The need to have clear policies for your Shop to protect your business and inform your customers is an essential step. Here's why:
Customers for your shop need to have as much information as possible in order to be assured that they can trust you as a supplier. Having a clear shipping, refund, exchange and privacy policies are a great way to easily and quickly inspire confidence in your ability to deliver excellent customer service. It can also be a very useful marketing tool when used well to compete in what may be a heavily saturated market place.
In order to assist you with this bit of necessary but mundane bit of admin we've put together some resources to get you started.
Making Policies Your Own
Before we offer any templates or resources where you can download templates it's worth a quick reminder that these are very generic and should be personalised to your own shop and what you offer. For example, you may not ship internationally or you may not offer refunds on certain items. As such, you should read through any templates offered and ensure that you can abide by them in the future. It's not an ideal scenario when your policies state you can do something which is out of your power to control or ability to finance, for example free shipping.
This is a really important one. Regardless of the need for instant gratification the modern shopper can be kept happy by managing their expectations. If they know that an item they're ordering will take 7 days to be delivered then they will be less likely to take to social media after 3 days asking where their items are. And if you can deliver quicker than that then it comes as a very welcome surprise to them. That's not to say that you should under-promise and over-deliver, be as accurate as possible and if something goes wrong then simply send them an email to let them know. The key here is being open and honest about your ability and 'fessing up' when things don't go according to plan.
That said, the shipping policy is also a great marketing tool. One that could set you apart from a competitor by offering a speedier delivery or simply more delivery options than them. TermsFeed.com offer a Free Shipping policy template, this is US centric but could easily be amended to be used in the UK.
The main things we're looking to cover in the shipping policy is Delivery options, Costs, Delivery Times, Restrictions, Cut-off Times and Offers.
Do you offer next day, 1st class, 2nd class or signed and tracked or all of the above?
How much does each one cost?
How long does each Option take for each shipping zone? Will International 1st class take 5 days or 10 days?
Are there any limits on where or what you can ship?
What costs are covered through the shipping costs?
Do you cover customs fees?
Are there any items that you cannot ship internationally for example batteries or chemicals?
If you provide next day delivery or 1-2 days do you cut this off at a certain point during the day. For example do you offer next day shipping up to 12pm, 2pm or 5pm?
Do you offer Free Shipping at all?
Is there a minimum basket amount needed to get free shipping?
Are any products not included in this offer?
Is Free shipping only offered during certain periods of the year? For example, as an offer for Black Friday or the run up to Christmas.
Returns, Refunds & Exchange Policy
For better or worse some orders will fall under this category, it's estimated that returns account for £60 billion a year from retailer's coffers. That's a substantial amount of money that may make or break a small business. Spending time on this policy and adjusting it as needed will be very beneficial to your shops bottom line. Of course, having too many restrictions may lead to the more savvy customer's ordering elsewhere.
Another factor in regards to this is the UK's Consumer Contracts Regulation, this couple with the Consumer Right's Act puts certain requirements on you as a seller in regards to returns, refunds and faulty items. It's really worth reading up on this and ensuring that you are compliant with the various parts. Remember thought that these stipulate the minimum that you must offer to a customer, if you can offer a better service it may well be worth your while for the sake of reduced complaints and negative reviews.
We have collated an RRE policy that you can start with here. Again, have a read through it and modify it as needed so that it is personalised to your business and offerings.
For more information on Data Collection and Privacy check out the Information Commissioner's Office guidelines here.