In this lesson, you will learn about:
- Why brick-and-mortars have the advantage
- How a solid shipping and returns policy can boost conversion
- Great examples of shipping and returns policies from clients
- Tips and tricks to having a powerful shipping and returns policy

Alright, we’re gonna talk shipping. Listen up ‘cuz this is important.
Shipping is one of the few advantages a brick and mortar location has over an online store. It’s also a huge contributing factor in whether or not someone decides to buy from you or start shopping someplace else. If it’s too expensive, or the rate is not competitive enough, odds are pretty darn good you’re out of luck.
So, how do you know where to start? Check out what the heck your competitors are up to! Google them! Especially if you have a more complicated product that’s super heavy or odd. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to, someone out there has more than likely solved your shipping conundrum before. Checking out the competition is the first step to tweaking your rates to be competitive which means more sales!
Beyond checking out the competitive landscape, here are some general directions you can try when it comes to shipping.
First, if you can afford to, offer free shipping. It’s a no brainer. If you can’t offer free shipping across the board, offer free shipping over a certain threshold like $29.99/$49.99 for example. This can often work to increase the total value of a cart as shoppers keep adding items to try to quality for free shipping.
This tactic typically equals more sales which will outweigh having to eat the shipping cost. You can also try to absorb the cost of shipping into your products. It’s a good tactic but be careful your product prices remain competitive.
If you just can’t get your business numbers to support free shipping, that’s ok! Price isn’t everything. Some customers are willing to pay more to receive product quickly or in the method they want. Expedited shipping might be worth looking into if you are searching for a solution. Plus, try to offer more than one shipping option which Bigcommerce allows for you to do very easily. Multiple options will also give you a feel
for what your shoppers want so you can make adjustments as needed.
If you are looking for something a little less dramatic than giving it away, try splitting the difference with your customers. Flat rate by product weight or order total options are great. You can simply calculate them to be slightly less than what you will be paying. It’s a great way to try and undercut your competition.
Interesting tidbit - last I checked, our top 15 store’s here at Bigcommerce use fixed shipping. It’s actually helping them to compete with Amazon on certain items. Just sayin’!
As you can see, shipping is really a marketing expenditure. Although it may not feel like it, you do have loads of options to make your shoppers happy and convert them into buyers.
The kicker is that folks forget about during all of this is to write-it-down. You’ve gotta have a solid shipping and returns policy AND one that is clearly displayed on your store. You can do all the research and planning you want but if people don’t know about it - pfft!
Some tips for writing your policy are to keep it simple. Make sure to outline what your customers can expect from your shipping experience including estimated time of arrival. Then, lay out what happens if they need to return or exchange something. Try to avoid scary phrases like “you must” and “you are required.” Soften the blow as best you can.
A returns policy is a huge contributor to whether or not someone wants to buy something from you or not. They can’t taste, touch, smell what you are selling. Heck, when someone DOES experience something in person, they might even return it. Let’s face facts here, it’s far more likely to happen online.
On your end of things ya gotta be prepared to eat the cost of your own mistakes. This is something newbies to ecommerce tend to forget - what the heck are you going to do when buyer isn’t happy?
A few key things for writing a Returns and Exchanges Policy;
Try not to ask too many questions. Find out the issue behind the return or exchange and move on.
Include whatever is needed to return an item in the box when you actually ship it to your customer. Small thing, big impact
Train your staff so they don’t even have to ask questions, they can just apply your policy and do right by the customer - no questions.
Make the process as simple as possible for you on the backend and for your customer.
Always strive for a “smooth” experience here.
Great! That should certainly get you to a solid starting point to encourage shoppers to buy confidently. That’s what it’s all about. Keep chugging with Bigcommerce University as we have loads more tips and best practices comin’ at ya!