How to write great store policies

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Original Post

A frequently overlooked part of an Etsy store is the policies section. Your store policies tell your customers what to expect from you. I am always sad when I see a store with no policies, because I know it is COSTING THEM SALES. Customers look at your store policies to judge what kind of customer service you will offer; if there is nothing there they are likely to walk away.

Shop policies do not only help your customers but they also help YOU stay consistent and have actions in place for certain situations.

You can find the page to edit your policies buy logging in to Etsy, click "your Etsy" and look for the "policies" link in the left hand column.

Here are some things to consider when writing your store policies.


* You don't need to put a lot of information here, any personal information you want to share can be put in your profile. A brief introduction is fine and you can encourage buyers to contact you if they have any questions.


* State what methods of payment you will take (PayPal, cheque etc)
* If you take PayPal, a brief description of how to pay with PayPal is useful. Lots of people don't realise they can use this method to pay with their credit or debit card without having to sign up for a PayPal account. It helps to explain how they can do this. This is what I say in my policies, you can copy and paste it if you want

"You do not need a PayPal Account to pay for your items through PayPal:

You can choose the PayPal Option during checkout. After you submit your order click the "Pay Now" button. Scroll Down and you will see the option to pay with a Credit or Debit Card WITHOUT having to sign up for a PayPal account."

* State that you will not send packages until payments have cleared.
* Encourage buyers to contact you if they are having any problems with payment
* Tell your buyers what you will do in the event of non-payment. Non-payment is a common problem on Etsy, part of this is down to the way the system works there and it can be confusing to new buyers on Etsy, other times people are just messing you around. This forum post has some great advice on how to deal non-payment, but it helps to leave something about it in your policies too. Will you leave negative feedback for non-payment and no-response to emails? I do, but it is a personal choice. Whatever you decide, put it down in your policies. It will make it easier for you to follow through on it when non-payment happens to you.
* If you offer payment plans explain how this works to your customers.


* Describe how your items are packaged: Do you gift wrap? Are your items sent in boxes? Do you include a certificate of authenticity? If you use recycled packaging write that in here too, Etsy buyers love sellers who do this.
* Tell your buyers what shipping company you use.
* What shipping do you offer? (priority, standard, first class, registered mail, online tracking?)
* Can customers request faster shipping or insurance for an additional charge? If yes, ask them to contact you for more information.
* If the Etsy and PayPal shipping addresses you receive for an order are different, what will you do? Some stores state if they have had no contact from the buyer within 3 working days then they will ship to the PayPal shipping address. Other sellers clearly say that they always ship to the address given during Etsy checkout. Decide which you will do and state it here (I used to say I would contact the buyer to confirm if their addresses were different, only once did the buyer say they wanted it shipped to their PayPal address, all others said the Etsy one. So now I always ship to the Etsy address, no more waiting around for buyers to get back to me) If you will automatically ship to a certain address make sure you include info on this in your "message to buyer" box as well.
* Give information on estimated shipping times. If you have already done a lot of shipping you will have a good idea of how long a package takes to arrive in certain parts of the world. If you have not done much shipping yet, ask at your post office, and then add a few days to their estimated times. Packages almost always take longer to arrive than the PO says they will.
* If you ship overseas, state that customs can delay packages by up to 6 weeks, say that this does not happen often but that it can happen. It is better to forewarn your buyers about this possible problem.


* If you don't want to do refunds and exchanges then put it politely. Something like "I'm sorry but at this time [insert shop name here] cannot accept refunds or exchanges, please purchase seriously" comes across a lot better than "No exchanges or refunds accepted"
* If you are going to offer refunds and/or exchanges then put your terms and conditions here. How long after receiving an item can people ask you for an exchange or refund? Will you refund only the cost of the item or the shipping as well? If a buyer returns an item to you who is responsible for the return postal costs?


* This is a great place for any custom order policies you have. If you take custom orders then you can talk about the process you go through for these orders.
* An estimate of how long an order will take is good here, if it varies a lot then ask buyers to contact you for more information.
* When you require payment. I recommend you at least take a deposit before starting work, unforeseen things can happen that may mean your buyer cannot pay you by the time you have finished working (this has happened to me in the past, I now require full payment before I start work)
* Frequently Asked Questions, is pretty self explanatory. If you have some questions that you are always getting asked then this is the place to put them down with your answers. This won´t stop everyone as some people just don´t look hard enough for the answers, but it will help a few and you can just copy/paste them when you get convos about them.

Other tips for your policies.

* Run your policies through a spell checker, and get someone else to proof-read them for you if you can. It looks unprofessional if you have spelling and grammar mistakes everywhere.
* Keep a friendly and polite tone in your policies. Don´t get angry, confrontational or rude when you write them. Be clear and concise without being rude.
* Re-read your policies as if they belonged to a shop you wanted to buy from. How would you feel as the customer when reading them? Make any changes you think you need.
* Ask a friend if what you have written makes sense.
* Sometimes people will write to you with questions about your policies. When this happens take note and if necessary make adjustments to your policies if you think they need it.

Here are my shop policies I give you permission to copy and paste bits of it you feel are useful. However, make sure you actually agree with what I have written if you are copying it.

For links to other Tips for Etsy Sellers I have written check out this page:

Did you find this post useful? Is there anything I left out that you think should be included? I appreciate your feedback!

The House of Mouse

Posted at 12:43pm May 27, 2009 EDT


some great tips!
Thank you for sharing :)

Posted at 12:44pm May 27, 2009 EDT

Here is the link to the forum post I mention that has advice on dealing with non-paying customers

Posted at 12:48pm May 27, 2009 EDT

hierons1 says

Wow that is very generous of you. I have just made a couple of changes to my policies. Thanks!

Posted at 12:54pm May 27, 2009 EDT

Great tips! Thank you!


Posted at 12:57pm May 27, 2009 EDT

hierons1 says

Bumping for others to see.

Posted at 1:10pm May 27, 2009 EDT

Great tips, thanks!

Posted at 1:12pm May 27, 2009 EDT

Wonderful post, thank you! Exactly what I needed to know.

Posted at 1:15pm May 27, 2009 EDT

soapwerks says

This is great--thanks!

Posted at 1:16pm May 27, 2009 EDT

Try reading the policies of large online companies as well for verbage and to be sure you aren't missing important notations like cancelled orders and restock fees. Try to keep them professional, not cutesy with hearts and smilies. Thats a personal thing, but this is representing the business part of your shop.

Posted at 1:16pm May 27, 2009 EDT