Transparency: Giving Customers What They Need

Published on March 18, 2022
Written by
Filed under Shipping News
Read time 7 Minutes

Ecommerce continues to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. As more options become available to online shoppers, the urgency to build brand loyalty and keep customers happy increases.

One of the easiest ways to keep your customers happy and returning time and again is to be fully transparent. Whether it’s providing clear product availability or being open about your pricing structure, customers don’t like surprises and being as transparent as possible is your best bet. 

If you’re just starting out, the last thing you want to do is build a questionable reputation because customers are unclear about fees and products. The ecommerce experts at ShipStation weigh in on where you should focus to ensure your transparency.

Shipping and Delivery

One of the biggest complaints by customers and a reason customers will leave their cart without making a purchase is unclear delivery costs or times. The prices you charge for delivery, either domestically or internationally, should be clearly labeled in the basket at the point of checkout and in the FAQ section on your website. 

Ways to be even more transparent:

  • Include a way for customers to see the price of delivery from the product page. Ecommerce merchants using Amazon as their selling platform have access to this. 
  • If you offer free shipping but have a threshold, ensure that it is apparent at the start of the sales funnel so that baskets aren’t abandoned at checkout.
  • Offer free shipping – studies show that a large percentage of basket abandonment happens when customers find there is no free shipping option.
  • Provide a range of delivery options with clear delivery times.
  • Provide tracking information for deliveries, and email or SMS updates along the way to manage customer expectations should there be any issues.

Pricing Structure 

Whilst this may seem obvious, providing customers with a clear pricing structure that includes any additional fees or costs associated with your products and services is vital. This includes breaking down the pricing structure for multiple buys. Don’t list something at one price if the price only applies to bulk buying unless it is clearly stated.

Ways to be even more transparent:

  • Include any shipping and handling fees or additional costs in the price and clearly state them in your terms and conditions 
  • Clearly outline promotional prices, especially if they require multiple items to receive the lowest price
  • Clearly show price changes when the price has recently been reduced

Payment Options

Ecommerce has opened the world up to consumers, allowing them to purchase the items they want from anywhere in the world, at a time that is convenient for them. 

If you’re selling internationally, it’s essential to consider that you’ll be catering to your target audience and having a range of familiar payment methods at the checkout will keep them from abandoning their carts. Ensure that your acceptable payment methods are clearly listed at the point of checkout and in your terms and conditions so that customers don’t need to go searching for them.

Ways to be even more transparent:

  • Clearly list all acceptable methods of payment
  • Provide pricing in the local currency
  • Provide payment options that are tailored to your target market and location

Product Transparency

Nothing is worse than ordering a product, and when you receive it, it isn’t what you expected. Providing clear product descriptions ensures customers are satisfied with their purchases once they receive them. This will reduce product complaints and negative reviews whilst building brand recognition and loyalty.

Additionally, it is essential to be clear when products are out of stock or on backorder. Providing this information will ensure customer expectations are met should they choose to continue with a product’s purchase.

Ways to be even more transparent: 

  • Provide product imagery; 360° pictures or videos are even better
  • Implement augmented reality so customers can virtually ‘try on’ products or see them within their homes
  • When products are out of stock or on backorder ensure it’s clearly labelled as such 
  • Provide clear timelines of when out of stock or backordered products will be delivered to the customer


Whilst product returns are never ideal; it’s important to have a clear strategy for them. Ensuring customers have clear communication on how to return their products, whether there is a cost involved, and how long a refund or credit will take is essential. Having these in place provides customers with peace of mind before purchasing from your business.

Ways to be more transparent:

  • Clearly show your returns window – 14/30/60-day return windows are common. If you extend these during holidays, make sure customers are notified
  • Ensure customers are aware of whether you offer free refunds or if they need to pay to return items
  • Provide clear timelines of the product return journey and how long it will take to get a refund or credit
  • Clearly state whether you provide refunds or store credit when returning items

Transparency when running your ecommerce business is crucial to your long-term success and the growth of your business. Being transparent will bolster brand loyalty with your customers and deliver the exceptional experience they want when shopping online. 

Learn more about how ShipStation works with Shopify to help make online merchants more successful by downloading our eBook. 

Written by

Maria Fagerland

Maria is a multifaceted writer and editor who is passionate about creating content that helps businesses succeed. When she's not writing, Maria can often be found in her garden tending to her plants.

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