Any business that has to ship products to customers, regardless of size, faces a unique set of challenges. Whether it is becoming more efficient, making less errors, or just saving money, coming up with a way to ship to customers can be difficult. With all of the options on the market, which one is the best for your business? Many are turning towards the Integrated Label Solution.
Integrated labels have been a tried and true method when shipping products. Because the shipping form has both a label and paper portion, it can be utilized for many things; not just a packing slip/shipping label. For example, many businesses include return information for their customers. They can easily pre-print the return authorization label and instructions to include in the package. A very similar application is used when purchasing replacement items such as toner, printer equipment, or any other item that could be returned for recycling. The label is there so the customer can return the container and just apply the label and ship. Another great way to use integrated labels is for payment remittance. It is very easy to print the invoice and have the return label information to apply to the envelope right on the form.
What makes integrated labels so special is its simple construction. The standard size is 8.5 x 11”; however, 8.5 x 14” are also popular as well as custom sizing. Because integrated labels come in standard sizes, they run beautifully through laser and inkjet printers. There are also many different stock label constructions to choose from, allowing companies to tailor their usage. Some purchase many different variations depending on the process. If there is a construction needed that doesn’t come standard, it can normally be created. Another nice feature is having the choice to purchase blank or pre-printed forms. Both have advantages and disadvantages. A blank form allows you to customize, and change the integrated label, on the fly. On the flip side, if you are creating a color form, you may use a lot of toner/ink. A pre-printed form can help save on the cost toner/ink; however, if you need to change your form, there is inventory that either must be used or discarded.
Each business must evaluate the best options for them. The nice thing about integrated labels is you can always change your mind if one method isn’t working. Start with a small number of forms and once the process is perfected, order more and save even more money!
Black Friday is always the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and also when many businesses get a taste of what is to come over the next few weeks. Many are seeing a shift in the way consumers are purchasing. Instead of fighting in-store sales, customers are going online to purchase their sale items. And now businesses are choosing to start their sales on Thanksgiving Day, as opposed to the traditional Friday. And many people are just waiting until closer to Christmas to shop. Regardless of how customers or businesses choose to purchase, being prepared for the holiday season is a must to keep your business running smoothly and staying profitable.
Retail businesses that use plastic cards and holders also need to keep a healthy supply in stock over the holidays; even more than normal. Plastic gift cards are the easiest product to push, and they provide a high ROI for most companies, so letting them run out could put a huge strain on a business. Not to mention they are ongoing marketing pieces that can be recharged and reused. During the holiday season, getting plastic cards printed can be a challenge, so the farther away from Christmas you order your cards, the better your turn times and pricing will be. In fact, there are times when a business can place orders at the beginning of December, and not get their cards until January. The demand is that high this time of the year, so ordering early is imperative. Gift card holders are more easily accessible and sometimes even have stock, or off-the-shelf, options to cut down on turn times and cost. Another way to stay prepared is to stay stocked with every day, general supplies. Online companies need to keep shipping labels, packing slips, and any other items needed to fulfill orders. Nothing will shut down your business, and lose repeat business, faster than running out of shipping supplies. Customers will not purchase again if they cannot get their orders on time. Also having plenty of business cards, letterhead and envelopes on hand also helps with sales and office functions, keeping things running smoothly.Marketing is very important to drive in business; however, the best marketing will not help if you do not prepare for the business coming in. With just a few short weeks left in the holiday season, making sure you have the supplies you need will keep you up and running for a successful holiday season.
More companies are discovering the secret to simplifying their shipping process with integrated labels. Integrated labels have been around for a while and businesses large and small are utilizing their great ability to save cost, time and costly quality assurance issues.
To determine if it is worth switching to an integrated labeling solution, a business needs to evaluate how much it costs to ship out a package with their current method. Calculating the time it takes to apply the label and packing slip is very important as well. Paying an employee to handle the shipping label and packing list is a time involved process. Even if you save 15-20 seconds per carton, you have just improved productivity getting more cartons out the door. This alone will save you money over time.
Quality assurance is an area that deserves attention. When a line worker has to match a packing slip with a box with a shipping label, it is easy to see how errors can occur. And unfortunately, these errors cost both time and money. The sheer number of staff to figure out an error, after it occurs, can stretch over several shipments. This means unhappy employees and, more importantly, unhappy customers. The integrated label is great as the shipping label and packing list can be on one form, reducing errors and reducing the time it takes just to match everything up. Many businesses have decided to stop adding the packing list to the outside of the carton, and put it inside instead. This makes an integrated label that much better! Just peel off the shipping label, drop the packing list in the box, and then apply the shipping label. That easy!
There are many different styles of integrated shipping forms that are available right off the shelf, giving you the ability to customize your form from start to finish. This is perfect for the companies who change things up often on their packing slips. For some businesses, the cost of toner alone is enough to go with pre-printed forms. Basic information such as company logo, and fields that show on all forms, are printed right on the form and then ran through their printer saving on overall toner costs. And even with all of the options out there, maybe a company has a special application and the label structure does not work for them. This is another instance where going with a custom printed integrated label may be worth the cost. However, regardless of stock or custom, integrated labels can be a great addition to your shipping process. It is definitely worth the time to see if they fit into your business model.
Making the switch to integrated labels from a traditional shipping label form style can be a bit stressful at first; especially when you have a different process already in place. Management personnel, or anyone responsible for the purchasing decisions, will need to be convinced that moving to integrated labels for all shipping needs is the way to go before they can be ordered. There are several different points that can be brought up in order to persuade the management team that the move to integrated labels from traditional shipping label forms is a great way to go. Here are a few things to remember:
Integrated labels can be more cost effective than regular single-sided labels because they eliminate the need for the additional packing list template and paper. Combining the packing list and the address form into one product will help decrease overall shipping and packaging costs. You can just simple drop the packing slip inside the box, and apply the shipping label on the outside carton. No need to add a “packing slip enclosed” pocket on the outside any longer.
Because the packing slip and mailing address form are combined into one product, it can help shipping employees save time by printing the packing and address information all at once. In some cases, a packing slip is printed separately from the address label leaving the slip to be matched up with a shipping label. Not only is this time consuming, but the amount of errors associated with the wrong packing slip or shipping label jumps tremendously. Because the integrated label can print both items, the time savings can add up to significant productivity gains and help reduce shipping errors.
In some cases, printing packing lists and mailing address labels can product excess waste after they are either affixed to the packaging or inserted into the shipment, along with the products. Utilizing integrated shipping labels can help cut down on this excess waste. Integrated labels do produce some waste, but in most cases, this is less than when the packing list and mailing address form is separate.
These are just some of the benefits that can convince management to approve and order integrated labels. Moving to a different labeling system can be difficult at first, but soon enough, most employees and management will appreciate the change. Especially when your profits are up…and expenses are down!