Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Writing Policies for your Etsy shop!

Who here has asked at a retail store, "What is your return Policy?" I know I ask that anytime I shop somewhere new, make a large purchase, or am uncertain of the item I purchased.  How about when you shop online yourself, aren't you curious about how long it will take to arrive? Or will they ship to my location.

While we Etsians are not big box retailers, our customers are expecting a similar experience and will have the same questions we all have. It is our duty as shop owners to give the customer all the information and knowledge they can get in order to feel safe and comfortable purchasing from our shop.

Etsy has a great section that sadly many seller neglect to fill out. the POLICIES PAGE.

You can get to your policies page by hovering over YourShop on top and clicking on Info and Appearance. Like so:

This will open your edit page click the tab that says POLICIES and you will have several boxes to fill in, these include:

Welcome Message -  Here is a chance for you to do a quick blurb on your shop. What do you sell, do etc? a 3-5 sentence story should suffice

Payment Policy - It's as easy as it sounds. How and when do you want to get paid? I personally only use Direct Checkout now and I state that here. I also want payment at time of purchase. (nothing irks me more than when someone buys and waits 3 days to pay!!) Many including myself also offer info on layaway, custom order etc. many people require a deposit for customer orders that info should go here.

Shipping Policy -  When and where do you ship? are your items ready to ship next day, or orders made at time of order and need extended time? Also include info on international shipping. We have all gotten that email from overseas, "where is my order? it's been 5 days!" Check the link to my policies below I have some good international information there. Many countries take 3-4 weeks, and the USPS will not open a case until such time has passed. Let your customers know this! Another things that shocks international buyers are duties and taxes. I have this line in my shipping policies:

**International customers are responsible for duties, taxes, and other fees incurred on international packages. Also, please be advised that I will NOT falsify customs documents by marking a package as a "gift" or changing the monetary value of the contents.**

Feel free to copy and use it! Since I deal in vintage jewelry, many buyers have asked me to say it's a gift, and lower the value. I refuse to do that since I insure most orders, and if I lie on the customs form I won't get my full value that I insured it for! Also I am not a fan of making bogus documents especially US government ones!!

Refund Policy -  Now here like big box stores is where we will all have the most variety.  Be upfront and honest on how you will handle returns. If your policy is NO REFUNDS state that. However if you accept Paypal it is meaningless and they can still return and Paypal will zap your money and give it back. So I personally suggest a friendly return policy.

I would set a specific # of days they customer has to contact you after getting their item and to ship back (at their expense: include this is you want them to pay return shipping!) to you.

Many shops myself included require a reason for return that must be more than " I changed my mind." If there is no reason many shops have included a restocking fee which will be subtracted from the refund given.

I deal with a lot of international orders and have had people refuse a package becuase they didn't want to pay the duties and than I have to wait 2 months to get the package back if it doesn't get lost. I got this line from another seller of vintage goods:


I am all for refunds on legitimate cases, for example the item broke (hence insurance) item wasn't what I promised, etc. So please don't think I want to scare customers from returning, but i want to cover my behind from people who take advantage. So COVER YOUR BEHIND, list what you will do in cases of returns, or unhappy customers and always strive to give 100% the best customer service. But just like the big chain stores, being able to show your policies in advance will deter those who are not on the up and up!

Additional Info - What else does your customer need to know??? I use this spot to explain how I describe my jewelry (good, fair, excellent etc) but you can leave this spot blank or add information you want to help your customer make educated purchases.

Seller Info - mine is blank.  etsy notes: Some countries require seller information such as your name, physical address, contact email address and, where applicable, tax identification number. See this FAQ for more information.

AFTER you write all this in you MUST CLICK SAVE!! than you are good to go!

If you would like to check out my policies feel free to check it out here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/PaganCellarJewelry/policy

Etsy also tackled this topic on their blog with some other pointers that might help: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/service-tips-for-sellers-creating-policies-that-work/

Bill Guest


  1. Very helpful, Bill ... all great ideas! TY :-)

  2. Such helpful tips, thank you Bill!!

  3. Thanks Bill! I got some very useful information from this I will be using. :)

  4. Thank you so much for the info, Bill. Very helpful indeed.

  5. Great article!! This is a VERY important part of our Etsy shops. Policies not only cover us as sellers, but it helps give confidence to buyers that we will work with them until they are happy. Very important.

  6. Very informative and helpful. I remember struggling through writing my shop policies. This is great for new shops.

  7. Guess I'll be checking my policies to make sure they are up-to-date soon. Thanks so much Bill!

  8. Great reminder on getting our policies up to scratch! Thank you!

  9. Lots of helpful info... I am always tweaking my policies, particularly for International shipping as a Countries circumstances change chage at anytime. Sue (SunnyCrystals)

  10. Really fantastic information - thank you, Bill!

  11. Great information. I modify mine upon occasion. Guess I should take a look now and see if my policies are up-to-date.

    Thanks for taking the time to share.

  12. Very Good Information! It's vital to state our policies for our customers. So far I haven't any returns, but I always send a shipping note to the customer stating that they should contact me as soon as the item arrives if there are any problems, otherwise I will assume that they are satisfied with the item. For international shipping I only ship if the customer will use a freight forwarding service in the U.S. so that I am only responsible for the item to that point and the buyer is responsible for it from there on out including customs fees, etc. Also a freight forwarder can send many items internationally that are prohibited through regular mailing services. Also, I know some of you need to get paid immediately thru direct checkout and I used to want to get paid immediately too. However, since I am now accepting credit cards and gift cards, my sales have increased.

  13. Thanks for the tips... I'm always tweaking my Policy Page and I'm going to add a few of these ideas...

  14. Awesome post, Bill. One question, though: You say you're able to insure an international package? You mean at the post office? I seem to recall that they wouldn't allow me to do that, saying that the P.O. doesn't insure overseas packages, as they can't be responsible for what happens to a parcel once it leaves the country. Am I misunderstanding you?

    1. I actually use Etsy to insure, when I print a label I use the option for insurance and add it for roughly $1.25 (its included in my shipping prices)

      This is a third party insurance company that others have said good things about!

  15. Great post! There's a lot of really helpful info here. Guess I should look over my policies...can't remember the last time I checked them lol

  16. Great info Bill! I need to rework some of my policies for sure. Thanks for putting this together!

  17. Glad everyone liked it!!! it's important to always update your policies and keep them fresh!!

  18. Great Info Bill !! Policies are really helpful and it saves both buyers and sellers a lot of pain ! Eventually when It comes to dealing with dear Customers, I treat the things on a case to case basis and always fair to honest clients, but having a policy set in writing definitely helps everyone!