What is a shipping policy?  

A shipping policy is a concise document or webpage that outlines important information around shipping when an order is placed online. It often includes details on shipping costs and methods, delivery times, and more.

Some shipping policies are more detailed than others, but overall it should be clear, accurate, and easy to understand. Many times, additional informational like a returns and exchange policy is also included, creating a comprehensive resource for customers before they purchase.  

Why your ecommerce store needs a shipping policy

There are several benefits to having a concise ecommerce shipping policy: It better informs your customers, helps answer shipping-related questions, and allows you to take a proactive approach to any shipping issues that may arise. 

Inform customers of shipping costs and options

Online shoppers most often search for a shipping policy to determine how much it is going to cost them upfront, depending on where they live. A well-developed shipping policy informs customers of shipping costs and the different shipping options available prior to ordering.
By displaying shipping costs and the different methods of shipping available, you protect yourself from any customer who may have a complaint about how much they were charged and also save yourself time rather than having each customer inquire through your support channel(s) when they can find it themselves. 

Inform customers of delivery times

Many online shoppers are expecting fast delivery. With these high expectations, it’s worth setting expectations with your customers on realistic delivery times. Along with displaying your shipping options, you’ll want to consider including shipping cutoff times (especially holiday shipping deadlines), transit times, and how long it would take to ship international orders. 

Provide protection on your company’s behalf

Many times, online brands provide more than just shipping details by outlining other information such as returns and exchanges, product damages, and international shipping expectations.

The more details you include on your shipping policy, the better. It provides you and your customers with peace of mind while answering their questions upfront. 

What should you include in a shipping policy 

A shipping policy should be concise but thorough by highlighting essential shipping information that your customers should be aware of. It includes details on expected delivery times, shipping costs, shipping methods, payment information, shipping restrictions, and international shipping.

Shipping costs

Displaying shipping costs gives your customers a chance to review and calculate their total costs before they shop around. Showcasing shipping costs becomes even more important for international customers who may not qualify for certain offers such as free shipping. Many times, international shipping varies between retailers significantly due to increase in carrier charges as well, so you’ll want to be as transparent as possible.

Shipping methods and delivery times

Whether you offer one or several shipping methods, list out the different methods and the expected delivery times for each.

Many times this is shown using a simple table format with one column displaying the different methods and another one with expected time frames.

Shipping restrictions

If you have any shipping restrictions, such as shipping to certain countries or PO boxes, you will want to display them hereSometimes, state legislations may prevent some products from being shipped to certain locations. Be very clear on what restrictions exist and who is impacted by them. 

Missing or lost package

There are several reasons why a package gets lost or becomes a delivery exception, and most of the times it is out of your control. But directing customers on what to do if a package goes missing creates peace of mind. You can do this by easily displaying contact information and directions on how to report missing or lost packages.

International shipping

If you offer international shipping, you will want to include a statement on who is responsible for customs and import duties. Showcase your international shipping policy by communicating which carrier handles your international shipments and who takes care of international taxes, charges, and any additional fees.

Return and exchange information

If your customers are about to make an order, they are likely interested in how your store manages returns and exchanges. Many online stores display a return and exchange policy on the same page as the shipping policy. It provides details such as how long it takes to process a return and when customers can expect a full refund.