TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 6 Shop Policies

Welcome to our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp! If you want to take part in Bootcamp and get one-on-one mentoring, or answers to any of your questions, please drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com.  

If you want to open an Etsy shop, just follow this link!

Then, be sure to check out:

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 1 How to Open an Etsy Shop.
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 2 Branding & Shop Banners.
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 3 Shop Profiles Bios and Photos.
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 4 Make Listings Tempting.
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 5 About Pages.

Remember: If you already have a shop, or you open one today, please let us know how to find it! We will be featuring some of our favorite newbie items right here. 

Today, we're going to talk about Shop Policies. Setting up your Shop Policies might not seem the most visible or exciting aspect of opening your Etsy shop but this is a vital step in launching your new business. You need to have Shop Policies in place in order to answer customers' questions, particularly about payment, shipping, and returns/exchanges. They establish standards and trust in advance, they avoid confusion and they protect your and your business should there ever be any sort of dispute. Neglecting to fill in your Shop Policies is a Newbie pitfall!

Tip: Always make things easy for your customer. Provide them with the information they want and need.

Be sure to review Etsy's DOs and DON'Ts and Terms of Use to make sure your Shop Policies don't violate any terms.

Setting up your Shop Policies: nuts and bolts

Go to the top right hand corner of any Etsy page when logged in to find Your Shop. Select Info & Appearance then go to the Policies tab. You'll find a series of text boxes to fill in: Welcome Message; Payment Policy; Shipping Policy; Refund Policy; Additional Information and Seller Information. Fill each of these in, according to the short prompts from Etsy.

Don't forget to press Save! You can repeat the process to edit or change your policies.

Let's go through each of these and consider what you might include and what you should be careful not to neglect!

Welcome Message

Etsy suggests that this is the place for a general information, your philosophy and so forth. You can keep it short and sweet or write a mini-manifesto, if so inclined. You want to keep your shop brand in mind. Who are you? What are you selling? Anything special about your products, packaging or approach you want to highlight?

Cheers Greeting Card from BeaconsfieldCards
A great example from a Newbie seller is the  Welcome Message in BeaconsfieldCardsShop Policies. She makes greeting cards like the Cheers Greeting Card on the left. Her Welcome Message does just that - it welcomes people. It expresses a philosphy for her shop, connecting people through "beautiful stationary and modern design" with an eye on environmental impact. By doing something in line with her philosophy, and pointing it out, she may find that her mindfulness of environmentally friendly and even biodegradable and compostable packaging may win her fans and customers.

Payment Policy
Etsy suggests that this is the place for "Payment methods, terms, deadlines, taxes, cancellation policy, etc." There's a lot of vital information you can and should list here.

  • What sort of payment do you accept (i.e. PayPal? Major credit cards through Etsy Direct Checkout? Other?). Sellers often like to point out that buyers can make a purchase on their credit cards via PayPal without registering. 
  • When do you expect payment? You may wish to point out that you will cancel a sale if you don't receive payment (sometimes people absentmindedly put items in their shopping basket, I guess). 
  • Will additional taxes be assessed; you can set up your listings so that GST and HST are added for Canadian and Ontarian (or your home province) buyers, if you want. Note that this might not be necessary if your business does not make certain yearly minimums, and that if you are going to collect taxes you'll need to register with the government. You can find more information from the Canadian Revenue Agency.
  • Some sellers like to include a special policy for cancellation
Tip: This information will appear in your Shop Policies and on every listing on the Shipping & Policies tab

DomistyleAprons' Modern Apron

A great example of a Newbie shop with clear, concise yet complete Payment Polcies is DomistyleAprons. They sell 'Artisan Aprons and Kitchen Textiles' like the Modern Apron with Orange Retro Burst Design shown on the left. They've been careful to touch on all the suggested topics and include a brief explanatory note for potential buyers new to PayPal. This is a great example of anticipating what a potential customer might want to know and providing that information before they even ask.

Shipping Policy

Etsy suggests that this is the place for "Shipping methods, upgrades, deadlines, insurance, confirmation, international customs, etc."  
Most Etsy buyers live in the US. That means, you may now be an exporter! There is a tendancy for buyers to assume that sellers are also in the US - though hopefully, the new listing design, which highlights the seller's location will address that. It is important to let buyers know how they will receive their item, and to have reasonable expectations in terms of delivery times. Occassionally, packages are held up by Customs of the recipient's home country and duties may be applied. I strongly suggest that you politely point this out, and state that buyers are responsible for duties. Most Canadian sellers use Canada Post and find that shipping costs are considerably more than the USPS equivalent; you may want to explain this to your potential customers. You may also want to stick with cheaper shipping options, but to allow customers to request a revised invoice should they wish to upgrade to a service which includes a tracking number, insurance or expedited delivery.

As we approach the Christmas rush in November and December, you will want to make sure your customers know about deadlines for shipping! Be sure include all the information they could need.

We will cover shipping in a future class, but you can also check out this great article from the Etsy Blog, 'Canadian Shipping Demystified' by Nada, Etsy's Canadian Community Manager. I'd like to draw your attention to some of her advice:
have a plan ready for how you will deal with the situation if too much time goes by without successful delivery. Will you refund the customer? Ship a replacement? In my experience, lost parcels occur very rarely. But when it does happen, think of it as part of the cost of doing business. The most important thing is to make sure your customer is satisfied.

Several sellers, including some of our Newbies state that they are not responsible for lost, missing or damaged packages. You get to set your own policies, but I'm going to add an:
Opinionated Tip: You are responsible for satisfying your paying customers. Sometimes customers are a bit impatient, but polite encouragement and reiteration of shipping policies and Canada Post's Delivery Standards (where applicable) is usually all you need in that instance. It is advisable to keep records and receipts for all shipping. It is very rare for a package to go missing altogether. If a package is lost or damaged by the postal service, it is obviously not your fault. It is however your responsibility regardless of whether that seems unfair. Put yourself in your customer's shoes: they paid for something and didn't receive it, through no fault of their own. It may not be the seller's fault, but it most definitely isn't the buyer's. How would you feel and what would you do? I don't think you should be surprised if such a customer opened a dispute with you through PayPal (if applicable), their credit card (if applicable) and/or through Etsy. You should read Etsy's DOs and DONTs policy about Non-delivery! Furthermore, such a customer is likely to leave negative feedback, which would hurt the reputation of your business. In the unlikely event that a package is lost or badly damaged, I would suggest that you replace or refund the item at your own expense*. You should make sure you have enough profit built into your prices so you can 'self-insure' in this way; you can also consider this a sort of advertising expense. If you impress a previously disgruntled customer with your accommodating service, you may find that they return to your shop and you may receive further word-of-mouth business.
*Do be aware of Canada Post's insurance and whether your item was insured. Sometimes the cost of purchasing a service with insurance is not much more and may be a worthwhile investment. Use your receipts to make a claim where applicable.

Let me tell you a story. My very first sale was a set of cards to an American customer. Mysteriously, it took 5 whole weeks for her package to arrive. She contacted me after two weeks - which was beyond Canada's Post delivery standards of 4 to 10 business days - and I was very concerned. I was anxious to prove myself and get some good feedback to establish my reputation. I immediate wrote to her and explained when I had mailed the item, when it should have arrived, how seriously I took her concern and even that I was a Newbie seller anxious to establish my reputation.  I asked if she could wait two more days and then I would send a replacement package. My customer, as it turns out, was more than gracious and perfectly understanding. I sent the replacement package. It arrived promptly, followed by the original, mysteriously delayed package. My customer wrote to me and said she was so pleased with the cards that she wished to purchase two sets, and since she now had two sets, could I simply invoice her for the replacement cards! I did set up a second invoice, at a discounted price to thank her for her understanding. She left me some good feedback and we both came away happy.

Of the hundreds of packages I have mailed since I have only had to replace two due to loss or damage. I think this has been a sound investment in my business.

Tip: This information will appear in your Shop Policies and on every listing on the Shipping & Policies tab

Refund Policy

Etsy suggests that this is the place for "Terms, eligible items, damages, losses, etc."

Each shop should set their own policies. It is common to refuse refunds or exchanges on say food, lingerie/bathing suits, one-of-a-kind or customized items. If it is possible and reasonable to offer refunds or exchanges it is probably a good idea to do so. This will increase customer confidence that they are making a safe transaction. If you do have a refund or exchange policy, do include any deadlines. Be sure though to select deadlines which allow enough time for the package to arrive to the customer and a resonable amount of time for them to contact you! I have seen shops with deadlines for refunds which are faster than delivery times; these should be amended. You should specify who is responsible for shipping costs if an item is returned.

Tip: This information will appear in your Shop Policies and on every listing on the Shipping & Policies tab
Additional Information

Etsy suggests that this is the place for "Additional policies, FAQs, custom orders, wholesale & consignment, guarantees, etc."

This is also a good place to include any safety information if applicable. For instance do you sew items with buttons, which can be a chocking hazard for infants? Is there any pertinent allergy information?

Tip: This information will appear in your Shop Policies and on every listing on the Shipping & Policies tab

Seller Information

Etsy suggests that this is the place for "your name, physical address, contact email address and, where applicable, tax identification number." This information is required of EU sellers, but not (currently) required by Canada... though if you do have a GST/HST registration number, you may wish to include it here.

Tip: This information will appear in your Shop Policies and on every listing on the Shipping & Policies tab

So, have you written your  Shop Policies? Did we convince you to beef up your Shop Policies? Do you have any tips or questions? Was this article helpful to you? If a shipped item does go missing, who do you feel should be responsible? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

The Toronto Etsy Street Team loves Newbie shops! You can find some of our favorite listings from talented Newbie sellers, including those featured in this class in our new TEST ♥ Newbies section. Be sure to stop by often to see what's new in this evolving, curated treasury of amazing Newbie finds!


  1. That was really helpful, especially the shipping and responsibility of the seller. I have beefed up my policies in line with TEST recommendations. I would have liked to have seen a good example of a refund policy for I find this the trickest area.

    1. Thanks very much for your feedback! Trying to write general advise about refund policies is a bit tricky because of the huge variety of products people sell. Sellers who are able to offer refunds, generally will offer either:
      -a full refund (including shipping) if an item is returned in good condition, or is damaged or defective, within a certain deadline (a, one or two months from the sale date)
      -a partial refund (excluding shipping) on the same terms

      DomistyleAprons has a generous and clearly written refund policy.


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