The Guide to Writing a Great E-Commerce Shipping Policy

Nov 05, 2019 Aimee Laurence Aimee Laurence

As you might know, a shipping policy is a document that outlines the carrier options available, the shipping methods any restrictions in place, the costs for delivery, and the estimated delivery times. It addresses every possible question a customer might have about how your products will make it into their hands.

Many companies will actually combine the shipping policy document with the returns and refund policy, which outlines the conditions for returns and exchanges and how customers can go about returning a product. This article will address the shipping policy separately, however, because it’s a better practice for the user experience standpoint to treat them separately. By addressing them in separate documents, it makes it easier for the client to find what they’re looking for on your website. 

By formalizing the policy and making it public online, your business and customers will benefit because it will create trust in your brand, understanding of the process, and transparency. It shows that every order will be treated the same way and not different for each case. 


What to Include

A complete shipping policy includes courier options, because clients want to know what companies your business will use for shipping, both for personal preference and interest. It will also include different service types, like same-day shipping, overnight express, or is standard shipping the only option. Is there international shipping, and what are the associated costs for different country deliveries? What international couriers are used, and is there tracking information for all deliveries or only to specific locations with certain couriers? Is there an in-store pickup option as well, and how long does that process take? 


These are all questions that your shipping policy should address, specifically transit times. Customers want to know how quickly they’ll receive what they purchase. Evidently, if they picked same-day shipping they know what to expect, but if they’re international customers, are the packages shipped on the day or the order is placed, or how long does it take. Where is the warehouse location and will it be transported by air, freight, truck, or a mix of these? You should offer delivery estimates even for international deliveries. 


Be Clear

In order to make sure that you’re as clear as possible when it comes to your shipping policy, for customer service reasons as well as legal reasons, use some tools to help you craft your message. 


Costs

Costs are another important aspect of your shipping policy. Is your shipping a flat rate or does it depend on the delivery country or state? Is there free shipping if a certain threshold of spending is reached?

When it comes to international shipping, there are a lot of costs to think about outlining in your policy. Marlon James, a business writer at OXEssays.com, says to consider “whether free shipping is only available for certain international customers and not others. Furthermore, are there duties and taxes that could apply, and will the shipment be delivered with duties and taxes paid (DDP) or unpaid (DDU)? Duties and taxes can add quite a bit to a delivery cost, so customers will want to be prepared and avoid a nasty surprised upon receipt of delivery.”


Restrictions

This section should include important facts like deliveries to PO boxes or military addresses, certain countries where the product is prohibited and you don’t deliver, and more. The last thing you want is for the customer to go through the process of checking out only to find out at the end that they’re not eligible for delivery. You also need to figure out what the process is if they order something that’s not in stock, does it become impossible to order it or are they notified that it will ship once you restock. The main thing is to be direct with your customers about the process from start to finish. 


This is an important document that allows your business to be transparent and build trust with your clients, so be sure to include any information they might want to know to avoid frustrating them.


Aimee Laurence, a marketer with Academized.com and Australianhelp.com , enjoys helping businesses connect with their clients and expand their consumer base. She researches trends and developments in shipping and deliveries to share her insights with businesses. Aimee is also a freelance editor for Write My Assignment.

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