Taking the leap into the eCommerce world and launching an online store is truly an exciting accomplishment. As a business owner entering this world, you undoubtedly have countless aspects to manage. Amidst these responsibilities, one that should never be overlooked is the shipping policy.
By understanding the significance of shipping policies, businesses and consumers alike can experience a smoother process regarding order fulfillment and delivery expectations.
This article will explore the importance of having a well-defined shipping policy. We’ll explain how to create a stellar shipping policy and provide examples of successful stores.
What is a Shipping Policy?
A shipping policy page explains how an eCommerce business handles the delivery of its products to customers’ doorsteps. It is an integral part of your website content checklist. It includes various details, which we’ll cover in more detail below. Nowadays, having a shipping policy has become an integral part of any online store.
In short, it is the backbone of the fulfillment process and helps reduce customer service inquiries.
Types of Shipping Policies
There are many different types of shipping policies, depending on the size and complexity of a business. From basic to more advanced, here are some of the most common:
- Free Shipping Policy: This means all items on the website ship at no additional cost to customers. Offering free shipping can greatly boost sales volume by removing any hesitation related to checkout.
- Flat Rate Shipping Policy: With this policy, all deliveries are charged at the same rate, irrespective of weight or destination. This allows customers to calculate their total cost easily before making purchases.
- Real-Time Carrier Rates Policy: This policy entails calculating prices dynamically during checkout. It is based on factors like product weight or destination zip code & aligning them with carrier rates (such as UPS).
Why Your Site Needs a Shipping Policy
Ever ordered a product online, only to be met with surprise shipping costs right before completing the purchase? Frustrating, right? Having clear information about shipping is vital for setting expectations upfront. It makes customers feel informed and in total control.
This fosters trust between customers and your brand, improving their overall experience. Of course, a good customer experience increases the likelihood of them returning to your site in the future.
Boosting Sales With Clear Policies
Knowledge is power – this holds true when it comes to online shopping as well! Confident consumers who know what they’re getting into will more likely complete their purchases. By providing clarity on shipping, you can reduce cart abandonment rates.
Compliance with Legal Requirements
Being transparent and specific about how you ship products isn’t just good customer service. It’s also necessary for adherence to various domestic or international regulations. Without providing this information, you’re leaving your business open to fines or legal action.
What Should You Include in a Shipping Policy?
You probably already know the basics of a shipping policy. It should provide detailed explanations regarding the carriers used (e.g., USPS or UPS). There should also be an estimated delivery time frame based on various zones. You can add the levels of service provided (standard vs. expedited) and associated fees per distinct region, if any.
International Shipping Considerations
Items sent overseas often come with additional factors like customs duties & taxes. These may further increase costs borne by end consumers. Acknowledging specific scenarios in advance prepares customers mentally for possible extra costs. Key information like this prevents unpleasant surprises later on.
Possible Delays Due to Unforeseen Circumstances
You want to set realistic expectations about arrival dates. Factors such as adverse weather conditions or customs inspections can impact delivery timelines. Outlining how unforeseen circumstances are dealt with can lead to better customer understanding.
Refund or shipping cost waivers if timelines are not met
It’s a grand gesture to publicly commit to waiving shipping fees or offering refunds if set timelines aren’t met. It helps reinforce customer trust and showcases your commitment to top-notch service levels.
Order Processing Details
Outline the time taken to process an order once received, prior to handing it over to carriers. Include details like business days and hours of operation during which orders are actioned. This is especially relevant for products requiring customization or assembly before shipping.
Shipment Tracking Information
Nothing says “I care about your purchase” more than keeping customers up-to-date. You can do so easily by sharing tracking information. Provide regular progress updates and expected dates for delivery promptly. Doing so helps customers feel more secure, knowing their precious cargo is en route.
Return & Exchange Policies
Instruct customers on how they can initiate returns or exchanges within specific timeframes. Explain the duration and mode of reimbursement after receiving the returned merchandise. That can include methods such as store credit or refund through the original payment method.
Customer Support Information
Address avenues for reaching out in case of questions or concerns regarding shipping, such as:
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Helpdesk URLs
- Live chat windows
Having FAQ sections available handy, along with chatbot support, can expedite first-contact resolutions. It saves your resources and prevents your customer’s frustrations.
Now that you’re armed with all this information about shipping policies, it’s time to go ahead and fine-tune yours!
How to Create a Shipping Policy
Think about the last time you shopped online. Before making that final purchase, did you check the shipping policy? Chances are, you did. As an eCommerce business owner, creating a transparent and reliable shipping policy is not something you can afford to ignore.
Here are a few steps to help you create your own shipping policy:
Step 1: Understand your shipping requirements and options
Start by analyzing your products’ characteristics, such as weight, size, and fragility. Understanding these attributes will help determine the suitable packing materials and methods required. Next, evaluate any regulatory or packing requirements that your products might have. Especially if you’re selling perishable or hazardous items.
You might also want to identify where most of your customer base resides. Catering to both domestic and international buyers will require different logistics strategies.
Step 2: Choose your shipping methods and carriers
When choosing carriers for your eCommerce business, consider factors like rates, delivery timeframes, and reliability. Do extensive research on potential carriers’ features. After all, their performance directly impacts customer satisfaction. Maybe UPS and FedEx are the go-to carriers for most eCommerce companies, but they might not be the right option for your business. Investigate regional carriers or third-party logistics providers (3PLs).
Be mindful of the most popular delivery preferences among customers. You can then find suitable shipping methods within each carrier’s offerings.
Step 3: Determine the pricing strategy
Shipping costs can greatly influence customers’ purchasing decisions. As such, it’s crucial to devise a pricing strategy that works well for both parties involved. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Offer free shipping for orders over a specific amount or use it as an incentive for repeat purchases.
- Implement flat rate or real-time carrier-calculated rates based on product characteristics.
- Consider offering promotions or discounts during peak seasons. Black Friday or Cyber Monday are great opportunities to boost sales!
- Create tiered pricing models based on geographical location, weight, size of the package, and more.
- Take into account international shipping costs and special taxes or duties.
Ultimately, your goal should be to provide customers with an easy way to understand the costs associated with their orders.
Step 4: Outline order processing and delivery timeframes
When establishing order processing and delivery timeframes, specify the processing time required before shipment to set realistic delivery expectations for customers. Indicate expected delivery windows based on selected shipping methods. For instance, if you offer overnight shipping, let customers know when they can expect their order.
Order tracking is another essential in keeping customers informed about their purchases. To promote transparency, you should clearly explain the order tracking process. Explain how users can access online account information where order statuses are updated. Alternatively, provide order tracking numbers that customers can use to track orders on carrier sites.
Step 5: Craft your returns and refunds policy
As it is often said, exceptional customer service starts with a great returns policy. Include the following elements in yours:
- Set reasonable limits for return timelines (e.g., 30 or 60 days) and conditions for returned items (original packaging, unused condition).
- Decide upon refund methods (store credit, cashback, etc.) and whether to include a restocking fee.
- Provide pre-paid return labels if it fits your business model.
- Establish clear procedures for handling damaged or lost packages.
Step 6: Draft your shipping policy document
It’s writing time! Once you’ve laid out all of these decisions, create your shipping policy document. This should contain a comprehensive list of everything you declared above. You can also add any additional information that could be relevant. It’s important to consider the following when creating your document:
- Use clear and concise wording throughout.
- Avoid technical jargon and legalistic language.
- Make sure to include the shipping policy header, description, and contact information sections.
- Consider adding links to offer more information about related topics such as returns and refunds.
- Provide customers with an option to download the shipping policy in a PDF format.
- Consider enlisting the help of a lawyer to review and approve the document for accuracy.
Step 7: Display policy on your website
Your well-crafted shipping policy deserves proper placement on your website. You want to ensure easy access for potential buyers, so consider placing it in multiple locations. Naturally, it should be accessible from checkout pages. This allows customers to review shipping details before completing their purchase.
Footer links are another common location where visitors look for important policies. And the FAQ section can help address common customer inquiries related to shipping. Finally, all versions of your policy have a mobile-friendly format.
The Best Plugins To Create Your Shipping Policy
An eCommerce store’s effective shipping policy is a culmination of all the steps discussed earlier. As you can see, things can get quite complex if you have multiple products and policies. Lucky for you, plugins are here to save the day – Let’s look at some top plugins that can help create a versatile and efficient shipping policy.
WooCommerce Advanced Free Shipping
WooCommerce Advanced Free Shipping plugin offers custom shipping rates based on weight, dimensions, or order value. As the name suggests, it works for online stores running on WordPress & WooCommerce. It allows you to define precise pricing rules per zone and make adjustments as needed.
Table Rate Shipping for WooCommerce
Another great choice for WooCommerce users is Table Rate Shipping. This plugin provides flexible table rate shipping options tailored to your needs. It seamlessly integrates with your existing WooCommerce settings.
Termly will allow you to generate a shipping policy for free for your eCommerce site, SaaS, or any online store. The shipping policy generator can be used for any type of business, is highly customizable, and is easy to add to your website.
Inspiring Shipping Policy Examples to Learn From
Before starting your work, explore examples from these popular brands to inspire you.
Amazon is known worldwide for offering various options (Carrier Choices, Same-Day Delivery, etc.). They have earned a reputation as a leading online retailer by tailoring shipping options tailored to user needs.
With services like Amazon Locker or Hub Counter for easy pick-up, convenience is at the core of their shipping offerings.
As you can see from their shipping policy page, they offer a wide range of shipping services, neatly split into various topics. Everything is clearly outlined, making it easy for customers to understand and select the right option for them. It’s also easy to reach the refund section from the shipping policy page.
Zappos is another company known for its stellar customer experience. Their shipping approach mirrors this focus by offering free shipping on all purchases and returns. This hassle-free return process makes the shopping experience even more enjoyable for customers. On their website, customers can find clear instructions on how to initiate a return, which eases the process and saves time.
In addition, they efficiently handle disputes through clear instructions and readily available contact information. The shipping policy is accessible directly through the shop/seller’s profile page. As such, customers can quickly review it before committing to a purchase.
Warby Parker encourages online sales by allowing customers to try products at home before purchasing. This trust-building approach creates a positive shopping experience, resulting in long-term customer loyalty. The more comprehensive shipping policy is located in their FAQ section.
Using Kadence WP to Create a Perfect Shipping Policy Page
Kadence WP is an all-in-one solution for creating a professional WordPress shipping policy. It provides feature-rich products like themes, plugins, and a powerful block editor for a seamless web-building experience.
Kadence Blocks makes it simple to design an attractive website layout. Adding informative sections, images, or icons using the available blocks allows you to create eye-catching designs without any coding required. The editor is used by many professional web designers, so your website will look modern and attractive.
If you’re short on time, choose from a wide range of customizable themes to ensure your website matches your brand identity. Or opt for starter templates that streamline the content population by providing quick and easy solutions.
The time spent researching, strategizing, and implementing an exceptional shipping policy will pay off in the long run. It will enhance customer satisfaction and trust in your brand. Keep these steps handy as you embark on this vital aspect of eCommerce success!
To create a visually striking and functional website, harness the power of Kadence WP’s vast array of products and features. With our platform, you’ll be able to form an engaging interface that keeps customers informed. Whether it’s a shipping policy page or any other content on your site, get started today!
Each week, the team at iThemes team publishes new WordPress tutorials and resources, including the Weekly WordPress Vulnerability Report. Since 2008, iThemes has been dedicated to helping you build, maintain, and secure WordPress sites for yourself or for clients. Our mission? Make People’s Lives Awesome.