How to write a shipping policy for you eCommerce store

How to Write A Crystal-Clear Shipping Policy

So, you’ve enticed your customers to purchase, and they’re excited about receiving their product. Although it can feel like there’s nothing to do but wait, this in-between period is covered by your shipping and handling policy.

A shipping policy outlines your official procedure for distributing consumer goods. As an eCommerce store, it’s important to have a robust shipping policy. It helps your customers feel confident that their order will arrive and helps them know what to do if it doesn’t.  

Read on to learn more about how a shipping and handling policy is written and what details need to be included. Plus I added a template you can customize.

How to Write a Shipping Policy for Your eCommerce Store

First and foremost, you should communicate your policies in plain English. Avoid legal or overly complicated language. Write in short, punchy sentences that get to the point.

It’s tempting to use policies as an opportunity to protect yourself and your business. However, your policies can accomplish that while still being customer-centric. Keep your writing positive and light and send a clear message that you’ll do what you can to ensure they have a great experience.

When writing your shipping policy, make it clear if different products have different shipping policies. For example, if it takes you an extra day to create personalized items, make sure that’s communicated in the expected arrival time.

One good way to do this is to look at businesses similar to yours and review their shipping and handling policies. This might offer some good inspiration on how to write your policy clearly and effectively.

Your shipping policy should be easy to find. The best places to link to your policy include your website footer, FAQ page, return policy page, at checkout, in the order confirmation email, and in the customer care section.

Which Details Should I Include in My Shipping Policy?

There are a few key aspects that should be included in your shipping and handling policy.

Handling time

Handling, also known as fulfillment, is defined as the time between when the order is placed and when the order is shipped. It’s common for personalized, customized, and fragile items to have longer handling times.

Expected Arrival Time

The expected arrival time is the specific date or date range that they can expect their package to arrive. For example, if you offer same-day shipping, but have two-day handling time, you’ll want to make it clear that their purchase still has an expected arrival time of three days.

You never know when your customer is ordering for a special occasion or birthday. Make it clear before their purchase if they have options to decrease their wait time like rush shipping.

Shipping Costs

If you can, you should consider a free shipping option. For early-planner customers, they might be willing to wait for their package if they can save a few dollars on shipping.

Of course, offering free shipping isn’t always feasible due to long-distance shipping or size. Make it clear how much the shipping cost is before they check out.

International Shipping – Custom and Duties

As mentioned above – international shipping can incur extra delivery fees. Sometimes your package will need to clear customs, which adds to the cost of shipping. If this is something that applies, make it clear to your customer upfront.

Shipping Carrier

Once your customer checks out – there are two ways to notify them of their shipping details. Once they order their package, you can send them to a landing page that includes all the information they need about their purchase. You should also send them an automated email with this same information for safekeeping.

Make it clear which shipping carrier you use (USPS, FedEx, etc.) – as well as a tracking number if you offer it. Having this open line of communication can help both you and the customer keep an eye on the purchase while it’s in transit.

Any Special Rules, Restrictions, and Exclusions

Depending on your product, you might have special rules and restrictions around your shipping and handling policy.

For example, subscription box services often only ship out on certain days of the month. Other businesses may not be amenable to deliver to P.O. boxes.

Think about your business and the products you offer and consider if there are any restrictions or exclusions you’d like to include in your policy.

And Finally, What to Do If the Package Gets Lost

Sometimes despite all your hard effort, the package gets lost along the way. The shipping policy should cover instructions on how to contact you, and what steps you take once you receive this bad news.

Even if the package arrives safely, sometimes the product gets damaged in the process. In this case, you switch to following your returns and exchanges policy.

Examples of Great Shipping Policies

This article by Shippo offers a few examples of great shipping policies. In general, we’d recommend finding businesses similar to yours and reviewing their policies. If your policy aligns with theirs, they can be a great source of inspiration.

I also included a template here that you can use. Make sure to customize and tweak it to match your needs and brand personality.

Shipping Policy Template

Thanks for visiting [website name]. We’re super excited that you chose to shop with us.

Domestic Shipping

Shipment Processing Time

Orders are processed and shipped within [number] business days. Please note that orders are not shipped or delivered on weekends and holidays. [Let customers know if you’re currently experiencing delays due to high volume].

Shipping Rates and Estimated Arrival Time

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee estimated arrival times. Circumstances out of our control, like weather delays, can impact the delivery time.

Shipment Method Estimated Arrival Time Shipping Cost
Standard Shipping 3-5 Business Days Free
Two-Day Shipping 2 Business Days $4.99
One-Day Shipping 1-2 Business Days $14.99

Please Note:

Business days exclude weekends and holidays. Items of [weight] can’t be shipping via two-day or one-day shipping.

P.O. Boxes and APO/FPO Addresses

We’re happy to let you know that we do ship to P.O. boxes and APO/FPO addresses.

Customs, Duties, and Taxes

There might be customs, duties, and taxes applied to your order that you’ll be responsible for. The customer is responsible for all fees that are applied during and after shipping.

International Shipping Policy

[Add here to which countries you’re shipping].

Shipping Method Estimated Arrival Time Shipping Cost
International Shipping Up to 8 Business Days $9.99

Damages and Lost Packages

If your order arrives damaged or if it is lost in transit, please reach out to us via [business email]. We’ll do our best to make it right.

Shipping Address Change

If you need to change your shipping address, please email [business e-mail].

Return Policy

To return or exchange and item, please visit our Return, Refunds and Exchanges Policy.

Do you feel ready to write your own shipping policy? If you’ve got any questions – let me know in the comments!