More about Royal Mail 2D barcode labels

By Chris Dawson August 5, 2015 - 10:08 am

Following yesterday’s post on “Royal Mail Update on barcode labels“, it’s worth considering why Royal Mail are making this change, why they’re keen for you to upgrade to 2D barcoded labels and what the potential benefits are for you as an ecommerce retailer.

Royal Mail say that they already track more parcels than anyone else but that they also carry many parcels without a barcode. They think it’s time to change that.

They are making a huge investment in building the IT systems, introducing the most up to date, state of the art handheld technology and changing all of our processes to let them generate barcodes for all account customer parcels, scan them at key points in the Royal Mail network and then share that information with you and across their operation.

The immediate benefit of this is that all parcels (excluding items sent as letter post) will have a barcode and be scanned at the doorstep. For low value items, in the past you’ve had the choice of Signed For Recorded Delivery or , Tracked 24, Tacked 48, or Special Delivery. Once your parcels carry the 2D barcode and are scanned at the point of delivery this will probably be sufficient proof of delivery for most purposes, including in all likelihood PayPal and eBay.

The Timeline for Changes

By October 2015

Working with all of Royal Mail account customers they want to put new ‘smart’ 2D barcodes on all parcels.

Between October 2015 and Spring 2016

Royal Mail will start to scan these barcodes at key points in their network. They will run this process, in parallel to their current systems, to make sure everything is working as it should, that the track descriptions are easy to understand and Royal Mail operations and customer service teams have had plenty of practice in using them.

And then from Spring next year

Royal Mail will make this tracking information available to you and your customers.

Ongoing costs will be free for your business

Royal Mail say that as soon as possible and before October this year, you will need to switch to one of their convenient and easy to use Parcel Shipping Solutions that will start to add a barcode to all of your parcels. This means the way you produce labels will be changing and Royal Mail have negotiated a deal at £150 for a Zebra Printer but will moving forward supply all stock labels free of charge. As the supplied labels are thermal there will be no ongoing label or ink cartridge costs for your business to print Royal Mail labels.

When do you need to change by?

Ideally Royal Mail want as many people as possible to change to the new labels by October this year – in reality they need as large a number of retailers to use 2D barcodes as possible in order to fully test the solution before Spring when they make tracking available.

If you can’t change your labels by Spring, it will be more expensive for Royal Mail to process your parcels and they may decide to impose a higher price to reflect their costs.

What to do

The big benefits are that all your parcels will be scanned and tracking available. You may well see lower overall costs by not paying additional fees for products with tracking or signatures. You should see a reduction in lost or supposedly undelivered parcels.

If you’d like to ensure you’re ready for the new Royal Mail 2D barcode labels visit their website at or call 08456 564 423

  • Bryn
    6 years ago

    I have no interest in tracking what so ever so Is a massive hassle for no benefit, other than Royal Mails. They did send someone out to assist but I had to stop her when she said I had to type every customers name and address to produce a label

    Current plan is to switch to Myhermes for parcels and DHL post for international and ditch large letters which fortunately dont do many of anyway

    • Lee Pearce
      6 years ago


      If you do not mind me asking, how do you create your labels at the moment?


    • Bryn
      6 years ago

      Very basic here. I print invoices from eBay and Amazon and fold them into docs enclosed envelopes

      90%+ of my business is FBA and I only send 20-30 parcels a day self fulfillment so it is no bother for me doing this old school way but even at 20-30 items a day it would be a hassle typing each address in.

      I am led to believe it can be automated (of course it can) but I have no time or more importantly inclination in swapping endless emails and calls with Royal Mail staff sorting this out. The person they sent out was hopeless and their migration team asked for the Amazon and eBay sales reports which is a tad vague to say the least.

      I am £150 light and have a printer gathering dust and frankly Royal Mail pretty much always give me the hump whenever I come into contact them as they are pretty much consistently useless and inefficient

      I could list a range of scenarios which are hysterical examples of how utterly hopeless they are but It would turn into a bit of a rant and I don’t like ranters so don’t want to be hypocritical ! LOL.



    • tinker
      6 years ago

      yeah our royal mail rep wittered on about you need to type the address one by one, which is total dribble ,just shows the level and quality of support you can expect when it all goes live

  • Stuart
    6 years ago

    They left out saying:

    ‘The real reason we are doing this is to stop fraud from business sending more than they state’

    Also I have been told that on one location has the scanning equipment planned to be installed currently!

    • Lee Pearce
      6 years ago

      This is true, but this business decision, whilst benefiting Royal Mail also benefits us sellers.

      We have been using DMO for just over two months now and we have seen our INR claims fall, and our label creating costs fall, even taking into account the price of the printer.

      DMO has picked up 2 instances where the Postcode supplied was wrong enough to cause issues, it also picks up where customers put 0 instead of O or vice versa, but these should not delay the order.

      As the label is recorded, we can call up a posting certificate when queried by customers at a later date.

      IMHO, this is one of those win win changes

    • Stuart
      6 years ago

      I am not denying it could be a good idea but it will see major price increases next year from them, we are doing all the work to change with zero compensation. For us having a seperate label and invoice is a no-no, trying to match up 300-400 orders a day with labels will create more work. When various partners can offer the intergrated label then great.

      Another issue could be printing orders, if it’s chucking up issues then we have to try and show staff how to manage this, which is even more work.

      My biggest issue has just been the management of this change from RM, it’s been poor with different people saying different things.

  • Simon M
    6 years ago

    >> (excluding items sent as letter post)

    To clarify, I just spoke to my rep. Large Letters are included, so I guess regular letters must still go via the usual OBA method (I didn’t ask that).

    >> ‘The real reason we are doing this is to stop fraud from business sending more than they state’

    Can you blame them? In theory at least, less fraud should enable them to be more competitive, and the benefits that bring. As long as the execution of the switchover is smooth, then I also see this as win-win.

    I’ve got everything I need to start using DMO from Monday (took around a week from start to finish) – perhaps my optimism will diminish at that point, but I remain hopeful for now!

    I’m surprised at the level of negativity. I’m looking forward to being able to provide additional tracking at no extra cost to me. Good for me and my buyers – less claims, reduced enquiries, etc

    Admittedly, didn’t enjoy the £150 printer outlay, but at least future labels are paid for, saving me some costs.


    • Stuart
      6 years ago

      No denying it’s a good thing, but for large volume, low value products trying to implement this isn’t going to be easy.

      Plus we are doing all the work with zero help from RM, you yourself have said you have to buy a printer.

      Also just to point out the tracking won’t worth a thing, ebay/paypal etc won’t accept it as a form of delivery, it also won’t give any tracking to the door etc.

      It will also just mean a price hike next year and my feeling is then everyone will have to move on to RM’S Tracked service.

      For me it’s been the lack of clear support and help over this change, perhaps people have experienced better, but for the amount of money I spend with them I expect more.

    • tinker
      6 years ago

      cant work out the logic behind free labels and a charge for the printer
      why charge for one and not the other?
      surely if Royalmail said this is the way it needs to be done
      heres your printer, the labels, and a software package,
      there would be less resistance to the transition, the increase in efficiency would be self financing

    • Bryn
      6 years ago

      I can live with the £150 printer and would even buy my own labels or paper but I refuse to spend endless amounts of time working out how it all works. I say endless time as they have no staff in place to assist as the ground staff say the phone staff should help and visa versa


    • Simon M
      6 years ago

      >> but I refuse to spend endless amounts of time working out how it all works.

      I’m only a small seller, but I’ve had this working in about a week from first enquiry to implementation.

      Received our free labels yesterday afternoon, so ran our first batch this morning. A bit fiddly, as I’m using the manual entry system method (can see me switching to at least the batch import or API at some point in the future) – but takes no longer than the OBA method I was using yesterday.

      Time spent setting up overall? – I’d say no more than 4 or 5 hours (a few phone calls, e-mails, setting the printer up, setting up the online portal and ensuring my PC was configured correctly).

      This is compulsary (eventually) I understand, so for me it was best to get this over with as far before Christmas as possible. The only slight hesitation I have was that maybe, just maybe, Royal Mail might give the printer away for free in the future to entice more people to move (and that’s me speculating, nothing else) – I’m sure a few months ago they were asking around £200-250 for one?

      Again, I guess it could be more difficult or frustrating if you send hundreds of items every day – I have no idea.


  • tinker
    6 years ago

    ‘The real reason we are doing this is to stop fraud from business sending more than they state’

    “anyone ever heard of stamps”

  • 6 years ago

    “1st and 2nd Class Account Mail (product code: BPL & BPR) are not available on our Parcel Shipping Solutions as they are non-VATable services; there will be no change to this at the moment.”


    • Gerry007
      6 years ago

      Same link:

      Is it going to cost us more?

      From Spring 2016 our operation will be changed to work with barcoded parcels, and it will be more expensive for us to handle items that are not barcoded. If you cannot change this may mean a higher price to reflect these costs.

      So BPL & BPR ‘may’ be dearer.
      Not sure why RM mention these are excluded as the moment as they are non VATable services.
      What is the differnce for RM, VAT is a Government charge??, no profit for RM…..

    • jackie
      6 years ago

      Anyone know what happens with international IE1 and IG1 codes (as they are also non-vatable at the moment?)

  • Peter
    6 years ago

    You don’t have to input manually, you have the option of batch import, on demand and API. I use batch import and my Royal Mail rep set this up for me.

    You don’t need a thermal printer, this is optional but recommended.

    Any move to Hermes and dhl will require the same processes.

    DMO is a good system once you get used to it.

    • Bryn
      6 years ago

      My rep didn’t know how to set things up for imports and only knew how to do it manually. She suggested contacting the help desk but they couldn’t help without eBay and Amazon “reports”. They couldn’t be more specific and seemed pretty uninterested and whilst I don’t know much about eBay I know Amazon have endless reports so asking for a “report” is stupidly vague

      I am sure If I made more calls and emails I would eventually get it sorted but why should I spend endless time and effort for something that is purely for Royal Mails benefit. Anyone would think it is them who have paid me tens of thousands of pounds over the years

      DHL none of this is required as just chuck them all in a sack and DHL come and collect (no £15k spend requirement for them to collect either)

      Not used My Hermes for a while but last time I did they had clear and simple instructions on how to create files to import. Done and dusted in 10 minutes when I last tried it

      I have had so many bad experiences with RM over the years and this is just the latest


    • tinker
      6 years ago

      seems to me royal mail are frightened of this there not quite sure hows its going to pan out ,so are not giving it total commitment,
      long live CONSIGNIA?

  • Simon E
    6 years ago

    We just got the letter from Royal Mail with all their fancy cut out cards and other bits of C*&P that ends up in the shredder for composting. They tell us that they will be able to scan the barcodes at various points.
    Why have they never done this for Recorded signed for items.
    At least when the posty can’t be bothered to wait for a signature it would show up on the “TRACKING” and there is some evidence to fight with. With OBA PPI you have no information until there is an attempted delivery or delivery, IF the posty scans it.

  • 6 years ago

    Hi all
    There is an authorised Royal Mail alternative to DMO. NetDespatch is an official third party supplier for the Royal Mail 2D barcoded label on all Royal Mail services, both domestic and international, and is provided free-of-charge, as Royal Mail pay us to provide leading edge consultancy and cloud based solutions.

    You can choose just to book your parcels online, and get the label you need, or we can work with you to automate your order to despatch process and eliminate the need for you to manually enter any customer data at all. Another advantage is that you can then just click once to produce your Sales Order Summary online, and that does all your posting to OBA.

    We also work with many different ecommerce platforms, such as Channel Advisor and ZenStores, to integrate the whole process. If you’re interested to find out more, take a look at and contact our Retail Solutions Team to hear how we can help you.

  • elvis
    6 years ago

    I use PPI with codes crl and oz1. Do I continue as normal or does this mean I’ll need change to another service? Or will I need to add 2D barcodes to my current PPI?

    • ifellow
      6 years ago

      I think you can still use this service, but it will become more expensive than using a 2D service with tracking.

  • Gerry007
    6 years ago

    Eggs or chicken that is the question…..

    I had a 5 minute conversation with a RM collect driver this afternoon and when asked about scanners in local sorting offices & change of labels, he just looked at me with that look, ie: what are you talking about??????.

    Seems RM staff have not even been briefed about this yet….

  • 6 years ago

    Hi Everyone

    Royal Mail 2D Barcoding from October. Having read all 40 plus 24 of the posts, you are ALL CORRECT ….

    For some, the new 2D Barcode will work, and for others, it won’t and for those it won’t work for, itwill be a complete nightmare to switch over!

    We’ve had several conversations with RM, a few emails and literally hundreds of conversations with RM Customers (which are our Customers too), and here are some points made to us which could be worth reading :-

    – Exemption to Switching to DMO has been granted to several users of OBA already by RM
    – DMO does take far longer to operate than OBA
    – Your Order Processing Times will increase by using DMO
    – Customers have reported they may have to employ extra
    Staff on a Part Time Basis purely to help with the DMO Input
    – Automation is available to minimise DMO input time
    – Batch Auto Input to DMO, means then trying to match the Output Labels to your Orders. By the time you batch input
    10 Addresses. and then print and match them up, you may as well input the addresses manually – but there is no time saving.
    – Scope for Error – matching the DMO Label to the wrong order (you all know this WILL happen at some point!)
    – Processing Orders quickly and efficiently is paramount to keeping Customers – OBA helps to do this better than DMO
    – A few Customers are looking to switch to a 3d Party Postal Provider – already cheaper and more efficient
    – And what happens in March/April every year – PRICE HIKES

    We use a combination of Postal Providers, RM, APC and the occasional Hermes – all are great in their given fields. However, anything over 2kg doesn’t get sent via RM, its simply not a cost effective service and RM24 doesn’t actually mean 24 Hour Service (as many of you already know and have experienced).

    I’m sure the RM24/48 via DMO with the new 2D Barcode, will show us all exactly how long it takes for the Parcels to arrive at their destinations after posting …. Will RM24 arrive 24 Hours later? Will RM48 arrive 48 Hours later ? We already know the answers …….

  • Anne
    6 years ago


    We post on average 40 parcels a week, currently use OBA / PPI . Not keen on DMO due to lots of negative feedback from users of it.

    Please can anyone advise of an alternative provider/software package that will create these new 2D barcodes that meet RM criteria….. would need to be cost effective solution to be worthwhile?

    Much appreciated…..

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