Whether you're just starting an eCommerce business or you run a successful direct to consumer or B2B business, you need a shipping policy. This will let customers know all about your shipping methods and answer the most common questions they may have.
Keep reading to learn more about shipping policies, how to make one, and access a free shipping policy template.
What Is a Shipping Policy?
A shipping policy is a short document or web page that details important shipping-related information regarding customer orders. It outlines things like shipping costs, order fulfillment methods, delivery times, legal requirements, and more.
A shipping policy can be highly detailed or brief, and should be easy for customers to understand. Shipping policies often become comprehensive documents that also include information regarding returns, exchanges, FAQs, and more. Whether you run your own headless eCommerce website or use an online marketplace, you should create a shipping policy.
Why You Need a Shipping Policy
Shipping policies are more than just formalities, they are great tools for your sales and customer service team. They outline policies, answer questions, educate customers, and protect your company.
Here are a few ways a shipping policy helps your business:
First, it answers common customer questions. It's important to have a shipping policy for online store so your customers can find answers to common questions before placing an order. Instead of taking up your customer service team's time, the shipping policy helps them understand your order fulfillment practices (see order fulfillment meaning) and estimate the shipping cost of an order on their own before even adding products to their cart.
Second, it outlines delivery times. The length of time a shipment is in transit is one of the most important metrics for all types of eCommerce businesses. More than 50% of all customers under 25 say that same-day shipping is a major factor in their purchasing decisions, so your ability to ship quickly can win you customers in this demographic. You'll also want to express how you handle shipping delays caused by issues with a backorder or fluctuating lead times.
Third, it provides legal protection for your business. Unfortunately, you may run into legal issues regarding your shipping or products that have been delivered. By outlining your policies and practices, you can limit customers’ ability to pursue legal action and protect your brand. You should also make sure to pick up eCommerce business insurance to be safe.
Shipping Policy Example
Now that you understand what a shipping policy is and why your business needs one, let's look at an example of what to include in your shipping policy. These are all included in the template below, but you may make your own or use eCommerce software that automatically generates one.
Here are the five 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. 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 eCommerce packaging you send out.
Shipping Policy Template
Instead of starting from scratch, you can build your shipping policy using this free downloadable shipping policy template.
Once you download it, give it a look through. In this sample shipping policy, you’ll see sections for domestic and international shipping, shipping rates, and returns.
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.
We're Shipping Out
Shipping policies are valuable documents that help customers understand your shipping practices and guide your customer service team. You can create your own, download our template, or use a shipping policy generator online. Just make sure to include all the information listed above to keep customers informed and maximize your chance of a sale.
If you use other eCommerce shipping companies for fulfillment, make sure you coordinate with them before creating your policy so all information is as accurate as possible.