Etsy Shipping Labels Tips For Sellers

Selling on Etsy means that you’ll have to ship the things that people buy, so that means buying shipping labels.

Buying shipping labels means that you’ll have to make decisions about setting up postage rates, purchasing the labels, and whether you want to use the Etsy shipping label system to do that.

Following are some tips about Etsy shipping labels, calculated shipping, and setting up shipping profiles.

Etsy Shipping Labels Tips For Sellers

Table of Contents

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.

Do I have to use Etsy shipping labels?

You are not required to use Etsy shipping labels to send your packages. You can use any service that sells labels, including many that integrate with the Etsy system. You can also purchase your shipping labels directly from the post office at the counter, then add the tracking numbers to the order at a later time.

The advantages of using Etsy shipping labels are the convenience of doing everything on Etsy and having the order information in one place.

When you buy a label on Etsy, the cost of the label is taken out of your payment account, so you won’t have a separate bill to pay.

The disadvantage is that because the label is paid for out of your payment account, you won’t be able to get points back on your credit card!

I use to buy my shipping labels because I can put the cost on my credit card and get cash back, which adds up quickly.

Another advantage of using Etsy labels is that they recently said that if someone posts a review that’s ONLY about shipping issues that aren’t your fault, you’ll have to have bought the label from Etsy to have it removed.

I’m not worried about that, because Etsy can’t legally remove most reviews, and they rarely will take a review down. It’s not worth giving up the cash back for the slight chance that you might be able to get a review removed.

Post office self-serve machine

Is there a fee to use Etsy shipping labels?

There is no fee to buy an Etsy shipping label, but there is a shipping transaction fee of 6.5% that’s charged when the payment for shipping is collected from the customer. This seems to confuse a lot of people, because the 6.5% is charged on the money paid by the customer at the time of purchase, not on the amount that the seller pays for the shipping label. Therefore, the 6.5% fee is paid by the seller regardless of where the shipping label is purchased.

If the shipping price is added into the listing price so that the item ships for free, the 6.5% is charged on the listing price, so you’d still end up paying the fee one way or the other.

A lot of sellers think that the 6.5% is charged on the shipping label cost, but that’s not how it works. You’ll still pay the 6.5% shipping transaction fee no matter where you buy your shipping labels.

This is another argument for using an off-Etsy service for buying your labels, because if you have the points back on your credit card that you use to buy the labels, it will offset some of your Etsy fees.

Click to see the video.

Who pays for shipping on Etsy?

As a general rule, the customer should pay for the cost of shipping for the things that they purchase. Etsy listings can be set up so that the customer pays for the shipping based on the shipping profile linked to the item, or based on the weight and size of the package. An alternative would be to set the shipping cost to free shipping, but if that’s the case the cost of the shipping should be included in the item price.

Etsy tells you that free shipping on listings, or the free shipping guarantee, which means free shipping for orders over $35, will give you priority in search results.

It might still have a small effect, but it’s not going to make your listings leap to the top of search.

Even if you do have free shipping or the guarantee on listings, you shouldn’t lose money because of that. Make sure to add the cost of the shipping to the item so that it’s covered.

A benefit to adding the shipping price into the listing price is that if a customer buys more than one thing, it will increase your profit margins.

I’ve heard people talk about not overcharging customers for shipping, but if a customer buys something then they’ve basically agreed that the price is fine, and you shouldn’t worry about it.

However, sometimes there will be a situation where you want to refund an overpayment for shipping, and you can do that from the order itself.

How to refund a shipping overage on Etsy.

To refund a portion of the shipping cost, go to the order on Etsy and choose “more options” at the top of the page. From that menu, choose “refund” and the refund window will open. From the dropdown for the reason, choose “Shop owner refunding shipping overages,” and fill out the amount of the refund on the line item for shipping. Click on “Review refund” to see a summary of the refund, and approve it.

Refunding a shipping label overage on Etsy
More actions tab on Etsy orders, choose “Refund.”
Refunding a shipping label overage on Etsy
Refunding a shipping overage on Etsy.

When you refund part of a purchase or shipping payment, Etsy will also refund the percentage of the fees and taxes associated with that refund.

What size are Etsy shipping labels?

Etsy shipping labels can be printed in 4×6 format, and can be set up to print from thermal printers that use that size. Shipping labels can also be printed on paper in whatever size you prefer and attached to the package with clear tape.

Choosing the size of the shipping labels in the Etsy shipping label preferences section.
Etsy shipping label preferences

To choose the size of your labels, go to your shop dashboard under Settings—Shipping settings—Shipping label options. Go to the “Downloading labels” box.

If you’re using a 4×6 printer, you can check the dot for “format my labels for 4×6 label printers.” and any labels you print will be correctly formatted.

If you prefer to print your labels on paper, you can choose one of the other two options to choose full-page labels or to print them two per page.

Choosing counter rates or business rates.

Another option that you have in the shipping settings is the choice of the prices that the customer will pay for the labels if you have calculated shipping turned on. You can choose post office retail rates or commercial rates, and the calculated shipping will charge the customer the appropriate amount.

Rates for shipping labels on Etsy
Choosing Etsy shipping label rates.

This option is under the “rates and upgrades” tab. If you choose retail rates, the customer will be charged the amount that they would pay if they went to the post office and paid for the postage at the counter.

Etsy shipping label rates is the commercial rate, which is lower than counter rates and is the actual cost that the seller is charged for the label by Etsy.

The advantage of charging retail rates is that it’s a little more than commercial rates, but it’s what the post office would actually charge, so the customer isn’t being charged too much. The slight overage will also help to offset the shipping transaction fee.

Are Etsy shipping labels cheaper?

The commercial rate labels on Etsy are cheaper than post office retail rates, but they aren’t much cheaper than other shipping services. Most shipping services negotiate similar rates with the postal service, so the prices that one service charges will generally be similar to the others. If you ship items that are large or heavy on a regular basis, it might be worth shopping the different services to find one that offers cubic shipping rates, which can be less expensive for larger items.

Many shipping label companies also offer options from other services such as UPS and Fedex, so if you use those to ship your items it could be worth looking into them to see if their rates are cheaper.

You can also set up UPS and Fedex shipping profiles for Etsy labels.

There are a lot of shipping label services, such as:

Some of these services charge a monthly fee to use them, but most are free to use other than the cost of the labels themselves.

Some services integrate with Etsy and you can pull the orders into the shipping system without having to do anything once you connect your Etsy shop.

It’s easy to purchase the labels on the third-party system, and the order will be marked as sent and tracked when the label is purchased.

I use GoShippo, and it pulls the orders into the system, I purchase the labels there, and it then marks them with the tracking on Etsy.

To see the printer that I use, click here to check the price on Amazon: Dymo thermal printer Opens in a new tab.I also use these labels: Thermal 4×6 labels.

What kind of printers to use for Etsy shipping labels.

To print 4×6 shipping labels, a thermal printer such as a Dymo or Rollo can be used. There are other brands, but the important thing is to make sure that the printer’s format is compatible with the Etsy shipping label system. Some printers aren’t 4×6 format, so make sure to purchase the right one.

The benefit of using a thermal printer is that the cost of the labels is generally lower than the cost of regular printer ink.

I have a Dymo 4×6 that I love, and it makes printing labels really easy. I also use generic labels that I buy from Amazon, so there’s no need to stick with the brand name labels.

A lot of members in my EShop Success program Opens in a new tab.also use Rollo printers and like them a lot, so there are options. I’ve had my Dymo for over 4 years and it’s still working well, so these printers last for a long time.

Be aware that if you buy a newer model Dymo, they might be limited to using only Dymo labels, and they won’t work with generic ones.

Make sure that you get a printer that you can use with off-brand labels or the cost to use one will be a lot higher than it needs to be!

How to print an Etsy shipping label.

To print an Etsy shipping label, go to the order and click on the little van icon on the right. You’ll be able to purchase the label by filling out the information on the page that comes up. You can also choose from label presets that you set up in the shipping settings by choosing from that dropdown box to save time.

Filling out the Etsy shipping label information
FIlling out the Etsy shipping label information.

Etsy will send the customer a notification that their package has shipped on the date that you choose on this page.

They’ll also send the customer a message that you can edit on this page by clicking the pencil icon near the message on the right.

You can also edit the message that the customer receives when the shipping notification is sent by clicking on the pencil icon next to the message at the top right.

If you need to split the order into two packages, you can use the “add another shipping label” button at the bottom to add another label that will be attached to the order along with the first one.

Can you print shipping labels from Etsy app?

Etsy will be releasing a new Etsy seller app in December of 2021, and it will be possible to purchase labels from the updated app. You can also use a web browser on your phone to log into Etsy to purchase labels. The current Etsy seller app doesn’t support buying labels, but the new app can be downloaded in order to purchase Etsy labels from the app.

To buy labels from your phone, you’ll need a wireless printer. Make sure that you purchase a printer that has wireless connectivity if you want to do your business from a mobile device!

How to cancel an Etsy shipping label.

To cancel an Etsy shipping label that you’ve purchased, go to the completed orders page and find the order. Look at the tracking number and underneath that will be the option to refund in tiny letters. Click on refund, choose the reason why, and confirm the refund. The label will be refunded and the order should be moved back to unfulfilled orders.

Where to refund an Etsy shipping label.
Refund an Etsy shipping label.

Be careful about doing this, because Etsy has had bugs in the past where a refunded label basically deleted the order completely!

Make sure to print out the order before you refund a shipping label so that you’ll have the information in case something goes wrong.

A refunded label might take a few days to go through, so if you don’t see the refund right away don’t worry.

If a shipping label has been used, you can’t refund it at all, only unused labels are eligible for refunding!

Can you print an Etsy shipping label without an order?

To print an Etsy shipping label, you need to have an order associated with it. It’s not possible to use Etsy shipping labels for sales that were made outside the Etsy shop that you’re logged into.

To buy a shipping label without an order and still use the commercial rates, you’ll need to use an outside service such as GoShippo, or another one like the ones I listed above.

I send business-related packages using GoShippo without an order being connected to them, such as for giveaways and samples.

The outside services will let you create a label without an order, but you can’t do that on Etsy.

Late shipments and buying shipping labels on Etsy.

If you buy a shipping label on Etsy that’s sent after the processing time window, it will be recorded as being shipped late. This can affect your Star Seller stats, but there’s no way to backdate the shipping date when you purchase a label.

One thing that Etsy frowns upon (and so do customers) is when a seller prints a label then doesn’t ship the item until days or even weeks later.

Some people do this to make it look like the package shipped on time, but it’s not a good thing to do.

If you get behind on orders, the best thing to do would be to put your shop on vacation mode to give yourself time to catch up.

It’s better to clear out your current orders than it is to keep letting them pie up so that you get behind.

In addition, Etsy has started putting shops on vacation mode automatically if the Etsy bots see that you’re behind on orders. If that happens, you won’t be able to turn vacation mode off until Etsy does.

It’s better to do it yourself, and that way you’ll have control over when your shop gets turned back on!

How to do calculated shipping and shipping profiles on Etsy.

To set up calculated shipping and shipping profiles on Etsy, go to your shop dashboard under Settings—Shipping settings—Shipping profiles. You can also create a calculated or regular shipping profile in a listing, then save it so that you can use it on other listings. Calculated shipping will calculate the cost of the shipping label based on the weight and size of the package that you enter in each listing.

Shipping profiles on Etsy are reusable templates that you can choose from to save time when creating a listing.

If all of your items are generally the same weight and size, you can set up a shipping profile that applies to a lot of them, then choose it when you create the listing.

Calculated shipping is a handy way to charge the customer the correct amount, and if you set up a reusable profile you can use the profile for multiple listings.

I use calculated shipping profiles for all of my listings because it adjusts the cost depending on where it’s being sent.

Etsy shipping profiles settings in the shipping preferences.
Shipping settings for shipping profiles.

In your shipping settings, click on “Add Profile” and enter the information about the package weight and box size, plus the information about where it’s being shipped from.

Etsy shipping profile setup.
Setting up a shipping profile.

At the top of this form, you can choose “calculate them for me” if you want to use calculated shipping, or “I’ll enter them manually.”

If you want to set a flat shipping fee, or you want to set up a specific cost for different items, you’d choose that option.

You can choose where you’ll ship in this form, as well as add a handling fee that’s separate from shipping.

You can also choose free shipping if you want the shipping profile to be set up for free shipping.

Be careful if you add a handling fee because that’s applied to every single item in the order.

If you have a $1 fee and someone orders ten of something, they’ll be charged $10 extra. It shows up as part of the shipping charge, it isn’t separated out, so it can make your shipping fees look way too high.

Also be careful when you put the weight and size of the item in.

When Etsy adds up the sizes for multiple items, it can put the order in the oversized package category pretty quickly if the box sizes are set up in a certain way.

For example, my items weigh about 1 ounce each, and the cost to send a 1 ounce to a 4 ounce package is the same.

What I do is put 1 ounce for the weight of the item, then 1″x1″x1″ for the box size. If someone orders 5 of the item, the weight is 5 ounces, which is about right, but the box size doesn’t add up to more than 5″x5″.

If I put the actual box size in, which is 6″x4″, multiples in an order would make Etsy add the box size to itself, and it would put it into oversized package territory, which would charge the customer way too much.

You might have to experiment with your shipping settings until you find a few that work as profiles, because everyone will have a different set of packages to ship.

Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts