What is a Shipping Policy?

Nov 2, 2021
5 minute read
A woman in a safety vest and harness helps a business with their shipping processes

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.

By 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.

Understanding a shipping policy

Before 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.

Customers 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.

Why does my business need a shipping policy?

There 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.

Not 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.

Every 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. 

A 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.

What should my shipping policy include?

Every 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: 

Shipping costs and rates

One 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.

Shipping methods and delivery time

Your 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.

Shipping restrictions

Sometimes 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.

Missing or lost packages

While 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.

Local shipping

Whether you’re an online business only or you also have a brick-and-mortar store, offering additional options like local delivery or fr