What is a Shipping Policy
Having a Shipping Policy is important for managing expectations of your customers because:
- It lets them know how much they can expect to pay for shipping
- And how long of a wait they can expect when it comes to receiving their goods
It also makes them aware of different options that are available.
While this kind of policy isn’t required by law, it’s definitely recommended by e-commerce best practices.
If it takes too long for a customer to figure out how much you charge for shipping and generally how long an item will take to arrive, the customer will probably buy elsewhere and you’ll be losing business.
Providing an easily accessible Policy that has clear information on your policies can help you gain and retain customers.
A Shipping Policy isn’t to be confused with a Return/Refund Policy. A Return/Refund policy lets customers know:
- If you offer refunds and/or exchanges,
- If you accept returns from customers,
- What a customer must do to initiate a return,
- Which party pays for return shipping, and
- Any other important information related to a return and refund
- Any restocking fees or other deductions from full refund,
- Specific items that cannot be returned,
- Time limits on returns (Cannot return something after 15 days, etc.)
In summary, a Shipping Policy lets customers know details about how to get goods into their homes, while a Return/Refund Policy lets customers know what their options are after goods are delivered in the event that the customer wants to send the goods back.
FAQ: Shipping Policy
Here is a list of frequently asked questions that you may find useful.
A Shipping Policy is not legally required, but having one comes with a number of benefits for both you and your customers.
Some benefits are that people will be more likely to shop with you if you have a clear Shipping Policy in place since there won’t be any questions about your shipping timeframes or processes. You’ll get to save time by not having to answer individual customer emails asking about your shipping policies.
When you have a Shipping Policy, people will feel more comfortable shopping with you. Your Shipping Policy will show that you’re transparent about your practices.
Without a Shipping Policy in place, you may get an exceptional amount of emails from potential shoppers wondering what your shipping times are. You may also get a lot of emails from people who have placed orders and are wondering when to expect their items. Having a Shipping Policy in place will help answer customer questions instantly.
Your Shipping Policy should include the following information:
- What shipping options you have available (different carriers, different speeds, international options, etc.)
- How much shipping costs
- How long shipping typically takes
- How long your expected handling time is before shipping an order
- What your cut-off time is for when orders are processed on the same day
- Any restrictions you have on shipping (certain items can’t ship, no P.O. boxes, etc.)
You can include a link to your Shipping Policy during the checkout process as a reminder to shoppers before they place their final order about what they should expect and what they need to know when it comes to shipping.
In mobile apps, you can include a link to your Shipping Policy in a menu where you include other legal policy links, such as an “About” or “Legal” menu.
Sections for Shipping Policy
If you’re looking for the template, download it.
Here are some examples of policies and the important sections that should be included in your Shipping Policy:
- Prices of shipping and methods of shipping available (standard, express, overnight, etc.)
- Payment Information (what payment forms are accepted)
- International Shipping Information
- Shipping Restrictions (no shipping to P.O. boxes, no shipping of certain goods, etc.)
- Handling Time
- Other/Additional Information
Prices and Methods of Shipping Available
The main thing most customers will want to know about your policies and procedures is how much you charge for shipping, and how fast items will arrive.
Most e-commerce businesses offer multiple shipping options, from standard ground delivery to expedited or even overnight shipping. These shipping options also come with different price tags.
Include a section in your Shipping Policy that breaks down this information.
Here’s how Revzilla breaks down this information. The simple chart is easy to notice and read, while the explanation paragraphs below it provide additional information about what a customer can expect with each shipping method available. For example, a customer can quickly find out that ‘Next Day’ delivery costs $59.95.
To make sure that a customer is aware of what this shipping option actually means for them, the explanation of ‘Next Day’ states that the item will be delivered:
“the next business day after an order has shipped.” Business days are defined as “Monday-Friday” and not including holidays and weekends. Additionally, examples are provided, letting a customer know that with next day delivery, “an order that ships out on Thursday…would be delivered on Friday” and that “an order shipping out on Friday…would arrive on Monday.”
Let your customers know which forms of payment you accept, and if there are any forms of payment you do not accept.
Here’s how Kylie Cosmetics’ Shipping Policy quickly and simply lets shoppers know which forms of payment are accepted.
International Shipping Information
Revzilla makes it very clear to customers that their main “Shipping Policies” page applies to “shipments to the contiguous 48 US states” and includes a link to the “International Orders” page for shipping outside of the US:
Revzilla’s “International Shipping Policy” includes useful information for international customers including:
- Details on extra time needed to process the order
- How expedited international shipping will be handled
- Which items cannot be shipped internationally
- And currency conversion information