09-21-2021 06:28 AM
Hi all, new to the forum but have been using Shipstation for a year or two now. I have a problem that I've really struggled to get around and feel like I've got nowhere so I'm wondering if the community can assist. I'll hopefully be able to articulate it in a way which makes sense!
So, I ship around 100 orders a day, and almost all of these are shipped in 4 x 6" envelopes with a 4 x 6" shipping label placed on the front. I use 6 x 4" label stock to print my packing slip rather than A4 as this is more economically beneficial and practical for me, versus using A4 paper and having to fold it twice to place in the envelope. With this workflow, my average fulfilment time in Shipstation including printing, packing and placing into the mailbag is about 16 seconds and I really don't want to go backwards on that time.
To achieve this fulfilment time, at the start of my packing session I go into the "Orders" screen, select all orders and press print. This means I only have to print once, but of course it would then send 200 packing slips which then start shooting out the printer in 30 meter long lenths! This is because I'm printing from a roll of 4 x 6" label paper vs A4 sheets like most, and my label printer doesn't have a slicer feature like some of the more advanced printers which cut each label off the machine after every print.
So, I adjusted the Zebra ZD220 software in the print spooler so that after each page is printed, the printer is "Paused" and you have to press the Feed button on the top of the printer to spit out the next individual page. My workflow is therefore pressing the feed button, which spits out a packing slip, which I then scan in the Scan to Verify and Print screen, and then I scan my barcode of my product, then I scan my Scan to Purchase and Print barcode which chucks a shipping label from a second Zebra ZD220 printer with peeler, which goes straight onto the envelope. Once the order is packed it goes straight into the bag, and I press the feed button and so the cycle continues. The challenge, is that my feed buttons on the printers are wearing out very rapidly on these printers as they're not designed to be pressed 200 times a day!
I had a play with the Automation screen, couldn't improve on this method from there. I searched online to see if there was a way I could make a "Scan to Feed" barcode which interfaced with the Windows Print Spooler, looked at a Raspberry Pi print server and a Python library where I could print a PDF to a folder which has a script watching for new docs .. when it finds one it splits it into pages and queues them for printing, before listening for a special signal from my Symbol barcode scanner which tells it to print the next. All of these avenues have been basically a dead end.
The only other option I can think of is to spend £1000+ on a new 4 x 6" label printer which slices each label after printing, and print into a Lin Bin which me and the pickers can then pick up a packing slip from and start the packing process.
Am I missing something entirely fundamental as to how Shipstation works, is there any way I can do this and not affect by 16 - 20 second fulfilment time? That time is from printing the packing slip to getting the parcel in the bag and it does not require the keyboard or mouse - so I'm very wary of doing anything that requires any input of that nature....
Any help greatfully appreciated....
09-21-2021 07:01 AM
If you are computer savvy I would highly suggest AHK (Auto Hot Key). It has helped me immensely by filling in any gaps of service Ship Station cannot provide. It essentially creates any macro for your workflow and I have personally used it to make things that take many clicks all hands free. It can even search for images on the screen which is a game changer.
Other than that maybe you could add a few steps by doing the following:
Click on the first order on the orders page > press 's' to create the label > press right arrow -> to go to next order in the list > repeat
Not ideal, and it poses the same issues as your current workflow. Best of luck!