Required Policies for your Shopify Store
January 05, 2021
Policies are just about the least exciting thing about building your website. But they’re crucial if you want your customers to trust you, and you want to abide by the law. Additionally, using some payment apps like Sezzle will actually require you to have those policies visible and available on your website in order to use their services.
Luckily Shopify makes it really easy to fill out your policy pages with their templates, but you do need to customize them to match your website.
Make sure you’re adding your policies to the Policy section in your Shopify settings NOT as a page. This way you’ll be able to use the appropriate url structure. For example mydomain.com/policies/returns instead of mydomain.com/returns. Just head into Settings —> Legal —> Create from template. Then you’ll just need to customize it to your store’s needs.
Let’s take a look at the four policies Shopify recommends:
The most important policy to ensure satisfied customers. Imagine your excitement after ordering something and when you receive it in the mail, it doesn’t fit. Make it clear in your policy in which cases you offer exchanges or returns, the time limit for this, and what the process is (how should they contact you, how does the product need to be packed, who pays for the shipping and how long should they expect to wait for a refund?). A common policy is to make sale items final sale.
If you offer digital products, here is where you’d likely want to clarify that there are no refunds on purchases due to the digital nature of your product. I recommend linking to this policy on your product or cart page to ensure that customers have an additional chance to see it.
Carefully consider what your business can afford to lose when it comes to refunds and exchanges. If your products are customized with names, then you should have all products be final sale or you'll be operating at a loss.
Here is where you can set realistic expectations for your shoppers. You’re not Amazon with 24-hour delivery so be up-front about how long delivery takes. Mention how long it takes you to package and ship your products, especially if your products are handmade or custom-made. Once they’re made, how long should customers expect to wait and what shipping provider do you use? This will help customers decide at checkout if they want to pay for express shipping or not. It will also save you complaints around holiday season if your items don't arrive as fast as customers want them to.
Privacy policies are required by law if you collect personal data from your users. For example, name, email address, shipping address, payment information. If you have a newsletter subscription then you’re collecting personal data and need this policy.
Reporting and Analytics
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What cookies is my website using?
To check what cookies your website is using, open a private / Incognito browser window and open the developer tools. On Google Chrome, developer tools can be found by right-clicking —> Inspect. Find the Application tab at the top (it may be hidden under the >> arrows and look for Cookies on the left side. By clicking on your website name under there, you will have a list of cookies appear to the right.
When looking at my own store, I was surprised to see 51 cookies list there. I definitely did not install all of those. By looking in the domain column, you’ll see that many of those are on the Shopify domain, meaning that they were most likely automatically added there by Shopify. I also see one that was added from the app that adds my Instagram feed “covet.pics”. Other apps like chatbots or Facebook Pixel will also appear there.
Local Privacy Laws
if you are selling to Europe or states with strict privacy laws such as California, you'll need to pay special attention to the cookies you're collecting and provide a method for visitors to provide or refuse consent to collect their personal information. Using an app is the easiest way to help ensure you are compliant to these laws. Check out Shopify's app store for privacy-related apps and cookie bars.
Search for GDPR for European customers and CCPA for customers in California to better understand your obligations.
Terms of Service
Here is where you want to set the rules of use on your website. Think of it as a contract between your website visitors and you.
This is especially necessary if visitors will be contributing content to your site. In the case of Shopify sites, it could be commenting on blog posts, leaving customer reviews and uploading images. It could also include misuse of account privileges such as abusing promotions or discounts that are not applicable to them. Lay out your rights as a store owner. If you are selling products that have age restrictions, then set those rules out here.
You should also include where the Governing Law is. Since privacy and internet laws can vary widely between countries, state where your business is registered and where the terms and conditions are governed. And depending on your local laws, you can inform users if your content is protected by local intellectual property rights.
Surely policies can get much more complicated than I've outlined above but here's a start. As a small business, cover your bases with standard policies (customized to your needs) to help your customers feel confident purchasing from you.