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Printing postage via a smartphone

 
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:49 am    Post subject: Printing postage via a smartphone Reply with quote

It works, and I did a few labels this morning.

There are a few catches. I had to buy a low cost laser printer that supported the mobile operating system's print protocol.

Basically I printed 2 postage labels using PayPal single label mode using this configuration:
iPhone 4S running iOS 9.something (so it should work on later revs)
Brother HL-L2315DW (any comparable Brother should work but I got this one for $90 plus S/T, at Wally no less)

As I have no conventional internet at home, setting it up was a little bit of a challenge. You need conventional internet (for a desktop or laptop) at least to perform the setup. A USB A/B cable is recommended.

Because my home router has no upstream service, the printer is running in Ad Hoc mode. That means the printer is existing in it's own 'zone'. You have to select SSID to use the printer.

This morning I used the PayPal single label mode, and it worked OK. Multi-Order Shipping appears to need a larger screen than my 4S, as it would no allow scrolling or pinch/zoom (i.e. I could not get to the buttons to make everything happen).
Because PayPal only lets you created labels (not from PP payments) via Multi-Order Shipping, that means that orders paid with Stripe are problematic for smartphone printing. I can print labels on PayPal from any of the 3 venues I sell on. The 4th venue, Amazon, has their own postage system, and (without trying it) it seems close enough to the PayPal system that I expect it might work. I'll try a reprint later to see if I get a previously generated label to flow out.

Why am I going to all this effort ? Because I'm tired of driving to a hotspot being in the critical path between getting an order and delivering the package to the post office. With this arrangement, I can go back to generating postage at home, handing the package to the carrier or post office, then do the hotspot access after the fact.

Also, as I do not use Endicia, I'm not sure if it's compatible or not. The common factor that allows this to work is that PP and AZ are both displaying the generated label in it's own window, then giving you options on what to do with it.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 13940

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try calling endicia and see if it would work with them. Their CSR, at least the ones I've talked to, speak bona fide American English and they don't talk over you when it comes to the technical data. They are friendly and helpful and if for some reason you get a corker ask for a supervisor as that is not their usual mode of operating. And as I've mentioned before, unless it is happening on a day I didn't get an order, ONE glitch in 14 years and was taken care of and they refunded money that people had lost due to the glitch.
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williamstimetunnel



Posts: 39

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the love of Mike, if I had to go through all of that I would be driven "tech crazy" for sure. I just print the labels from my desktop computer/printer and leave it at that. I do admire you, though, for figuring all of this out.
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SheilaDeesPostcards



Posts: 3367

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Way to go Ray for figuring out the work around AND thanks for posting. I'm bookmarking this in case we have sellers come to the forum that may need this information! I hope I never need the information personally. I admire your persistence in finding a work around!

@williamstimetunnel .. I totally agree with you. I would go crazy if I didn't have conventional internet service at home with my desktop. Ray lives in a rural area and his internet service at home has been an ongoing nightmare for quite a long time.
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This morning I printed a label from the big-A's built in postage system. That was very smooth, and slick. Their implementation should be the gold standard. Very mobile friendly.

It appears, until proven otherwise, that PP's MoS implementation is not intended for mobile device use. They only want you to print single labels. I can live with that for PP payments. For Stripe payments, I'm in a bind. Unless someone can show me how to print a single label, without MoS, that doesn't originate from a PP payment. You used to be able to do that, long ago, but I think that feature was removed.

BTW, eCRATER's meta data implementation, when doing payments with PayPal is also slick. I can print out the packing slip over at PP.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 13940

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you tried printing through the PO Click n Ship? I know you have to sign up for endicia and probably Stamps, but the PO, you would have to sign in, but I don't think you would have to pay a fee - but I'm not sure. Just 'thinking' out loud.
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For some reason, I want to think that the USPS site is printing at retail rates now. Not positive tho.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 13940

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just trying to think of a way you can print a label from a Stripe order.
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YardSaleBargains



Posts: 600

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you tried printing a stripe single label using this PayPal link:

www.paypal.com/shipnow?

That's what I use for all my Stripe labels. I've never used the multi-order shipping label format. Printed one this morning and it worked.

Hope it works for you through your phone though. Never tried it with a phone.
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Try calling endicia and see if it would work with them.

We need to address this issue, before many others venture down the mobile printing road, and recognize the issues, once and for all.

The issue here is not one of substituting one postage service for another, the issue is one of integration and user interface. When you switch to mobile, some things you used to do become more painful to try to do on mobile (e.g. copy/paste).

AZ has a high level of integration between their order taking side, and their postage generation subsystem. It is designed to be friendly on desktop, and quite usable on mobile. It does not penalize you for working on a mobile device. It has small niceties, which are missing from other various web sites (e.g. tapping on a field that must be a number, causes your keypad to switch to numbers). It's a little thing, but over time it adds up.

PP has a moderately well thought out integration, and user interface, but only for single label generation. Keep in mind that AZ only has single label, so this is uncharted territory when comparing the two. The PP Multi-Order Shipping product has a poor, and unusable, user interface for a mobile device, unless you have a very large screen mobile device. I do not, and it might not work then. PP really needs to work on this situation. If you need to print Stripe postage on PayPal, you have to use Multi-Order Shipping, which is unusable on a mobile device, so you end up using a laptop/desktop (whereever you can get connectivity).

When the subject of Endicia is brought up, as happens from time to time, we have to look at the issue of integration. There is no integration between eCRATER and Endicia. That means that you have to copy/paste all the label information from one service to another, then copy/paste the tracking numbers back. Copy/Paste on a mobile device is painful, so the value of integration increases substantially (whichout even venturing into the subject of user interface, of which I have no Endicia knowledge).

You could say that this is Endicia's or Stripe's responsibility, but I don't buy that argument. If you are using Endicia, and want to print all your labels on Endicia (including paid via PP), then eCRATER is the one with all the information to pass across. But eCRATER operates for sellers in countries other than USA/USPS, so that means that any effort on eCRATER's part would be for a specific sub-set of sellers.

It is a bit of a conundrum subject, and it's not as easy as throwing one service out and substituting another. It has to work smoothly, else it's not a viable solution.

Because of all above, I am not able to generate Stripe postage labels from a mobile device. Therefor I disabled Stripe, at least until after Christmas. The reason being that any payment received via Stripe results in extra running around for me, and/or a delay of 1 day in shipment. I cannot sustain that delay at this moment in time. If that drives off some buyers, nothing much I can do about it. Once Christmas is over with, I'll turn it back on, but Stripe payments will encounter an extra delay in shipping.

Quote:
That's what I use for all my Stripe labels

I will try that from the mobile device. It loads nicely from the laptop. thanks.
But keep in mind that even if I can make this work, I'm still stuck with the problem/issue of copy paste all the info on a mobile device. it helps, but it doesn't make the process efficient.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 13940

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least you can make your cell phone work. I'm slowly but slowly getting to understand mine after having it for I think 9 months now. Last week I installed my first app and then it told me I needed to get more minutes. Mine is one that you can buy minutes as you need them but even if I have 100 minutes available if 90 days is up I still have to buy more. I've been snowed in for days though.
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Four today, the Stripe one worked, but (as expected) was painful copying and pasting the data. It would be helpful if the data (as displayed on the eCRATER order page) was formatted a bit cleaner.
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cosmicray



Posts: 6182

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today I added another bit to this setup a wireless BT keyboard. Nice to be typing on something 4x the size of the screen. I can type much faster, fewer errors, etc.

Onward !
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