Thing-a-Day 09: UPC Product Labels

Thing-a-Day 09: UPC Product Labels

Product Labels

I have historically disliked of all activities related to shipping and fulfilling packages. There are a lot of small details in the procedure, and it’s also time intensive and expensive. When I fulfilled Emergent Task Planner pads out of my house in 2009, I discovered it took me all day to process and ship eight orders. This is why I’ve spent so much time looking into automated e-commerce/shipping solutions; while I make less money, at least I didn’t have the aggravation of being annoyed all day.

These days, though, I’m feeling much more excited about shipping because I’ve figured out a few things about it, and I am starting to see that this is an opportunity to design some nice packaging plus maintain a stock room of ready-to-ship product. Today, I spent some time setting up some new stock+ship options.

Ordering Packaging from ULINE

This afternoon I was thinking about some upcoming design work on a pack of cards I want to make based on the operating principle cards from last year. But how would I package them? I went to everyone’s go-to packaging supply juggernaught, ULINE, and looked through supplies until I hit upon some #7 coin storage envelopes, which have a dimension of 3 3/8 x 6 inches. These are bigger than needed for business cards, but I figure that I can also use these for making a test run of ETP To-Go stickers, which are around 4×3 inches. Maybe I could make a COMBO PACK of both!

Shipping for just one box of 500 envelopes $14 just by itself, so I looked for something else to order. I found some 8×11 inch adjustable cardboard mailers, 100 of them, which I can use to make multi-packs of ETP pads.


Usually, the pads and other products on Amazon are shrinkwrapped and labeled by the printers. I don’t have shrinkwrapping or labels printed for these new products.

I then remembered I had inherited a Brother QL-570 professional label printer from my friend Alen, who had outgrown it. I had never powered it up. It even had some labels already in it, about 2×1 inches in size. I installed the software on my Mac, and made an EAN13 product code label using my stock of assigned UPCs. It took a while to find the right printer settings to get the result I wanted, as you can choose SPEED vs QUALITY, RESOLUTION, and the kind of GRAPHICS PRINTING (photo, line art, and graphic). I had to also verify that they would scan properly. But you know what? This label printer is really awesome. It’s fast, uses relatively inexpensive thermal labels, and it AUTOMATICALLY CUTS the label! Sweet!

And suddenly, I find that I have the ability to label very short-run products for sale! I can test market them on Amazon pretty cheaply, or use them to build-up my local shipping operation.

I am tempted to get a account just so I can start shipping the small-run stuff out. For something like a pack of Operating Principle Cards, shipping should be pretty cheap. I can use my existing Shopify store to take orders (it’s a fixed cost of $29/month anyway, so might as well use it).

So that’s today’s Thing-a-Day.

About this Article Series

I'm challenging myself to create something new every day for the month of November 2014! The November Challenge Page lists everything in one place...check it out!


  1. Larry Yudelson 10 years ago

    Shipping secret: PayPal offers “multiorder shipping” which lets you by US postage for all domestic products.

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 10 years ago

    Thanks Larry, I should look into PayPal again. The last time I used it was in 2009, and they had horrible integration and the interface was very slow. This was the experience that actually triggered my long-time dislike of shipping and ecommerce. I imagine they must have improved things by now.