Buying a Labelling Machine Vs. Outsourcing Services

When it comes to shipping your products, you want everything to run as smoothly as possible. Even the most minor bump in the road can cause delays, or inconvenience for your customers. That’s why it’s important to consider the efficiency and ease of every aspect of your logistics – including product labelling.

It may be a small part of a larger operation, but it’s essential for a fluid supply chain. So if your current labelling solution isn’t working for you, it’s time to consider the best way forward for your business. If you’re considering buying a labelling machine, or outsourcing your labelling to a specialist company, here’s what you need to be aware of.


When investing in new equipment or services, cost is usually one of the most important concerns for businesses. So which is more cost effective: buying a labelling machine or outsourcing your labels?

Labelling machines can be expensive to buy. However, once you’ve made the initial investment, you can start to see savings over outsourcing. Outsourcing your labels is usually only cost-effective if you have a large number of labels to print, since there are often minimum order quantities involved. You’ll also need to buy bespoke cutters or print plates if they’re needed. If you choose to purchase a label machine, consider the cost of purchasing ongoing consumables such as inks, toner, or ribbons, depending on the type of machine you choose.

The cost of your solution depends on the quantity and type of labels you need to print. Outsourcing may not be an option for smaller scale enterprises, due to high minimum order quantities and expensive labelling processes.

Print Quality

If you print your labels using a laser or inkjet printer, you can expect your print quality to be lower than outsourced label printing. Quality label printing companies typically use high-quality print methods such as thermal transfer to ensure durable smudge-free output. They also offer a larger range of print options, including a choice of ink types, colours, and print methods. This allows you to switch up your labels without shelling out for lots of expensive machines.

Without the expertise of professional label makers, it can be difficult to replicate their results. However, depending on your budget, you can buy industry-standard thermal transfer printing machines to be used in-house. But you’ll need to do your own research to decide which type of printer is best for the labels you need


Time is a valuable resource, so efficiency is another crucial factor for many businesses. Outsourcing labelling to an external company is less efficient than printing your labels in-house. As well as being subject to their lead times, you’ll also need to depend on accurate printing, exact delivery times and reliable couriers. Late shipments to your warehouse can result in knock-on delays for your customers.

If you choose to print your labels in-house, you’ll need to factor in time for setting up the machines, creating artwork, and training your staff. However, once the system is in place, it’s a much more efficient way to create labels. You’ll have your labels available on-demand, and any hiccups or teething problems can be fixed after a couple of print runs – you won’t need to send your products back to the contractor to be fixed. Plus, if you buy a print and apply label machine, you’ll improve efficiency even more by making it easy to attach the labels to your goods.

Type of labels

Unless you have considerable budgets for your label machine, you’re probably only planning to buy one – which can be limiting if you need lots of different types of labels. After all, you’ll potentially need different artwork, media, print methods or inks depending on your labelling requirements. As a result, if there’s a lot of variation in your labels, outsourcing may be preferable for your business. Professional printed label services often offer options for embellishment, so it’s ideal for unique or unconventional labelling. However, minimum order quantities will probably still apply, so this is still likely to be an expensive solution.

Maintenance capabilities

If you’re planning to buy a label machine, you should consider the ongoing maintenance costs of your solution. If something goes wrong with your label machine, you’ll probably have to pay and arrange for the machine to be serviced. With an outsourced solution, you won’t need to worry about this aspect of your labelling.

Labelling software

Many modern labelling machines use labelling software to print labels to your design specification. If you outsource your labelling to another company, you won’t need to learn how to use any specific software, as they’ll take care of this for you. However, if you buy your own label machine, you (or your staff) will need to learn how to use this software effectively. This can take time, depending on your team’s current capabilities. That said, a lot of labelling software is simple to use, especially if your designs are fairly basic. 

Labelling purpose

The purpose of your labels should inform your decision to either buy a labelling machine or outsource your services to another company. If your labels are for decorative or brand awareness purposes, you may want to prioritise efficiency and cost. However, if your labels include barcodes or other scannable information, having a sharp, smudge-free print could be your main concern. Discuss your priorities with your potential suppliers and take their recommendations on board.

Crunch Time

It’s always important to research all your options before you commit to a large investment. If you need a large volume of elaborate, colour-printed labels, outsourcing may be the way to go. However, for many businesses, it makes sense to buy your own labelling machine. This option gives you maximum control over your product labels – it offers greater flexibility and makes your shipping process smoother.

If you’re looking for a way to maximise efficiency even further, print and apply label machines are the ideal choice for in-house labelling. Using industry-standard direct thermal and thermal transfer printing methods, they issue a crisp, high-quality print. Best of all, they apply the label directly onto your products or packaging with ease.

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