ShipStation VS. Pirate Ship VS. Etsy Labels: Who Has The Best Shipping Rate For Etsy Sellers? We Found Out!

As an Etsy Seller I ship packages every day. Is it worth going to a 3rd party shipping company to save money on shipping costs?

Find out what happened when we compared pricing of 3 winning services to purchase shipping labels for our Etsy shipments. Which one saved us the most? How did the service and support rank? Read on to find out….

Bottom Line Cost of Shipping Your Etsy Packages: We Crunched The Numbers

When starting out as a new seller on Etsy that first sale is always exciting. Once the thrill of the sale is gone then you realize, now I have to ship the item.

Off to the local post office you go with shipment in hand. Waiting in line with all the other package shippers seemed to be the only option, but, is it?

As you get more sales it’s easy to see that Etsy offers a discount on shipping when you ship using their shipping labels right within Etsy. Using Etsy shipping labels is a breeze. Using Etsy’s labels saves you time and money which is a win/win. Does the shipping savings stop there?

We have found time and again that using Etsy Labels is cheaper than bringing your packages to the local post office. Take a peek at our article to see our savings comparison chart: How to Schedule A Free USPS Package Pickup Right At Your Front Door. Trust us, it’s so much cheaper to print your labels from home. You will never wait in line at the post office again.

We Tested 3 Shipping Services

However, we found two other companies that offer integrated shipping from Etsy at great shipping rates. For a week, we tried three services: ShipStation, Pirate Ship and Etsy Shipping Labels. In our comparison lets start with the sheer cost.

We tried to compare apples to apples, so we complied shipping costs for 9 items. All items were quoted a price on USPS Priority Mail.

Item ShippedWeightPirate ShipShipStationEtsy Labels
Vintage Coffee Grinder5 Pounds 06 Ounces   Size: 12x12x12$16.18$14.96$16.54
Cardboard Christmas Girl2 Pounds 0 Ounces   Size: 16x12x8$3.09$8.20$3.09
Porcelain Ballerina Music Box0 Pounds 09 Ounces   Size: 7x7x6$8.20$8.24$8.24
Vintage Fisherman’s Cap0 Pounds 09 Ounces   Size:  10x6x4$4.33$9.16$8.20
Glass Leather Bottle Made in Italy
( International Ship)
2 Pounds 06 Ounces   Size: 12x9x6$62.80$62.80$62.80
1925 Golf Book    1 Pounds 05 Ounces   Size: 10x6x4$9.11$9.16$9.16
Vintage Jingle Bells with Ribbon  0 Pounds 13 Ounces   Size: 10x6x4$5.37$8.52$8.52
Brass Airplane Pencil Sharpener  0 Pounds 05 Ounces   Size: 4x4x4$3.64$8.38$8.34
Pink Glass Juice Squeezer  1 Pounds 2 Ounces   Size: 13x8x5$8.53$8.52$8.99
Total to ship all items $121.25$137.94$133.88

Immediately, the first thing that stands out to me is Pirate Ship is a less expensive alternative to shipping out packages.

We saved $12.62 by shipping Pirate Ship vs. using Etsy shipping labels on our 9 packages. All items were priced at USPS Priority Shipping. The process of printing the mailing labels was fairly simple on all platforms across the board, however, it seems Pirate Ship wins in the price war.

You must keep in mind this is a small portion of orders. However, for this writer, it’s a good start to see my savings. Imagine if we had 18 items to ship and not 9 items. The savings with Pirate Ship can only increase the more packages you ship.

The Cost Of Doing Business

If were talking about cost we need to review how much it cost to use these services. Some services were free and some are paid services.

Etsy Label Cost: FREE

The Etsy labels services, of course, are free to Etsy shop owners. We have found they do offer a discount in shipping verses bringing your packages to the local post office.

Pirate Ship Label Cost: FREE

Pirate Ship is also a Free service. Here is a quote from Pirate Ship directly. “Pirate Ship is a free membership service, with no hidden fees or markups! With their free membership, fellow pirates get access to postage to USPS shipping services at commercial pricing.” They say you get what you pay for. Honestly, if you are looking to just use the USPS shipping pricing Pirate Ships is a good bet. With Pirate Ship, they do not offer FedEx or other carriers however you can choose your USPS shipping method such as Priority, Parcel Ground, or Priority Express.

ShipStation Label Cost: PAID

You can try ShipStation for free for 30 days. After 30 days there is a fee. ShipStation does have a fee structure. Don’t get to discourage about the cost. After trying ShipStation for a few weeks I can see why you may consider buying a monthly plan. ShipStation does have much more to offer than Etsy Labels and Pirate Ship.

  • Starter $9 per month. 50 Shipments per month. 1 User.
  • Bronze $29 per month. 500 Shipments per month. 1 User.
  • Silver $49 per month. 1,500 Shipments per month. 2 Users.
  • Most Popular. Gold $69 per month.
  • Platinum $99 per month. 6,000 Shipments per month.
  • Enterprise $159 per month. 10,000 Shipments per month.
ShipStation has partnered with some great companies to help you save.

UPS has recently joined the ShipStation service. The company is offering some amazing deals on their business shipping fees that will definitely be worth it for your e-commerce business.

Again, you can look at the table below if you’re interested in the details.

UPS Shipping ServicesYou Will Save…
UPS Ground ShipmentsUp to 48%
UPS 2nd Day Air ShipmentsUp to 62%
Carrier SurchargesFREE (exemptions do apply)
FedEx ShipStation Advantage Program

FedEx operates slightly differently on ShipStation. Instead of just having access to the discounts right away, you have to fill out a form and know the passcode. How do you do this? We’re about to tell you!

Firstly, you must enter the passcode SAVEBIG! — yes, the exclamation point is needed. Then, you will have to fill out the FedEx Advantage Enrollment Page. Don’t stress, you don’t have to pay anything, or sell your soul to the devil, just enter your correct details. Once you’ve been approved, you can discover all the huge savings that await you.

The table below is not an exhaustive list of the discounts, but it’s enough to give you a sneak peek!

FedEx Shipping ServiceYou Will Save…
FedEx Express US ServicesUp to 29%
FedEx Express International ServicesUp to 25%
FedEx Ground ServicesUp to 20%
FedEx Office ServicesUp to 20%
DHL Express International Discounts with ShipStation

If you prefer to use DHL for your e-commerce shipping needs, then you might find a new best friend with ShipStation. The savings are huge. You certainly won’t be disappointed!

As long as you’re a member, you can use a single postage balance for all your labels, save on the shipping, and use one payment method for the lot. Your information is stored securely and you’ll be able to manage everything from one accessible place. What more could you ask for?

DHL Shipping ServiceYou Will Save…
DHL Express PostageUp to 60%
What ShipStation offers over Etsy Shipping Labels and Pirate Ship
  • ShipStation allows you to get price quotes from multiple carriers such as FedEx and DHL.
  • You are assigned an Account Manager so you can contact one person for all your support needs. A direct phone number and conferencing is available if you need help.
  • ShipStation allows users to import order data from a wide selection of sources. Do you sell on multiple platforms like Etsy and Amazon? ShipStation has you covered. Integration with other shopping carts is their specialty. You can import all your orders into one software to purchase your shipping labels.
  • Reports. You can run several reports and obtain much more data about your customers such as e-mail addresses, frequency of products sold, and repeat customer reports.

Customer Support

What happens when you run into trouble with your shipping labels? Help is on the way!

Etsy Support

Etsy offers support by phone as well as by e-mail. Unfortunately, they do not have a chat enabled for texting a representative directly. You can email at the address below or you can go into your shop settings and request to email and use their form to submit your request. If calling there are several prompts to pass through. Once you get to the correct department you have an option to have a representative call you back instead of waiting on hold.

Contact By Phone:

  • North America: 1-844-935-3879
  • United Kingdom : +44+800+011+9700
  • Australia: +61-1800-531-536

Contact By Email:

[email protected] Reply time is 1-2 days

Pirate Ship Support

There is no getting around it, Pirate Ship support is fun. With their “Ahoy Matte” greetings to their fun pirate video memes in their online chats it’s enjoyable to contact Pirate Ship support. They offer live chat and e-mail support. And I will add the reps could not be more helpful in the process. Every time I contacted support not only did they give me a complete answer they send me an article about my topic with a step-by-step guide. What more could a girl ask for?

  • Contact By Chat: Live Chat 7 days a week 7am to 9pm
  • Contact By E-mail: E-mail support: [email protected]

ShipStation Support

ShipStation support is pretty terrific. When you sign up for your free 30-day trial you are assigned your very own Account Manager. Your account Manager contacts you right away via e-mail upon sign up. ShipStation does not have live chat support. I’m here to report that my account Manager hit the mark with support. If I needed my Account Manager he was there to help.

  • Contact by Phone: You are given the direct phone number of your Account Manager. Image that!
  • Contact by E-mail: You may contact your Account Manager directly.

ShipStation and Pirate Ship Integration

Both ShipStation and Pirate Ship have flawless Etsy integration. We found it easy to import our Etsy orders into both platforms. Currently, Pirate Ship can connect you to 14 different e-commerce platforms in case you sell on other sites like eBay or Shopify. With ShipStation there are many platforms they partner with, so we have included a link below. Impressive!

  • Pirate Ship : Click Here to view E-commerce platforms supported
  • ShipStation: Click Here to view E-commerce platforms supported

Ease of Use

I wanted to talk briefly about easy of use. With every new venture online there is a learning curve. As we all know time is money so here are a few notes about actually printing the labels on each platform.

Etsy Labels:

Pros: You can see exactly what you charged for shipping which is key when there is a postage overage to refund. As a seller, I always refund postage to the penny if they are overcharged. Another big pro, you do not need to download the label to print it as you need to in Pirate Ship. A small step but if you have many orders it can eat into your time.

Cons: Arguably, it is the most expensive of the three services reviewed in this article. The other con is you do not get the stats and shipping carriers options that are available with ShipStation. Support is good, however, there is not an option for a live chat and you need to be prepared to wait online for a representative.


Pros: Amazing support. Having your Account Manager to help with issues is a sweet bonus. So many reports and data collection available. If you are planning on venturing out onto your own with a stand-alone website ShipStation is a company you want in your corner. Support is superior.

Cons: Price. There is a monthly fee after the trial. I found you need to refresh your orders each time you want to print a label. A small issue but notable if you have several labels to print. There is a leaning curve with the interface. If you invest a small segment of time to learn the software I am sure it will be a breeze in time. It is nice to have the support to walk you though the screen options as you learn.

Pirate Ship

Pros: Savings. As you can see from our chart above Pirate Ship sailed away the winner for saving on postage. Sorry for the pun. I enjoyed their support and quickness to respond. Easy to use interface. It’s Free!!

Cons: If you’re looking for reports and customer summaries Pirate Ship is not for you. They make it clear in their marketing they are simple no thrills but what they do is done right.


When starting on Etsy and sales come rolling in, bringing in your shipments to the local post office worked just fine. However, It turns out you can save some postage printing your labels right from your office. Choosing to print your labels from Etsy’s interface will do the trick.

An alternative to printing in Etsy is Pirate Ship. The numbers don’t lie. You are saving with Pirate Ship. Pirate Ship give you great support as well and that’s a win/win in our books. If you’re looking to get more customer statistics and shipping reports it may be in your best interest to look into a company as diverse as ShipStation for your shipping needs. If your long-term plan is to branch out on your own I can see many benefits in signing up with ShipStation. They really have the shipping game all figured out.

As an e-commerce business your goal is to reduce shipping costs and improve your margins so choosing a shipping method that works best for your shop. Who knew saving money would be so much fun?

Written by Lisa

Lisa Lividoti Blogger and Owner of Homebyliv Etsy Shop

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