In computer class, the first advanced thing we learned how to do was how to create address labels in a Microsoft Word document from a spreadsheet. It was tedious, but it felt like magic for people first learning about computers and using common work software.
Luckily, the process has evolved since then. You can now automate your shipping label creation process and make things even easier.
There are two methods we recommend to automate shipping labels (and if you use them both it makes the process even easier):
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Make shipping labels with Google Sheets and Avery
Let's start with the simplest option: Making shipping labels using Google Sheets and Avery's free Design & Print software. If you have a spreadsheet with addresses, it can turn them into ready-to-print labels quickly.
Go to Avery Design & Print and click Start designing. You'll be prompted to sign in to your Avery account or create one if you don't have one already.
Once you're logged in, you can choose from a variety of Avery labels to get started. Once you've selected a label, you can also select a label template or design your own.
After you've selected a template, click on Import Data Mail Merge located at the left-side menu. Then, click Start Import/Merge.
You can upload a file from your desktop but for this tutorial, we want to use a Google Sheet. Click on the Google Drive tab, then click Login with Google and choose the Google account you'd like to use.
Once you've connected your account, you'll see the latest Google Sheets files in your Drive account. Select the one you'd like to use.
Set up your labels
Now you can select which rows and columns you'd like to use. This is helpful if you use the same spreadsheet to print all of your labels. By default, everything is selected. If you've labeled your spreadsheet columns, make sure you deselect your column labels. Once you've made your selections, click Next.
Next, you'll need to select the order in which you want your fields to appear on your label by either double-clicking or dragging and dropping your fields into the placeholder label. After you've completed your merge, this will be the order in which your address information will appear on each label. When you're done, click Next.
If everything looks good, click Finish to complete your mail merge.
If you'd like to change the appearance, you can play with the formatting options in the menu on the left side or you can adjust the text box within the label to preview.
When you're happy with how your labels look, click the Preview & Print button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
You'll see a preview image of how your labels will appear on each sheet. Depending on the template you use, you can choose to print the labels yourself or send them to Avery to ship to you for a fee.
Automatically add addresses to a spreadsheet
Collecting addresses in a spreadsheet is no one's idea of fun. You can automate this thankless task with Zapier. Anytime you get a new order in your eCommerce shop, save a new contact in your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), or anything else where you need to ship or mail something, Zapier can automatically add the address to your spreadsheet.
You'll need a Zapier account to use the workflows in this piece. If you don't have an account yet, it's free to get started.
Here's how to set it up:
Create a spreadsheet if you don't have one already, and make sure your columns are labeled.
Click on any of the Zaps below to get started, or log in to Zapier and click on Make a Zap to start from scratch. (If you don't have a Zapier account, it's free to start.)
Connect the app you'd like to pull your addresses from to tell Zapier where to look for a new address.
Connect and customize your spreadsheet so Zapier knows where to store the new addresses.
Test your Zap, then turn it on!
Before you begin
If you don't already have a spreadsheet with addresses, create one in Google Sheets. Make sure your columns are labeled so the Zap will work correctly.
Connect the app that stores your addresses
We'll be using the Zap below for this tutorial, but this walk-through will be similar to most apps.
Note: The kinds of triggers that are available vary depending on the app you want to connect. Since we're using Google Contacts, we're using a trigger for a new contact being added. If you're running an eCommerce site, it could be a new paid order or if you're collecting information in a CRM, it could be a new lead or opportunity.
When you click on the Zap, you'll be directed to Zapier's editor, where you can create automated workflows. Choose your Google account from the dropdown menu. If you've never connected it to Zapier, click + Connect a new account to give Zapier permission to access your Google account.
When you're done, click Continue.
For each app you connect, Zapier will ask for a general set of permissions which allows you to be flexible with your Zaps. The only actions Zapier takes on your app accounts are those a given Zap needs to accomplish what you've set up.
Now we need to test our trigger. Zapier will look for a recent contact in your Google Contacts to make sure that the right account is connected. Click on Test trigger.
You'll see this success message if Zapier finds a contact, along with test information. We'll use this information to customize our Zap further. Click Continue.
Connect and customize your spreadsheet app
Since we're working from a pre-made Zap, our App and Action event is already selected for us. An action is an event a Zap performs after it is triggered. In this example, we want our Zap to create a new row in our Google Sheet. Click Continue.
Next, select your Google Sheets account from the dropdown menu. If you've never connected Google Sheets to Zapier before, click on + Connect a new account and follow the prompts to give Zapier access.
When you're done, click Continue.
Now, you need to tell Zapier which spreadsheet you want your addresses added to. Select the specific Drive, Spreadsheet, and specific Worksheet from the dropdown menus.
Once you've made your selections, the editor will automatically expand to include your named spreadsheet columns as fields.
Next, you need to tell Zapier which information from Google Contacts you want and where you'd like it to go in your spreadsheet. We call this process field mapping.
Learn more about field mapping in our Zapier quick-start guide.
If you're using a template, the Name field has already been pre-selected with Google Contact information. Click on an empty field indicated by Enter text or insert data. A dropdown menu will appear with information from Google Contacts. Then, select the corresponding information from Google Contacts you want to add to each field.
Think of this as multiple choice. You can choose one, multiple, or no data options from Google Contacts—unless a field is labeled "required." For example, our pre-made Zap already selected the first name for us, but we also selected the Name Last input field from Google Contacts so we'd have both first and last names in our spreadsheet.
When you map a piece of data—such as an address—what you'll see in the editor is a placeholder. Once your Zap is turned on, real data from your apps will be used when your Zap runs.
Once you've finished mapping where your Google Contact information to go in your spreadsheet, click Continue.
Test your Zap and turn it on
Now it's time to test our Zap. Zapier will create a new row in Google Sheets with the information we mapped in the previous step. You can skip this test if you'd like by clicking on Skip Test in top-right corner, but we recommend testing this step in case something looks wrong in your spreadsheet. Click any of the testing buttons to continue.
If your test was successful, you'll see a success message like this:
Check your spreadsheet to make sure everything looks correct.
If something looks off, you can go back to the previous steps to change how your Google Contact fields are mapped, and then re-test.
Once you're happy with it, don't forget to click Turn on Zap. Every time a new contact is added to Google Contacts (or any other app you use as a trigger), Zapier will automatically copy it to a spreadsheet.
When you're ready to print shipping labels, run through Avery Share & Print like before.
After you've made your labels, don't forget to delete your old addresses from your spreadsheet so you're not reprinting old information each time.
After you've deleted old rows in your spreadsheet, Zapier will start over and add a new order or contact as the first address in your spreadsheet.
Ready to automate your own labels? Here are some Zaps—what we call our automatic workflows—to help you get started adding addresses to your spreadsheet automatically.
The shipping process doesn't need to be a hassle. Automation can help you with administrative tasks like creating shipping labels so you can focus on getting your products out to your customers.
Check out more ways automation can help your eCommerce store:
This article was originally published in March 2018 by Matthew Guay and updated in March 2021.