Starting an eCommerce business, learning how to increase eCommerce sales, and using an eCommerce marketing strategy are all exciting. But what’s not so thrilling? Legal matters and company policies, including your shipping policy.
Your shipping policy details when your products are shipped, the carrier(s) you use, any expedited shipping options, and more. It’s usually not what gets business owners out of bed in the morning, but it must be handled regardless. Even when you're learning the fun of how to ship wine you need to think about shipping policies.
With a bit of background knowledge, knowing which statements to include, and the right template, you can have a comprehensive shipping policy in no time. Continue reading to learn more about the shipping policy template and example.
What Is a Shipping Policy?
A shipping policy is a document that outlines your company's procedures and rules for shipping products to customers. It should include information on how orders are processed, what shipping methods are available, how much shipping costs, and how delivery times will be estimated. A clear and concise shipping policy manages customer expectations and avoids misunderstandings about your company's shipping procedures.
Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.
Why Should You Have a Shipping Policy?
Your shipping policy is vital for some reasons:
- First, it sets customer expectations around how long they can expect to wait for their order to arrive. This is important because if you do not manage customer expectations correctly, you risk them becoming disappointed or even angry with your business.
- Second, your shipping policy also serves as a valuable marketing tool. You can encourage customers to buy more from your store by offering free or discounted shipping.
- Third, your shipping policy can help you avoid any legal issues that may arise from customers who are unhappy with their orders delivery.
By including information about your shipping process and delivery times, you can ensure that customers know what to expect when they place an order with you. A clear and concise shipping policy is essential for many types of online businesses. This will help you avoid any shipping issues and protect you from any potential legal problems.
Leading eCommerce Platform Shipping Policy Examples
If you sell anything online, chances are you’ve used at least one of the big eCommerce platforms before. What is an eCommerce platform? Shopify, eBay, Amazon, and Etsy are four of them, and they all have different shipping policies and conditions. Take a look at their shipping policy details below:
eBay Shipping Policy
eBay has a shipping policy in place to prevent misunderstandings between buyers, sellers, and the platform itself. Since eBay is one of the types of marketplaces where just about anyone can sell most products, it’s essential to lay out clear expectations.
Sellers are expected to:
- Utilize the shipping service the buyer selected at the time of purchase
- Clearly specify when the item will be shipped, including lead time
- Only include shipping charges necessary to ship the product (i.e. no overcharging to make an additional profit)
- Upload package tracking information whenever it’s available
- Mark the listing as “Shipped” when it has been sent
Sellers are expected not to:
- Charge customers for shipping or handling when offering free shipping
- Use a slower shipping service than what the buyer chose
- Delay shipments upon receipt of payment
Sellers also automatically receive a 5-star rating for shipping when they offer free shipping and same-day or one day handling. This shows up under the DSR, or Detailed Seller Rating.
Shopify Shipping Policy
Since Shopify is a platform that allows people to create their own stores, rather than being an online retailer itself, there is no official Shopify shipping policy. Shopify is an eCommerce software company, so they don’t have any physical goods to ship.
That being said, Shopify’s Help Center includes documentation on how you can add a shipping policy to your own store. You can add a shipping policy by following these steps:
- Once logged into your Shopify administrator dashboard, go to Settings, then click on “Legal.”
- Click “Create from Template” to use one of the existing templates, or choose to start from scratch. You can add images and links using the Rich Text Editor.
- Read your completed policy and make any changes.
- Click “Save” to publish your shipping policy.
- The policy will now be included as a footer link on all of your checkout pages. You can also edit your website’s menu(s) to include a link there.
Amazon Shipping Policy
Amazon has different eCommerce shipping policies for orders placed from an Amazon Prime account versus regular orders. One of the key differences between the two is Prime orders are eligible for Same Day shipping. There are a few stipulations that must be met to receive products on the same day they’re ordered:
- First, a customer must be logged into their Prime account and have added at least $35 worth of Same-Day-eligible products to their cart.
- Second, the customer’s delivery address must be within a Same-Day-eligible zip code.
- Third, the products must be ordered before the Same Day shipping cutoff.
Once all of these conditions are met, Amazon will deliver the products within the time frame specified. For non-Prime orders, Amazon specifies guaranteed delivery dates for specific products. Whenever a guaranteed delivery timeframe is possible, it will be stated on the checkout page, otherwise, Amazon will display an estimated delivery time.
Product detail pages will display an “Order Within” countdown timer, displaying the time within which an order must be placed to receive it by a certain date. Bear in mind that inventory fluctuations or delivery availability may change the time by which you receive a product.
Other than these factors, Amazon makes every effort to deliver products in fast time frames and with relevant eCommerce packaging. The business has largely built its brand on being one of the most responsive and convenient eCommerce companies.
Etsy Shipping Policy
Etsy offers a comprehensive shipping policy to make shipping goods to customers easier. Because of the variety of products that can be sold on Etsy, it’s helpful to see what they require so you can use their platform effectively.
Sellers on Etsy are expected to:
- Provide accurate “shipping from” addresses
- Include shipping and handling time in product listings
- Follow local, federal, and international shipping regulations and laws
- Ship products promptly (i.e. within the handling time specified)
- Only charge what’s needed for shipping (i.e. don’t charge higher shipping costs for extra profit)
- Mark an item as shipped once it has been shipped
When it comes to shipping labels and packaging, Etsy sellers are expected to:
- Be responsible for everything they ship through Etsy
- Use only Etsy-generated shipping labels for Etsy-generated orders
- Adhering to all third-party shipping carrier requirements, like eCommerce packaging materials, dropoff locations, and other conditions
Many Etsy sellers have home-based businesses, which means you’re likely learning how to print shipping labels from home. If you haven’t gotten a printer yet, buying a shipping label printer is a great way to go. Since they print with heat rather than ink cartridges, you can print more labels in less time.
Shipping Policy Template
Putting together a shipping policy from scratch can be a time-consuming process. Even if you enjoy writing or the technical side of business operations, you may unknowingly leave out important information.
To make it easier, we put together a template that can be customized in minutes. Download our free shipping policy template and update all of the information for your business.
Feel free to edit the sections that you need and remove the rest. You can also easily add more information and policies as needed for your own business' shipping needs.
Don't forget to add your contact info in the footer, so your customers know how to get in touch with questions about their purchase. You'll also want to replace the logo with your own for branding and some easy, free marketing.
6 Sections to Include In Your Shipping Policy
Now that you’re familiar with leading companies’ shipping policies, let's look at an example that can be used for your own. These are all included in the template linked above, but you may make your own or use eCommerce software that automatically generates one.
Here are the six most common sections you'll want to include in your shipping policy:
- Shipping costs. One of the most important things you need on your shipping policy, and the first a customer looks for, is shipping costs. Try to provide the most accurate estimates on a product category or size level to avoid surprising the customer in the cart. This helps build trust with the customer and reduce cart abandonment rate. Shipping costs are a significant factor in shopping cart abandonment online, so including this information in your policy can help improve your abandoned cart recovery rate. If possible, offer free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount. It's great for converting customers and plays a major factor in eCommerce growth.
- Shipping methods and delivery times. Do you participate in dropshipping or bulk shipping? What is the average time a delivery takes? Customers have a lot of questions when it comes to delivery time, so try to answer them all here. This will show you care about the customer experience and free up your customer service team to deal with more important matters. If you're selling coffee online, learning how to sell baked goods online, sell whiskey online, selling liquor online, or sell beer online, just know that there are much stricter regulations for the sale and transport of alcohol so you should outline any specific shipping requirements for your customers.
- International shipping policies. Shipping internationally can be very complicated and comes with a slew of additional costs such as import duties and fees. Whether you only ship domestically or ship worldwide, be upfront with your practices. If you have different policies for domestic and international shipping, outline them clearly.
- Shipping restrictions. There are many unique shipping situations that your customers present to you. Make sure to address the most common restrictions that prevent you from shipping to them. This may be that international shipping takes longer, certain products come with additional fees, and more. The more information you share here, the more likely you are to keep the customer.
- Return, exchange, and missing package info. All shipping policies should have a section regarding product returns and exchanges. This section can detail the entire process or link to a dedicated returns page. If you offer returns, make sure you include an RMA and packing slip in all packages you send out.
- Order tracking information. All orders should be accompanied by a confirmation email detailing the package delivery date, tracking number, order total, and your contact information. Customers can track packages by adding their tracking number to the carrier they selected. Buyers can also reach out if they have any questions about their order via the contact methods you specify.
How Often Should I Update My Shipping Policy?
It's essential to keep your shipping policy up-to-date, especially if you offer free shipping, overnight shipping, and flat rate shipping. Here are three factors to consider when determining how often to update your shipping policy:
- Your product offerings: If you add or remove products from your inventory, your shipping rates may change.
- Your shipping methods: If you start offering new shipping methods like expedited shipping, your rates will also change.
- Your promotions: If you run promotional campaigns offering free or discounted shipping, update your policy accordingly.
We recommend updating your shipping policy at least once a year. This way, you can ensure that your customers always have the most accurate information about your shipping rates and procedures.
Where Should a Shipping Policy Be Displayed?
The best place to display your shipping policy is on your product pages. This will ensure that customers know your shipping policies before making a purchase. You may also consider including your shipping policy on your checkout page and in your company's Terms & Conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping Policies and Templates
A shipping policy is one of those boring, yet essential parts of any eCommerce business. It gives your customers information about your shipping times, where you ship to, what shipping options are available, and how to contact you with other questions.
If you’re still setting up your own shipping policy or need a few pointers, we have you covered. Review these frequently asked questions and our answers below:
How Do You Write a Shipping Policy?
A shipping policy can be written from scratch, with a template, or with a pre-built shipping policy generator. Your shipping policy should include information about shipping and handling time, which shipping options you provide, and where customers can find tracking information.
When your policy is complete, make sure it’s displayed in an accessible area of your website. This can be your site footer, a Terms and Conditions area, or near the end of your navigational menu.
Does Shopify Have a Shipping Policy Template?
Yes, Shopify’s platform includes shipping policy templates you can customize for your own site. Follow the steps below to locate the templates, edit one, and publish the version to your site:
- Log into your Shopify dashboard > Go to Settings > Click on “Legal.”
- Click “Create from Template” and find a template you want to use.
- Add your company’s information to the template.
- Click “Save” to finalize the info and publish it on your site.
How Do I Create a Shipping Policy On Shopify?
Shopify shipping policies can be created by using the platform’s existing templates or writing a new one on your own. First, log into your Shopify admin dashboard. Second, look for the Settings tab and click on it, then click on Legal.
Third, browse the legal templates they have and choose one, or start writing your own. You can use the rich text editor to add any new content you want, including text, images, and links.
Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.
Finally, click Save to finalize your work and publish changes. Your shipping policy will be linked on all of your checkout pages and viewable anywhere else you link it.
Shipping (Fast) Is the Best Policy
Getting your shipping policy completed may not be the most exciting moment in your business, but it’s nonetheless an important one. It’s also an exercise in transparency for your customers, who are bombarded with more options today than ever before.
Remember to keep your shipping policy updated, too. If you move to a new shipping carrier, change prices, or have any kind of shipping policy alteration, it should be published right away. This will protect you from unnecessary customer complaints, or worst-case scenario, legal troubles.