The importance of a clear Shipping and Returns Policy?

The one policy that rules them all

Yup… We all hate them, rules, and policies. But in business, especially retail, they play a vital role in the decision-making process. With the further rise of eCommerce, crossing borders and boundaries, it is possible to reach greater audiences. An excellent shipping and returns policy are more important than ever; it is one of the decision factors your customers will look at before purchasing. The one that rules them all…

This policy is the first touchpoint that your newly acquired expensive customer will interact with.

A shipping and return policy contains everything a customer needs to know about the shipping and return processes. It explains the timeframes, the carriers, and other details you, as a customer, need to know about your parcel. It sets the expectations on when a customer can expect to receive their package.

Various customer surveys have indicated that customers are only willing to purchase again if they have had a satisfactory shipping experience.

We have reviewed close to 100 shipping policies and matched them with the ratings/reviews of the stores. Below are the 6 main takeaways that need to be addressed in your shipping policy.

  1. Costs and Options
    It has been a primary decision-maker; however, the landscape is changing. Customers no longer need their packages immediately. Therefore, it is recommended that you offer various options and timeframes. When you give the customer a few options, they weigh their factors, and you don’t have to make the delivery decision for them. Rule of thumb, let the customer set their own expectations.

  2. Methods and Delivery Times
    Especially in Europe, we have a well-functioning shipping network. Each country has its own, sometimes government-owned, national shipping company, and there are some major cross-country players like DHL, FedEx, DPD, etc. However, consumers might have a preference and are willing to pay for it. Let the customer choose (and pay).

  3. Restrictions
    If you have specific restrictions, make sure that these have been listed before the customer reaches the checkout. Buying a washing machine, piano, or kitchen online? We can expect that delivery will take longer than usual. Does shipping require an elevator? Etc. If not mentioned forehand, this can result in a negative experience at the checkout, leaving the cart abandoned.

  4. Instructions
    Yup, the worst can always happen. In any situation, there is something that could go wrong. In your shipping policy, clearly explain what a customer has to do in case of an accident. For example, ensure you list what information you need to support the customer. You can do this by quickly displaying contact information and directions on how to report missing or lost packages.

  5. International Shipping
    We often ship internationally, which involves a lot of paperwork and duties. If you do so, ensure that it is clear upfront who is responsible for what. Think of international taxes, customs clearing, and other additional fees.

  6. Return Policy
    Returns… we, as consumers, have a love-and-hate relationship with them. We often order additional pairs of shoes and different sizes. To ensure we have the correct size. Consumers, especially in the fashion and shoe industry, will research how easy it will be to return or exchange an item. At what timeframe will I get my refund? Make sure that this is clearly communicated in your shipping policy.

Now that you have the shipping policy polished, it is time to ensure that the customer can easily find it. A link in the footer is a great place.

Want to go above and beyond? Here are some tips:

  • Summarize your policy in an easy language
  • Extend your return policy to 365 days.
  • Even if the return period has expired, accept returns and explain that the customer was too late, but you are happy to assist them.

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