Business Life

Etsy Shipping Labels: Are They Worth It?

Etsy says they’ve made order fulfillment easier and more affordable with tools like Etsy shipping labels, calculated shipping, and shipment tracking. But are these tools actually worth it? Or are they just another gimmick from Etsy?

There’s no denying that Etsy’s shipping labels make fulfillment more straightforward, more affordable, and better for your customer. By allowing customers to track their shipments automatically, sellers no longer have to fumble with long tracking codes across multiple orders.

But given the number of private shipping companies, does it make financial sense to pay extra for an Etsy shipping label? Or are you better off organizing your own delivery?

That’s precisely what we’ll discuss in this article. 

How do Etsy shipping labels work?

Using your shop’s shipping profile, you can purchase Etsy shipping labels directly from Etsy. So, rather than using your shipping labels purchased from USPS or FedEx, you’d be handling all your labeling details now with Etsy.

Etsy shipping labels - Screenshot of Etsy's shipping profile menu.

Once you’ve paid for your Etsy shipping label, your order is marked as sent, and the tracking details are sent directly to your customer. Then all you need to do is print out the label, attach it to your order, and send it on its way. 

Is there a fee for Etsy shipping labels?

Etsy does not charge an additional fee for purchasing shipping labels directly from its website. However, Etsy does charge a shipping transaction fee in the amount of 6.5% of the total cost your customer pays for shipping (this is the same 6.5% transaction fee Etsy applies to all sales on the platform).

So, while there’s no fee applied to the purchase of an Etsy shipping label, you are charged a 6.5% fee on whatever your customer pays for shipping.

While Etsy’s shipping transaction fee causes some confusion in the seller community, Etsy does this to prevent sellers from circumventing the 6.5% transaction fee by charging less for the product but more for shipping.

The benefits of using Etsy shipping labels

Etsy’s three most significant selling points about its labels are that they’re cheaper, suitable to send an order (almost) anywhere, and super convenient. 

Let’s take a closer look at those statements:

Are Etsy shipping labels cheaper?

Large decorative coins hanging as wall art.

In some cases, Etsy’s shipping labels can be 30% cheaper than organizing shipping yourself.

Related: Should you offer free shipping on Etsy?

Etsy’s go-to carriers are FedEx, USPS, Royal Mail, Australia Post, and Canada Post. Since Etsy buys space in bulk, they get discounted rates and pass those savings on to you.

But if you’re in the continental states and sending outside North America, customs duties come into play, and delivery may not be cheaper. 

Can you ship anywhere with Etsy shipping labels?

If Etsy’s shipping labels are available in your area, they make it much easier to send your orders to all different parts of the world.

However, it’s when you need to send orders to less frequented parts of the world where Etsy’s labels don’t always make it easier. In odd cases where you have an obscure address, or you’re sending to a remote location, it’s best to compare prices between Etsy shipping labels and third-party labels.

Sometimes, you may not realize that you could’ve shipped your order at a cheaper rate until it’s too late. And while it’s undoubtedly convenient to send with Etsy shipping labels, we recommend you keep an eye on carrier rates to countries you ship to often.

If you begin receiving multiple orders from countries you don’t typically ship to, you may be better off not using Etsy shipping labels when shipping to that particular country.

Related: Etsy Shipping Costs & How to Calculate Them

Pro tip: Remember that shipping rates fluctuate throughout the year and between carriers. It’s best to keep up with rate changes to consistently deliver your orders at the best possible rate for your business. 

Are Etsy shipping labels convienent?

Woman using home printer for Etsy shipping labels.

To tell you the truth, Etsy’s shipping labels are faster and easier when shipping to different parts of North America and the U.S. With just a few clicks, you’ve got a shipping label ready to print and send with a reliable courier.

And the best part is you don’t have to hop off to a third-party shipping website, fill out any shipping information yourself, then remember to update the tracking code on your side.

Tracking is easier

Another significant benefit of Etsy shipping labels is that tracking is automatically updated for your customer. You don’t need to write down or copy/paste a tracking number and risk a typo – everything is fast and fluent. 

Etsy shipping labels help you qualify for purchase protection

If you use Etsy shipping labels for your packages, you’re eligible for Etsy’s purchase protection program (as long as you meet all the other criteria).

Part of this program means getting your orders safely into your customer’s hands. And accurate tracking updates are a huge part of that.

Since tracking is automatically included with Etsy shipping labels, that’s one more requirement you won’t have to worry about when qualifying for purchase protection.

Is there a downside to Etsy shipping labels?

Man using home printer for Etsy shipping labels.

Although Etsy shipping labels seem like a smart business move for your handmade shop, there are some downsides you should keep in mind:

You can’t use Etsy shipping labels for heavy packages

You can’t use Etsy shipping labels if your packages are 150 lbs. or more. When your products are this heavy, shipping can be tricky. For one, USPS won’t even touch your delivery. Instead, you’ll need to rely on shipping methods like UPS freight or FedEx freight.

The cost for these shipping methods depends on whether you need ground freight or air freight, as well as the freight class of your items. And you’ll also need to ensure your packages are marked with the necessary “heavy” labeling.

Make sure your savings outweigh your at-home printing costs

When you’re running a smaller shop on Etsy, their fully integrated shipping label solution is an easy decision. If you’re sending fewer than a dozen items a day, it’s fantastic. 

The downside comes as you try and scale to 20 or more orders daily. At this point, it makes more sense to buy a dedicated shipping label printer and stop using your desktop printer. But of course, this will happen whether or not you use Etsy’s shipping labels.

So keep in mind that if you’re printing your own labels, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a printer, toner (which can be costly depending on your printer), and the labels themselves.

It’s not entirely automatic

Woman sitting in front of label printer in her home office.

Another downside is that, while the shipping label process is integrated into Etsy’s backend, it’s not fully automatic. Of course, you’ll run into this issue when shipping any physical product (unless you outsource fulfillment).

So, unless you’re passively selling digital downloads, you’ll need to keep track of your incoming orders. This means staying on top of your processing times, making sure you’re printing and applying the correct labels for the proper orders, and dropping off or scheduling your orders to get into the hands of your carrier.

After all, you’re running an eCommerce business. And while this isn’t an inherent issue with Etsy shipping labels, it’s an entire process you’ll need to keep in mind when shipping physical products.

Your size and weight measurements need to be accurate

Since part of the upside to Etsy shipping labels is purchasing and printing your labels from home, you’ll need to enter your parcel’s precise size and weight. Because ultimately, it’s the size and weight of your package that determines its cost to ship, regardless of your fancy packaging.

Carriers don’t like it when you get this wrong.

So if you say your package is lighter (or smaller) than it actually is, you can get hit with an additional surcharge – or worse, the package could be returned to sender.

That’s why it’s essential to ensure you’re using the correct size boxes for every order and accurately weigh your package after it’s boxed up and ready to go.

Woman using scale to measure accurate package weight for her Etsy shipping labels.

Do I have to use Etsy shipping labels?

If you’re feeling any of the mentioned pains or have found another reason why Etsy’s shipping labels aren’t suitable for your business, there’s no need to use them.

Ultimately, Etsy wants you to use their own shipping labels since they go out of their way to create this benefit for sellers. They’ve created a shipping fulfillment process that they have some control over, which means they have a better chance at quality assurance.

But you only need to use Etsy shipping labels if you think they help your business function more efficiently. 

There’s a plethora of other shipping companies that you can use to print out labels and send orders. They may have cheaper rates for your customers’ locations, with more carriers available.

It pays to research and find a company that best suits your business needs. But know that Etsy’s shipping labels are always there if you need them. 

Over to you

Etsy’s shipping labels are a great feature that helps your business function more efficiently.

Once you’ve become an established seller, efficiency will become more critical, especially when it comes to shipping and delivery.

While Etsy’s dedicated solution might not be the best for you, upgrading to printing shipping labels will undoubtedly help your business grow and scale to new heights.

Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

Read The Squeeze each week to see what’s new with Etsy and the growing industry of eCommerce. There’s a lot of noise out there getting in the way of your success. Cut to the chase with tips and tricks you can implement in your business right now. Let The Squeeze be your guide.


Need help getting your products found on Etsy?

Improve your Etsy SEO with free Marmalead tools, designed to take your handmade business to the next level.

Get the FREE Tools

6 replies on “Etsy Shipping Labels: Are They Worth It?”

on top of the above mentioned things, Etsy charges you a processing fee on the sale of those shipping labels – whereas with 3rd party online shipping platforms, they often match or beat the Etsy shipping label price and they don’t charge for the payment processing – that’s another 6% to be saved over Etsy labels – and just as easy to use as many of those platforms will automatically import your shipping data from Etsy

Edit: We’ve updated the article to include that Etsy does not charge a fee on the shipping label, but they do charge a 6.5% shipping transaction fee. Here’s a great video from our friend Kara that clears up the confusion with Etsy shipping label fees:

Great point, Susan! Thank you for sharing. If you can get a better price with a 3rd party shipper that’s just as convenient, definitely go for it 😎

I sell vintage goods and make it a practice to avoid Etsy’s shipping service.

You have really missed the boat on this one. Etsy charges a commission on the label you print from their platform just as if it were a “sale!”

This is especially galling when shipping out of country since those shipping costs are much higher than domestic, but also feels like a rip-off when shipping is being offered as “free” to the customer, per Etsy’s recommendation.

This all amounts to double-dipping at its worst.

Pirate Ship is my preferred option. They are almost always equal and often much less expensive in shipping cost and there is no hidden fee or commission tacked on.

They import and populate the label directly from Etsy’s information and coordinate with Etsy for tracking, customer notifications, Star Seller metrics, etc exactly the same as if you used Etsy’s label and it shows in the Sold Listings exactly the same.

Their pricing for shipping out of country is usually less than half of what Etsy charges; and remember Etsy takes a cut of that foreign label’s cost (which is sometimes more than the actual cost of the item) for a sales commission.

They offer UPS rates that are incredible, especially for larger items. They also have USPS Priority “Cubic” rates which are fabulous for small items.

And finally, you can chat with an actual Pirate staff member in real time and get real informed answers (which is something sorely lacking at Etsy).

Thanks for the feedback! Keep in mind that Etsy charges a shipping transaction fee of 6.5% on the total amount the customer pays for shipping, not necessarily for the cost of the shipping label. While Etsy’s shipping transaction fee causes some confusion in the seller community, Etsy does this to prevent sellers from circumventing the 6.5% transaction fee by charging less for the product but more for shipping. This video from our friend Kara does a good job of clearing this up:

The section talking about the 6.5% should be revised. Etsy charges that 6.5% fee regardless- this article made it seem as though if you use etsy shipping labels you will be charged an additional fee. The 6.5% fee is added on all purchases so you may as well use etsy shipping labels. This post took me on a wild goose chase trying to figure out if I was going to be charged an additional fee.

Hi Andi, we’re sorry for the confusion! You are correct, there are no additional fees for Etsy shipping labels — just Etsy’s standard fees they apply to all sales on the platform 👍

Leave a Reply