So, you’ve sold some products online, and you’re ready to ship out some packages. First of all, congratulations—you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur! Now, you’ve come to the boring part of the journey: printing out those pesky shipping labels. It’s true that you can use a regular desktop printer to print shipping labels at home, and this is perfectly fine. However, if you want to ship like a true pro, you’re going to want to spring for a thermal label printer. In case you weren’t aware, a thermal printer is a device that uses heat instead of ink to print, which makes them perfect for creating lots of shipping labels. This guide is all about thermal label printers, which ones we recommend, and why. Let’s roll!
Some Solid Thermal Label Printer Options
There are a lot of names in the thermal label printer game. Below we’ve listed out some of the leaders in the pack, as well as how much they cost:
- Brother QL-800 – $65.00
- QL-810W – $129.99
- QL-820NWB – $174.99
- Citizen Thermal Label Printer – $199.99
- Dymo LabelWriter 450 – $76.88
- Dymo LabelWriter 4XL – $230.58
- MUNBYN Thermal Printer – $159.98
- Rollo Direct Thermal Label Printer – $179.99
Keep the Sizes of the Labels You Need in Mind
When you’re choosing a label printer, it’s important to keep in mind the size of the labels you’ll need to print. Some printers only print 2×7″ labels, while some only print 4×6″. Some of them even do both (but these are pretty rare cases).
The size of the labels you’ll need varies from shipper to shipper. For example, if you’re doing a lot international shipping, it would make sense to get a printer that focuses on the 4×6″ format. USPS customs forms can only be printed on 4×6″ labels, and are incompatible with the 2×7″ formats. This can cause problems if you’ve got a 2×7″ label printer and you’re printing batches with both domestic and international labels included in them. You’ll have to use a regular printer to print out the international labels after you’ve printed out the 2×7″ domestic ones with your label printer…and that just sounds like a headache.
Your Packaging May Also Affect the Type of Printer You Need
Whether you’re shipping domestically or internationally isn’t the only variable that comes into play. The kind of packaging you’re using may also dictate the size of the labels you’ll need. Therefore, it ultimately affects the type of printer you want to buy.
For example, if you’re only shipping out mailing tubes, you’ll likely want to pick up a thermal label printer that specializes in 2×7″ label formats. These labels will fit the size of the tubes better, and you won’t have to fold them over at all. The same logic applies if you’re shipping tiny boxes or envelopes out, like a lot of jewelry businesses do. In these cases, a 4×6″ label is simply too big for your packaging, and you’d have to fold it in a weird way to fit it cleanly onto the surface. Trust us when we tell you, folding your shipping labels is a huge headache.
On the other hand, if you’re shipping out mid-sized packages like subscription boxes, the 4×6″ labels will do just fine, and will cover you for both your domestic and international destinations. So, it kind of all depends. You see what we’re getting at here?
The Brother QL-810W: the Best Mix of Price, Functionality, and Reliability
At the end of the day, whatever you’re shipping, we’re big fans of the Brother QL-810W thermal label printer. While the QL-810W only allows users to print a maximum size of 2×7″ shipping labels, it’s easily the most versatile option out there. In fact, it’s such a good pick that it outweighs the potential drawback of having to print out customs forms on a separate printer. At any rate, the US Postal Service offers all their domestic labels in the 2×7″ format…and in the case of most eCommerce businesses, USPS is the best carrier to ship with, anyway.
The cool thing about the QL-810W is that it’s not only relatively affordable, but it also comes with the best variety of perks. It lets you print up to 110 high quality address labels per minute, and can connect to your computer via a USB cable or wirelessly through the internet. Users can also purchase a separate lithium ion battery that powers the printer, which allows for a fully mobile setup. In our opinion, for the the price of $129.99, the Brother QL-810W is well worth the investment!
Looking to explore some other thermal label printers? Check out our Reviews page for recommendations on label printers, shipping software, eCommerce platforms and more.