Articles > Startups

What is a Shipping Policy?

January 24, 2021   Philip EvangelouPhillip Salakas

A shipping policy is a living document that outlines important information about the shipping process for your online business. Legally your business does not need a shipping policy to sell goods online, however, having one is standard practice for an ecommerce business.

What does a shipping policy address 

Generally speaking a shipping policy will outline how your business will ship its goods. It usually outlines delivery costs, estimates timeframes and tells your shipping restrictions.

A well drafted policy will therefore efficiently detail the following:

  • The type of freight and shipping companies your business uses 
  • The different types of services your company offers. For example whether you ship internationally, offer overnight deliveries or express services. 
  • Outline the costs of international shipping as well including customs and import duties 
  • How you plan on pricing your shipping options. For example whether you offer free shipping, use flat rates or have a calculated rate at the checkout 
  • Give a estimated calculation of how long it would take an item will take to ship 
  • List the places that you can’t deliver to for example PO boxes or countries which may prohibit your businesses goods. 
  • Outline how a customer’s product will be packaged in order to prevent damage 
  • States all the necessary customer return and exchange information
  • What happens in the event of a missing and lost package

You need to update your policy consistently, especially as your business grows. This is because as you begin to outsource from filling orders yourself to outsourcing fulfillment your shipping policy will change. This will invariably add complexity to way your logistics.  

Why do I need a shipping policy 

Consumers are actively looking to ensure the businesses they are interacting with online are trustworthy. That is why it is important to understand that the more information you provide about your shipping services the more confidence consumers have in your business.  

Hence, having a shipping policy is a great way to build trust with your consumers online and helps address their questions and concerns. Your consumers will also feel more comfortable knowing you have outlined to them your shipping process and practices. This will prevent cart abandonment and make sure your business is seen as a reputable retailer. 

Furthermore, some brands take the opportunity within their shipping policy to outline their return and product damage policy. Your shipping policy is a perfect place to have a consistent return policy that customers can refer to on your website. 

Keep in mind your business can still operate without a shipping policy. However this usually leads to more customers trying to contact your business for enquiries. A concise shipping policy on your website can prevent an overflow of shipping related calls and enquiries. This will allow your customer service branch to focus on resolving other customer related issues and not shipping questions.

To sum up

  • Shipping policies in Australia are not a legal requirement, but are still standard practice for all ecommerce stores.
  • Having a shipping policy will add immense value to your business
  • It is a way to answer customer questions about your shipping process consistently

If you need any help drafting your shipping policy for your ecommerce business talk to our start-up lawyers or call us on 1300 337 997.

About Philip Evangelou

phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.

About Phillip Salakas

Phillip SalakasPhillip is completing his law degree at the University of Technology (Sydney). He worked previously with Lawpath, and Justice Action. His interests are with construction and technology law.