For all ecommerce businesses, one of the best ways to increase order volume is to build trust with online shoppers as they navigate your online store. Developing a detailed shipping policy that’s easily found on your website is a great way to do this.
Having a shipping policy is considered an ecommerce business best practice and should be a part of your overall shipping strategy. If you don’t have one, or you’re looking to revamp your current shipping policy, we compiled some information and examples below to help you get started.
What is a shipping policy?
A shipping policy is a concise document or webpage that outlines important information around shipping when an order is placed online. It often includes details on shipping costs and methods, delivery times, and more.
Some shipping policies are more detailed than others, but overall it should be clear, accurate, and easy to understand. Many times, additional information like a returns and exchange policy is also included, creating a comprehensive resource for customers before they purchase.
Why your ecommerce store needs a shipping policy
There are several benefits to having a concise ecommerce shipping policy: It better informs your customers before they checkout, helps answer shipping-related questions, and allows you to take a proactive approach to any shipping issues that may arise.
Inform customers of shipping costs and options
Online shoppers most often search for a shipping policy to determine how much it is going to cost them upfront, depending on where they live. A well-developed shipping policy informs customers of shipping costs and the different shipping options (eg. 2-day shipping, next-day delivery) available prior to ordering.
By displaying shipping costs and the different methods of shipping available, you protect yourself from any customer who may have a complaint about how much they were charged and also save yourself time rather than having each customer inquire through your support channel(s) when they can find it themselves.
Inform customers of delivery times
Many online shoppers are expecting fast delivery. With these high expectations, it’s worth setting expectations with your customers on realistic delivery times. Along with displaying your shipping options, you’ll want to consider including shipping cutoff times (especially holiday shipping deadlines and any UPU delays), shipping times, and how long it would take to ship international orders.
Provide protection on your company’s behalf
Many times, online brands provide more than just shipping details by outlining other information such as return policy and exchanges, product damages, and international shipping expectations.
The more details you include on your shipping policy, the better. It provides you and your customers with peace of mind while answering their questions upfront.
6 things your shipping policy should include
A shipping policy should be concise but thorough by highlighting essential shipping information that your customers should be aware of. It includes details on expected delivery times, shipping costs, shipping methods, payment and tracking information, shipping restrictions, and international shipping.
1. Shipping rates & costs
Displaying shipping costs gives your customers a chance to review and calculate their total costs before they shop around. Showcasing shipping costs becomes even more important for international customers who may not qualify for certain offers such as free shipping. Many times, international shipping charges vary between retailers significantly due to an increase in carrier charges as well, so you’ll want to be as transparent as possible.
2. Shipping methods and delivery times
Whether you offer one or several shipping methods, list out the different methods and the expected business day estimated delivery times for each.
Many times this is shown using a simple table format with one column displaying the different methods such as standard shipping or express shipping and another one with expected processing time frames.
3. Shipping restrictions
If you have any shipping restrictions, such as shipping to certain countries or PO boxes, you will want to display them here. Sometimes, state legislation may prevent some products from being shipped to certain locations. Be very clear on what restrictions exist and who is impacted by them.
4. Missing or lost packages
There are several reasons why a package gets lost or becomes a delivery exception, and most of the times it is out of your control. But directing customers on what to do if a package goes missing creates peace of mind. You can do this by easily displaying contact information and directions on how to report missing or lost packages.
5. International shipping
If you offer international shipping, you will want to include a statement on who is responsible for customs and import duties. Showcase your international shipping policy by communicating which carrier handles your international shipments and who takes care of international taxes, charges, and any additional fees.
6. Return and exchange information
If your customers are about to make an order, they are likely interested in how your store manages returns and exchanges. Many online stores display a return and exchange policy on the same page as the shipping policy. It provides details such as how long it takes to process a return and when customers can expect a full refund according to the refund policy.
How often should I update my shipping policy?
It is advised that you update your shipping policy every so often. As your business grows, your shipping policy will change. For instance, if you go from self-fulfilling orders to outsourcing fulfillment, your shipping timelines will shift.
We recommend you update your shipping policy every six months, and each time you have made a change to your shipping method(s) — whether it’s a new 3PL or expanding into more fulfillment center locations.
Shipping policy examples for ecommerce businesses
As a fulfillment company, ShipBob has helped thousands of ecommerce businesses pack and ship their orders. Many ShipBob customers have developed a well-defined shipping policy to build trust with their customers, lower cart abandonment, and better protect themselves from future shipping issues. Here are some great examples:
Men’s fashion brand Ernest Alexander includes an easy-to-find shipping and returns page on their website. It includes details on shipping options, shipping cutoff times, and ground shipping transit times using a simple visual for clarity.
Superfood ecommerce brand Your Super clearly outlines domestic and international shipping costs and expected time frames.
Download the free shipping policy template
If you haven’t created a shipping policy for your online store yet, you don’t have to start from scratch. We put together a simple shipping policy template to help you get started. Simply click on the link to make a copy of our Shipping policy Google Docs template, and add your company-specific details.
Talk to a fulfillment expert about shipping
ShipBob is a tech-enabled 3PL on a mission to help businesses be more successful online. We simplify and help automate the order fulfillment process by combining technology with nationwide fulfillment.
After you sync your online store to your our dashboard, go through implementation, and send us your inventory, orders are automatically sent over to a ShipBob fulfillment center to be picked, packed, and shipped for faster, more affordable delivery.
Our services have helped ecommerce brands in all different markets build their business by providing the technology, warehousing, analytics, and support they need to continuously grow.
Before you launch an online store, be sure to have your shipping policy written and ready to publish. A shipping policy is a best practice (and an essential) for all ecommerce businesses. It helps provide easy-to-understand shipping information for customers and helps further build brand loyalty.