Not Your Usual Office Love Affair 4


I know. I get it. It’s hard to believe that someone could be excited about something so trivial as a printer, but I have to share with you my office love affair with my thermal printer. He’s a Zebra ZP450 in One Shade of Grey, with a smoky translucent lid. He’s Energy Star Compliant and requires very little attention. Just load him up with 4″ x 6″ labels and he’s good to go. No toner. No ink. Just good ol’ thermal printing.

I have been printing shipping labels on a daily basis for 10 years now, and this thermal printer is still going strong! A thermal printer works by using small heated pins on heat-sensitive paper. The small pins form the characters. I use my printer to print my UPS shipping labels, and (with Stamps.com) to print my USPS shipping labels. 

Some ecommerce business owners use their ink jet or laser printers to print their shipping labels. Then they have to cut them out of a full sheet of paper, and either tape or glue the labels onto the packages – been there, done that. Not only are they using paper, toner or ink, and tape or glue for their labels, the extra time it takes to cut out the labels and tape them on is really wasted time (and we all want to save time  and be more streamlined, right?!). With my thermal printer, the only cost I have to run it is electricity (I get the labels free – see tip below), and all I have to do is peel and stick the labels onto the packages – quick and easy! Cheap, too!

If I haven’t convinced you yet how handy a thermal printer is, here are some other things you can do with a thermal printer:

  • Print labels for organizing your inventory shelves and/or boxes. Use any word processor, spreadsheet program, or even Windows Notepad to type your labels, then print them with your thermal printer.
  • Need quick and easy (and free) FRAGILE stickers for your packages? No problem! Again, use a word processor to type and format the word FRAGILE in large letters, then print with your thermal printer. Or, use this FRAGILE sticker that I use.
  • Want to customize your packages with your shop logo? Just print your logo on a thermal printer label and you’re set! Keep in mind that a thermal printer is not going to print something in high quality, 300 dpi, but it certainly will print well enough for a quick sticker.
  • Using a word processor or graphics program, create a nice looking “Thank You” sticker, and print it on a label (or use this Thank You sticker). This sticker could be placed outside or inside your packages. TIP: Whenever I need quick labels for anything, I print them on the thermal printer. For example, personalized labels for water bottles or pop bottles at a birthday party.
  • Design small inventory management forms with a spreadsheet program (or use this inventory form) and print them on a label. Attach the label to your inventory shelving units to record inventory on that shelf, the quantity available, and then just cross off the available quantity when you pull products to ship.

Ah yes… I love my thrifty thermal printer! And once you try one, I bet you will love it, too!

OFFICE EQUIPMENT TIPS:

  • Rent a Printer – If you ship a lot of packages via UPS, I highly recommend you open an account with them. Once you have an account, not only can you negotiate discounts on standard shipping rates, you can also request a thermal printer and order shipping labels for it that UPS provides. Renting a thermal printer through UPS will run you $2 each week. The nice thing about renting is, if anything ever goes wrong with your printer, UPS will send you another one at no charge. Of course, if you are planning on using a thermal printer for a long time, you are probably better off purchasing one. The Zebra ZP450 printer is typically around $300 and they are available at many office supply and shipping stores. If you’re purchasing your own thermal printer, thermal labels are also available at most office supply and shipping stores and are affordable.
  • Postage Software – If you are looking for a quick and easy tool to print your USPS shipping labels, I highly recommend using Stamps.com with a thermal printer. I have been using Stamps.com for over 10 years now and appreciate all the benefits this tool provides. Stamps.com is a great way to save on shipping costs, and can pay for itself depending on the amount of shipping you do.  If you are interested in a special 4-week trial, you can receive a $100 special offer, which includes $45 in postage, as well as a digital desktop scale. Just go to Stamps.com/tell and enter code C-58GY-FBW .
  • Digital Scale – Since we’re on the subject of office equipment, I have to mention a digital scale. As an ecommerce business owner, you probably already have one of these, but if you don’t, you should! A digital scale that can weigh packages up to at least 70 pounds and as little as a tenth of an ounce is the best way to accurately calculate the shipping charges for the packages you ship to your customers. By weighing the package at home or in your shop, and using a postage program such as Stamps.com, you never have to make a trip to the post office again! TIP: Most digital scales can connect directly to Stamps.com, so all you have to do is put the package on the scale and the scale transmits the weight to the program for you. Stamps.com also integrates with most ecommerce platforms, so you can import your shipping addresses directly, so you don’t have to type them. Slick, huh?!

Do you have an affinity for any of your office equipment? Post a comment below.


Also published on Medium.


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4 thoughts on “Not Your Usual Office Love Affair

  • Tina

    Very helpful tips JayDee! I’ve been wondering about the Zebra printer versus the Dymo so it’s good to know it is a dependable alternative.

  • Laura's Last Ditch Vintage Kitchenwares

    I don’t ship via UPS very often, so, even though I don’t have an account, I wouldn’t feel right using their labels for US postal service packages. I have a 1990s inkjet printer, and because it’s so old, it’s good quality (it doesn’t break, it doesn’t give weird error messages), and I can find ink at the thrift store for $1. The ink lasts me quite a long time since I print on the draft setting. I use homemade paste (made out of some flour that went bad on me) and back sides of used office paper. So, my cost of printing is about $3 per year (oh, and I found the printer along the curb on trash day). The environmentalist and tightwad in me loves this system. With the volume I do, it works fine for me, but I can certainly see how the thermal printer would be very nice for someone who sells a lot more. It definitely sounds like a handy little machine!