Between labor shortages, customer expectations, automation quandaries and, of course, the high cost of doing business, challenges abound for e-commerce companies — and optimizing processes wherever possible is a priority for everyone. This is especially critical in distribution and fulfillment centers, with many executives looking to improve operations like inventory management, order picking, order releasing and packing.
One simple way to improve the packing process and cut costs is by using linerless labels. These labels, which do not use a silicone-coated release liner or dispensing agent for application, are not new, but demand for them is growing in new markets — including e-commerce — as companies realize the benefits they yield.
Four Operational Benefits of Going Linerless
Linerless labels are ideal for e-commerce distribution and fulfillment centers for four reasons.
- Reduced costs: Fulfilling more orders faster and at lower costs is a challenge for e-commerce companies. Linerless labels can be a cost-efficient alternative to traditional labels.
Because the liner takes up about half the space on a traditional roll, linerless rolls hold about twice as many labels in the same space. By going linerless, a warehouse or distribution center that would require 100 rolls to pack a day’s worth of goods would only require 50 rolls — a big difference.
Similarly, the freight costs of linerless label rolls can be reduced by up to 50% because the weight of the liners is removed and each box holds more labels.
Linerless labels have a longer shelf life because their silicone coating protects against chemical, UV and moisture exposure. The coating is also less abrasive to printer heads, protecting expensive printing equipment from wear and tear, which ultimately saves on costs.
A wide variety of adhesives is available for linerless labels, including removable adhesives, which allow employees to pull labels off the package, yielding significant re-packaging savings in an e-commerce business. The silicone coating protects labels during the re-sticking process.
With no liners to discard or collect from a production area, waste disposal and janitorial costs drop as well.
- Greater productivity: Many e-commerce and logistics companies use small roll hip printers that are carried at a warehouse employee’s side to allow for mobile printing on demand. Because linerless rolls have twice as many labels per roll, warehouse employees who are packing and labeling products do not need to change out an empty roll for a new one as frequently, allowing them to be more productive.
Considering the number of packages some e-commerce and logistics businesses handle in a single day, having to reload rolls constantly because printers run out of labels takes multiple minutes per employee per day, adding up to a lot of downtime.
Additionally, in an e-commerce distribution center, linerless labels can speed up processes by being pre-printed for license plating and used for products moving in and out of inventory.
- Improved safety: Leftover liners seem harmless, but they are classified as a warehouse safety hazard because silicone is so slippery. When employees apply traditional peel-and-stick labels to products, they sometimes drop the silicone release liners on the warehouse floor, creating the potential for slip-and-fall accidents.
By eliminating the potential for discarded label liners, e-commerce companies can minimize the possibility of warehouse floor injuries (and, thus, reduce the risk of workers’ compensation payments or lawsuits).
- Enhanced sustainability: Many e-commerce companies are exploring green alternatives to improve their eco-friendliness, and linerless labels inherently create less waste. Label liners cannot be burned or recycled, which means all of that waste enters landfills instead; and because they are silicone-coated, they are not biodegradable.
Linerless labels conserve resources in other ways too. By using two face sheets and no liner, combined with alternating adhesive and release patterns, e-commerce companies can print the shipping label on one side of the label and the itemized returns sheet on the other.
The Right Label for Each Business
Linerless labels come in plenty of options, including permanent labels with hot melt adhesive and semi-permanent reusable labels with acrylic adhesive. For e-commerce businesses that require customized solutions, look to a trusted labeling partner to get a linerless label that meets each company’s specific needs.While introducing linerless labels to a workflow means investing in new machinery, the long-term benefits more than outweigh the initial investment — making linerless labels a smart, modern way to upgrade distribution and fulfillment center packaging equipment and supplies.