The Blue Wave Process Part Three: Where's My Package?

Shipping Label Creation 

Have you ever wondered why your package status says “Label Created” for a few days after you’ve placed the order? Why isn’t my package on its way to me yet? Here’s what’s happening behind the scenes.

 

postcards to voters

Delivery status progress from UPS

 

Rather than paying for postage at the post office or UPS store, Blue Wave Postcard Movement purchases shipping labels online. We specify the dimensions, weight and destination of each package, our credit card gets charged, and we download a shipping label PDF. At the same time, we create packing slips for each package with the order details, and assign the address labels that activists will be sticking on the postcards. 

postcards to voters

Sample Packing Slip and Shipping Label

 With hundreds of orders coming in per day, we’ve found ways for our small volunteer-only team to generate the shipping label and packing slip PDFs efficiently. Our Director of Tech, Chiu-Ki, wrote custom Python code to group similar orders (by number of kits and stamps) and tag orders with addresses, saving us hours of manual work. We use Shopify as our e-commerce platform and found the add-on Pirateship (USPS only) very helpful for batch processing. For example, when creating labels, Shopify defaults to emailing the customer right away with a shipment notification. This sounds trivial, but we often create labels a few days before we can ship out, so if we miss the step to set the email date, a bunch of customers will receive an email too early. Pirateship has saved us lots of customer support time (and anxiety!) simply by “remembering” a notification date across batches. 

The next step is to distribute the postcard kits, address labels and stamps to our packing volunteers to assemble the packages, together with printed shipping labels and packing slips. They read the packing slip to determine how many postcard kits and stamp sets to include, put in the matching address labels, and stick the shipping label on the box. And then the packages get dropped off to be shipped.

 

blue wave postcard movement

Different types of packages, plus Chiu-Ki’s cat

As you can imagine, it takes time and effort to make the labels, transfer the material to the volunteers, put everything together, and finally to transport the packages to the drop off locations. As a result, it is not uncommon for an order to show the status “Label Created” for a few days. It may seem like nothing is happening, but rest assured, we are busy getting your order to you as soon as we can.

In addition to shipping, we offer pickup locations throughout Boulder and Denver, which you'll learn about in part four of this series.

To join the movement, please sign up for campaign updates here.

-Chiu-Ki Chan, Technology Director and Sha-Mayn Teh, Program Director