Online Shipping Labels—Which Printers Are Best?

By Baillee Perkins
Sep 23, 2022
online shipping labels printers to use

When it comes to shipping, printing might not be the first thing that comes to mind, But, how you print your labels is actually something worth researching. Think about all the information on this piece of paper. Your printed label is responsible for your package getting to your customer. Crazy, right? 

Once you realize how much printing does matter in your shipping process, it’s time to find the printer that works best for you. We know there are many different options available, so we’re focusing on three of the most commonly used printers in the eCommerce space: the DYMO LabelWriter 4XL, the Zebra ZD421, and the Brother QL-1100. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is a thermal printer?
  2. DYMO LabelWriter 4XL
  3. Zebra ZD421
  4. Brother QL-1100
  5. Refurbished printer options
  6. How does ShippingEasy help with printing?
  7. Conclusion

What is a thermal printer?

If you aren’t familiar with thermal printers, or just need a refresher, let’s do a quick rundown of thermal printers. A thermal printer is a type of printer that doesn’t use traditional ink cartridges. Instead, it uses a special type of paper that changes color with heat. Thermal printers are great for printing things like labels and receipts because you only need to focus on having paper refills instead of ink cartridges. 

For more information on thermal printers, check out our blog!

DYMO LabelWriter 4XL

DYMO has been in the biz since 1958, and they’ve taken a sustainability pledge to do their part to help the environment. 

Image source: DYMO

Out of all of DYMO’s offerings, the DYMO LabelWriter4XL is not only our favorite but one of the most commonly used thermal printers among our users. This printer connects via USB, so you can just plug it in, download the corresponding software and/or drivers, and start printing! You can also print a variety of items from a 4×6 label to badges for your employees and use DYMO’s locator to find DYMO products near you. Other features of the DYMOLabelWriter 4XL include:

  • 300dpi resolution to prevent hard-to-read text
  • Free software 
  • Compatibility with both Windows and Mac  

Note: We recommend only using DYMO-brand label rolls with this printer.

Zebra ZD421

Much like DYMO, Zebra’s been around since 1969, introduced their first barcode printer back in 1982, and is dedicated to more sustainable practices. While Zebra has a wide array of printers that are compatible with label printing, we’re going to focus on the ZD421. The ZD421 is a part of Zebra’s ZD400 series, and its small stature keeps your shipping space organized. Zebra’s website also offers a locator to find partners and resellers for Zebra supplies. 

However, one thing to keep in mind is Zebra printers work better with Windows PCs, and we don’t suggest using them with Mac. Other features of the ZD421 include: 

  • Being ENERGY STAR® certified
  • Free software 
  • Two-year warranty*

*We recommend contacting Zebra directly to see if this warranty applies to printers purchased from other sites and marketplaces. 

Note: We recommend only using Zebra-brand label rolls with this printer.

Brother QL-1100

Last but not least on our list is the Brother QL-1100. Brother has been around for over 65 years, and they’re also working on sustainable initiatives for their products and company. Like DYMO and Zebra, Brother has a locator to find their products in stores, so it’s easy to find products conveniently located near you. The Brother QL-1100 can print up to 69 labels per minute (wow) and works with both Windows and Mac. Other features of the Brother QL-1100 include: 

  • No software downloads required for Windows users 
  • A USB Host interface, making it compatible with things like scanners 
  • An automatic cutter 
Learn more about sustainable shipping practices in Sustainability for Small Business.

Refurbished printer options

Inflation is impacting prices on pretty much everything, so we understand buying a brand-new thermal printer might not be feasible for your business. That’s why we want to highlight some refurbished printer options! Zebra and Brother each have refurbished programs you can access directly through their websites. Also, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have guarantees where the cost of certified refurbished objects will be refunded if returned within certain timeframes, extended warranties, and other features, so you can have peace of mind about buying a refurbished printer. 

Find more tips and tricks for saving money on your shipping cost in our 6 Tricks to Save Big Money on Shipping and Get Free Supplies blog!

How does ShippingEasy help with printing?

It’s like we wrote this question 😉. ShippingEasy helps to streamline your printing process with ConnectEasy, an automatic printing app. ConnectEasy works with most hardwired printers, and it eliminates the need to go to your print queue to finish printing your labels. This way, you can buy and print your labels from your Ready to Ship page directly. 


It’s easy to get heated when you’re trying to find the best thermal printer for your business. The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL, Zebra ZD421, and the Brother QL-1100 are all three excellent examples of thermal printers for small businesses because they can handle most batch printing jobs and keep the text on your labels legible. Plus, buying a thermal printer doesn’t mean having to buy a brand-new thermal printer. Refurbish programs are helping small business owners buy thermal printers on their budget. These thermal printers are also compatible with ConnectEasy, so you can print faster and send your orders faster. 

Make Shipping Easy and start your 30-day free trial today!
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Baillee Perkins

Baillee Perkins is a writer of shipping by day and pop culture by night, so her Google search history is an actual nightmare.

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