7 min read

How To Create A Shipping & Return Policy For Your Store

🕒 August 17, 2022 by Reham Omar - 7 min read

While online and e-commerce businesses have been growing exponentially in the last couple of years, the competition in the segment also has thickened. Acquiring and retaining customers is a challenge for online and e-commerce stores and one best way to overcome that is to gain the trust and confidence of the online shoppers. Having well-written and detailed shipping and return policy that the shoppers can easily find on your store website is one customer experience element that shoppers rate well for a store. 

If you are looking for guidance to develop a shipping and return policy from scratch or to remodel and update your existing shipping policy, the following part of this blog will get you started.

What Is A Shipping Policy In Online Business?

In simple terms, a shipping policy is a compact, but clear, precise, and simple document or webpage that touches on the following vital information to guide the customer on the shipment of the order they intend to place.

  • Provide information about shipping costs and the shipping options, like express delivery, next-day delivery, standard delivery, free delivery, etc. proactively, so that customer complaints on shipping cost or shipping methods can be minimised, if not avoided, which in turn can help save your customer support resources.
  • It’s inevitable to set realistic expectations with your customers on the shipping cutoff times and shipping times for both domestic and international orders, to avoid complaints and the need for efforts to mitigate the disputes.

More details that can answer most shipping-related questions of online shoppers upfront will help you and your customers. You will consider the above elements and follow the guidelines in the later part of this blog to write a shipping policy document that works for you and your customers.

What Is A Return Policy In Online Business?

To attract customers to buy online, one of the top comforts that the e-commerce industry offers to customers is the provision to allow return or exchange of the products bought by them. A well-crafted e-commerce return policy speaks about the conditions under which customers can return products they’ve purchased from your store, whether you will exchange or refund, how much amount will be refunded, and the mode of refund. More importantly, it informs your customers about the time frame within which they can return the products. The return policy does not stand alone. The refund policy has to go with it to make a comprehensive return policy.

You need to keep the following steps in mind while creating a return policy that can give a seamless experience for both you and your customers:

  1. The timeframe for returning the product
  2. The admissible condition of the item being returned
  3. List of the actions for the customer to follow, like using  an RMA system
  4. Writing the policy document.

You will review the above steps and follow the guidelines somewhere below to enable you to create a return policy document that will be of help to you and your customers.

Guidelines For Setting Up A Successful Shipping & Return Policy

The shipping policy and return policy, while being brief and easy to understand, should be comprehensive with all required shipping information and return conditions to educate your customers on shipping policies before checking out.

Information To Include While Creating A Shipping Policy

A good shipping policy must include details on shipping cost, shipping options and methods, and payment tracking, among other information, to help you and your customers have a superior online shopping experience.

Shipping Cost

Showing shipping costs in the policy document enables your customers to know the total cost of the order before they check out, particularly for international shipping where shipping charges can vary between online stores and as well be high.

Shipping Methods

Different shipping methods like express shipping or standard shipping, and related information that include the expected delivery times, and estimated delivery business day, for domestic and international shipments should inevitably be part of the shipping policy.


If your store has any restrictions that do not allow shipping to certain countries or addresses, you must explicitly display them – clearly explaining the restricted destinations and reasons.

Lost Packages

Missing or losing packages can happen in shipment. The document must guide the customers on what to do next or how and whom to report if their order parcel goes missing.

International Shipping

If your store takes international orders, your shipping policy must inform the customer on who takes care of customs duties, compliance, international taxes, and other fees.

Return Information

Most customers are keen to know how your online store handles returns and exchanges, like the time taken to process a return, how the refund is done, and when the refund can be expected, among others.

Information To Include While Creating A Return Policy

When writing a return policy for your e-commerce business, you must keep the following things in mind, to bring out a detailed and easy-to-understand return policy that can help you handle returns smoothly and provide a better experience to your customers.

The Time Limits For Returns

The return policy must inform the customer about the allowable time frame for returns after the purchase has been made. The open-ended return policy has caused losses to many businesses so most have later introduced stricter return conditions.

The Condition Of Products

It is pertinent to define the condition of a product that can be returned. Not including this information in your return policy will encourage customers to return products in poor condition, causing loss to your business.

Return Requirements

The requirements that you want the customers to comply with – like the stipulation that the product must be returned unopened and/or in its original packaging – must be listed in the return policy. A Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) system is the best system to handle returns professionally.

Refund Method

How the refund will be processed is one of most key things a customer is interested in while making online purchases and it should be mentioned in the return policy document. While most customers prefer a full refund, the merchants would vote for in-store credit because it is simple for them and the money won’t go outside.

Return Fees

Most stores don’t charge the customer for return shipping or restocking, which can lead to losing customers. For any reason, if you have the policy to charge the customer for a return, that must be clearly stated in the policy document to avoid disputes and discontent with customers.

Precise, But Simple Language

The policy must be easy to understand like you understand a conversation. A return policy filled with highly technical language and jargon will only increase support tickets without bringing the desired time and cost savings.

Concluding Note

It is advised to keep your shipping and return policy updated with the changes that become imperative when changes in processes, best practices, workflows, engaging a new 3PL, adding more fulfillment centres, and digital and business transformations happen. Likewise, a shipping and return policy must be visible to the customers who navigate your marketplace. The ideal places to display your shipping policies are the homepage or footer of your online store website or include it in the checkout process.

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