What is In-House Labelling System
Labels are immensely versatile and have a wide range of applications while serving their core purpose of conveying information. The first printed labels were developed in the 1700s, primarily to label medicines and containers. Over the centuries, the cost of producing labels reduced while the ways they could be used multiplied. Label manufacturers gained popularity and would have industrial level label printing capabilities. By the 1990s, dedicated label printers became available, making it possible for businesses to have in-house labelling systems.
Before the accessibility and convenience of having their own labelling setups, most businesses would outsource their labelling requirements. There are numerous label manufacturers that will professionally print the desired labels in set quantities as per your requirement. While outsourcing has been the preferred label procurement model for years, it is time consuming and expensive. As the labels are available in particular volumes, you might end up with more labels than needed or have to manage with less labels.
An in-house labelling system offers abundance of benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, quality control and endless customisation potential. The initial setup process for a labelling system can be expensive and time consuming, but once you are ready to print labels, you can have years of smooth operations. Apart from the benefits of an in-house labelling system, understanding the applications and components of a labelling setup can help you plan for your own labelling system.
Applications of Labels
The single biggest factor influencing your decision of setting up an in-house labelling system should be the applications of labels for your business. If you have very infrequent and low volume requirements for labels, having a labelling setup may not be as beneficial. Consider your current business needs, potential applications of labels, and expansion plans in the future. A single labelling setup can be used to produce a wide variety of labels with the aid of appropriate label rolls. Top applications of labels are:
- Product Descriptions
The oldest application of labels continues to be one of the most important uses of labels. Any and every type of product can use a label, whether it is to identify the product, give a warning, impart instructions or encourage a purchase. Product labels can be used by retailers for items on sale, in laboratories for specimen identification, in restaurants on ingredients, and by baked goods stores for items on sale. The potential is enormous as any type of description can be included on the label.
For retailers, the product description labels help customers identify the item, understand it, and separate it from competition, increasing the chances of a purchase. Based on the items being sold, the product description can include anything from ingredients to care instructions, warnings and prices. Depending upon the target audience for the product description, there is scope for experimenting with different styles, colours and designs.
If you need product description labels on a regular basis, having your own labelling setup can help you with the flexibility to print labels whenever required. There is also greater support for experimenting with different styles to see which catches the most attention of customers. A labelling system would be essential if you require instant labels, for example, in grocery or baked goods stores.
- Inventory Management
If your business requires maintaining any type of inventory, whether it is for sale to customers, supplying to businesses, or use in restaurants, you will need inventory management. Labels play an important role in inventory management as you can keep track of which items are currently in stock and how frequently you need to order more supplies. With labels, you can instantly know what is inside a sealed package without having to open the packaging.
Most inventory management labels will either have barcodes or RFID tags or both, so that inventory is updated in real time. When a purchase is made at the POS, the barcode or RFID scanned will automatically be stored and marked against the inventory. By tracking the sales of products, you can better plan future restocking and identify bestselling products as well as slow moving products. Most label printers can directly print barcodes; however, you may need to check the printer capabilities for printing RFID tags.
If you have frequently changing inventory, having a label printer can improve inventory management efficiency significantly. As barcodes need to be unique, you can print customised labels with your own label printer as and when you get new inventory, without waiting for pre-printed labels to arrive.
Every business requires some form of promotions or marketing for growth, and labels can be a useful tool for promotions, especially for businesses selling products. Customised promotional labels and tags can easily be attached to products or even onto newsletters and coupon booklets. By including barcodes on promotional tags, businesses can keep an accurate track of the performance of promotions, by collating the data with POS records.
Promotional labels and tags are designed to be eye-catching and convincing and often use bright colours. They can be attached to existing product descriptions or anywhere on the product, or even to newsletters. The adhesives are typically less strong and are able to be removed when desired. QR codes can also be incorporated into promotional labels to make the promotion more interactive as customers can scan the code with smartphones.
Although it is possible to order promotional labels from a provider, there is much more flexibility in printing them yourself. To support sudden promotions or sales, having your own labelling setup will be useful. If you have an in-house labelling setup, you can easily adjust the promotions depending upon their performance. For example, reducing or increasing the discounts or expanding or reducing the reach of the promotional offering.
- Security Labels
Security cannot be compromised for any business, and apart from setting up expensive security systems or hiring a full security staff, you can easily boost security with adequate labels. RFID tags are ideal for security tracking, employee access and anti-theft protection and can inconspicuously be built into traditional labels.
To prevent theft, simply attach RFID tag labels on products requiring extra security, use a deactivator at the POS and set up remote scanners at the exits. Any products with RFID tags that have not been deactivated will sound off an alarm, thereby preventing thefts. If you have restricted areas of your business where only specific people should have access, you can use RFID tag labels in identification cards. With a scanner at the entry point, only people with approved tags will be able to gain access.
A label printer capable of producing RFID tags is a discreet and effective way of reducing theft and monitoring employee access. With your own labelling system, you can decide which products and with what frequency should have anti-theft capabilities. Based on need, you can produce more or less RFID tags, while still using the labelling setup for other labels.
- Shipping Labels
The growth in popularity of home delivery shopping models, eCommerce sites and B2B sales has resulted in an increase in need for shipping services. When it comes to shipping and freight labels, it is essential that they be of good quality with suitable durability and strong adhesives. The labels need to be able to withstand the average wear and tear of transportation. Apart from shipping, these labels can also be used for mailing labels if you send out physical catalogues or newsletters.
Even if your business currently does not offer home delivery or have frequent requirements for shipping services, consider your future expansion plans. If you expand to an eCommerce site, or open multiple business branches, or offer B2B sales, or have multiple storage warehouses, you will likely need shipping services regularly. Regardless of which logistics partner or shipping service you use, shipping labels are mandatory and each label needs to be unique. These labels are also a great way to emphasise branding if the packages are being sent directly to customers.
Printing of shipping labels can be outsourced; however, it can be expensive and time consuming. For larger volumes or instant requirements of shipping labels, it is easier and cheaper to print them on an in-house labelling setup.
What is an in-house labelling system?
In the past, labels would generally have to be pre-ordered, purchased, delivered and then applied. As label printing technology has evolved and become more affordable, businesses can print labels on their own, without purchasing the labels from any provider. An in-house labelling system enables businesses to produce labels as per their requirement, whenever required. Based on the type of labels to be printed, a labelling system has components such as label printers, label rolls, ribbons or inks, and label designs. Additional components such as laminators can be used for specialised labels.
Here are the details on the basic components of an in-house labelling system:
1. Label Printers
Although almost any printer can be used to print basic labels with the right label roll, there are dedicated label printers also available. If you are setting up a new in-house labelling system, it is advisable to get a dedicated label printer. These printers typically have thermal printing technology, and are either direct thermal label printers or thermal transfer label printers.
Direct thermal label printers do not require any ink or ribbons but instead print on heat-sensitive label rolls with a heated print head. They are suitable for bulk printing and the associated costs are low but they do not support coloured labels and have a short shelf life with limited durability.
Thermal transfer label printers are slightly more expensive and also require ribbons for printing. However, the print quality is durable and supports multiple colours. For basic labels, a direct thermal label printer can be suitable while for more elaborate, durable and colourful labels consider a thermal transfer printer.
Choose the label printer carefully as it is the foundation of your in-house labelling system. The label printer is also the most expensive component of the entire labelling system, and should be able to last for years without sacrificing label quality.
2. Label Consumables
Once you have purchased a label printer, the primary running costs for your labelling setup will be consumables. Consumables include the label rolls, inks, and ribbons. The specifications of the required consumables are dependent on the label printer you have chosen and the desired label application.
A direct thermal label printer will need specialised label rolls that are compatible with direct thermal printing and are heat sensitive. A thermal transfer printer will require ribbons for printing and compatible rolls. The width of the label roll should also be able to comfortably fit within the printer.
There are a vast variety of label rolls available, made from different materials with varying shades and a range of finishes from matte to glossy. They are available in different sizes and adhesive capabilities so you can choose label rolls that match your printer and end-use application. The durability of the labels will also be influenced by the material used.
As long as the label printer is compatible, you can experiment with label roll textures and finishes to find the ones you like best. With thermal transfer printers there is also scope to experiment with different ribbons for a changed look. There are label rolls available for particular applications such as retail labels and shipping labels.
3. Label Designs
With a labelling printer and consumables ready to print your label, all you need is to send the design to the printer. For this, you will require some type of operating system to connect with the label printer. This can be a POS terminal, laptop, desktop, tablet, iPad or even smartphone. Apart from the connecting device, you will need the label design.
The good news about labelling designs is that there are no costs involved. Depending upon the complexity, design and style of the label, you can create it on any website or application, for example, Canva or even Paint. There are several types of dedicated designing software available, both free and paid versions, to create labels. If you want a better design appearance, you can also take on the services of experienced graphic designers.
Based on the application of the labels, you can find specialised designing templates or even integrate with other operations. For example, there are automated barcoding systems available to generate required original barcodes for inventory management. Similarly, eCommerce sites have shipping tools that you can use to directly print out shipping labels. Most POS software come with the ability to print product labels.
As software technology evolves, you will have even more potential for experimentation and trial and error to find the best layout designs for your business. With an in-house labelling system, you have all the flexibility to design, print and revise your labels.
Benefits of an in-house labelling system
There are several significant benefits of having an in-house labelling system that have led to their popularity. More businesses are preferring to have their own labelling setup rather than having to rely on pre-ordered labels. While there may be initial investment costs involved, the operating expenses are low, resulting in an excellent return on investment. The top benefits of an in-house labelling system are:
The first and foremost benefit of having an in-house labelling system is the ultimate flexibility it offers. With an adequate label printer, you can print any type of label with any design and in any volume. If there is an error, you can stop and go back to the design and then print the new version. An in-house labelling system can keep up with the changing needs of your business, and be used for whatever label demands come up. For example, with the same labelling setup you can switch between printing product description, barcodes, shipping labels and promotional labels as the need arises.
- Instant Labels
With a labelling setup already in place, you can instantly print out labels without having to wait to place orders, make payments and then receive the labels. Instant labels improve productivity and can be used whenever required to save time and boost efficiencies, and can be printed at any time the need arises, day or night. For example, if you have to prepare a shipment for delivery, shipping labels can be printed quickly for faster deliveries. If new products have arrived or there is a sudden sale, new labels can be instantly printed and there is no hold up in launching new products or sales.
There is full support for unlimited customisations when you have your own labelling setup. Depending upon the type of labels, you can experiment with different designs, styles, label materials and more. Labels are a great way to emphasise branding by incorporating your brand colours or logo, and can be customised further for special occasions, sales, specific products or customers. With labelling templates and software available online, there are plenty of inspirations to design and develop your ideal labels. Additionally, you can try out different label materials with varying shades and finishes. With an in-house labelling system, you can try out, reject and revise label customisations as desired without committing to a specific style. Based on current market trends, you can adapt your labelling style as desired.
- Cost Savings
Setting up an in-house labelling system can be expensive, especially purchasing a label printer, however, in the long run you can achieve significant cost savings. The overall savings will depend upon the frequency of label printing, the printer you purchase and the consumables. Outsourcing label production is expensive and you have limited flexibility with the design and volume. With your own labelling setup, you can print as many labels as required, whenever they are needed without having to place an order for bulk labels. There are also cost savings on the designing, packaging and delivery of labels that you would incur when outsourcing label production.
For the utmost convenience in using labels, nothing compares to having an in-house labelling setup. With it, you can quickly print a wide range of customised labels as per your requirement. This also helps prevent wastage of excess labels or shortage of required labels. When you already have a labelling system available, you are more likely to try out different applications of labels since you already have the capability to produce them. Printing smaller volumes of labels and implementing a barcode or RFID tag system is easier when you can produce your own labels. Furthermore, the labelling setup can also be integrated with shipping tools, barcode generation programs and other apps to enable secure and useful automated labelling.
- Quality control
When you have an in-house labelling setup, you have complete control over the quality of labels that are being produced. As a result, you can decide the desired quality for each label, and choose label rolls and ribbons accordingly. Based on your preference, you can have multiple label rolls in stock you and insert the appropriate one for the type of labels being printed. For high priority labels, you can try out premium label rolls and spend time on perfecting the design. Meanwhile, for short term labels you can use basic label materials and a standard design. The adhesive capabilities of the labels will also be in your control as you can order the specific adhesive support you require for the labels.
An in-house labelling system has excellent scalability and can grow along with your labelling needs. When you already have a label printing setup, you can try out diverse applications of the labels to suit your needs. If you expand with more products, shipments, deliveries or inventory, you can print a higher volume of labels in-house while also saving more on each label. The labelling setup can also be integrated with other tools for automated label printing to maximise output without putting a strain on you staff. As labelling needs grow, you can also consider expanding your labelling setup by incorporating more label printers. Supplementing and expanding an in-house labelling system is much more cost-effective, time saving and convenient than ordering printed labels in bulk.
If you regularly use any type of labels then an in-house labelling setup can be a major asset, helping you save time and money while boosting productivity. There are numerous applications of labels, and with a single label printer you can meet multiple labelling needs. For an in-house labelling system all you need is a good quality label printer, consumables such as label rolls and ribbons, and label designs. While generic printers can be used for labels, having a specialised label printer will yield the best labels.
Although a label printer can be an investment, you can find them in a variety of price points. Apart from the label printer, the operation costs of a labelling setup are low, and primarily involve label rolls and ribbons. With an abundance of label templates and label designing software available online, you can explore the full potential of labels with your labelling system.
Here are POS Sales we have an extensive range of dedicated label printers along with consumables such as label rolls, ink ribbons and even cleaning kits. With all the brands in one place and shipping all over Australia, we can help you set up an in-house labelling system that will meet all your labelling needs. Reach out to us today.