Writing labels by hand may add a personal touch that engages your customers. But it can be more trouble than it’s worth—and we’re not just talking about the hand cramps. Parcel scanners work best with digitally created labels, so handwritten labels up the risk of a delay or failed delivery. Even if you don’t own a printer, there are ways to attach high-quality shipping labels to every item you send.
How to send packages without a printer
Printing your own labels may be the most affordable long-term option, but there may be times you don’t have access to a printer. That doesn’t mean you need to delay shipments to your customers. Here’s what to do when you’re stuck.
Create a label online, then print it at the carrier dropoff location
USPS, UPS, and FedEx will all gladly print a label for you. First, you’ll need to go through the carrier’s online service, such as USPS Click-N-Ship, and enter the address information to create a label. Download the file to an external hard drive or email it to yourself, then visit your local post office or carrier dropoff location. They’ll print and affix your label to your parcel and send it on its way.
Schedule a pickup with UPS
One of the perks of shipping with UPS is the ability to schedule a pickup without a label. UPS has its On-call Pickup service, where you can arrange to have the driver bring a label with them. It’s available to ship to most addresses in the U.S. Keep in mind that if you’re running your business from home – which might be the case if you don’t have access to a printer – there is a residential surcharge.
If you’re new to scheduling pickups, Package pickup services for shipping carriers is a great resource for getting started. Use it to familiarize yourself with the major delivery services so every item you send arrives right on time.
Hire a courier
Hiring a courier is not cheap, and the service may be hard to find in rural areas, but if you’re pressed for time and can’t get labels printed any other way, couriers might work. They can pick up your parcels, affix labels printed based on the information you provide, and drop them off at your shipping provider.
If there’s ever a reason to send parcels through a courier, it’s speed. Creating a label is a nice bonus, but there are much more affordable ways to get around the no-printer problem. Consider a courier service a last resort for making labels.
Where can I print shipping labels without a printer?
Even if you have a printer, there may be a time where it’s out of order and the local USPS, UPS, and FedEx locations are closed. These are your top three printing options to get your label made fast.
Visit your local library
Dust off the trusty library card and print your shipping label there. It will cost a nominal fee, but most libraries are equipped to create your labels. Printing them using a regular printer works just fine, so the library is worth checking out when you’re in a pinch.
Print your labels at a print shop
Professional printing services (think Office Depot) have the hardware for producing high-quality labels and printing them in large batches. With a print shop, you can expect a nice-looking product that’s a step up from printing on standard paper. It’s not the cheapest option, though, so it may not be sustainable to print all of your labels there.
Phone a friend
If you’ve exhausted all of your alternative label printing options, you can always call in a favor. Create your label online, pay a visit to a family member or friend, and print the label at their house. The plain paper most people use at home will suffice for your shipping label.
Can you send a package without a shipping label?
Without a clear shipping label, you cannot ship a package. Carriers need a label to identify where an item is headed and, if needed, return address information. If you attempt to ship a package without a shipping label, it will likely be discarded. The failed deliveries (or even delays) can harm brand loyalty and drain your sales revenue. To ensure your items reach customers in a timely fashion, a legible shipping label is vital.
How can I save time and money on shipping?
If you’re starting a business or need to dial back costs, it may seem like a good idea to forgo printing shipping labels. But think twice! Not only is it time-consuming and hard on your hands, you are sure to find yourself saddled with more delayed or undeliverable packages, which will certainly affect your bottom line. Printing labels can save you money in the long run, so it’s a good idea to consider using a printer and a postal solution like PitneyShip®.
Discounted postal rates
Commercial postage rates can be 40% less than regular rates—that alone can make a huge difference and pay for the printer of your choice very quickly. In order to qualify for these rates, you’ll need to abide by the carrier’s restrictions, which usually include clearly printed labels with barcodes. It’s easy to save money with commercial rates, or to go hunting for even lower rates from other carriers, when using software like PitneyShip.
Ordering home pickups
Every business owner knows that time is money. That means that every trip to USPS®, UPS®, or FedEx® (not to mention time spent waiting in line) is costing you, and that cost starts to add up as your business expands. If you’ve got fairly regular shipments (more than 10 per week), it can be quite cost-effective to schedule pickups from one or more shipping providers. PitneyShip makes this easy to do for one-offs or regular pickups, saving you time and effort you can use for other important tasks.
Prepaid return shipping labels
Returns are a part of doing business, but you can control how much they cut into your bottom line by including prepaid return shipping labels with your parcels. You’re only charged for the ones that get used, and they give you control over which shipper is used and how much you’ll get charged for the return. That’s great in and of itself, but you also earn a little goodwill from every customer who sees the label included, whether or not they ever use it.
Of course, each shipper has rules about prepaid return labels, and at the top of the list is “use a printer.” You can go a step further and automate the process with PitneyShip, and as your business grows, you should consider a dedicated label printer like the PitneyShip Cube to save you money on maintenance and supplies in the long run.
Shipping labels made easy with PitneyShip Cube
You don’t necessarily need a printer to send a parcel. But if you’re a business that ships regularly, the smart money move is investing in a printer. Producing your own professional-looking labels will be quicker and cheaper, plus you won’t have to rely on another service to get it done.
If you need a dedicated thermal printer for making labels, PitneyShip Cube is a do-it-all device designed for ecommerce. With a built-in scale and companion mobile app, you can weigh, print, ship, and track from your phone or computer. Say goodbye to post office visits, ink cartridges, and paper jams and start shipping like a pro.