The best printer for printing shipping labels (2023)


Written by Starshipit

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is "what printer should I use?"

If you are new to printing shipping labels or thinking of upgrading your shipping label printer, it pays to have an overview of the factors you need to consider before making your final decision. With so many different brands and printers on the market, we’ve put together a few considerations to help you choose the printer that best suits your label printing needs.

Print shipping labels with ease with Starshipit

Choose the right label printer for your needs

To start with, it’s important to understand the volumes of label printing you’ll be managing and anticipate your future label printing needs.

  • Low volumes: If you are only printing a few labels and packing slips a day, you should be able to use a standard home or office printer, which is usually an inkjet or laser printer 🖨️.
  • Steady to higher volumes: If your online store is generating a steady flow of orders you will want to look at a dedicated printer you can rely on with little to no downtime ⏱️.
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Top tip: Consider automating your label printing

Shipping automation platforms (like Starshipit) let you automate the process of generating and printing shipping labels. Starshipit also comes with other useful features like out-of-the-box integrations with top couriers (including DHL, Australia Post and FedEx) and tools customise shipping notifications, automate returns and more.

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Printing the correct label size for each courier

Once you have an idea of your volumes, the next step is finding out the different label sizes that are required by your chosen courier. Most couriers only support printing labels in a 100x150mm (A6) size, for example Australia Post, Aramex and CouriersPlease.

Often it is dependent on the courier that you are using. For example, NZ Post or eShip require an A4, A5 printer or label printer with 100mm or larger aperture.

eParcel can print labels to A4 sheets (these are usually provided by Australia Post with pre-printed logos). The downside to this is if you only have to print a few labels then you are wasting half of the page. eParcel can print to many different types of printers, including laser, inkjet and thermal.

DHL: All of the printers mentioned for the other carriers are suitable for DHL labels. As with the other carriers, there are many different printer makers and models that will fit the bill.

Check label sizes for a range of couriers across Australia.

What kind of printer do you need to print shipping labels?

There is no right or wrong printer as it depends on your shipping volumes. Let’s take a look at the 3 categories of printers and you can evaluate which kind of printer best suits your business needs.

  • Inkjet
  • Laser
  • Thermal
Printing shipping labels with an inkjet printer

1) Printing shipping labels with an inkjet printer

You are probably familiar with the inkjet printer as it’s the most commonly used printer in an office or home. If you are printing only a few labels a day this printer is a good option. However, if you anticipate printing slightly higher volumes you may want to consider a laser or thermal printer.

  • Good for low volumes
  • Ink is expensive to replace
    Print speed is slow
Printing shipping labels with a laser printer

2) Printing shipping labels with a laser printer

If you are just starting out, you may want to use an A4 laser printer. These are ideal if you print low volumes of labels. You will definitely be able to print a lot more shipping labels on a laser printer compared to an inkjet printer. However, if you are planning on investing in your eCommerce business and foresee printing higher volumes, especially during peak shopping seasons, you will want to invest in a thermal printer.

  • Good for steady volumes
  • Print faster and sharper than an inkjet
  • Toner is expensive to replace
  • Larger than an inkjet
  • Only works with laser-compatible print surfaces
Printing shipping labels with a thermal printer

3) Printing shipping labels with a thermal printer

If you are serious about your eCommerce business you may want to consider a printer that’s purpose-built for printing shipping labels. Let’s see how a thermal printer stacks up to inkjet and laser printers.

  • Good for high & continuous volumes
  • No ink or toner to replace (ever)
  • Batch or single label printing
  • Transfer printing has unmatched clarity
  • Transfer printing can print on a wide variety of printing stock
  • Low cost long-term maintenance
  • Upfront investment

Best thermal printer for shipping labels

There are 2 different types of thermal label printers. Let’s take a look at what thermal printer best suits an online retailer who wants a dependable product that will not hold up orders.

Direct Thermal
  • Lower cost and budget-friendly
  • Limited to black
  • Limited shelf life
  • Requires thermal paper
Thermal Transfer
  • Transfer images from a thermal ribbon (like the ribbon you would find in a typewriter)
  • Scans label images easily
  • Has a longer shelf life

The top thermal printers used by online retailers (like you)

At Starshipit, we have seen the following thermal printers being used by online retailers to print shipping labels. They are all easily available at your everyday office stationery and tech stores.

Label/Writer 4XL - DYMO
  • 53 labels per minute
  • Low cost
  • Have to use DYMO-specific labels - cost more than generic labels

Note: The best 4”x6” label printer is the 4XL (the DYMO 450 doesn’t print 4”x6” labels).

WS4 Compact Desktop Printers - SATO Printing Solutions
  • Flexible and easy-to-use
  • Firmware updates are simple
  • Numerous connectivity options
GK420d – Zebra
  • High-speed printing at 5”/127mm per second
  • Durable and dependable
  • Good value
Print directly from your desktop or laptop

Print directly from your desktop or laptop

If you are shipping large volumes, consider downloading the printer application when using a shipping solution like Starshipit.

Read our guide

High-speed printing for high volume eCommerce

If you are printing high volumes of shipping labels and you would like the option of printing at high speeds, consider a shipping solution that can manage high-speed shipping label printing.

With Starshipit, merchants print shipping labels 25 x faster than the industry standard.

Here is a handy Youtube video tutorial to learn more about installing the Starshipit print application.

What happens if you want to handwrite a shipping label?

You can write your own address, but it has to be legible and remember that you obviously still need the barcode label. Integrating with a shipping solution like Starshipit allows you to print your own labels with barcodes. Learn more about how you can set up a plain label courier.

For more information on label printing or Starshipit, please contact our support team.

Looking for simple shipping automation?

If you are considering automating your fulfilment process, Starshipit’s cloud solution enables you to manage all your couriers and fulfilment tasks in one place by integrating with a wide range of Australian couriers and eCommerce and business management platforms.

You will be able to display your negotiated rates at checkout, print labels, at high-speed if need be, and the best part is we have FREE onboarding and support to make sure you are shipping happy from day one.

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Elevate your shipping game with Starshipit. Automate labels, rates, tracking & more for a seamless eCommerce experience. Get started & watch your business grow.

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