Shipping policy is something that every business must-have, and it can serve as the backbone of an online operation. Without a shipping policy, an online business is meaningless and falls flat when consumers try to order products online.
What is a shipping policy?
Shipping policy is a document or page for your online business which discusses how shipping is carried out. It usually addresses all facets of shipping. This includes things like shipping location (international shipping availability), free shipping (if applicable), shipping options, shipping costs, delivery times, and more. It is a concise way for consumers to gain information about the manner in which an online business deals with shipping and shipping-related issues.
A shipping policy may also include what happens in times of delay — whether from the side of the business itself or the shipping carrier. It usually also offers options for recourse in the event of a late delivery, a delivery that doesn’t happen, or an incorrect/missing problem. These are things that can sometimes happen during large business and shipping operations, and thus it is a must for consumers to understand exactly what takes place if a dispute arises.
Why is a shipping policy important for your business?
For starters, having a concise shipping policy page can save your business a lot of time and money. How so? Well, if you don’t have all of the relevant shipping related information displayed in a coherent manner, it is natural for your customers to bombard your support department with questions. Questions about delayed shipments, shipping costs, shipping options and international shipping availability will flood your support inbox, and you won’t be able to get to the more important business queries. Having a shipping policy in place on your website prevents this from happening. All long as your online shipping policy covers all of the necessary information, it will stop consumers from having to ask too many questions, and will thus save your support department a lot of time.
Other than the fact that you can save money on support department costs, a shipping policy is an extremely integral part of your business’s identity. What you put in your shipping policy can often dictate the sales and the scope of your business as a whole! For example, if you serve only your local market, your site may become more popular locally but will definitely never reach the world stage. If you support international shipping, your business will expand and be harder to operate, but you will reach a much wider audience and will face increased revenue. Shipping costs are also very important — depending on the carrier and packaging you use, the shipping cost will either be high or low, and this will influence how many sales you get. Customers tend to order fewer items if they have extremely high shipping costs. On the other hand, if your business supports cheap or free shipping, customers will further be incentivized to purchase products from your store, which can increase sales quite a bit. Hand in hand with shipping costs are shipping speeds. Some customers may order goods because they have an urgent need for them, and if your shipping is too slow, they simply won’t order. Having multiple shipping options as part of your shipping policy is usually a good idea so that customers who need the items faster will be able to pay for it.
One of the most important aspects of business is customer relations and managing customer expectations. If you can manage to keep your customers happy, your business is a success. If you do not have a clear shipping policy for your e-commerce site, there’s a good chance your customers could be unsatisfied due to unmet expectations. If you have your shipping policy clearly laid out on your website, there’s no room for customers to have unreasonable expectations. As long as the pricing, delivery times and shipping options are set out clearly, customers will be able to understand exactly what they’re getting before they buy. This is a major factor that plays into keeping customers happy. Thus, a shipping policy is vital for the success of any online business.
Tips and examples of shipping policies
Here are some important tips to think about while drafting your shipping policy.
- Be as detailed as possible. Remember, you do not want the customers to create any expectations in their head. You don’t want to disappoint them! This means you have to clearly list out all of the aspects of shipping that are involved.
- Only list of things that you can meet. For example, if a shipping option has an average time of 3 days but can possibly take 5 days, write it as “3 to 5 days”. If you write for 3 days, if a delay happens, you will be held liable and you will have an unhappy customer on your hands.
- Have a high-level overview and a deeper explanation at separate levels. Some customers like to come to the website and see everything as quickly as possible, so on top of your shipping policy page, have a short summary that lists all of the important points.
This is what a good shipping policy summary looks like. Note how it addresses almost all possible queries that customers would have about shipping policy in general. Here is a great example:
First, GearBest tells where they can deliver the package to:
Second, GearBest shows what shipping methods they offer, including a very detailed table:
Third, tell the visitor what the shipping cost is:
In the end, policy about custom tax
The above example is an excellent high-level summary of a site’s shipping policy. It clearly
outlines all of the important aspects of shipping without leaving much room for customers to
have queries. Remember, you can always have a much more detailed section (more detail is
always good), but don’t forget the summary, as certain customers love getting a quick overview
without having to read an in-depth page.