Businesses need labels. Ok, so perhaps they’re not the most exciting or glamourous part of any business but when you think about it, they’re essential. Essential for shipping goods to clients; essential for labelling the products accurately; essential for organising and tracking stock.
Particularly in today’s businesses – online, flexible, agile organisations that need to respond rapidly to their market and to operate anywhere and everywhere.
If labels are important to today’s businesses, it follows that it’s worth a bit of thought to get the right printer to produce those labels. Here’s my top tips on choosing a label printer.
1. Think about connectivity
Traditionally, you printed from a desktop PC, connected via cable or Wi-Fi to your printer. But what if you need to print from another device? Your tablet or iPhone. Even if you’re not doing so now, try to take a peek into the (not too distant) future and consider whether you’ll be wanting to print labels from these devices at some point in time. If you have to print labels away from your office or warehouse, on customer premises, on the road, at a trade show, chances are you’ll want to print them from a mobile device. Wired and Wi-Fi are not the only options – consider a printer that also gives you Bluetooth and AirPrint capability.
If you can see yourself printing from an Apple device, it’s wise to choose a printer that is certified to MFi (Made for iOS) standards, so that you can be sure that it will cooperate fully with Bluetooth connection to your iPhone or iPad.
2. Think about label design
Getting the right design for your label is important – but most business owners are not graphic designers with the skills to use complex design software. So look for a label printer that comes with software (ideally at no extra charge) that makes the job easy. Software that gives you pre-designed templates, offers you built-in drawing tools, enables the import of graphics, photographs and clip-art and makes it simple to create a range of barcode formats. Look for design tools that work across platforms, and allow you to design from your Windows or Mac PC and from a phone or tablet.
If you’re an online business, one of the most time-consuming and frustrating tasks is setting up barcode labels from a .pdf file. Look for smart design software that will automatically convert the information on your A4 page to a correctly sized series of labels, saving you time and stress.
3. Think about size and portability
Businesses are not confined to an office – many need to operate anywhere and everywhere. Whether it’s in their own warehouse, with a client, on the road or at an event, you may well need to print labels on the go. You can’t do that if your label is big, bulky and heavy. So I recommend looking for a lightweight and portable printer that you can take with you wherever your business needs to go. In conjunction with wireless, Bluetooth or AirPrint connectivity, a portable printer will be as flexible as the rest of your business.
4. Think about consumables
Buying a printer is one thing, but you have to also factor in the consumables it uses. Over the life of the printer, they represent the bigger expenditure. Direct thermal printing prints directly onto the label, with no ribbon, so tends to have a lower cost.
If you are printing single labels, or need labels of different lengths, an inbuilt cutter will allow you to do so without paper wastage.
5. Think about quality
The purpose of a label is to identify, track and promote a product. It’s not going to do that if its illegible, smudged or comes away from the product or packaging. So along with all the bells and whistles, don’t forget to make sure that the printer you select covers the essential basics; producing a high quality, readable, attractive label that stays put.
Labels say so much about a product and about the business that supplies it. They help track and organise good and ensure that the right products get to the right customers. So it’s worth spending a little time thinking about what you want from a label printer. If the five things described match your top requirements, take a look at the Brother QL-110NWB – a printer that ticks all the boxes.