Hello, all. I am in the process of setting up my Shopify online store for handmade jewelry. I am looking ahead to the type of desktop hardware I am going to need beside my PC. Shopify says I can use a desktop printer to print my shipping labels, instead of buying a label printer from their hardware store. I’m wondering if a desktop printer would be more useful for my business needs. Any opinions out there about the pros/cons of using a desktop printer vs. a label printer? Also, what other hardware accessories do you suggest are worth having? Thanks in advance. I much appreciate the advice I have gotten from this wonderful forum.
A good multipurpose office printer(/scanner/fax even if you don’t hook it to a phone line) is a must. You can use that to print shipping labels, but there are drawbacks to doing that. You either need to tape the labels on (so buying clear tape and a lot of it), or buy label paper to print them on (and then deal with cutting them out, figuring out how to format them so you can get more than one per page, etc). I sell through Etsy and one of my few gripes is that their only formatting options are one or two labels per page. I print them at a size that would fit 4-up but they don’t let me.
Getting a dedicated label printer is an additional cost and has its own consumables price for the labels that only fit that printer, but if you’re doing enough volume it’s pretty easy to justify, and then you’re not spending that extra time trimming them down like I currently do. Honestly, I wish I’d never sold the one I used to have.
If you’re going to have a large inventory to keep track of, you might want to look into a bar code system. I don’t have this yet, but a friend who does a whopping wire-wrapped jewelry business out of her home has one and loves it. I can get details on it if you’re interested, or I’m sure a quick google will give you some options. Hell, Shopify might even have something like this as part of their services.
I’m trying to think of other hardware and not really coming up with anything else I’d consider absolutely essential. I run my life and business off my iPhone/iPad with occasional use of my iMac, plus a nice Epson printer. It doesn’t really take much, but there are always as many gadgets as people have money to spend on them.
Hi, I use a desktop printer for my shipping labels and it works just fine. Plus there are other things you can do with it. You can make your own thank you cards and much more it adds more versatility and it is an inexpensive addition. I would recommend a multifunction printer, so you can scan and print. I have an HP.
I run my life and business on chromebooks. This means that my printing environment sometimes is a challenge. My label and price tag system is label printer based via a relational database left over from when I ran imacs. I haven’t found a label printer yet that will run in a chome environment without a lot of other expensive hardware and software in place. The relational database is also not chrome friendly. There are some relational databases that will run in a chrome environment, but I haven’t found one that meets my needs. My solution was to by the cheapest PC I could find to run my label printers and relational database. It does that very well as long as my grandson doesn’t fill it up with games. I have looked into printing labels and price tags from my chromebooks to my Brother MFC but have yet to find a way that makes sense and doesn’t require that I pass the same piece of label paper through it multiple times. This usually just "gums the work"s. I also don’t want to waste a lot of paper printing small labels on a large 8.5X11 piece of copy paper. I keep asking the label printing people when they will have a chrome friendly label printer, but they don’t seem interested. If anyone has solution to this problem, please share it. Thanks…Rob
You might look into taking a Raspberry Pi and making it a print server for your machines since the wireless pi’s should manage it a little better and they can be set up less than $50. I haven’t set one up for Shopify but I did use one for my older laser printer to basically make it wireless and print from my tablet for some sketches. Check the brand of your printer versus the CUPS linux print servers and see if they recognize it. Quite a lot of older hardware has zero issues.
I looked at Raspberry Pi a while go and concluded that it would not work. I don’t remember why. Raspberry Pi are cool little machines. I would like to put one together with my grandson I am just not sure what to do with it. Thanks…Rob
Thank you for the feedback! I assume that my business will be light for a while, and you have given me good reasons to want a printer with my PC. I wonder if I can get by for a while shipping the old-fashioned way - sturdy boxes, and labels that I address by hand, then shipping them by USPS. But that might not comply with Shopify policy. I am still learning the ropes, and I need to make double-sure that their hardware, etc. is compatible with my PC before I buy any accessories beyond a printer.
Thank you! Is your HP an ink-jet, or a laser jet? Does it do color, or just black and white?
I use Chrome. I wonder if that will cause me to run into problems with label printing or record-keeping down the road. I’ll have to do some research.
With Etsy, it’s far better to buy and print shipping labels through the Etsy interface. First, you get a discount- and rates are going up yet again later this month. Second, it automatically populates the tracking information everywhere you and the customer need it to be- on the packing slip, in the confirmation email, on the customer’s order history page. I assume Shopify has similar functionality, and I’d urge you to use it. It also provides proof you mailed it when you said you did in a more official-looking way than you carrying a receipt home from the post office. Seamless.
Remember too that you want the outside of your package to represent you well- a neat, professional, legible label will give buyers confidence in your business. It’s a little thing, but it matters. This is the same reason I buy sturdy tuck-tab boxes and the reinforced water-activated Kraft tape- my customers generally know I’m some goofball with a bench in my living room, polishing their necklace while talking to my cat… but jewelry is still a luxury product, and having it show up in a reused beef jerky box with Aunt Ethel’s address scribbled out is just not what a lot of people are looking for. People are all about supporting small businesses and buying direct from artists, but they do still have expectations of what they perceive as professional that are influenced by the corporate end of the spectrum. It’s a balance.
Just my two cents based on quite a few years in a couple different businesses. I’m sure there are people out there doing just fine with the polar opposite of what I do, but all I know is what I know.
Great advice, Jen. I think that the Shopify shipping setup is similar to what you describe with Etsy, and it makes good sense to go with the flow and use the Shopify shipping arrangement.This is my first attempt at setting up an online business (or setting up a business, period), and I’m grateful for any good advice I can get! Right now, I’m a lost babe in the woods, but I’m seeing more light!
I use a Brother laser printer, I forget the model to be honest its just a plain B&W setup but that is all I needed. Mostly I put it on the Pi to make it wireless as I keep that printer on a bookcase in the next room away from where I keep my computer. Plus this lets other people in the house use it. I admit the rest of my family rarely has to print anything and I do more template and receipts in it but it’s useful functionality to have and something that I thought someone using a chromebook might access a little easier than most traditional setups since the Pi acts as a print server and for me it just ends up working. In truth I has to do nearly no configuration for it and it was simple enough that I barely recall putting the Pi OS on an SD card and booting it to get what I wanted done.
I just started an online handmade jewelry store in late January 2021, and use Shopify for sales and shipping, with Sellbrite as the etsy connection. Shipping labels in 6x4" size or 5"x7" size are available at any office supply store and work just fine on my home printer. My biggest mistake was stocking up with 1000 jewelry boxes and shipping envelopes! The cost saving distracted me from reality . . . . I even figured out shipping to Canada via USPS. Use what you have until a change is mandatory.
I don’t have any trouble running my Brother MFC from my chromebooks, it’s the label printers that cause the problem. None of the common label printer manufacturers make a label printer that will talk directly to a chromebook. Since I already owned a couple label printers, I needed a W10 machine to use them after my iMac died. My only other option was very expensive print servers and software. I opted for the W10 machine. Raspberry Pi may be a long term solution, but for now I will use my W10 machine…Rob
What others have said about an all purpose printer is right on. I’m a squeebly shop keeper (Weebly was purchased by square so my site is a step child, so to speak. I use PirateShip for shipping, It is a cut rate postage. What used to cost $5 is around 3.11 now. I use labels that are basically one half of a sheet and stick on their own. Heartily recommend using clear tape on top of the label to ensure its longevity. Stick with it - it gets easier.
Hi, Madeline, I love texture too! Thank you for your encouragement.
I only ever use Chrome and its fine , the previous comment was reffering to a Chromebook which is a small laptop and has less capabilities than a desktop PC .
Wow thanks for that , I have been looking for a way to integrate Etsy for ages lol , Cheers