What is a Shipping Policy
A Shipping Policy is the document where an ecommerce store informs customers about the conditions around the shipping of goods. Your Shipping Policy should inform your customers (or potential customers) about the following:
- What shipping options you offer (overnight, standard, air mail, international, domestic only, etc.)
- How much each shipping method will cost the customer
- How long each shipping method will typically take
- How long your handling time will be between when an order is placed and when it gets shipped
- If orders must be placed before a specific time to be counted as placed during that business day
- Any restrictions to where you can deliver (no P.O. boxes, not to specific states, etc.)
- Anything else that would be material to a customer when placing an order
Why Should You Have a Shipping Policy?
While a Shipping Policy isn't required by law, it's definitely recommended by ecommerce best practices for managing customer expectations.
This is because it lets them know two key things that matter to every consumer:
- How much they can expect to pay for shipping
- How long of a wait they can expect when it comes to receiving their goods
If it takes too long for a customer to figure out how much you charge for shipping and generally how long an item will take to arrive, the customer will probably buy elsewhere and you'll be losing business.
Providing an easily accessible Shipping Policy that has clear information can help you gain and retain customers.
A Shipping Policy isn't to be confused with a Return and Refund Policy. A Return and Refund Policy lets customers know:
- If you offer refunds and/or exchanges
- If you accept returns from customers
- What a customer must do to initiate a return
- Which party pays for return shipping
- Any other important information related to a return and refund
- Any restocking fees or other deductions from full refund
- Specific items that cannot be returned
- Time limits on returns (Cannot return something after 15 days, etc.)
In summary, a Shipping Policy lets customers know details about how to get goods into their homes, while a Return/Refund Policy lets customers know what their options are after goods are delivered in the event that the customer wants to send the goods back.