blog / article

A4 Labels vs Direct Thermal Labels – which is Better for Online Store?

by Leo Chan
3 Sep 2019

As an owner of a Packaging Supplies business, I often get asked what type of label is best suited for my online business. Although this can be complicated to answer there are a few factors to consider when choosing between the two different type of labels.

To find out whether you should use A4 labels or Direct thermal labels for your online business it would largely depends on the size of your business. Check out below to see which size you fit in.

Small Online Businesses sending out 1-20 parcels a day should stick to whatever is readily available to them, and generally that would be a Laser printer to print A4 labels for your product and shipping labels.


  • Low volume businesses shouldn’t spend money on additional direct thermal printers if they already have a laser printer. Don’t spend the capital focus on growing your top line revenue.
  • Low number of labels printed means the money you save on not buying ink would not be enough to justify buying a direct thermal printer costing approx $500

Medium eCommerce Businesses pushing out 21-50 parcels a day should upgrade from their Laser printer to a Direct thermal printer which we recommend the most reputable and cost effective Zebra GC420D. This Direct Thermal Printer is an absolute workhorse and doesn’t break down. Our large customers have over 10 of them in their warehouse and can attest to their reliability and longevity.


  • You are starting to scale your business so by having a direct thermal printer you will start to enjoy the time savings on the streamline printing process and never have to change the paper tray again.
  • Huge Cost savings since Direct thermal printers don’t use ink due to their thermal technology (the special thermal label darkens to form the words and numbers on the label, for more info go to our blog page Direct Thermal Printing)
  • Laser printers are prone to jams especially when using the Free A4 labels provided by Australia Post for their eParcel Service (Regular Post 4 per page/Express Post 3 per page)
  • When A4 labels get stuck in an A4 laser printer it can take hours to remove the adhesive stuck between the rollers and that’s if you don’t go crazy and just decide to buy a new one.
  • Direct Thermal Printers like the Zebra GC420D is loved by many for almost never having paper jams but the best of all if it is jammed or misfeeding you simply take the top off and clean the roller if any adhesive is stuck there and off you go. This process would only take 1-2 mins

Large eCommerce business bulking out 51- 500 parcels a day must use a Direct thermal printer for its speed of printing, auto aligning mechanism (avoid alignment issues), and given direct thermal printers doesn’t use ink there are considerable cost savings over the A4 laser printers.


  • Enormous Cost Savings when you never have to buy ink again. For the Standard Shipping labels 100x150mm it would cost around 2 cents/label and compare that to the blended cost of having to buy cartons and cartons of expensive ink.
  • Probably the most important factor for large enterprises is the speed and the streamline process of printing and being highly reliable there is no contest when comparing the two
  • Standard shipping labels widely used in Australia is the 100x150mm label (used by eParcel, Startrack, Fastway, Toll, Couriers Please etc) comes in both a 350 Labels/Roll or a 500 Labels/Roll, get the 500 Labels/Roll as it would reduce the number of times you would need to change the rolls.

I hope the above information gave you a rough idea on how to approach when considering a change of printers as it can be a daunting decision making process.

For assistance or more info, contact the author at


Cardy Chung is the founder of StreetPricer. Read more articles by Cardy Chung.

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