Shipping is one of the most essential stages of the whole life cycle of an eCommerce business and has a huge impact on overall user experience.
Indeed, it is vital to the point that it can make or break your business. That implies, a well-researched and comprehensive shipping policy is inevitable for your thriving business.
A good shipping policy is the secret sauce for the vulnerable eCommerce industry. More transparent and inclusive it is, better is the response of the customers; because a robust shipping policy indicates that the seller is doing business responsibly and aspires to give the best service possible to its customers. It just doesn’t help you keep your clientele intact but also improves the conversion rate.
Shipping policy of every business will be different depending on the specifications of the product that includes type, weight and dimension, the reach of its customer base like international vs local, and various shipping options available. A well-researched shipping policy is your ticket to smoother transition of your products from your manufacturing unit to the doorstep of your customer.
A shipping policy is best when it can ensure that the customers wouldn’t encounter any surprises in the end. Please understand that a bad shipping episode could mean that you will not see that customer again. On the other hand, over-delivering on the logistics experience of the customer is capable of winning you their ultimate loyalty.
So, here we are with a concise guide to help you understand the most fundamental components of a shipping policy that you can implement right away to your eCommerce store:
Estimated delivery lead time
The time passed between, after the customer has placed the order till it finally reaches them is the delivery lead time. That includes the duration taken to manufacture or source the product, packaging time, transit schedule and also the span taken to make the final delivery (It might take more than one attempt).
Based on the estimated delivery lead time, sellers give a tentative date of delivery to customers. It is more suitable always to keep some extra days in hand, in case of certain contingencies occurring. The best experience for customers is when the tentative date of delivery matches the actual date of delivery or even before that. As soon as the package is available for the final delivery, the customer should get a call enquiring them about their availability to receive the package at the earliest.
Many times sellers give their customers an option of standard delivery and express delivery. As the name suggests, express delivery is an option which customers can choose for a faster and quality delivery of the good.
Express deliveries are usually pre-insured, provide real time updates about the package-in-transit and spare up to 4 delivery attempts to the customer. Naturally, there are extra costs attached to it. It is recommended to indicate clearly what carrier services and what mail classes you employ for standard shipping and express shipping.
Once the customer has placed the order, they eagerly wait for the delivery. Therefore, it is best to keep them abreast with every stage.
Your shipping policy should duly cover the handling time and charges if any. Handling time indicate that time which starts after the product is manufactured till it gets shipped. It includes time taken for quality check, packaging, and approving for dispatch.
Please do mention in your shipping policy if there are any handling charges that will be levied on the customers post the delivery. Handling charges in the usual case include cost of material used for packaging and the labor involved for doing the packing.
A tracking policy in place is very imperative for goods-in-transit. You can provide a web link or a docket number to customers to keep themselves informed about where exactly is the product. When did it start from the source city and through which mode? When will it reach the destination city? Etc.
You must provide the contact details of the carrier service used for the transit to the customers. Tracking policy should clearly mention how many attempts to deliver the product would be made. And, how can a customer raise a ticket in case the product is returned due to failed delivery and they would still like the product to be sent to them.
When people buy products online, a proficient return policy becomes mandatory in order to encourage them to do the purchase because it guarantees them in a way that if they do not like the product they can always return it back to the seller.
Return policy should include details like:
- How many days after the delivery the buyer must raise a request for return
- Ways to escalate a request for return
- If the customer has to pack the product for returning
- How to pack the product that has to be returned
- Who will bear the cost of return
- If the product is a prepaid one and the product turns out to be faulty, in that case will the customer get an exchange or refund?
- Which carrier service is used for return
It is necessary to be very candid about the return policies and the terms and conditions of it; because a loose knit return policy can highly discourage the prospective customers, and affect the business on a downside.
Taxes come into the scene in a bigger way, more often than not, when there is international delivery involved. Especially, when the custom value of the product crosses the permissible threshold value for the imports.
Also, the taxation on manufacturing and shipping of different products coming from different industries may vary. For example, luxury goods or fashion products are usually taxed higher when imported.
Your shipping policy should clearly distinguish the extra charges on the product that will be levied due to specific taxes involved in a particular country or due to a particular category. Other crucial details would include How is that cost calculated country wise? Who would pay that cost? The cost will be paid along with the product cost or it will be paid on delivery, etc.?
Insurance is a very significant element of a shipping policy. A seller must educate its customers’ about the benefits of insuring a product. Many sellers keep insurance compulsory and there are other who want the customers to opt for the insurance and purchase it.
The insurance policy should bring out all the necessary details that include which insurance company is hired for the service. Other details like what is covered in the insurance like theft, damage, fire, etc and what is not should be a part of the policy.
Self-explanatory shipping policies do much more than just simplify your shipping process. It provides your customers with the details they need to decide whether they want to make a purchase from your business.
A bad shipping policy might just discourage a prospective customer. Therefore, make sure your shipping policy has the potential to bring you greater conversions, as well as, keep your customers satisfied and happy as ever.