discover the perfect solutions for your printing needs.


Four types of Labels

Certain factors are crucial when selecting labels for your shipping needs to ensure efficiency, readability, and durability. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Material Quality: Choose labels made of high-quality material that can withstand various conditions like moisture, heat, or cold. Durability is vital, especially for packages exposed to different environments during transit.
  • Adhesive Strength: The adhesive on the label should be strong enough to securely stick to different surfaces without peeling off. Consider the type of surfaces your labels must adhere to and choose an adhesive strength that matches those requirements.
  • Print Compatibility: Ensure the labels are compatible with your printer type. For example, some labels are specifically designed for thermal transfer printers, while others work best with direct thermal printers.
  • Size and Shape: Labels come in various sizes and shapes. Select a size and shape that fits your packages well and provides enough space for all necessary information, including barcodes and text.
  • Resistance to Elements: For labels exposed to outdoor elements, choose options that are weather-resistant. This includes resistance to UV light, rain, and extreme temperatures.
  • Customisation: If brand visibility is important, consider customisable labels that allow for branding elements like logos or specific colours.


In your search for the ideal labelling solutions, understanding the key factors is just the beginning. At Triton, we complement this knowledge with a curated selection of thermal print consumables designed for superior adhesion and lasting print quality.

Our extensive selection is crafted to meet the highest standards of quality and reliability, ensuring that your labelling needs are efficiently met. Our label range includes thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, thermal carton labels, thermal carcase tags, food-compliant thermal inserts, receipt rolls and shipping & freight labels.   

In addition to our selection of premium labels, Triton also provides an array of handheld and benchtop label applicators. These tools are designed to further streamline your labelling process, offering precision and ease in applying labels to your products. Whether you need a handheld solution for its flexibility and convenience or a benchtop applicator for consistent, high-volume labelling, our range caters to all your specific requirements. Discover the perfect label applicator to complement your workflow by visiting Triton’s Range of Label Applicators

Shipping Label Design and Print Software

Shipping label design and print software

Label designing and printing software helps design and print professional shipping labels. Look for software that:

  • Integrates with your inventory or order management systems.
  • Offers customisable templates for various label types.
  • Can generate barcodes and QR codes.
  • Is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Includes database connectivity for efficient data management. 
  • Is compatible with your label printer 
  • Provides reliable technical support and updates.
  • Allows for scalable printing options.


Free label printing software can be a tempting choice, but it’s important to weigh its capabilities against your business needs. While these tools can handle basic tasks, they often fall short in advanced features like comprehensive database integration, intricate template customisation, and technical support. For businesses aiming for growth and efficiency, professional software solutions often provide a more robust, scalable, and reliable option, aligning better with long-term operational goals.

Seagull Scientific’s BarTender Software is a standout choice for professional and versatile label design and printing. Renowned for its broad range of specialised shipping label templates, BarTender caters to a variety of needs, including:

  • Dana AIAG Supplier Barcode Shipping Label
  • ASN Shipping Label
  • GS1-128 Shipping Label with Global Location Number (GLN)
  • Individual Carton Label
  • Amazon Barcode Packing Slip QR Code
  • Amazon Carton Label
  • PIPO Carton Label
  • MIL 129R Generic Cargo
  • Manufacturing Shipping Label
  • USPS Hold For Pickup
  • USPS IMpb – Non-Standard Parcel
  • USPS IMpb – Standard Parcel
  • UPS Domestic
  • UPS International
  • USPS Barcoded Tray Label
  • SPS Barcoded Sack Label


Beyond this extensive range of templates, BarTender excels in barcode generation, offering over 400 preformatted components for more than 105 symbologies and numerous barcode standards. It also allows linkage to databases, significantly streamlining the label creation process. BarTender is renowned for its customisation capabilities and scalability, making it ideal for businesses of any size.

At Triton Store, we proudly offer BarTender software at competitive prices, providing an unmatched deal. We recognise that every organisation has unique needs, which is why we provide all four BarTender editions: Starter Edition, Professional Edition, Automation Edition and Enterprise Edition

The Starter Edition is ideal for smaller teams, while the Professional Edition caters to those with more complex labelling requirements. The Automation Edition is the perfect choice for those seeking automation, and large organisations will find the Enterprise Edition tailored to their needs.

We also provide BarTender Cloud, the most up-to-date and user-friendly way to remotely manage label printing and design operations. Check out our BarTender Cloud vs BarTender software guide to compare the two BarTender versions.  

At Triton, we are dedicated to providing top-tier software solutions. We are confident that BarTender Software will meet and exceed your expectations. Its flexibility, robust security features, and comprehensive support will elevate your labelling and inventory management processes, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

To discover how BarTender Software can revolutionise your label printing experience, connect with us through our live chat widget or fill out a form here. To explore the software’s capabilities in-depth, delve into our informative article: What is BarTender Software

Barcode Scanners

Four types of barcode scanners

Barcode scanners improve efficiency, especially in processing a large number of shipments. They can quickly read barcodes on labels for easy tracking and inventory management. Here are key aspects to consider when choosing barcode scanners, 

  • Ensure the scanner is compatible with the barcode formats on your shipping labels, including traditional barcodes and QR codes. Refer to our barcode types article to learn about different barcode symbologies. 
  • Opt for scanners that offer quick and accurate reading capabilities, which is especially important for high-volume shipping environments.
  • Choose barcode scanners built to withstand frequent use and harsh shipping environments, ensuring long-term reliability.
  • Consider whether a wireless scanner (for greater mobility) or a wired scanner (for consistent power and connectivity) better suits your operation.
  • Opt for an ergonomically designed barcode scanner.
  • Look for scanners that are easy to use and integrate seamlessly with your existing shipping and inventory systems.
  • Assess the scanning range required based on your operational setup. Some scanners are better suited for close-range scanning, while others can scan from greater distances.
  • For wireless scanners, consider the battery life to ensure it can support your operations throughout a workday.


At Triton, we provide an extensive selection of barcode scanners from renowned industry leaders like Zebra and Honeywell. Our diverse product lineup is designed to meet a variety of scanning needs and includes:

  • Mobile Terminals: Offering portable scanning solutions, ideal for dynamic and on-the-go environments.
  • General-Purpose Barcode Scanners: Versatile scanners suitable for a wide range of everyday applications.
  • Rugged Barcode Scanners: Built for durability, these scanners withstand tough conditions and are perfect for industrial settings.
  • Fixed Scanners & Sensors: Designed for stationary setups, providing continuous scanning capabilities.
  • USB Barcode Scanners: Easy-to-use, plug-and-play scanners for straightforward, tethered scanning tasks.
  • Wireless Barcode Scanners: Providing the freedom of movement, ideal for busy workspaces where flexibility is key.
  • 2D Barcode Scanners: Advanced scanners capable of reading both 1D and 2D barcodes, suitable for complex scanning requirements.
  • Bluetooth Barcode Scanners: Offering wireless connectivity with the convenience of Bluetooth technology.


Each scanner in our range is carefully selected to ensure reliability, efficiency, and ease of use. Whether you require a rugged scanner for challenging environments or a compact, wireless model for retail spaces, Triton has the solution to suit your specific scanning requirements. Explore our array of barcode scanners to find the perfect match for your business’s operational needs.


Four types of scales

A reliable scale is crucial for accurately determining package weight, which is essential for calculating shipping costs. Here are some important considerations when selecting a scale for your shipping needs.

  • Choose an accurate and precise scale, as even small discrepancies in weight can lead to incorrect shipping cost calculations.
  • Choose a scale with a weight capacity that suits your typical package weights. Ensure it can handle both lightweight items and heavier packages if necessary.
  • Look for scales built to last and withstand regular use, particularly in busy shipping environments.
  • The scale should be user-friendly, with a clear display and straightforward controls. Features like automatic calibration can be very helpful.
  • Consider the physical size of the scale. Compact scales are ideal for smaller spaces, while larger scales might be necessary for bigger packages.
  • Look for scales that integrate with shipping software, streamlining the process of weight recording and shipping cost calculation. 
  • Choose scales with additional features like a hold function (to keep the weight displayed after removing the package) or a tare function (to subtract the weight of the packaging) 
  • Consider whether a battery-powered or mains-powered scale is more suitable for your operation.


Triton offers a comprehensive range of weighing scales, catering to various requirements in shipping and logistics. Our offerings include benchtop scales, retail scales, platform scales, hanging scales, rail scales and dedicated check weighing systems.

To complement these scales, we also provide a selection of scale accessories and spares, along with weighing indicators, to maintain and enhance the functionality of your weighing equipment.

Each product in our range is designed with precision and durability in mind, ensuring that you find the perfect weighing solution to fit your specific shipping and handling requirements. Contact us via the live chat widget below to learn more.  

Different Ways to Create Shipping Labels

Generating shipping labels is an essential step in the logistics and shipping process. Depending on the scale of operations and specific needs, businesses can choose from various methods to create these labels. Here, we focus on three primary methods to create a shipping label. 

Carrier's Platforms and Online Shipping Services

Many shipping carriers, such as UPS, FedEx, and USPS, provide online platforms where users can create or purchase shipping labels. These services typically allow you to input package details, calculate shipping costs, and print labels directly from their websites. 

This method is particularly convenient for small to medium-sized businesses with moderate shipping volumes. It’s user-friendly and doesn’t require any additional software installation.


Dedicated shipping and label printing software like BarTender software offers a more robust solution for creating shipping labels. This type of software can automate the label creation process, integrate with business inventory systems, and handle bulk printing tasks. 

It’s ideal for online store and businesses with higher volumes of shipping, as it streamlines the workflow and can often accommodate a range of carriers and shipping services. Some software solutions also offer advanced features like tracking, reporting, and analytics.

E-Commerce Platforms

For businesses that operate through e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Amazon, or eBay, utilising the built-in tools provided by these platforms can be an efficient way to generate shipping labels. These tools are designed to integrate seamlessly with the platform’s order and shipping management system. 

They simplify the process by automatically populating shipping details based on customer orders, making label creation a quick and streamlined task. This method particularly benefits e-commerce businesses looking to consolidate their shipping process within their existing e-commerce ecosystem.

Note – Each of these methods has its advantages, and the choice largely depends on the business’s specific needs, such as the volume of shipments, the preferred carriers, and the existing e-commerce infrastructure. By selecting the appropriate method, businesses can ensure efficiency, accuracy, and reliability in their shipping processes.

Different Ways to Print Shipping Labels

When it comes to printing shipping labels, the choice of printer technology is crucial, and thermal printers are often the best-suited option for this task. 

Thermal printers excel in efficiency and speed, making them ideal for high-volume printing. They produce durable labels resistant to fading, smudging, and water damage – a necessary quality for labels that undergo various handling and environmental conditions. One significant advantage of thermal printers is their cost-effectiveness over time. 

Unlike inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers do not require ink or toner replacements, which can be a substantial ongoing expense. Additionally, the print quality from thermal printers is usually superior, providing clear and precise prints that ensure barcodes and text are easily scannable and readable.

While inkjet and laser printers can also be used for printing own shipping labels, they typically don’t match the efficiency of thermal printers, especially for businesses with extensive shipping needs. The slower print speeds and the ongoing cost of ink or toner make them less ideal for high-volume label printing.

To compare thermal printers with other print technologies, see these guides – 


Some carrier services offer the convenience of printing shipping labels at their facilities. This option benefits individuals and small businesses without easy access to a printer. However, relying on carrier services for label printing is impractical and time-consuming for businesses with a larger volume of shipments.

To sum up, investing in a thermal printer is a wise choice for most businesses engaged in regular shipping activities (even if printing a USPS shipping label or a UPS shipping label). It balances efficiency, print quality, and cost-effectiveness, making it the superior option for printing shipping labels. While other methods like inkjet, laser, or carrier-provided printing are available, they often do not offer the same level of convenience and efficiency as owning a thermal printer, especially for those with significant shipping volumes.

Check out our dedicated how to print a shipping label guide for more information on printing shipping labels. 

Future Trends and Innovations in Shipping Labels

Three future trends and innovation in shipping labels

The world of shipping and logistics is continuously evolving, driven by technological advancements and changing consumer demands. As we look toward the future, several trends and innovations are set to reshape the landscape of shipping labels.

At the forefront of this evolution are smart labels, particularly those equipped with RFID technology. These advanced labels are revolutionising how packages are tracked, moving beyond mere location tracking to offer a wealth of real-time data. 

With RFID tags, each package becomes a node in a vast network of interconnected items, providing detailed insights into its journey and conditions, such as temperature and handling. This level of detail is invaluable, especially for shipments that contain sensitive or perishable goods. 

To learn more about RFID, the guides below will come in handy.

  • What are RFID Tags?: Discover the types and applications of RFID tags for real-time tracking and data collection.
  • QR Code vs RFID: Compare QR codes and RFID technology to determine their suitability for your business needs.
  • RFID vs Barcode: Compare RFID with traditional barcodes to make informed technology adoption decisions.
  • What are RFID Printers?: Explore the role of RFID printers in creating efficient tracking and inventory management tags.


Parallel to the rise of smart labels is the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the shipping industry. IoT-enabled shipping labels signify a major leap in logistics efficiency. By connecting individual packages to a broader IoT system, businesses can monitor their shipments with unprecedented precision, leading to optimised routes, enhanced inventory management, and improved overall supply chain efficiency.

Alongside technological advancements, environmental sustainability is becoming a key driver in the design and implementation of shipping labels. As the world increasingly focuses on ecological impacts, the shipping industry is responding with labels made from eco-friendly materials. 

Future shipping labels will likely be more biodegradable, incorporating recycled materials and minimising environmental footprints. This shift is an environmental commitment and a response to consumer demand for more sustainable business practices.

Integrating these cutting-edge technologies with a focus on environmental consciousness sets the stage for a new era in shipping. Smart labels with RFID technology, combined with IoT integration and sustainable practices, are not just transforming logistics operations; they are redefining the standards of efficiency, transparency, and responsibility in the global supply chain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Shipping Label to Send a Package?

Yes, a shipping label is necessary to send a package. It contains essential information like the sender’s and recipient’s addresses, tracking numbers, and other pertinent details required for the transportation and delivery of the package.

Who Pays for a Shipping Label?

The cost of a shipping label is typically covered by the sender. In e-commerce, the cost might be included in the product’s price or charged separately as a shipping fee. In some cases, such as returns or prepaid shipping, the cost may be borne by the recipient or a third party.

Can I Handwrite a Shipping Label for a Package?

Yes, you can handwrite a shipping label. Still, it’s not recommended for professional or high-volume shipping due to potential legibility issues. 

Printed labels with barcodes are preferable for efficient processing and tracking.

How Do I Know if My Shipping Label is Prepaid?

A prepaid shipping label will typically indicate that the postage has been prepaid. This information is usually found near the barcode or in the top corner of the label. If you are unsure, you can check with the carrier or the entity that provided the label.

What Types of Shipping Labels Are Best for Recycled Boxes?

For recycled boxes, it’s best to use shipping labels with strong adhesive qualities to ensure they adhere properly to the surface. Avoid labels that require additional adhesive, as they might not stick effectively to a used or textured surface.

How Do I Label an Unboxed Item, Such as Luggage or a Tire or Rug?

For unboxed items like luggage, tires, or rugs, use a durable, adhesive label that can securely stick to the item’s surface. Ensure the label is visible and protected from wear and tear during transit. Consider additional securing methods like tag pouches or cable ties for extra stability.

What Label is Best for Wooden Crates or Plastic Totes?

For wooden crates or plastic totes, use durable, weather-resistant labels with a strong adhesive that can withstand different environmental conditions and adhere well to rough or textured surfaces.

Do Temperature-Sensitive Shipments Require Special Labels?

Yes, temperature-sensitive shipments often require special labels, like temperature indicators or time-temperature integrators. These labels provide visual cues to ensure the products are stored and transported within the required temperature range.

Can I Tape Over a Shipping Label?

Taping over the entire shipping label is not recommended, as this can interfere with barcode scanning and may affect the label’s legibility. If you need to use tape, apply it around the edges of the label to secure it to the package, ensuring that the barcode and shipping address information remain visible and scannable.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, shipping labels are a vital element in the modern logistics and e-commerce landscapes, serving as the crucial link between sender, courier, and recipient. They go beyond being mere identifiers; they are essential tools that enable the efficient and accurate delivery of packages. Shipping labels ensure that every package is correctly routed and tracked throughout its journey through the concise information they provide, including sender and recipient details, tracking numbers, and barcodes.

The evolution of shipping labels, from traditional paper labels to advanced smart labels with RFID and IoT integration, reflects the dynamic nature of the shipping industry. As we move forward, these labels are set to become more sophisticated, incorporating sustainable materials and cutting-edge technologies to meet environmental concerns and the growing demands for higher security and enhanced tracking capabilities.

For businesses, understanding the different types, applications, and methods of creating and printing shipping labels is crucial. Whether it’s through shipping carrier platforms, specialised software, or e-commerce integrations, how the shipping label template is created and printed should align with the business’s specific needs. Moreover, the choice of equipment, like thermal printers and accurate scales, significantly impacts the efficiency of the shipping process.

As we look to the future, staying attuned to the trends and innovations in shipping labels is essential for businesses to maintain competitiveness and operational efficiency. The continued advancements in label technology are not just enhancing the logistics sector. Still, they are also shaping a more interconnected, efficient, and sustainable future in shipping and beyond.

We hope this article was useful. 

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