How to set up eCommerce shipping
Shipping method options
Your content management system (CMS) will have a variety of eCommerce shipping methods for you to choose from. This may include shipment by weight, UPS (United Parcel Service), USPS (US Parcel Service) and fixed rate shipping, among others.
If you want to use the shipment by weight method, you will need to research weight and cost deliveries for the countries in which you want to ship.
If you want to ship internationally, and have a US-based business, you can select a fixed rate shipping method for international shipping and the USPS option for US deliveries.
If you have a UK-based business you may opt for fixed shipping costs, if you only plan to ship within the UK using the Royal Mail postal service.
Fixed rate shipping costs
Although it is not the most cost effective, this is the easiest shipping method to set.
Fixed rate shipping costs mean that your customer is charged a set amount for shipping, regardless of the price of the item or the number of items purchased.
If you opt for fixed rate shipping, but sell heavier products that will cost more to deliver, you should be able to add the additional shipping cost on the product page.
Shipping method information
Your eCommerce shipping method information should let the customer know your method of delivery, i.e. delivery within your own country and/or overseas shipping information and the expected date of delivery.
Here is an example of a shipping method for United Kingdom deliveries:
Name UK Delivery Description Your parcel should be delivered within 3-5 working days by Royal Mail.
Certain physical goods may incur tax, others will not. Check your state and locality tax laws. You may want to restrict your billing and shipping to certain countries. You can also indicate if VAT only applies to specific countries.
VAT (Value Added Tax) varies from country to country. For example, in the UK it is 20%, but in Sweden, VAT is 25% for most products.
If tax applies to specific countries, states etc., you can set the individual tax rates by country, state and postal code in the appropriate field of your CMS.
I would strongly advise you not to open your online shop without first displaying your shipping and returns information on your site. It needs to be clear and concise. You should also keep it up-to-date as customers use this information as their warranty.
Display your shipping and returns information in the footer of your website
- State your shipping times and methods.
- Provide the estimated dates for delivery and the shipping location.
- Provide information about your shipping costs, postage and packaging costs, for both EU countries and Non-EU countries.
- If you are using a courier service, let the customer know what action the courier will take if they are not home at the time of delivery.
- State the VAT that applies for EU countries, if applicable.
- If additional costs apply for heavier items, include this information.
- If international shipping is available under another domain name you own, provide the website link.
You want to inform the customer that you will refund or exchange their item if they are not satisfied. Other relevant returns information:
- List any items that are not refundable. This might be downloadable products, or for health and hygiene, earrings and underwear. The return policy is 14 days in EU countries for physical products. If you are selling internationally, provide a 14-day policy, minimum. Ideally, you should grant the customer 30 days*.
- State that the product should be returned in the condition in which it was sent.
- You may want to ask the customer to email you to let you know they are returning an item.
- The returns address should stand out. If you are using a postal collection service for your returns, make it clear to the customer that they must state your company name on the returns package as well as the address.
eCommerce shipping best practices
- You need to provide accurate information about your shipping times and shipping costs.
- Long shipping times increase the likelihood of shopping cart abandonment.
- Where possible offer a minimum of two methods of delivery.
- Most online shoppers know the cost of shipping an item. Therefore, do not set the cost of shipping higher than the regulated postal service prices. If you do not offer free shipping by default, it is a good idea to offer free shipping, or a discount, for multiple purchases.
*The legal return policy for digital products sold in the UK is 30 days.