CTPShop.com, Epson and UPS : Shipping Labels in Living Color

4 min read · 7 years ago


When’s the last time you took a really
close look at a UPS label?

These days, if you take the trouble to
scope out the ubiquitous UPS label, you may see something absolutely unheard of
instead of the black barcodes, maxicodes and other scan-ready symbologies
you’re used to:

The first custom-printed color shipping
labels in the history of UPS – thanks to a talented new Epson
printer and CTPShop.com.

In fact, UPS is so high on
the new Epson-UPS-CTPShop solution that starting early this year the
international shipping company will be hosting a series of ecommerce
—largely to introduce and promote its new color shipping labels.
The  symposia will target retail
customers and ecommerce companies using UPS, with topics ranging from new UPS services to shipping options,
security, post-purchase activities and much more. Additional presentations will
be given by UPS partner-companies.

Seeing the World In Color

Why would you want to add a color logo
(or any other kind of color image) to your shipping labels?

CTPShop’s web site notes that: “Color
images resonate with the human mind far better than black and white, simply
because we see the world in color.”

CTPShop’s color label solution involves
buying (or acquiring; see below) an Epson TM-C3400A color
inkjet label printer and setting up your own
template inside UPS’ ubiquitous WorldShip application. Then you can print color
labels automatically as part of the normal WorldShip labeling process.

According to CTPShop, color shipping

  • promote
    your business
  • increase
    orders and repeat business by placing your logo and product advertising on
    every label
  • let
    you offer a color label program to your drop-ship customers
  • drastically
    reduce the cost of ordering preprinted labels


Best of all, you may be able to acquire the TM-C3400A at no cost
through UPS’s Customer Technology Program (CTP).


Economic Up-Side

If the advantages of printing color
shipping labels are easy to see, the economic up-side of a venture involving
two huge business partners, Epson and UPS, took some selling. “First, we
had to convince Epson that this made sense,” says Mike Anderson,
co-founder/partner of CTP’s parent company, Thermal Solutions International
(TSI). “And then we had to prove it would actually work.”

Figuring out how to make the color-image-printing
code work with the huge, complex shipping platform known as UPS WorldShip was a
serious challenge. WorldShip not only prints labels, it also uploads customs
documentation, sets up shipment alerts, tracks shipments, exports shipment data
and runs reports. And the Windows-based software has
to run in 20 languages and more than 140 origin countries. Working on that
platform that was no cakewalk.

“We partnered with UPS,” says
Anderson. “Then we brought in a software company that we knew, and they
worked with our code. Once UPS saw that it was possible, they took
over and did all the programming to add the printer drivers to WorldShip.”

First Thing the Customer Looks At

The adventure had started three years
earlier. TSI is an Epson value-added reseller, and Anderson’s business partner
Warner Copeland had seen a new Epson printer at a private showing—a printer
with awesome new technology. “Wow,” said Copeland, “this printer
can do something no printer has ever been able to do before.”

TSI operated numerous Yahoo ecommerce
stores, so they did a lot of shipping—and were already putting color labeling
and graphics on their shipping boxes. But to do that, they had to buy
custom-printed labels and stick them on every box. “We thought, how nice
would it be to be able to print color right on our UPS shipping labels,”
Anderson remembers. “Because that’s the first thing the customer looks at
when they get a package: Where does this come from and who is it for? And there
are big cost savings if you don’t have to buy those color labels separately.”

Anderson and Copeland first came up
with the idea in 2011, and color label capability went live as part of the UPS
WorldShip platform on July 1st, 2014. “UPS ‘blessed’ it a year ago,”
says Anderson, “but until it shows up as a feature in the WorldShip
software it’s not official-official.”


The precise nature of the business relationship between
Epson, UPS and TSI is complicated. Technically,
TSI manages the CTPShop.com ecommerce site
for the three-way partnership. Anderson claims that after no more than two
weeks in official-official
business, CTPShop is already in the black.

One reason might be Yahoo. Anderson is a big fan of
Yahoo; in fact, TSI has been running all its ecommerce
stores on Yahoo for 12 years.

Why? Anderson answers in one word: Stability.
“And the confidence that we have in the platform. POSPaper.com is TSI’s
flagship web site, a multi-million-dollar enterprise that’s been very
successful. We’ve never had any serious technical issues with that web site, or
any of our other Yahoo ecommerce sites. We’re quite pleased with the Yahoo
platform overall.”


The biggest challenge for TSI was
getting all three companies, two of which are huge, multi-billion-dollar
corporations, to cooperate. “Getting anything done with a huge
conglomerate like that is tough,” Anderson laughs. “Here we are,
three years later, and it’s just starting to roll. But really, things went very
well. It was mainly a matter of being really persistent.”

Today, CTPShop’s biggest challenge is
just what you’d expect: Getting the word out. Anderson’s job is to educate UPS
customers—and about 1700 UPS sales reps scattered around the world. “We’re
holding lunch-n-learns in all 17 regions,” he says. Some
of it is being done through webinars too.“

The UPS-Epson symposia will make a big
difference as well. Sounds like persistence is still the secret sauce at

Football Hall of Fame Signs Up

Anderson is particularly pleased that the Pro Football
Hall of Fame has just signed on to use the UPS color shipping label solution.
"This is an interesting one for us,” he notes, “because we are
starting to see different types of organizations, including charities, foundations
and non-traditional businesses, using the Epson color technology to help
promote their cause. We are excited to know that shipping packages from the Pro
Football Hall of Fame retail store and eCommerce site now use the UPS color marketable
label solution.”

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