Back to Basics: To Dymo or not to Dymo – 30 Up Labels vs a Thermal Printer


When I started selling on Amazon 4 years ago I started with the basics. I had a smartphone, Profit Bandit (the Amazon Seller App didn't exist yet), a computer, laser printer, printer paper and Avery 5160 30-up labels. The basics haven't changed much in 4 years. The Amazon Seller App is the go-to app that I recommend for people just starting out. The other tool I recommend is a Dymo 450 Turbo thermal printer for product labels to replace the Avery 5160 30-up labels. Now I'm sure there are plenty of sellers out there who'll disagree with me on this point. Let me explain my position and you can make the decision that's right for your business. Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products that I have used myself. I receive a small commission from items purchased through my links.

There are two ways to print product labels for your Amazon FBA products:

  1. 30-up product labels – After you enter all of the items you are planning to ship to Amazon in one shipment, you print all of the product labels for that shipment on 30-up labels. Then you place them on the product and place the products in the shipping boxes. Repeat this process for each warehouse you will be shipping to.
  2. Single product labels – Using a thermal printer (Dymo, Brother and Zebra are popular brands) allows single product labels to be printed as you add items to a shipment. NOTE:  If you are using a Mac you'll need an additional piece of software to make this happen (see below).

I started out with 30-up labels and frequently become frustrasted with them for a number of reasons:

  • Product Title Crop – The full title of an item didn't always show up on the label and this caused problems when I had variations of an item and couldn't tell which item a label was for.
  • Product Touchpoints – When I used 30-up product labels I handled my products a lot. I usually handled them at least 6 times before shipping them off to Amazon – purchase, unload, list, sort, label, pack.
  • Unused Labels – I often had shipments that had less than 30 items or just over causing me to use only parts of at leastpart of a sheet of labels. I could flip the sheet around and print on it again but always wound up with anywhere from 1-20 unused labels that I wouldn't be able to use to print my product FNSKUs.

Avery 5160 30-up labels are relatively inexpensive per label. The cost comes out to approximately $.007 cents per label (3000 Avery 5160 30-up labels = 1000 sheets = $21.99 on Amazon = $.0073 cents per label). That cost assumes that you are using ALL of the labels per sheet and doesn't factor in the “waste” labels that get stuck in the middle. NOTE:  I only used the brand name 30-up labels. I never used the generic ones. I have heard other sellers having issues with the generic ones staying stuck to products. I don't have any first-hand experience to confirm this issue.

Amazon also recommends that you use a LASER printer, not an Inkjet printer, to print your product labels when using the 30 up sheets. Labels printed with an inkjet can easily become smeared and unreadable with even the slightest amount of moisture. This has to do with how the ink adheres to the paper. I use a Brother Laser Printer similar to this one. Mine is the older model. They frequently go on sale for less than $90 on Amazon.

30-Up Cost Breakdown
Labels = $21.99
Printer = $89.97 (if you don't have a LASER printer already)
Startup Cost = $111.96

NOTE:  Other uses for 30-up labels include expiration dates for grocery and personal care items, covering additional barcodes on items, and “This is a Set” labels.

Now let's compare what I've just discussed above with using a Dymo 450 Turbo thermal printer.

I started using a Dymo 450 Turbo about 2 years into my Amazon journey. I wish I hadn't waited so long! Let me explain why.

Dymo Compatible 30334 Labels by House of Labels are my preferred label to use with my Dymo. The cost comes out to approximately $.0065 cents per label (4 Rolls of 30335 Labels by House of Labels = 1000 labels each = 4000 labels = $.0065 cents per label)

Dymo Cost Breakdown
Thermal Printer = $80
Labels = $25.99
Startup Cost = 105.99
NOTE:  If you are using a MAC you'll also need to use a Chrome/Firefox plugin called List Label Ship to be able to print your labels as you list. It costs $5/ month or $48 per year.

In comparison, the startup costs to use either 30-up labels or a Dymo are about the same. What many people don't factor in is the TIME savings! The time savings present themselves in two ways:

  • Print on Demand –  I print each product label on demand so I don't have to spend time searching through the sheet of labels for the correct one for each product. I also don't have to worry about cropped titles for variation listings. This also removes the unused label problem.
  • Decreased Touchpoints – When using my Dymo, the following steps – list, label, sort, pack become one step. I enter the item into Amazon, print'apply the label and put it into the correct box for shipping. Done!

As I explained above I touched my product as many as six times between purchase and shipment. That's a lot of touchpoints. Each one of those touch points takes time. It may not seem like it on a small scale, but those incremental amounts of time add up.

Let's look at an example where I spend 30 seconds on average per item at each touch point

Touchpoints using 30-up labels @ approximately 30 seconds on average per touchpoint
Purchase, Unload, List, Sort, Label, Pack
= 3 minutes PER product
= 3 x 60 (average # of items per shipment) = 180 minutes = 3 hours

If you can find a way to decrease the number of times you touch a product your time investment decreases and your return on investment increases.

Touchpoints using Dymo @ approximately 30 seconds on average per touchpoint
Purchase, Unload, Process (List, Sort, Label, Pack = one touchpoint)
= 1 minute 45 seconds PER product
= 105 seconds x 60 (average # of items per shipment) = 105 minutes = 1.75 hours

What could you do with the 1.25 hours that you save PER Shipment? I usually ship 2x per week so that's 2.5 hours each week that I can spend…

  • Researching bundles on Amazon using “Frequently Bought Together” section of product pages
  • Sourcing products at a new store
  • Finding a wholesale source for one or more products

I've put this information out there so that each seller can make the decision of which labeling solution is right for them. Every seller is different. As a business owner saving time and money are on the top of my priority list. The costs associated with either 30-ups or using a Dymo are almost a wash. It really comes down to how efficiently you want to run your business. How would you prefer to spend your time – hunting for the correct label for a product or searching for new products to sell?

This is an ongoing conversation in many of the groups I frequent. I hope this post helps someone make the right decision for their business.

One last thing! Later today I'll be jumping on Periscope to talk tools that will make your Amazon business more efficient from the start. If you haven't downloaded Periscope [ iOS | Android ] to your smartphone or other mobile device (iPad, tablet, etc), make sure you do it before 2:30pm EDT so you're ready to ask your questions. You can follow me @amy_feierman. See you there!

What are you doing TODAY to move your business forward?



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