Do Shipping Labels Need Barcodes? (Explained)

Apart from the sender’s and recipient’s information, the barcode is another marking you will always see on shipping labels.

A barcode is a machine-readable pattern of parallel lines with varying widths. Each barcode is unique as it is used to identify a package.

Shipping labels need to have barcodes. Read on to know why and how barcodes are essential to shipping.

Here’s Why Shipping Labels Need Barcodes:

Barcodes are essential to ensure smooth and correct delivery of the package. A barcode makes it easier for the shipping company to keep track of the package efficiently while eliminating errors during shipment. It also lets the customer check the status of their package while in transit.

Do All Shipping Labels Need Barcodes?

Barcodes hold important data about packages, such as details about the sender, receiver, and other things about the package. All this information help ensure that the carriers can complete the shipping with little to no errors for as much as possible.

All shipping labels for packages need barcodes. The only shipments that do not need barcodes are USPS First Class Letters because this service does not offer tracking capabilities.

So as long as your shipment needs to be tracked, the shipping label requires a barcode. This applies mostly to packages or items that do not fit in First Class Letter envelopes.

Barcodes are very important to the shipping industry. This is because barcodes help sort and organize the packages and determine where they should be delivered.

Without barcodes, carriers would experience errors while delivering the package. Without a barcode, your package could end up lost or at a different location.

Without a barcode, you risk your package not being delivered at all.

When carriers scan the barcode on a shipping label, they can easily see information about the sender, receiver, the type of item being shipped, and other essential details to complete the shipping.

Some shipments, especially international ones, go through different shipping and sortation centers, and the barcodes help ensure they go through the correct locations.

The barcodes also help you locate your package. Each shipment is assigned a corresponding barcode and tracking number. When the barcode of your shipment is scanned, you can see its real-time location and status by entering the tracking number linked to it.

This helps you track your package so you will get an idea of when it will be delivered. You will also know if it will be delayed so you can notify the recipient ahead of time, especially if it is an order.

What Is The Difference Between A Shipping Label And A Barcode?

A shipping label and a barcode are different, so you should not be confused between the two, but they also go hand-in-hand to ensure smooth and error-free delivery of your package.

A shipping label is a piece of paper attached to a package that contains information about the shipment. Meanwhile, a barcode is one key information printed on the shipping label.

A shipping label is a piece of paper that normally comes in 4 x 6 size that contains important information about the sender, receiver, package weight, and other details about the shipment. The shipping label also contains the barcode.

A barcode is a machine-readable pattern of parallel lines with varying widths. It is printed on the shipping label. Each barcode is assigned to a certain shipment, which makes it unique, but two barcodes are the same.

Barcodes are system-generated, so you do not have to create one yourself. Whenever you create a shipping label at the carrier’s website, be it USPS, FedEx, or UPS, the system automatically generates a barcode, which would appear on the shipping label.

All you have to do is print the shipping label and attach it to your package.

When printing the shipping label, carriers recommend using black ink on white paper. This provides good contrast so that the machine can easily scan the barcode with minimal errors.

In addition, shipping companies also recommend that the shipping labels be waterproof. You can print it on waterproof paper.

You can use regular paper to cover it with a transparent shipping label film or a strip of packaging tape. This is to protect the barcode and prevent it from being smudged, which can make it unreadable by the machine.

If the barcode is unreadable, the shipping company can still deliver your package by manually inputting the information into the system, but you may not be able to track it.

Why Are Barcodes Used On Shipping Labels?

All shipping labels contain barcodes, essential for delivering packages correctly and promptly. When a barcode is scanned, it will display information about the shipment.

There are several reasons why barcodes are used on shipping labels:

  • Barcodes are used on shipping labels as a form of identification for the shipment.
  • Barcodes are used on shipping labels to properly sort and organize the shipments based on the package weight and contents.
  • Barcodes are used on shipping labels to deliver the shipments to the correct destination.
  • Barcodes are used on shipping labels to help minimize shipping errors.
  • Barcodes are used on shipping labels so customers can check the status and track the shipments more conveniently and accurately.

Who Uses The Barcodes On Shipping Labels?

The barcodes on shipping labels are mainly used by the carriers and shipping company employees who are in charge of sorting and maintaining the inventory of packages.

When a package is in transit, the carriers scan the shipping barcode at every delivery phase until it reaches its destination. This means that the barcode is scanned at every location or sortation center.

Here are the phases when a barcode is scanned:

  • When the carrier has received the package
  • When the package arrives at the warehouse and is sorted
  • When the package has departed the sortation center and is picked up by the carrier
  • Whenever the package passes through a checkpoint or logistics hub
  • When the package has been delivered to the shipping destination

Every time the barcode is scanned, the system will update the tracking information for the shipment. Each phase will display a date and time corresponding to when the barcode was scanned.

The location will also be displayed if it passes through different sortation centers or logistics hubs.

This is how customers can get accurate information about their shipments.

Besides providing shipping updates, carriers use the barcode to automate the shipping inventory. Scanning the barcode is more efficient than manually counting every piece of shipment and writing the information down on a piece of paper. This system also helps create reports easier.

In addition, the shipping barcode is also scanned in case the package is being returned. In some cases, a different barcode is assigned to the return label.

E-commerce stores use this system with a return policy if the customer wants to return the product for any valid reason.

What Happens If There Is No Barcode?

Barcodes are essential to the shipping industry as they contain key information that makes for the smooth and prompt delivery of packages.

If there were no barcodes, the shipping industry we all know would not be as organized and systematic as it is now.

If there was no barcode, shipping errors become common. Without barcodes, there would be more delays and packages getting lost or not reaching the correct destination, especially if the packages travel a long distance.

If there is no barcode system, we will be unable to track our packages and get status updates.


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