How to buy cheap labels - Tip#3: Brokers

So you've got a new product you're rolling out, or you have a new label initiative, and you need 100,000 labels by the end of the month. You could contact a label manufacturer and get a quote. Then contact another manufacturer and get another quote to make sure the first guy is giving you a good deal. However, 100,000 labels isn't huge volume. It may quadruple the volume of labels you're using at the moment, but to a converter it's a small deal. As a result, they're going to treat it like a small deal.

Enter the Label Broker. Brokers typically buy and resell tens of millions to hundreds of millions of labels per year. To a converter, that's big business and they treat it as such.

So, instead of contacting a converter directly, reach out to a broker instead. They'll provide several key advantages:

  1. Unbiased expertise: They're label experts, so they can offer cost saving ideas such as inventory management programs, layout changes (as discussed in Tip#1), and material recommendations that can save you big money right off the bat.
  2. Competitive quotes: Brokers typically work with several converters in your area so they'll know who to call to get the best pricing. Most converters have a specialty. It could be low or free tooling charges, a giant selection of stock labels, or excellent pricing on that special material you're looking for. Brokers will gladly shop around and gather multiple quotes on your behalf, saving you a lot of time and effort.
  3. Volume discounts: Brokers will get much better pricing than you. Even with their markup/commission, the sheer volume of labels they're buying, in most cases, gives them the best possible pricing.

So before you start gathering quotes for your next label project, consider calling a Label Broker. You can contact our label experts for more information on finding a broker.

How to buy cheap labels - Tip#1: Layout

One simple, but often overlooked, method of reducing label cost is by changing the layout. If you're printing narrow labels one-across on a 4" printhead it's time to listen up!

Moving from a 2" wide x 4" long label to 4" wide x 2" long format will give you almost double the number of labels per roll. This provides several key cost-cutting benefits:

  • First, it reduces manufacturing overhead required to slit and finish each roll. Whether your converter decides to pass along the savings is another story. But you should ask.
  • This configuration also requires less media change-outs, so your operators spend less time and man hours replacing empty rolls. This is especially useful if you're running your printers continuously for multiple shifts. Downtime is expensive!
  • If you're using a 4" prinhead you'll essentially be doubling the life of the head. Even if you're lucky enough to get free printheads it takes time to swap those puppies out. You're also going to experience reduced print quality as the head nears the end of its life, which could cause unreadable barcodes further down the supply chain. 
  • Lastly, depending on how your labels are packaged, you may see a drop in shipping or freight charges because you'll shipping less rolls.

Another change you could make if you're printing narrow labels on a 4" wide printhead is to run them two or three across. So, say you're printing a 1" wide label on a 4" head, you can run those same labels two or three wide. You'll be extending the life of your printhead by as many times and you'll require less media change-outs, which equals more throughput. Your platen roller and your printer operator will both thank you. 

The next time you send out an RFQ be sure to ask about rotating the format to utilize the full width of the printhead. Or, consider running your labels two or three across. In many cases these change can be made without affecting your existing print and apply process.