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