What is a shipping policy?
A shipping policy is a web page or document that answers your customers’ questions and provides helpful information about their purchase on your website. It’s meant to be a living document, updated frequently to reflect your current procedures. A shipping policy page includes:

Shipping costs
Order processing time
Shipping carriers and methods
Delivery speed
Your approach to handling delays or service interruptions
What to do if an item arrives late or damaged
How to handle returns and cancellations
Answers to other commonly asked questions
A formal shipping policy is easily accessible. It’s found amongst the footer links and on informational pop-ups throughout your website.

Why does your ecommerce business need a shipping policy?
Your shipping policy is a huge differentiator. For example, if your customer is considering two ecommerce shops—one that offers fast, free shipping and another that offers expensive shipping—they’ll invariably choose the former.

And research backs this up. For example, in North America, shoppers are 50% more likely to purchase from a merchant that offers free shipping.

A good shipping policy answers your customers’ questions and benefits you. Below are three reasons to create or optimize a shipping policy page on your website.

  1. A good shipping policy prevents misunderstandings
    When customers understand their costs before their purchase, they’re less likely to abandon their carts and reach out to customer service after their purchase.

The key to avoiding confusion is making shipping information readily available. Don’t bury your shipping policy. Instead, place visible links everywhere on your site. Complete transparency communicates that you care about your customer’s experience with your brand.

  1. A good shipping policy keeps customers informed
    Let’s face it—people want what they want when they want it. And they aren’t always logical about those desires. Your shipping policy keeps emotions out of the equation.

Your policy should clearly explain what customers can expect during and after their purchase. Anticipate your customers’ questions, including:

What does shipping cost?
How long does it take to process an order?
How will the package be shipped?
When can they expect to receive it?
If shipping delays are likely to occur, include that information in your policy.

Are shipping delays taking place? Why?
Are there deadlines for orders that need to be delivered in time for holidays or other special days?
For example, during the 2021 holiday season, Burt’s Bees posted shipping delay information in red at the top of their Shipping Information page to inform their customers.

  1. A good shipping policy sets expectations for refunds, returns, and exchanges
    What are your customers’ options if they receive an item that’s not the right size, is damaged, or can’t be used? Your shipping policy should include information (or links to more information) about how you process refunds, exchanges, and returns.

Give them full disclosure. The more details you share, the more they trust you to handle their order efficiently and professionally.

What should you include in your shipping policy?
Your shipping policy doesn’t need to be long or complicated, but it should include everything your customer needs to know. Here’s what we recommend:

Shipping rates and costs
International shipping
Delivery times and shipping methods
Shipping restrictions and who they impact
The policy on missing or lost packages
Shipping rates and costs
The most crucial information in your shipping policy is your shipping rates and costs. Your customers need to calculate their total cost as they shop.

It’s a good idea to format this information as a table. For example, notice how easy it is to assimilate shipping costs on White House Black Market’s Shipping & Handling page.

International shipping
Shipping costs are crucial for international customers, who may not qualify for free shipping but still want to compare costs. International customers actively search for this information because prices vary widely between carriers, depending on the country and their taxes and tariffs.

If you ship internationally, it’s essential to include information on duties, taxes, and other additional charges. Identify your international shipping carrier(s) and have a statement on who is responsible for customs and import duties.

Watch My Diamonds includes information about international shipping at the bottom of their Shipping Options page. In addition, they detail payment options, customs duty, and shipping problems that may occur. They even offer a chatbox for customers who need additional information.

Shipping restrictions and who they impact
You may have restricted shipping options for different geolocations, post-office boxes, and military bases. And some states limit the delivery of certain items. If your business is affected by restrictions, itemize them on your shipping policy.

Wine Country Gift Baskets details shipping restrictions clearly, explaining who their customers can and cannot ship their products to in the United States.

Missing or lost packages policy
Inevitably, packages get lost. So you’ll need step-by-step instructions on what to do if a customer doesn’t receive their package.

Swiss Gear’s shipping policy provides thorough instructions for missed or lost packages:

The customer will get tracking information when the order is shipped. That way, customers can monitor its progress.
Sometimes, delivery isn’t completed because the shipping address is incorrect. Unfortunately, if that’s the case, Swiss Gear can’t be held responsible.
Information on the customer’s next steps and Swiss Gear’s process if a shipment is lost

Need help?

Contact us at {email} for questions related to refunds and returns.