If a product comes into the store without a barcode or labeling code, it needs to be evaluated and identified before it can be sold. To do this, the retailer uses a label printer, a device for printing barcodes, price tags, and promotional information.
What is a label printer
The label printer is a device for the quick labeling of goods. It allows you to put any desired information on the label: barcode, name, description, composition, price, or article. The label can be adhesive or as a simple sheet of paper.
Unlike a conventional laser printer, this kind of printer prints ready-made labels. There is no need to fit the price tags onto A4 sheets and cut them out with scissors. It is enough to separate them from the roll, glue them to the package, or attach them to the product shelf.
When to buy a label printer
A label printer is needed in a retail store, no matter what it sells: groceries, clothes, flowers, or ready-made meals. Here are the main cases when you can’t work effectively without a printer.
Identify merchandise without labeling
The grocery store needs to label bread, the fishing store needs to label hooks and sinkers. These items come into the store unmarked and are sold individually. Store employees need to put a barcode price tag or label on each such item.
Print price tags
Most often a store needs a specialized printer when it has a large assortment and regularly changes prices and promotions. For example, a clothing store changes collections once a season and arranges sales. The tags of dresses and shoes regularly need new prices and promotions with a crossed-out value.
Trade-in an online store
Online store employees label items in stock before shipping. The shipping label indicates to whom the item is intended, where to take it, and how to contact the recipient. It takes a long time to write this information on each one by hand, so the data is printed on a printer and applied immediately. So orders in the warehouse can be served by one person.
Sell by weight
Before selling potatoes or candy, they are weighed and printed on the label bar code, price, name.
Form sets of goods
If the store sells ready-made food, such as kebabs in containers, each must be labeled. There will be a barcode, name, weight, composition, and price. It’s the same with bouquets, which are assembled from flowers right in the store – to assign a price to such a set, you need a label.
A store owner can hire someone to do it, or buy a printer – it will come in handy in the future, for example, when changing price tags.
Criteria for choosing a label printer
They vary in width. The printer determines how wide a label can be printed. The maximum is 2,25 inches for most stationary devices, while large-format industrial printers print labels up to 8 inches wide.
This is measured in the number of dots per inch, or dots per inch – DPI. The resolution determines what you can print on the printer: barcodes, QR codes, images.
The smaller the label, the higher the DPI you need. A standard barcode and logo can be printed on a printer at 203 dpi. For a small label, such as on a writing pen, you need a higher resolution of 300-500 dpi. Small print, up to 2 pt, requires a resolution of 600 dpi or higher.
Printing speed is measured in millimeters per second, but it is more important for a store how much the printer can print in an 8-hour shift. In terms of print speed, printers vary in types:
- Mobile – up to 2000 labels per shift. These are used in wholesalers and warehouses. The printer is attached to the operator’s belt and is powered by a battery;
- Desktop or stationary – up to 3000. Ideal for small stores and warehouses;
- Office – up to 6,000;
- Commercial – up to 20,000;
- Industrial – up to 50,000. These are large-volume printers for large print volumes.
Desktop label printers are suitable for most stores.
Thermal transfer printer or direct thermal printer
There are two printing technologies – direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.
Thermal printing labels work the same way as printing receipts. The paper has a thermal layer, which turns dark from the heated thermal head. This image is easily erased by temperature and fading from light and sunlight. On backlit display cases and outdoors thermal printing will not work: the barcode will quickly fade, and the scanner will not read it.
Thermal transfer printing uses a label and ribbon – a ribbon. When exposed to heat, the ink layer melts and the dye adheres to the paper. This technology is more resistant to abrasion and does not fade. The barcodes remain readable for up to two years.
Options depending on use
For a retail store and a small warehouse
In a store or warehouse, an inexpensive stationary model with thermal printing will do. It can print labels, price tags, advertising information.
For the counter
If labels are used on a lighted counter or in sunlight, choosing a more expensive thermal transfer printer is better.
For a store with a wide assortment
If there are a lot of goods and there are regular promotions in the store, a thermal printer with a narrow label will do.
For sellers of labeled goods
The printer comes in handy when the store sells clothes, shoes, underwear, tires, and cameras. Further, wheelchairs, bicycles, bottled water, and other types of goods will be subject to mandatory labeling. It can be used to mark leftovers and update price tags. It is better to choose a thermal transfer printer so that labels don’t rub off.
Label printer accessories
Computer and software
To print labels on a desktop printer, you connect it to your computer. Depending on the printer model, the manufacturer provides proprietary label printing software.
This is a device that winds the label from the printer onto the hub. Then, you don’t have to peel off each label for bulk labeling and transfer it to the package. It is enough to load the roller into the label gun and glue the labels by pushing the button.
A mechanical device that helps to quickly peel off labels after printing.
Allows you to use with the printer large reels of labels that do not fit inside the device. They are attached to the holder, and the labels go from the holder to the printer through a special hole under the cover.
What you need to know about the label printer
- The label printer is a device for quick product labeling. It prints price tags, barcodes, product composition, and advertisements.
- Any retail store needs a printer to identify merchandise that comes unlabeled or is assembled right in the store.
- Without a printer, it’s difficult to work in a store with a wide assortment, an online store, and if you sell bundles of goods, such as bouquets or ready-made meals.
- The printer is chosen by label size, resolution, speed, and the type of printing – thermal printing or thermal transfer.
- The printer will need a computer and software, for large volumes will be a useful label dispenser, label gun, and a label holder.
To choose the right label printer, check our article on Best thermal label printers.