What your shipping policy should include
What you cover in your shipping policy and how you communicate it will be highly dependent on your current business operations and supply chain. The goal is to be transparent with customers.
As 2020 brings unforeseen shipping delays and increased carrier costs, it's more important than ever to keep your shipping policy up to date with the following key points in mind:
Essential shipping details are easy to find. While it is common practice to keep a link to your shipping policy page in the footer of your website, consider how you can also surface important shipping details in the right place at the right time (e.g. on your product page or website banner).
Clear and concise presentation. Don’t make customers comb through your shipping policy page for the information they need. Whenever possible, make it easy to navigate with clear subheadings, tables, bolded text, and links to learn more.
Order processing times. After an order is placed, how many days will it take to get it ready to ship? It’s worth communicating if you’re excluding weekends and/or holidays, and if you have certain cutoff times for processing orders (e.g. orders received after 5pm will be processed the next business day). If changes occur within your supply chain, due to peak periods or as a result of COVID-19, you should update your processing times to reflect it.
Domestic and international shipping options. What are the qualifying regions for your domestic shipping options? International shipping can be broken down in its own section where you list the countries you ship to and estimated delivery timelines. If you offer several shipping options, you can list them in a table so the information is easy to scan.
Shipping costs. Break down your shipping costs for the customer. If you have a free shipping threshold, you can communicate in various places as an incentive for customers. Any potential surprise fees should be surfaced too, such as duties and taxes the customer may incur.
Local delivery and buy online, pickup in-store. If you offer local shipping options, such as local delivery or buy online, pick up in-store, you can explain the steps customers will need to follow after ordering and clearly communicate your local delivery coverage.
Transparency around returns, changes and cancellations. On top of accommodating returns through a dedicated return policy, you can also summarize how your business evaluates refunds, order edits, exchanges, and what your process is in the event of a lost or damaged order.
Potential service interruptions. Orders may take longer to arrive due to variables outside of your control. Your shipping policy page is where you can communicate approximately how much longer and explain to customers why.
It is not uncommon to update your shipping policy every few months, especially whenever you add new shipping options or carriers, expand your fulfillment network, or anticipate delays.
Shipping policy page examples you can learn from
The following shipping policies can serve as examples of some of the ways you can formalize your own policy on your online store. We’ve included various shipping contexts so you can see how different circumstances translate into different policies.
A shipping policy geared towards local customers
Due to the pandemic and social distancing safety precautions, many brick-and-mortar stores have embraced local shopping through local delivery and buy online, pickup in-store shipping options.