Whether you’re a new online business or you’ve been established for a few years, it’s important to have an easy-to-understand shipping policy on your web site. Customers want to know how and when you’ll be shipping their items, so you’ll want to be sure to spell it out on your site.
A well-thought-out shipping policy is a great way to avoid many standard questions, such as how items will ship and what the costs will be. Take the time to set up your shipping policy and you’ll help ensure that there are no surprises for your customers when it comes to receiving their merchandise.
Some suggested topics to feature in your website shipping policy include:
Standard and Expedited Shipping
Many businesses like to give their customers options when it comes to shipping. Some customers will want their items sooner and are willing to pay for an upgrade for expedited shipping. Others may want to ship their items the cheapest way possible. It’s important to indicate what carriers you work with and what mail classes you use for standard shipping and expedited shipping.
Along with the different options for shipping, make sure to outline a handling time in your shipping policy. Customers want to know when their items will ship so it’s important to provide them with a reasonable timeline and then stick to it.
Do you charge any form of handling fee for your products? Every company has operational costs and some companies will include a small fee for handling to help cover warehousing, boxes and tape costs. Make sure you offer full transparency and alert the customer what charges they’ll encounter.
Published reports state that opening up your sales to the international market can increase sales as much as 40%. But other countries have different levels of service when it comes to shipping. You need to be specific in stating which countries you will ship to. It’s also good to indicate what countries you will not ship to.
Similar to your domestic shipments, you’ll want to indicate which mail classes you use for regular shipping and expedited shipping. First-Class Mail International is an economical shipping option from the U.S. Postal Service, but it does not offer any form of package tracking or delivery confirmation. Priority Mail International includes Delivery Confirmation and usually gets to the destination address in 6 to 10 days. Other carriers like FedEx and UPS offer faster delivery service, but they are significantly more expensive.
Customers expect to be able to return an item that they’re not satisfied with. If you need to take a restocking fee, clearly spell it out in your shipping policy. Also outline who will pay for return shipping and more importantly, what mail class will be used. Foreign post costs could be 3 or 4 times the costs to ship a product back to the U.S. Since most sellers will most likely be losing a sale and will have to absorb the return shipping costs, you’ll want to know all of your options.
Shipping Discounts for Multiple Items
Sellers aren’t required to offer shipping discounts for orders that contain multiple items, but many do because it can be an excellent way to encourage buyers to purchase additional items. However, if you decide to offer a shipping discount, it’s a good idea spell out your policies thoroughly so there are no surprises after buyers push the ‘buy now’ button. Some sellers ask that buyers contact them for a combined shipping quote before completing a purchase so that they can invoice a buyer for the correct amount. Watch out for combined orders that push a package into the next level of shipping. It you sell lightweight items, it might actually be cheaper to send two First-Class Mail packages rather than one that must be shipped Priority Mail because of its combined weight.
Another thing that must be considered is how you’re going to handle shipping insurance. Some sellers choose to pay for insurance on any orders over a certain amount to eliminate any potential shipping problems. Others make insurance optional and make it the buyer’s responsibility to purchase it. No matter what option you decide to take, make sure your insurance guidelines are clearly spelled out in your shipping policy so there are no surprises for buyers.
A robust shipping policy does more than just streamline your shipping process. It provides your customers with the information they need to determine whether they want to make a purchase from your business. Take the time to ensure your shipping policy is complete.