The Hidden Costs of Barcode Printing: A World of Plentiful Options

Years ago, shopping was simple. We would go to the physical location of a store, grab the product we needed off the shelf (there were only one or two brands available) and then check-out and go home.

Now, we are blessed (or maybe cursed?) with more options than we can count. There are dozens of stores within driving distance, each offering several varieties of the same product. Each product has different pricing and quality to consider, and each store has different promotions available to shoppers. In addition to the physical stores, we have the internet available with hundreds of shops to peruse, price-check, and compare shipping and return policies.  

The sheer volume of options overwhelms me. I overthink purchases, wondering if I selected the best deal and chose something that I’ll still need or want in the future.

Does any of this sound familiar? 

The business world is no different. Business owners and managers are bombarded with choices on a daily basis. If you’re in charge of printers, barcode labels, and media, you probably know exactly what I mean. Unfortunately, the world of barcode label printing can be overwhelming. How can you ensure that you have the right barcode labels for your business’ unique needs? While initially you seem to be getting a bargain, unforeseen costs can add up quickly and you might end up losing big-time. Below is a guide to avoiding some of those unforeseen costs and the added expenses you didn’t sign up for. 

7 Ways you can Avoid the Hidden Costs of Barcode Printing

Barcode label printer

1. Consider your equipment costs carefully.

Sure, it might be ok to save $0.50 by eating the store brand of spaghetti sauce, but you do not want to cut corners on your thermal printer. Purchasing the wrong printer might seem like you’re saving money up front, until you realize that your printer can’t handle the volume of printing you do. Or perhaps the printer can’t perform all of the functions you need it to, such as when you purchase a direct thermal printer and need it to do the job of a thermal transfer printer. Whether you need a second printer to get the work done or a different printer altogether, many businesses have lost money and suffered downtime due to purchasing the incorrect equipment.

On the other end of that spectrum, you shouldn’t buy the most expensive model assuming that it will be the best. Instead, consider your business operations carefully and make a list of what you need from your printer. 

2. Is that bargain really a bargain?

Just like we touched on with equipment, it’s important not to cut corners with supplies. Let’s take barcode labels for example. A 4×6 generic label might seem appealing, cost-wise, but may lead to reprinting on high-quality labels if the bargain labels don’t hold up or aren’t scannable because of smudging, scratches, or tears. Poor quality media may eventually affect your printer and lead to costly damage and challenges down the road, like:

  • Cleaning the print heads.
  • Cleaning the internal sensors.
  • Burning out the print heads.
  • Wearing out the rollers.
  • Jamming the printer.

Replacing a print head can range from a $300-$700 expense, while other repair costs vary. Each of these issues equate to printer downtime and productivity loss too. And, both you and your customers stand to lose with labels that don’t last, won’t scan, or may deteriorate.  

3. Beware of wasted supplies.

Ordering the wrong supplies is easy to do – and a very common error. Not that I’ve ever personally experienced anything like this… 

You may end up owing shipping costs to return your unwanted supplies or perhaps you don’t even realize you ordered incorrectly until you’ve opened the supplies, and then it’s too late to return. You can also waste supplies through simple human error, such as pressing “print” before changing the printer settings and using twice as many labels as you had intended to. Sometimes wasted supplies can even be as simple as changing a printer ribbon before it’s completely empty. Whatever the case may be, thoughtful business procedures and practices can prevent a lot of waste. 

4. Don’t forget about storage.

love to buy in bulk, especially for my growing family. But purchasing in bulk doesn’t always pay off – at home or in business. Be sure that: 

  • You have enough storage space.
  • Your purchases have a long (the correct) shelf life.
  • You won’t need the cash that you tied up in your bulk purchase for something more pressing.
  • Your purchase will still be compatible with your equipment and needs down the road.

5. Maintenance.

I’ll never forget when my high school friend purchased her first car. Her snazzy foreign model was the envy of all our friends. However, she hadn’t considered the significant financial impact her vehicle would eventually have when it came time for expensive maintenance and parts from overseas.  

Considering inevitable maintenance and repairs is a must-do prior to a major purchase. Some printers have more moving parts than others and simply may have a shorter lifespan. Some may require hard-to-get parts or maintenance. Some may just take time to fix or upkeep – which can ultimately result in downtime that your business can’t get back. 

6. User error.

Be sure to train everyone who will be using the equipment and supplies. For instance, using the incorrect ribbon or label could inadvertently jam the printer or even damage the printer head, leading to similar unexpected costs that were mentioned in #2. 

7. Remember, time is money.

Time is like a slow leak. You may not notice a few minutes here and there, but boy does it add up over time. Yes, it takes time to make an informed purchase, and you certainly don’t want to click “purchase” on the first item you see in the name of saving time. But, how long do you want to spend researching, reading product reviews, and price-hunting?

Instead, consider talking to an expert who can answer your questions and more efficiently assist you in narrowing down your barcode printing options. That’s where L-Tron can come in. We ask our customers the right questions to determine what they really need. You may not have even thought about some of the unique needs of your media/barcode labels. Are they being placed on a curved or flat surface? Do they need to hold up to extreme hot or cold temperatures? Will they be exposed to any specific cleaning agents? Let us help you make an informed, cost-effective decision that won’t result in unnecessary expenses down the road. Avoid the hidden costs of barcode printing. Get in touch with our knowledgeable team at or at (800) 830-9523.

“I am writing you in regard to your employee Nate Leibensperger. I called today, October 24th, to inquire about some labels. Your company did not have what I was looking for, however Nate went above and beyond to help me locate the labels I needed (I wish you had what I needed, just so I could buy them from him). I cannot remember a time where I have received such great customer service – ever. You have a great employee and he should be acknowledged for his great attitude and superior customer service!!”  

– Auto Service Shop

Interested in avoiding the hidden costs of barcode printing supplies? Or discussing your unique barcode printing & supplies needs with one of our team members?