How to Choose a Shipping Label

Electronic waybill printers refer to printing devices specifically used for printing express delivery waybills. According to the types of waybills printed, they can be divided into traditional waybill printers and electronic waybill printers. Differentiating based on the working principle of the printers, there are dot matrix printers and thermal printers for printing traditional and electronic waybills, respectively.

Traditional Waybill Printer (Dot Matrix Printer):

The traditional waybill, which is commonly used, involves four parties filling out the express delivery form. The four copies include the delivery company’s copy, sender’s copy, sender’s receipt copy, and recipient’s receipt copy. This type of carbon copy material can be handwritten or printed using a dot matrix printer. However, due to the complex operation and slow printing speed, regular users usually only print the sender’s information, while the recipient’s information is still handwritten, providing flexibility and convenience.

Advantages of Traditional Waybill:

  1. Using carbon copy paper technology, the sender only needs to handwrite or print the first page using a dot matrix printer, and the subsequent pages will automatically copy the corresponding content, saving some writing time.
  2. Couriers can carry them conveniently. If they don’t have a printer, they only need to prepare a pen to complete the document filling.

Disadvantages of Traditional Waybill:

  1. The paper size is large, and there are multiple layers.
  2. Copy quality is not ideal when filled in by hand or with a dot matrix printer.
  3. If a mistake is made, all four copies become invalid.
  4. Inconvenient for billing purposes.

Printing traditional four-copy waybills must be done using a dot matrix printer. This is because only dot matrix printers work by striking the surface of carbon copy paper with pins to create characters, similar to writing directly on the waybill’s surface with a pen. Inkjet and laser printers cannot achieve multi-copy printing. Dot matrix printers can also be used to print invoices, receipts, and other multiple-page documents.

Electronic Waybill Printer (Thermal Printer, 4-inch width and above):

Compared to traditional waybills, electronic waybills are a new type of waybill. They cater to the rapid development of the express delivery industry and greatly simplify the process of manually filling out waybills. Electronic waybills are mostly roll-type or stack-type three-layer thermal paper adhesive labels. After tearing off the last layer, they can be directly pasted on the surface of the goods’ outer box without using an express bag. The content of electronic waybill pages (except for the express company’s identification) is entirely generated by the courier software and directly printed by the waybill printer, minimizing the labor cost required for filling out the waybill.

Advantages of Electronic Waybill:

  1. Higher efficiency: a) Electronic waybills are 4-6 times faster to print than regular paper waybills, with an average printing time of 1-2 seconds per order. This high-efficiency billing greatly alleviates the pressure of large-scale billing for e-commerce and other customers, with an average speed of 2,500 sheets/hour and a maximum of 3,600 sheets/hour, easily handling promotional activities. b) Faster order fulfillment: After merchants apply for waybill numbers from major courier and logistics companies, they can automatically import order information and shipping/receiving information into the waybill printing software, then generate label templates. With a single click, they can batch generate express waybills.
  2. Lower costs: Electronic waybills themselves cost over 5 times less than traditional paper waybills. Since electronic waybills are mostly roll or folded three-layer thermal non-adhesive label paper, the printers used for printing electronic waybills are commonly referred to as “thermal printers.”

However, these thermal printers are different from the thermal ticket printers we often see at supermarket/cashier counters. Since the width of electronic waybills is 100mm, larger than supermarket receipts, and may require tables and barcodes, the suitable thermal printers for electronic waybills can only print widths of 4 inches and above. Additionally, many thermal barcode label printers on the market also have thermal printing functions, making them suitable for printing “electronic waybills.”

  1. Purchase considerations: When choosing an express delivery printer, first clarify your printing needs: will you be using traditional receipts or electronic receipts? As traditional waybill printers use dot matrix printers, electronic waybill printers use thermal printers.

Comparing the two types of printers, thermal printers have advantages such as fast printing speed, low noise, clear printing, and user-friendliness. However, thermal printers cannot directly print double-sided and the printed files cannot be stored permanently. On the other hand, dot matrix printers can print multi-copy carbon copy paper, and with good ribbons, the printed files can be stored for a long time. Still, dot matrix printers have slower printing speed, more noise, rougher printing, and poorer print quality. Ribbons need frequent replacement. Therefore, customers can choose based on the current or future usage of waybill types.

Considering the current development trend of e-commerce, the use of electronic waybills will be a growing trend. With low costs, fast printing speed, accurate information collection, and batch printing capabilities, they are well-suited for the needs of e-commerce platforms’ users. When choosing a thermal printer for printing waybills, besides selecting a brand with reliable after-sales service, two factors should be considered:

  1. Compatibility with waybill printing software, including official printing platforms of various courier companies and third-party waybill printing software.
  2. Durability of critical wear parts (printing head). Since thermal printing technology presses the printing head onto the thermal label’s surface, directly heating the chemical coating on the surface of the thermal label to darken and form printed text, the thermal printing head is a consumable and relatively expensive. When it rubs against rough thermal label surfaces, it causes some wear. Hence, when purchasing, focus on the durability of the printing head.

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