It doesn’t matter what you sell; the only way to achieve long-term growth in your e-commerce business is by gaining the trust of your customers. And the easiest way to build credibility in their minds is by providing a comprehensive shipping policy.
Think of it as an essential part of your overall shipping strategy. You can set customer expectations and ensure a positive shopping experience by providing a detailed shipping information page on your website. If you want to revamp your existing shipping policy or create one from scratch, we have collated all the essential information you need to get started. Read along!
P.S.: Don’t want to face the hassle of creating the policy from scratch? Get the free shipping policy template right away.
What is a shipping policy?
A shipping policy is a detailed document or webpage highlighting an E-commerce company’s rules and procedures when delivering products to its customers. It covers essential information such as shipping rates, shipping times, shipping carriers, returns & refunds, packaging methods, etc., with utmost clarity. Shipping policies help set expectations for shoppers, ensure consistency and transparency in shipping practices, and protect the business from liability issues.
Why does your E-commerce business need a shipping policy?
A well-designed shipping policy positively impacts the customer experience and reduces returns. Here is how it achieves that –
Prevents misunderstandings regarding shipping costs
By including precise details about the shipping process, a shipping policy eliminates the possibility of any delivery-related confusion, misunderstandings, and last-minute surprises. More importantly, customers will understand their final shipping fees before their purchase. This means they will be less likely to abandon their carts, a plaguing issue faced by most e-commerce sellers today.
Recommended read: 17 Best Abandoned Cart Email Examples With Key Takeaways
Keeps customers informed about the delivery time
A shipping policy lets customers stay informed about their orders by offering details on expected delivery schedules and tracking options. This way, customers can anticipate the arrival of their packages, prepare for possible delays, and have an idea of the maximum wait time if such delays occur.
Sets expectations for refunds, returns, and exchanges
A comprehensive shipping policy outlines the process of initiating refunds, returns, and exchanges. For instance, it could cover details such as the conditions under which customers are eligible for refunds, the processing time for return or exchange, any fees associated with the process, etc.
Provide legal protection to your business
A clear and well-written shipping policy can protect your E-commerce business in case of legal disputes. For instance, by setting out the terms and conditions of shipping, you can defend your business against customer complaints. Also, by highlighting the conditions under which a refund is valid, you prevent the abuse of the returns policy.
5 Things to include in your shipping policy
While a shipping policy can include numerous components, there are a few important ones that should not be missed. Including them will ensure that your customers clearly understand your shipping process. Here are five such components that should be part of your shipping policy –
Shipping rates & cost
Provide your customers with a clear understanding of the shipping costs associated with their orders. Make sure to outline any flat fees, weight-based fees, or other charges that may apply, as well as any minimum order requirements for free shipping. It’s important to be transparent about your shipping rates and to make sure that they are fair and reasonable.
Shipping mode and delivery time
Highlight the different shipping modes available to customers, including the estimated delivery time and associated charges. This will help customers make an informed decision based on their urgency in receiving the product. Again, provide accurate delivery details and be upfront about any factors that may affect delivery times, such as weather or holidays.
Restriction on shipping (if applicable)
If you have geographic restrictions on shipping to certain countries or regions, specify that clearly so that customers are not disappointed at the time of order placement.
If you offer international shipping, your shipping policy should highlight the additional costs and fees associated with international orders, such as import duties and taxes. You should also include a statement on who is responsible for these additional fees. Also, have the estimated delivery times and any restrictions for international shipments communicated in your shipping policy.
Missing or lost packages policy
Even though you are not responsible for packages getting lost (in most cases), it is your responsibility to guide the customers when something like that happens. Include the contact information of the department and steps customers can take to report a missing package and file a claim.
Shipping policy page examples you can learn from
It’s always good to look at some real-life shipping policy examples before you are ready to draft your own. Here are three ecommerce brands that have nailed their shipping policy –
What did we like about this shipping policy?
The entire shipping policy has been formatted as FAQs, with all the answers compressed by default. It has made the shipping policy skimmable. Also, you can find the answer to your specific query instantly without having to go through the entire shipping page. They have also clearly segregated the shipping policy into three buckets: Shipping, Returns, and Cancellations – making it even more reader-friendly.
What did we like about this shipping policy?
They have elaborately highlighted every possible element of their shipping process, from what they do to expedite your order in case of delays to whom you should contact in case of damaged products. They have also used screenshots and images to make it easily understandable to the readers. They also have a search bar on the page for users to check if delivery is available in their location.
What did we like about this shipping policy?
Since they ship both within India and to other countries, they have covered the shipping processes involved in both these categories separately. They have also clearly pointed out who is responsible for paying the import taxes or duties for their orders. The brand has also mentioned the countries that they currently ship to.
Use this free shipping policy template
Here is a downloadable shipping policy template for your online store. Edit, modify, and use them as per your needs. The section marked in blue is meant to provide guidance on how to approach the template. You can delete it from the template when you copy it.
Shipping Policy Template – Google Docs
Where is the best place to display your shipping policy
When it comes to shipping policies, your primary goal is to make them as accessible as possible to customers. This will ensure that there is no scope for confusion in the minds of customers while placing an order. Here are 5 sections on your website where you can place your shipping policy links to make it easily findable –
Website announcement bar
A website announcement bar is a banner that appears at the top or bottom of your website. This banner can be used to convey important information about your business, including key aspects of your shipping policies. Many e-stores use this real estate for high-priority shipping-related information, such as shipping discounts.
A link in your website footer
Your footer is probably the first place your customers will scan for the shipping policy. Why? Because that’s where the links to all customer support pages, such as contact us, social media handles, and FAQs, can be found. Most modern websites place a shipping policy link in the footer, if not anywhere else.
Your product page is where customers learn more about your products before purchasing. While browsing through the product page, customers might end up having several questions about shipping and delivery. Many times, shipping aspects like time of delivery and shipping cost will determine whether they buy from you or not. Consider adding a line or two about your shipping policy on the product details page or a pop-up communicating the shipping policy like how Farida Gupta, an Indian apparel brand, did.
Your Frequently Asked Questions page is where customers go to find answers to various questions they have, including shipping. So it makes complete sense to include various components of your shipping policy in the form of QnA to help customers understand your shipping process better. For instance, check out how boAT has displayed its policy below.
Delivery option labels
If you offer multiple delivery options like standard shipping and express shipping, label your shipping options to include the delivery times and costs to help customers select without needing to go through the entire shipping policy. You can display the label on both the product and the checkout page.
Talk to a fulfillment expert about shipping
The foundation of any good E-commerce business is based on the right choice of shipping partners who can manage its entire lifecycle, right from warehousing to last-mile delivery. At ANS Commerce, we are committed to providing our customers with the best end-to-end E-commerce management services.
We are the preferred E-commerce partner for 100+ brands in India and have helped them achieve both short-term growth and long-term sustainability. To know more about us and how we can aid in your shipping process, book a demo now!
Shipping Policy FAQ
How frequently should you update your shipping policy
It is recommended to update your shipping policy every 5-6 months or whenever you make a change to your shipping methods, costs, or timelines.
Are shipping policies legally required?
No. A shipping policy is not legally required. However, most businesses create one because it is highly beneficial for both customers and the brand. It establishes your e-store as a trustworthy one.