Right Shipment Labeling

In: shipping

30 Mar 2009

For most purposes, you can’t beat the standard 4-inchx6-inch blank white label. Anything smaller is tough to work with, and anything larger just leaves a lot of wasted space. Stick with 4-inchx6-inch and you’ll be happy. You can purchase these labels at any office supply store, or even get free versions (for Priority Mail shipping) at your local post office.

If you want to splurge, you can even purchase labels with your name and return address preprinted at the top. This is a good idea if you do a lot of shipping (a dozen or more items a week); otherwise, it’s probably not cost-efficient.

You can also purchase or create your own return address labels, to use in conjunction with your main shipping labels. It’s easy enough to print a full page of smallish labels in Microsoft Word; most printing firms (such as FedEx Kinko’s) can also do up a roll of address labels for a nominal charge.

If you use computer-generated labels, you can program your label-making program to include your return address when it prints the label. This is a good (and lower-cost) alternative to using preprinted labels.

The best-packed box won’t go anywhere if you get the label wrong. For fast and efficient delivery, keep these points in mind when addressing your package:

  • Write, type, or print the complete address neatly.
  • Always use complete address information, such as the suffixes Dr., Ave., St., and Blvd.
  • Include the recipient’s apartment or suite number, if applicable.
  • Always use correct directions, such as N, S, E, W, or SW.
  • Use the correct ZIP Codeand, when possible, use the four-digit add-on, ZIP+4 (example: 46032-1434). Be sure to hyphenate the ZIP+4.
  • Always use the proper two-letter state abbreviation.
  • When addressing to a P.O. Box or rural route destination, include the recipient’s telephone number on the label.
  • When shipping outside the U.S., include a contact name, telephone number, and postal code on the labeland don’t forget to include the country name!
  • Always include your return address information.
  • If you’re using any special services of the U.S. Postal Service (Priority Mail, First Class Mail, insurance, and so on), note this above the destination address and below and to the right of the return address.
  • Place the delivery label on the top (not the side) of the box. To avoid confusion, place only one address label on the box. If using a packing slip, place it on the same surface of the box as the address label.
  • Do not place the label over a seam or closure or on top of sealing tape.
  • To avoid ink smudges and rain smears, place a strip of clear packing tape over the address label. (Notable exception: do not tape over any bar codes on a label with pre-paid postage; bar code readers have trouble reading through tape.)
  • If you’re reusing a box for shipping, remove or block out all old address labels or markings on a used box.

Don’t know the ZIP code for the address you’re shipping to? Then look it up at the U.S. Postal Service’s ZIP Code Lookup at www.usps.com/zip4/.

And here’s one last tip. Make a duplicate of your shipping label and stick it inside the box, before you seal it. This way if the original shipping label gets torn off or destroyed, anyone opening the box can read the duplicate label and figure out where the box is supposed to go.

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