A shipping policy is a great way to help customers understand how and when their orders are going to be delivered, as well as how much it’s going to cost them.
Being transparent about your shipping procedures helps build loyalty for your brand, reduces cart abandonment and can lower the volume of email queries from concerned customers.
Here’s how you can polish up your shipping policy, and use it to support your online sales.
What is a Shipping Policy exactly?
A shipping policy is a document that outlines important shipping information such as costs, methods, delivery times, and return policies.
This document should be easily accessible to your customers, so it’s best to dedicate a page on your website to it, and ensure that it’s prominently visible.
Why Do You Need a Shipping Policy?
Being open and transparent about your shipping procedures can benefit your business in a few important ways, such as:
1. It Builds Trust
Getting people to buy from your online store is all about building trust.
While physical stores have the advantage of face-to-face interaction, ecommerce businesses have fewer opportunities to establish a relationship with their customers. The information you provide on your website is vital to showing people that you’re trustworthy.
Customers appreciate a business that’s open and honest about how long shipping is going to take, and how much it’s going to cost.
The more transparent your brand is with your customers, the better your relationship will be with them.
2. It Reduces Cart Abandonment
There’s nothing quite as disappointing as filling up your online shopping cart, hitting that ‘Buy Now’ button, and finding a $50 shipping charge has been added to your order. It feels like a betrayal, and it causes many people to abandon their carts at the last minute.
When you provide a clear policy outlining shipping charges before your customer starts shopping, you can reduce the chances of this ‘shipping shock’, and therefore lower your cart abandonment rate.
The more informed your customers are about your policies, the less likely they are to be caught off-guard.
3. It Informs Customers about Delivery Times
Anticipation is a good thing; uncertainty is not.
You usually get a few days grace before your customers start feeling nervous about whether their order is going to arrive or not. (At least, you used to.)
A clear shipping policy will keep customers in the loop as to what to expect and when to expect it. People are typically a lot more patient when they know the plan, which will keep them a lot more satisfied with your brand, too.
You’ll also save time, now that you don’t have to answer calls and emails from concerned customers about when their deliveries are going to arrive.
4. It Offers Peace of Mind
Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes deliveries get damaged or lost, while other times customers aren’t satisfied with their purchase and wish to make a return.
Offer peace of mind to your customers by clearly explaining how your business manages returns or damaged goods, such as warranties, shipping insurance, and so forth. The more information you share with them, the safer they’ll feel about making a purchase.
Where Should You Put Your Shipping Policy?
Hiding your shipping policies won’t win you any friends.
Your shipping information should be easily accessible to anyone visiting your online store. Make it simple for your customers to find out how much they’ll be spending on shipping, or they may be less inclined to spend at all.
Try to put your policy somewhere obvious so that your customers don’t have to search too hard to find it. Consider including it in your main menu, or add a prominent link to the top or bottom of your page.
Notice how easy it is to find the policy on their websites?
Christmas World has a link both at the top and the bottom of their website (also close to the page for Tracking Orders), while Nordlife has it right in the middle of their main website navigation menu.
What Should You Include in Your Policy?
Make sure that your policy is as clear and concise as possible, while still offering all the shipping information your customers need to know, such as:
Many customers visit a store with a clear budget already established in their minds. By making your shipping charges clear from the beginning, you make it easier for your customers to stick to their budget so that they don’t get a nasty surprise when it’s time to pay.
Help your customers make an informed decision about their online spending by setting out shipping costs before they start shopping. This can reduce the chances of cart abandonment.
Here’s one that’s often overlooked. Many customers can be caught off-guard by exchange rates, so make it easy for them by stating clearly what currency you’re using to quote shipping costs.
It’s a simple matter of adding ‘AUD’ ‘USD’ ‘EUR’ etc. to the end of all your prices, and/or the appropriate currency symbols.
Misjudging currency can result in cart abandonment, so make it clear on every page, including your shipping policy to avoid misunderstandings before they occur.
If you offer a deal on shipping, it’s important that your customers know about it before they start shopping.
For example, if your business offers free shipping on orders over $99, it’s much easier to start a customer off with the goal of spending at least $99, than it is to encourage a customer to go back to earn the deal.
Many websites display their shipping deals at the top of every page so that their customers don’t miss it.
If you offer several shipping methods, you should outline each method along with the costs and delivery times.
Consider offering this information in table format so that you can clearly show your customers the price of each option, and how long it’s going to take. This allows your customers to easily compare their options.
Customers like to know when their package is going to arrive, but this can get a little tricky if you accept international orders (especially with recent restrictions).
You should offer estimates for domestic and international shipping so that your customers can know when to expect their delivery. Don’t forget that if you offer multiple shipping methods, you’ll have to include estimates for each of these in every country that you ship to.
Some businesses take longer than others to process and ship an item. Be upfront with your customers about how long they can expect between paying for their order, and the order actually being shipped out.
If you offer same-day shipping, be sure to outline the order cut-off time for it to be shipped on the same day.
Many businesses require orders to be placed before 3:00pm on a business day or else it will be shipped on the next business day.
International shipping is typically more expensive and more time consuming than domestic shipping. As a result, businesses that offer international shipping are likely to have some restrictions on their policies.
Some shipping methods such as ‘same day delivery’ won’t be available to international customers, while free shipping is usually only offered to domestic orders.
It’s best to clearly spell these restrictions out on your website so that customers aren’t disappointed when they find out they’re not eligible.
Return and Exchange Information
Many businesses have a separate page for their returns policy, but it’s a good idea to at least mention it in your shipping policy.
Here you may wish to explain the conditions for which a return will be accepted, how long it will take to process a refund, and whether your customers can expect money back or store credit. If you choose to outline the product returns process on a separate page, you should at least include a link to that page in this section.
It’s easier for your customers to trust your business when they know that you have an established returns policy.
Missing or Lost Packages
Unfortunately, things aren’t always going to go right, and sometimes a package gets lost or damaged.
Make it easy for your customers to know what to do in this situation. Include your contact information along with clear instructions on how to report a lost or damaged package.
Knowing that there are established protocols for managing these unfortunate circumstances is a great way to offer your customers peace of mind, while showing that you’re prepared to manage any problems that may arise with their order.
Be Honest About Your Shipping Policies
Transparency is key when it comes to building trust and loyalty with your customers, and that goes for your shipping policies as well. Surprise shipping costs can lead to cart abandonment, so be upfront and honest with your customers about how you handle shipping.
The more clearly you explain your processes, and the more easily your customers can access that information, the more comfortable they’ll feel in buying from you.
Use a shipping policy they can trust, by shipping with a company you can trust
With Transdirect you can get instant quotes from the best carriers in the industry. This means you can work out which carrier is best for your business, while making it easy to set out shipping costs and delivery times for your customers.