- Cost of shipping and various methods of delivery (i.e., standard, expedited, same-day)
- International shipping availability
- Payment options (i.e., credit, cash, digital currencies)
- Handling time
- Delivery limitations (i.e., PO boxes)
- Additional notes and information
An ideal shipping policy is one that satisfies your customer’s questions, so they don’t have to reach out to customer support. After all, most shipping-related inquiries are merely requests for basic information about shipping costs and estimated delivery times. If you provide this information right in your policy, then you make both your lives easier.
The Anatomy of a Shipping Policy
In the example below, you will notice several critical elements that this hardware store has included in their policy—promotional information, free shipping eligibility, return policy, item tracking, and estimated delivery times. By including this information up front, the store is minimizing the number of inquiries they receive about their shipping standards.
In this case, the vendor does well to include simple graphics at the bottom of the page that communicate critical pieces of information for the reader. For instance, the graphics specify that oversized items may not be eligible for shipping and that even some clearance items are ineligible for parcel shipping.
Depending on the inventory you carry, you may want to follow in the footsteps of this example regarding freight delivery notifications. If you stock oversized items, you should include a bullet point about weight and size eligibility for parcel shipping versus freight shipping.
Empowering the Customer
A customer-focused eCommerce vendor should always go out of their way to include as many shipping options as possible for their customers. This way, they have the power to decide for themselves whether they can afford to wait a week for an “Economy” grade delivery service or pay a premium for one-day delivery for high-priority items.
Below is an example shipping policy from a popular department store. Although they provide four options for shipping, this isn’t necessary for most smaller eCommerce vendors. However, a minimum of two options—expedited and standard—is necessary to appeal to shoppers who need their product in a hurry.
Like the first example from the hardware store, this department store shipping policy includes information about oversized shipping. In this case, the customer is informed about the estimated delivery arrival date, rescheduling availability, and regional availability. If your business stocks oversized products, it’s a good idea to supply this information as well.
You may notice that this store, in their first bullet point, that this store also mentions that they restrict shipping to one address per order. Although it’s rare that customers request multiple shipping addresses in a single order, it would be wise to include an item about this in your shipping policy to avoid confusion or a potential dispute.