Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heidi's Tips & Tricks for 5/16/2012

This week I'll be talking about... Policies.

Every shop here on Etsy has a section to include their shop policies. While it may seem that this is an area that never gets looked at (when was the last time you checked someone's policy page?)... but it is really important that you still do put some thought and effort into writing out a good set of policies for yourself. Even if only 1 in 100 customers check them... that one customer may be one that might later on have a problem and your policy section might save your some headaches.

Etsy very sweetly divided the Policy section into different categories. This makes organizing your thoughts a lot easier. I'll go through each section and include items that could be included. Check your own policies and make sure you've got it all covered.

The welcome section is a place to expand on your little introduction blurb. You can explain more about yourself, but also take the opportunity to stipulate any specifics related to your shop or policies themselves. Things you may wish to include are:
- is your home smoke/pet free?
- when can you be contacted about questions or concerns? or, when will you get back to people who contact you?
- who are you as a person?

The payment section may include basic information such as the currency your shop prices are in (especially if they are NOT in US dollars), and whether taxes are charged on your items and to whom. You should also include:
- how long you will wait before canceling an order if payment is not received.
- steps you will take to contact non-paying customers.
- when payment is expected for custom items.
- what forms of payment you accept (paypal, money order, local pickup, etc.)

This will likely be your largest policy section. There is a lot of information that can be included here.
- where do your items ship from? (this could alternatively go in the Welcome section)
- when shipping will take place from the time the order is received (both for in stock and custom items)
- who you ship with (post or courier)
- what rate you use/offer (least expensive, priority with d/c, etc.)
- do you include tracking or insurance with your shipments or is that an option at additional cost
- what do you do if you receive an order from an unconfirmed Paypal address or request for an item to be sent as a gift?
- what if a buyer's paypal address is incorrect (who is responsible for correcting the situation whether the items is returned by the post office or not)
- How long does shipping take to domestic or international locations (generally... your postal service should provide an estimate based on the rate you choose)
- who is responsible for customs fees for international shipments.
- do you ship with new or recycled/reused materials
- what if there is an overpayment in shipping cost

- do you accept returns of instock or custom items
- do you offer exchanges and if so do you refund/recharge, or only charge the difference?
- do your items have any quality guarantees? (this could go under Additional)
- who is responsible for the cost of returning items? Is that different if it is a flaw in the making of the item?
- Is there a "restocking fee" for returned items? What about for customs?
- If you have someone pay for an item in installments to cover something like special material costs of a custom order (you may want to mention if that is an option in your Additional policies as well), what happens if they change their mind and don't pay the full cost? Do you charge a fee to cover expenses of refunding/relisting?


This section is for anything that you want to mention that doesn't quite fit into the other categories. You may include information such as policies regarding the use of your items for personal/resale use (such as if you make/sell patterns for example). You may include copyright information or statements regarding whether your designs are unique or used with permission from another source. You may include statements regarding pattern variations or changes in materials. You may include details regarding promotions if you run them often (duration, "while supplies last", etc.) There are a lot more things, I'm sure... but if it doesn't fit somewhere else and you think it should be mentioned (especially if it is a question you have gotten from one or more customers!), this is where you can post it.

So... I hope that that has given lots of ideas of things you may wish to include in your policies that you might not have thought of. Basically, your policy is to cover your own butt in case you run into a difficult customer or if someone has a lot of questions. You can direct them to your policies and save yourself a bit of scrambling to think of things. Policies can be adjusted and added to as needed and are stored for you for later... which is nice because you know exactly where to find them! It is when you are faced with a problem that you can be grateful that you took the time to fully complete your policies... so make an effort this week to look yours over and see if there is anything else you might include.


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