Shipping as a small business can feel overwhelming, but don't worry! Whether you're a new business owner or you're taking your brick-and-mortar store online, we've got you covered when it comes to setting up your shipping policy.\r\n\r\nBy providing your customers with a clear, detailed shipping policy upfront, you can build trust and establish a positive reputation for your business. We'll walk you through what a shipping policy is, why you need one, and what to include. That way, you can get your business set up for success and avoid some of the common shipping mistakes new business owners and entrepreneurs make.\r\nUnderstanding a shipping policy\r\nBefore you create your own shipping policy, it's important that you understand what they're all about. In short, a shipping policy is a document or website page where you provide shipping details like shipping costs and expected delivery times. It will also cover things like your exchange, return, and refund policies.\r\n\r\nCustomers want to be made aware of any additional costs and how long they'll have to wait for their order to arrive before they start shopping. Otherwise, they could end up having to go through the entire checkout process only to find that you don't ship to their location or that the shipping costs are prohibitively expensive. This could result in a disappointed customer and loss of potential sales.\r\nWhy does my business need a shipping policy?\r\nThere are a number of reasons why you should consider creating a shipping policy for your business. The major reason is to build and maintain customer trust.\r\n\r\nNot only is a shipping policy designed to communicate information and set customer expectations, but it's also a place where you can provide different shipping options for your customer to choose from. According to the Deloitte 2019 holiday retail survey, 67 per cent of customers who choose the express shipment option want to receive their order in two days or less. Many customers will even compare your shipping costs and delivery times to those of another business, especially if what you sell can be purchased elsewhere. This means that you need to provide multiple shipping options in order to stay competitive and keep your customers satisfied.\r\n\r\nEvery product-based business should have a shipping policy, even if you're not fulfilling the orders yourself. For example, if you sell products using dropshipping, where someone else is responsible for order fulfilment, packaging, and shipment, it's still your responsibility as the seller to provide shipping information to your customers. \r\n\r\nA good shipping policy will communicate all the necessary information to ensure customer satisfaction as well as to protect your business if a customer should complain about shipping costs or delivery times. A shipping policy can also help you avoid answering repetitive questions from customers about when their order will arrive, since your policy will already go over everything they need to know in detail.\r\nWhat should my shipping policy include?\r\nEvery shipping policy is a little different. While you get to decide what goes in your company's shipping policy and how detailed to make it, here are the things that you should consider, including: \r\nShipping costs and rates\r\nOne of the biggest factors for customers when they are deciding whether to make a purchase is the amount of money they'll have to pay for shipping. Your shipping policy should lay out how much a customer can expect to pay for shipping costs based on their location, order size, and other factors. You can also provide different shipping options like standard shipping and expedited shipping, depending on how soon they would like to receive their order and how much they are willing to pay. You may want to provide shipping insurance for an additional fee as well.\r\nShipping methods and delivery time\r\nYour shipping policy should identify which shipping carrier you will use and what their processing and delivery times are like. If you ship with multiple carriers, list each option so that your customers can choose the one that works best for them.\r\nShipping restrictions\r\nSometimes business owners come up against restrictions in terms of where they can sell their products. These things are often outside of your control, like local laws and legislation around shipping certain kinds of items. Make sure to go over any shipping restrictions in your policy.\r\nMissing or lost packages\r\nWhile you hope that your packages never get lost in the mail, it's best to reassure your customer ahead of time by providing information on what they need to do if their package doesn't arrive. This can include details like who to contact and what information they'll need to provide.\r\nLocal shipping\r\nWhether you're an online business only or you also have a brick-and-mortar store, offering additional options like local delivery or free store pickup can be a great way to eliminate the cost of shipping for your customers. Go over your local delivery coverage so that customers can check if they are eligible based on their street address. List your pick-up location and provide a map. You can also include information on how long it will take for their order to be prepared and when and how they can pick it up.\r\nInternational shipping\r\nIf you want to sell to international customers, it's important that you do your research so that you can communicate what kind of international shipping costs your customer might incur based on their destination country. Include a list of countries you ship to, which shipping carrier you use for each country, and whether you or your customer is responsible for any additional shipping charges that may be incurred for international delivery.\r\nCustoms and taxes\r\nThe last thing you want is for your customer to pay for their order only to be hit with unexpected fees when it arrives for things like customs, duties, or taxes. Go over what the fees will be, depending on their location, and make sure to mention who is responsible for paying them so that your customers don't feel caught off guard.\r\nReturn policy and exchange information\r\nA great way to make sure online shoppers can trust your business is by being clear about your refund policy, including any additional return shipping costs. Shopping online can be risky, so customers want to be reassured that they have options if they aren't satisfied with the product they receive. Also, make sure to cover details like when the order needs to be returned by, how to initiate a return, and how long it will take for your customer to receive their refund.\r\nWhat is a good shipping policy?\r\nAs long as it covers all the things that we've just gone over and is communicated clearly in language your customer can understand, your shipping policy will be good. Remember to make it easy for potential customers to find your shipping policy as well and try to design it in a way that goes with your company’s branding and aesthetic.\r\n\r\nYou can also get inspiration from existing shipping policy examples by looking at how big companies set up their shipping policies. They will most likely include all the necessary information as well as give you an idea of how you can lay out your shipping policy visually. You could even use a free shipping policy template, which can be found online.\r\nDo I need a shipping policy?\r\nIn short, if you sell and deliver products, you need a shipping policy. It's a great way to inform customers about shipping options and set their expectations around processing times and delivery. If you don't provide this resource for customers, it can negatively impact the customer experience and result in fewer return customers. Not only does a robust shipping policy put your customers at ease, it's also an effective way to protect your business by providing all the necessary information ahead of time so you can avoid disappointing customers.\r\n\r\nIf you want to get even more on top of shipping, you might want to consider using shipping software to streamline your process and keep you organized.\r\n\r\nNow that you've got all the best shipping tips for small businesses, you're ready to start this new chapter in your business with confidence.