There are several options for what you can put on your shipping labels. However, what you can include on your labels is dependent upon the tools that you have at your disposal (i.e. software applications) and the carrier(s) you're working with
Here are a few things to consider.
Free Software Tools
Free software tools may limit what you can include on your shipping label because they often won't allow you to change much on the shipping label. For example, you may be able to add one or two reference fields at the bottom of the shipping labels, labeled “reference 1” or “reference 2," and use one reference field to represent an invoice number and the other to represent your internal invoice number.
However, these free tools are unlikely to allow you to add extra customized fields, such as the item numbers of the products in the package, or offer features such as the ability to barcode any information you are printing on the label, which could allow for easy receiving of packages by the customer. Moreover, these free options don't necessarily clarify what these reference fields represent since the header would be listed as “reference 1” or "reference 2." Instead, you and your customers would both have to be aware of what each one represents.
Opting for software that offers customized shipping label solutions will give you several benefits. First, customizing shipping labels can fulfill the requirements of large customers who mandate that order and item-level detail of a package be included on the label. Additionally, creating customized shipping labels helps to streamline warehouse management logistics internally.
For example, if you print orders with the same products in a batch, printing an identifier such as "Batch ID" would allow warehouse staff to know what products are in an order by referencing the ID as opposed to needing to know information about the specific order number itself. Moreover, if you are shipping on behalf of a customer (i.e. drop-shipping, third party logistics, etc) these premium tools also offer the ability to modify the label in such a way that it appears that your customer is doing the shipping. See below for some examples.
Customized Shipping Label Options
Breaking down your shipping label needs can help you find the best solution. Here are a few common customization options to consider:
Logos or Images
Customized shipping label solutions make it easy to include logos or images on your labels, which can be printed on a customer by customer basis. Adding a logo or image on your shipping label can also help maintain brand identity.
Alternate Return Address
If you are shipping on behalf of a client, there are tools that will allow you to customize the return company and address information on the shipping label. For example, you can choose a software program that will allow you to print the name of your client’s business rather than the name of your shipping company.
This will benefit the end customer, because they'll recognize the expected company name on their shipping label, if that is from whom they ordered their shipment. Additionally, it gives that company the appearance of owning that shipping process.
Custom Text Messages
If there is a special occasion or season, custom text messages can also be printed on shipping labels using premium software. For instance, you can create customized fields that print out “Happy Holidays” on your shipping labels during the holiday season.
Printing barcodes of package information is another option, with the right tools. For example, you can customize a label to print barcodes that equate to invoice or part numbers so that the business that you are shipping the package to can scan the item(s) into its inventory directly from the shipping label.
You can customize a label to print on specific size label stock. However, keep in mind that the amount of information you can include on your shipping label will depend on how much space is available on the label. The carriers may also deem portions of the label to be "off limits" for modification, as the information in them are used for identification and automation purposes, such as the recipients address and the carrier-specific barcodes.
All software tools aren’t created equal. If you’re considering making the leap from a free tool to a premium tool, you will want to consider both your customer’s and your own needs. Customizing a shipping label will depend on the options you have available to you.
Whether it be a barcode or an image that you need printed on a label, it’s worth figuring out what your options are for customizing your shipping labels.