Understanding shipping labels

After you set up your shipping, make sure you know how you'll be purchasing shipping labels, which type to buy, and the considerations for shipping to certain countries.

Shipping label overview

Shipping labels are attached to a shipment's packaging They show information that's used by shipping carriers to ensure a shipment is delivered correctly. Most labels contain the following pieces of information:

  • Recipient's name, address, and phone number - This lets the carrier know where to deliver the shipment, and provides a way to contact the recipient if necessary.
  • The sender's address - This lets the carrier know where to return the shipment if it can't be delivered to the recipient's address.
  • A barcode - This helps the carrier track the shipment's progress. For example, the barcodes are scanned whenever they enter or leave a carrier's facility.

Shipping labels can also show the following extra information:

  • The shipment's order number
  • A tracking number
  • The date when the order was shipped
  • The type of shipping service that was purchased
  • The shipping carrier's information

Before you give a shipment to a shipping carrier, you must purchase a shipping label and attach it to your shipment's packaging.

Types of shipping labels

The main difference between shipping label types is the delivery speed. For example, a shipping label that promises delivery in 2 days is much more expensive than one that delivers in 7-10 days. Most shipping carriers offer their services in a variety of speeds, such as standard delivery (slow), expedited delivery (faster), and overnight delivery (fastest). Certain delivery speeds are not available for all locations.

When you set up your shipping, you should set your shipping prices according to the shipping speeds that you want to offer. For example, if you want to provide your customers with 2-day shipping, then you likely need to charge a lot more to cover your shipping costs than if you offered delivery within 7-10 days.

Labels also offer a certain amount of liability protection in case your shipment is damaged or lost. More expensive labels generally come with higher liability protection. If you're in the United States and purchase shipping labels through Shopify Shipping, then you can purchase additional shipping insurance.

On some labels, you can also purchase additional services for your shipping labels:

  • A tracking number - This provides you with a code that you can use to track where your package is during its delivery. You can also provide this code to your customers so that they can see when their package is expected to be delivered. Most faster shipping options come with a tracking number included, but sometimes you can add it to slower methods for a fee.

  • Signature confirmation - This lets you request a signature from the customer when the shipment is delivered. This helps to make sure a shipment is delivered to the correct person.

  • Proof of age - If you send goods that have an age restriction on them, such as alcohol, then you can add a request for the shipping courier to check the ID of the recipient.

Some services are not available for some shipping labels. If you need a certain service, then make sure you purchase a shipping label that offers that service.

Tracking numbers

Some labels come with a tracking code for you to track the progress of your order. You can give this tracking code to your customers so that they can track their package as well. Most customers prefer to receive a tracking number because it gives them an estimated date when the package will arrive, and helps them feel confident that they will receive their order.

Shipping labels that come with tracking information generally cost more than those without. If you want to offer shipping labels with tracking to your customers, then make sure that you are accounting for higher shipping costs when you set your shipping prices.

If your supplier purchases the shipping labels, then make sure you know which type they are purchasing.

Determine if you need to purchase shipping labels

Depending on how your business is set up, either you or your supplier purchases shipping labels. Generally, whoever is giving the shipment to the shipping carrier is the one who purchases the shipping label. If your supplier purchases the label for the shipment, then they usually charge you for the cost.

International considerations

Some countries have unique shipping regulations that you need to meet so that your shipments reach your customers. Failing to meet these regulations can result in the shipment being delayed, returned, or destroyed.

Shipping to Brazil

Customers with shipping addresses in Brazil have a Tax information field when checking out. The customer enters a mandatory tax ID for all shipments entering and within Brazil.

After the customer places an order, you can find their tax ID on their order details page. If you're in Brazil, then you must use this tax ID when issuing the government invoice for the customer. If you are outside of Brazil, then you must add their tax ID to the shipping label. Packages without a tax ID on the shipping label might be destroyed or returned.

Tax IDs are automatically added to shipping labels purchased through Shopify Shipping or fulfilled through Oberlo. If you purchase shipping labels through a third-party shipping carrier, then contact your carrier to determine how to add the tax ID.

If a supplier purchases labels on your behalf, then make sure that they add the tax ID to the shipping labels.

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