How to Sell Jewelry: Shipping and Return Policies
If you are planning to sell your jewelry online, you will need to cover your bases legally as far as basic matters like shipping and returns.
The shipping policies will not apply if you are selling your jewelry in real life, but you will still want to have some kind of a returns policy in place.
Returns policies are even more essential online, since people who purchase your work have no chance to examine your jewelry in person before they buy it. Having these policies in place helps to clarify customer expectations and protect you should a customer have a complaint.
If you do not have clear and reasonable terms and conditions for shopping, you will have nothing to back you up if a customer files a dispute (with Etsy or PayPal, for example).
More from the How to Sell Jewelry series:
- Where to sell your jewelry
- How to create an airtight shipping and returns policy
- How to price your jewelry
- Best general business practices
- How to handle commissions
- How to start promoting your jewelry online and offline
Shipping Policies When Selling Jewelry
How do you tackle each of these sections and make sure you have airtight policies’
Let’s start by talking about shipping. There are a number of important points you need to cover in your shipping policies:
- What countries and territories do you ship to? Are there any countries or territories you do not ship to’
- Do the rates differ domestically and internationally’
- How fast is your shipping? What type of shipping do you use? How long should buyers wait to contact you’
- What kind of packaging do you use? Do you ship in boxes or padded envelopes? What do you do to protect your shipments physically’
- Do you offer any additional shipping services, like insurance on your packages or tracking’
- What happens if your items never arrive at their destination? Will you refund cash? Offer store credit equal in value’
By answering each of these questions in your shipping policy, you take care of several issues at once. First off, you prevent a lot of questions. Customers will not routinely ask you for basic information about shipping, which frees up your time. Secondly, you are reassuring buyers that they are working with a professional who has consistent procedures. Thirdly, you are covering your bases legally should something get lost in the mail or be slow to arrive.
It is wise, though not necessarily essential, to obtain some kind of proof of mailing when you ship out a package to a customer. Your best option is probably just to make sure you order tracking on your package. This usually costs a couple extra dollars. It is a nice service to offer your customers though, and it provides you with some protection.
How do you decide on shipping prices? This is a tough question for a lot of sellers. You might say, ‘Why don’t I just use the rates that the post office quotes me’? You could do that, but you may want to consider charging slightly more.
Why? Rates can vary for one. If you are sending mail in a padded envelope, some days it may cost you $2, other days it may run you $4. Another good reason is to help you cover the costs associated with shipping which are not part of the rates. You are the one purchasing all these envelopes and rolls of tape after all. Adding a dollar to shipping costs helps you to pay for these items without raising item prices. If you do not raise shipping prices, you have to raise item prices instead.
You may want to experiment with item prices and shipping rates until you find an optimal setup. Another question that new jewelry sellers have is whether or not they should list their shipping prices alongside their item prices. Most online stores do not, so you do not have to do that (if for example you are selling on your own site). Should you hide item prices until a user clicks buy? Probably not; studies show that this dissuades buyers from clicking at all.
If possible at all you should offer free shipping, as’free shipping will in almost all cases drastically improve your sales.
Customers come up with all kinds of reasons to return products. Sometimes they are genuinely dissatisfied. Other times they are hoping to get something else out of you. Sadly there are dishonest people out there.
Returns are a pain for jewelry sellers because they often result in additional expenses and hassles. If your policies are unclear, you could find yourself at the losing end of disputes, and you may also end up stuck in a cycle of trying to satisfy a customer who cannot be satisfied.
A good return policy will also prevent returns for silly reasons and compel buyers to look closely at what they are buying. For example, a great policy to make sure to include is something regarding sizing issues. Post dimensions with every single item you sell. Measure pendants or earrings from top to bottom, and include the measurement in your item description.
How long do necklaces hang? What is the circumference of a choker? Post this information, and in your returns policy, remind buyers it is their own responsibility to read the measurements you provided, and that you will not accept sizing-related returns.
Odds are you are not going to have a draconian policy like ‘No refunds or returns for any reason whatsoever,? although you may want to post this temporarily while you are working on a real returns policy. At least it covers all possible scenarios.
You will need to accept what kinds of returns and refunds are acceptable to you. Every artisan has his or her own preferences here. One example would be ‘No refunds or returns for any reason unless the product you purchase is damaged when it arrives.’
You will then need to decide what you plan on doing if you receive a return request for a damaged product. A wise idea is to request a photo from the customer to start with that shows the damage. You might then offer to repair the item (if you believe you are capable of doing that; some jewelry is easy to repair, while other jewelry is not), or to replace it with an equal value item.
Specify how the buyer should return the item in question, and within what time frame it needs to happen. Also make sure the buyer knows how soon he or she will have to use any store credit you provide before it inspires. Will the buyer pay the return shipping, or will you’
Specifying time frames for returns and replacements is vital since it keeps you from ending up in a situation which drags on and on.
You really do not want a buyer contacting you a year after you sell her something suddenly stating it is broken and needs to be replaced. You also want to make sure that you receive the item you plan to replace before you actually send out a replacement.
Unscrupulous buyers have been known to demand replacements without ever actually returning their original items. If this happens to you, you have been robbed blind.
These two important policy pages should be posted before you even start selling your products online. If you sell your work in-person, you can still post a returns policy online if you also have a website. Otherwise, you can share it with the store owner of the shop where you are planning to try and sell your jewelry.
That way you are protected in situations where buyers request a refund. On your website, make sure that your policies are clearly visible. If you are selling through Etsy or another third party, there will be specific input forms for these pages.
It is also a good idea to include your shipping and returns policies in a message to buyers after they purchase your work. You can automate this message to go out to customers via email when they make a purchase. The message can include a thank you, a copy of both policies, and if you choose, a discount for a future purpose.
This is a great way to make sure that customers are clear on your policies, while letting them know that you appreciate their business, now and in the future.