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Post-It Notes: Royal Mail’s 2D barcode labels save time and money

July 1, 2016 in Distance Sales, Ecommerce, European VAT, UK VAT registration, VAT

Two online sellers label it a success

Last year Royal Mail announced that it would be upgrading its parcel delivery network, which meant that Royal Mail business account holders needed to start printing new 2D barcode labels. The Royal Mail asked users to switch over to 2D barcode labels by October 2015 but lots of online sellers still haven’t transitioned and this deadline has been extended

Royal Mail copy

We spoke to two online sellers about their experiences switching over to the new 2D barcode labels, and what difference they have made. Derek Hoare runs PzPalmtree (, an online shop selling useful everyday items and Alison Gollin runs Anijoe Beads (, selling costume fashion jewellery.

What were the main factors that made you start using 2D barcodes?

Derek Hoare: “The principle that Royal Mail should be able to give us tracking with the barcode labels was the main reason. The more official labels cut down on fraud from customers that say they haven’t got it. People assume that the parcel is being tracked and are less likely to say it didn’t arrive.”

Alison Gollin: “Royal Mail almost forced everybody into it, it wasn’t shown as much of an option. They wanted everyone using it by October 2015, and said that it would be fully functioning by February 2016.”

Did eBay’s increased emphasis on uploading tracking information play a part?

Derek Hoare: “Yes, because if you upload the tracking information you get 5 stars against dispatch time and delivery times – if you’ve dispatched in time then it’s not your fault if it doesn’t arrive. We were getting a lot of people saying they didn’t get it, or asking where it was – as soon as we swapped that dropped by about 90%. People think that the 2D labels are tracked. And for people genuinely asking where their item is, it seems that Royal Mail is treating bar coded post as a priority as we’re getting less of those messages too.”

Alison Gollin: “It was several things – the fact that it was going to be traceable, the fact that for me printing the labels was much quicker, and that Royal Mail provide the labels once you’ve bought the printer.”

How easy was it to move over to these new labels? What process did you go through?

Derek Hoare: “It was easy – we tracked down Netdespatch and they recommended Zenstores. We had to buy a thermal printer and then that was it. We gave our account number to Netdespatch and they set it all up. The whole process was stress free; it’s one of the simplest things we’ve ever done.”

Alison Gollin: “Doing it now is very simple. At the beginning it was more complicated because the Royal Mail migration team didn’t always seem to know what was going on. I think it’s probably simpler now because they fully understand how it works.”

What are the main benefits of shipping using 2D barcode labels?

Derek Hoare: “It’s saved us a lot of money. We were printing ppi labels on self adhesive paper; we now use the thermal labels that Royal Mail provides for free, because we bought the printer through them, but we’ve already made the money back. And it’s saved us time, an hour or two a day, the whole process of printing labels is more efficient.”

Alison Gollin: “It’s a very easy system to use. However, they initially said all the parcels would be scanned and traceable but you can’t track them unless you pay for signed services. The system for using the 2D labels is really quick though.”


Any issues now you’re set up?

Derek Hoare: “No, the system is simple and works every time. It’s working tremendously, we were getting up to three messages a day asking where items were, or saying they hadn’t arrived, and now it’s more like a message every three days.”

Alison Gollin: “No it’s easy. And using Zenstores as well, it’s all right there, everything I need, and I only have to refer to eBay for the odd little thing.”

What advice would you give a seller who hasn’t made the change yet?

Derek Hoare: “Just do it! The quicker you get on board the better. 2D barcodes are changing things from the old fashioned Royal Mail, and it’s becoming a courier. More services will become available and Royal Mail will be able to compete with other couriers.”

Alison Gollin: “I would recommend it, especially if you’re VAT registered – it’s much simpler.”

It seems that the new 2D barcode labels offer online sellers a number of benefits including saving time and money, as well as reducing the number of complaints about parcels not arriving. Starting in summer 2016, Royal Mail will also be offering delivery confirmation to 2D barcode users. Although it won’t be a fully tracked service, delivery confirmation should help further reduce fraud.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to 2D barcode labels you can find out more about them here:

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