If you’re passionate about office supplies, or just very organized, a label maker is likely on your wish list. There are countless options out there, from digital labelers that connect to your PC and print with thermal technology to the old manual labelers with the alpha-numeric wheel and trigger (yep, they still make those).
But if you’re passionate about your small business, you’re probably looking for a label printer with specific capabilities, like the ability to print barcodes for carrier-approved postage and shipping labels. This guide to the best label printer is for you.
First, a few answers to the most common questions about label printers.
What can I do with a label printer?
What can’t you do with a label printer? There are labelers for crafters and hobbyists with a range of built-in fonts, styles, symbols and icons for their projects. Labelers for teachers that allow them to print name tags, label supplies and organize files. Rugged rubber-coated labelers for electricians that print chemical heat and UV-resistant labels on the job site. And labelers designed for small business that print official shipping labels help them save money and mail and ship like pros.
How do I choose the right label printer for my shipping labels?
When you’re looking for a label making machine capable of keeping up with your business’ shipping and mailing needs, there are a few criteria to consider:
- Computer capabilities: You need a label printer that connects to your computer and allows you to access and print your customers addresses, along with the postal-specific codes carriers need to route mail and packages.
- Barcode/postal capabilities: Look for a label maker that specifically calls out its capability to print postal barcodes and 4 x 6-inch labels. Label printers that only print the spools of thin tape won’t do the trick.
- Power capabilities: If you’re printing in any type of volume, swapping out your labeler’s batteries is impractical and expensive. You need a label printer that comes with a power cable.
- Thermal capabilities: While more of an upfront investment, a thermal label printer will save you the most time and money over time. Thermal label printers use heat technology and special thermal paper – no ink or toner involved.
To access discounted postal rates, you’ll also want to consider shipping software or an online shipping service. This is command central for a small business label printer. It not only helps you create your carrier-compliant shipping labels; it lets you compare shipping rates across carriers, track deliveries, view past shipments and complete a variety of other mailing and shipping-related tasks.
Do I need a label printer with a keyboard?
Handheld label printers can be found with either QWERTY or ABC-ordered keyboards, depending on which you prefer. But for the most effective shipping label printing, you want a label maker that connects to your computer, making a keyboard unnecessary.
Best label printers for small business
While not exhaustive, this list features label printers that are well-reviewed and recommended often by users with small business needs.
For home-based business:
DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Label Printer
A thermal label printer that you can often find for less than $100, the DYMO LabelWriter thermal printer is compact and capable of printing up to 71 labels per minute. This PC and Mac-compatible label printer comes with everything you need to start printing postal-approved shipping labels at home, including a roll of 4x6-inch adhesive address labels and power/USB cables.
For small business:
Brother QL-700 High-speed, Professional Label Printer
Available at a slightly higher price point that the DYMO LabelWriter, the Brother QL-700 prints up to 93 labels per minute. It lets you print basic labels without any software, as well as bar codes with the included P-touch Editor software. Users report some difficulty installing the software, but rave about the printer’s results. And at this price-point, you don’t need to ship a lot to see a return on investment.
For enterprise and high-volume shippers:
Datamax E-4204 Thermal Shipping Label Printer
The Datamax E-4204 Thermal Shipping Label Printer is your entry-level introduction into the world of professional thermal printers with a print resolution of 203 DPI, a print speed of five inches per second and 16MB SDRAM memory onboard and 4MB Flash. This system quickly and easily produces USPS approved 4x6 labels with all the information you need to deliver and track your packages.
Thermal label printers and shipping software: the unbeatable duo
If your mail and shipping volumes are high or even moderate, you can’t beat the powerful combo of a thermal label printer and shipping software. You can combine any of the “best label printers” listed above with an online shipping service and turn your home office into a mini shipping station.
A subscription to PitneyShip makes it possible to print First Class postage for letters, ship packages through all the major carriers, offers discounted postage rates and even comes with a free scale for weighing packages. With subscriptions starting at $4.99 a month, it’s inexpensive to get started and start saving.
SendPro®/PitneyShip™ also offers a line of label printers and mailing devices that come standard with a PitneyShip subscription.
SendPro®/PitneyShip™ Bluetooth shipping label printer
The SendPro®/PitneyShip™ Bluetooth shipping label printer complements your SendPro®/PitneyShip™ subscription with the ability to print carrier-compliant shipping labels for USPS®, UPS® and FedEx® and connects to your desktop or mobile or mobile device via USB, wireless, ethernet or Bluetooth.