How To Write a Shipping Policy in 7 Steps (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 14, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When operating an e-commerce business, it's important to develop good relationships with customers and earn their trust. This may help create loyalty, potentially leading to more sales for the business. One way to help establish trust is by providing clear policies about what customers may expect when shopping with you, such as return policies or shipping policies. In this article, we define what a shipping policy is, discuss why it's important to have one, outline how to write this type of policy and provide tips for creating one.

Related: What Is E-Commerce? Definition, Types and Importance

What is a shipping policy?

A shipping policy is a specific document or webpage that explains crucial information to customers about the orders they place online. Policies often vary in length, but it's crucial that it's accurate, easy to understand and explicit in explaining the company's rules and procedures. Shipping policies typically include details regarding standard shipping costs, the available delivery methods and the anticipated delivery times. Some organizations also explain their exchange and return policies in their shipping policies.

Why is it important to write a shipping policy?

Writing a shipping policy is important for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Establishes expectations: A shipping policy explains what customers can expect regarding their delivery options. For example, it outlines what the estimated delivery times are, and it may include information about deadlines for ordering, especially during the holidays, supply chain issues or other delays or busy times.

  • Explains options: Shipping policies typically list all available shipping methods and how much they cost. This allows customers to compare their options, especially based on where they live and helps protect the company from complaints.

  • Helps customers: Offering a shipping policy may help customers feel more comfortable shopping with an organization. It creates a sense of transparency and honesty, helping customers know what to expect from the shopping experience, which may provide them with peace of mind.

  • Protects the company: A shipping policy helps protect companies from customer complaints, particularly those regarding charges and delivery times. Including additional details about damages, returns, exchanges and international shipping may help further protect your organization.

  • Reduces inquiries: Customers may send frequent inquiries about the status of the order and when they may expect it to ship. Displaying a shipping policy may reduce the number of requests an organization receives, allowing their customer service representatives to focus on more complex matters.

Related: 26 E-Commerce Marketing Tips

How to write a shipping policy

Here are the steps to follow for how to write a shipping policy:

1. Determine shipping rates and costs

Prepare a list of the standard shipping rates and costs. This helps customers calculate their final total before completing their purchase. Be sure to include information about costs varying by location, especially for international shipping. It's also important to list if you offer free shipping and, if so, what the qualifications are to receive it.

2. List shipping methods

List each of the shipping methods you offer, such as the different carriers you work with and the different services of theirs you use. Provide the expected delivery times for each of these methods. Emphasize that the delivery times are an estimate, not a guarantee, to help manage customer expectations.

Related: 6 Benefits of Offering Expedited Shipping to Customers

3. Discuss shipping restrictions

Include a section that reviews some of the restrictions your organization has based on places where it may not deliver to or what it can and can't ship. For example, some companies and carriers won't deliver to P.O. boxes or certain countries. Similarly, some organizations may not send certain types of products to particular places based on local regulations.

4. Address lost or missing packages

Explain what you want customers to do if their package is missing or lost. While this often happens because of external forces, such as shipping issues or delivery problems, it's helpful for your organization to discuss this. It provides customers with added peace of mind and direction for what to do and how to report the incident.

5. Review international shipping

Provide additional information about international shipping policies. Create a detailed list that explains which carriers you use for specific countries. It's also important to discuss whether the organization or the customer is responsible for paying customs and import duties, international taxes or other similar fees.

6. Mention returns and exchanges

Discuss your general return and exchange policy. While many organizations create separate policies for shipping and returns and exchanges, this may be helpful for customers to include some information together. Include details like what you require customers to do to mail their items back and when they may expect to receive a refund or a new item.

7. Publish your policy

Review your shipping policy, and confirm all the information you included is correct. Once you finalize your policy, upload it to your website. Consider creating a separate page for it and including it on pages where the information may be useful to shoppers. Also, explore the tools some e-commerce platforms may offer for generating and publishing your shipping policies.

Tips for writing a shipping policy

Consider these tips to help you create a shipping policy effectively:

Update it often

Treat your shipping policy as an evolving document. Be sure to review it and update it often, especially if your organization makes policy changes or experiences supply chain issues. At a minimum, aim to review it at least every six months.

Explain delays

As you update your shipping policy, consider featuring special alerts that further explain these delays. Discuss how the company is responding to the challenges, and provide the customers with their options in response, such as waiting for delayed delivery or requesting a refund. Be sure to thank customers for their patience and understanding, and encourage them to contact you with any additional questions.

Display it in multiple places

Ensure your shipping policy is easy for customers to access and understand. Some common places to include a link to your policy include your main website bar, the website footer, individual product pages and within frequently asked question pages. Another place to include a link may be during checkout when listing the different shipping options for customers to select.

Add visuals

Consider using visuals on your shipping policy page. For example, include a map that features a color code that reflects estimated delivery times based on locations. This may help balance out the amount of text on the page and provide customers with another way to understand the information.

Related: What Is an Infographic?

Use a FAQ format

Think about writing your shipping policing in a FAQ format with headers for each question. This may help separate your content into smaller sections and assist customers with finding the information they need more easily. Depending on your website, consider using web design elements to create a graphic that allows users to toggle open answers by selecting their desired answer from a menu. This may help them better focus on the information they need.

Include tables

Try creating charts and tables to best display your shipping methods. This allows users to compare their options based on their location, budget and desired delivery date. A table may also help organize the information effectively and balance some of the other blocks of text on the page.

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