Last updated on 20 May 2022 by Sara Pegarella (Law school graduate, B.A. in English/Writing. In-house writer at TermsFeed)
A Shipping Policy is where you let your customers know important details about how you ship your goods.
This article will break down the benefits of having a Shipping Policy, and show you what information you should include in your policy. We've also put together a Sample Shipping Policy Template that you can use to help write your own.
A Shipping Policy is the document where an ecommerce store informs customers about the conditions of goods shipping. Your Shipping Policy should inform your customers (or potential customers) about the following:
Having this kind of policy is important for managing expectations of your customers. This is because it lets them know two key things that matter to every consumer:
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 Shipping Policy that has clear information can help you gain and retain customers.
A Shipping Policy isn't to be confused with a Return and Refund Policy. A Return and Refund Policy lets customers know:
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.
If you're looking for the template, you can download it here.
The following are the most important sections that should be included in your Shipping Policy:
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 ecommerce 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' is provided, along with all the other shipping types. This is great for managing customer expectations and being as accurate as possible:
Some shipping rates charged and methods available can get extensive, as this chart from the Michael's Shipping Policy demonstrates. Shipping rates vary drastically depending on how much money you spend and which shipping method you want:
You can see that your rates can be as simple or as complex as you wish. Just make sure you be very clear about all the options and prices so your customers are aware.
Revzilla includes a short clause noting that international orders will ship from specific locations and will likely take an extra 3 to 5 days to be processed:
A link to the International Order Policy Page is included in this clause for customers to find more detailed information.
Some information that's typically included in an international shipping information section will be what's considered international (i.e. anything outside of Canada, anything outside of the EU, etc.), how any tariffs or extra fees will be handled, if the return shipping policy is different than with domestic orders, what currency the order must be placed in and what wil happen if a package gets lost while in transit.
Forespar has a robust International Ordering and Shipping Policy that addresses many of these points:
While many businesses choose to create a separate International Shipping Policy page and link this page to the Shipping Policy page, others include this information directly within the main Shipping Policy.
MakerBot adds a section titled "International Shipping" within its Shipping Policy, towards the end of the policy:
If your international shipping process is involved, with different information for a number of different global regions or countries, it may be best to separate this information into its own policy, like Forespar has done. However, if you either don't offer international shipping or the process is quite simple and short, you can easily include the information in a short clause within your Shipping Policy.
If your shipping has other restrictions other than international shipping limits, let your customers know.
For example, if you cannot deliver to certain states, or to P.O. boxes, make this clear.
Looking at the Michael's Shipping Policy again you'll notice that restrictions are listed for its UPS Next Day Air shipping service. Customers are informed that orders under this shipping method only ship on certain business days, that orders cannot be shipped to P.O. boxes under this method and that not all shipping methods are available for all items:
This information is crucial when it comes to managing customer expectations.
It's important to let your customers know about any handling time that can increase the overall length of time between the ordering and the arrival of their goods.
For example, if someone orders overnight shipping on an item at 8pm and expects to receive the item the following day, this can lead to problems if you stop processing daily orders at 2pm, and always take 3 days to process orders before shipping.
Here's how MakerBot lets customers know in the very first sentence of its Shipping Policy that orders are "processed within 2-3 business days ."
Here's an example of a Shipping Policy section that separates "Order Processing" time from "Transit Time" and lets customers know that order processing "typically takes 1-2 days" but that orders can ship anywhere from within "as few as 4 hrs" to "up to 5 days."
This is where you can include any relevant and important information about your shipping practices or policy that your customers would want to know.
Bed Bath & Beyond's Shipping Policy has an "Additional Information" section where information about security reviews of orders is mentioned, as well as information about gift card purchasing.
Jeffrey Campbell Shoes' Shipping Policy includes a "Please Note" section.
Information can be found here about order processing times, limits on orders and when the weekend cut-off time is for what's considered a "business day:"
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.
Having a Shipping Policy that lets your customers know all the important details about shipping can be a great way to avoid unmet or unrealistic expectations on their part.
The following are all important points to include in a thorough Shipping Policy:
This Sample Shipping Policy Template is free to download and includes these sections:
You can download the Sample Shipping Policy Template as HTML code below. Copy it from the box field below (right-click > Select All and then Copy-paste) and then paste it on your app or website pages.
More specific Templates are available over our blog.
|Sample Return Policy for Ecommerce Stores||A Return Policy for your ecommerce store.|