How we set up our online store, Part 3: Domain, Email & Phone
Now that we had picked our ecommerce platform, we needed to get a domain name and email accounts. I also decided to set up a company phone number as I remembered seeing research that ecommerce sites that prominently display a phone number convert better.
Initially we had wanted to pick “lulubee” as the company name, but as “lulubee.com” was already taken, we went with “lullubee.com”, which was pretty close and had a nice ring to it, similar to “lullaby”. I have been using Godaddy.com for several years, and although I dislike how their site tries to constantly push you to buy stuff you don’t need, I have been quite pleased with their customer service. I can always get someone on the phone and they are always technical enough to be able to provide useful help. I bought the domain and changed the DNS record to point to our new Shopify store.
Next step was to go to Google Apps, and set up an account. This provided us with @lullubee.com email addresses, Google Spreadsheets, Google Docs, Google Groups, and a bunch of other Google services. I made sure to set up a free account which allows up to 10 email addresses. I did some more DNS record modifications on Godaddy, and our lullubee email addresses started working immediately.
From within the Google Apps dashboard I set up a Google Group for our customer support emails, and gave it the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. I set the group permissions to allow anyone within the lullubee team to view the messages sent to the group, but I also selected the checkbox to “Allow anyone on the internet to post messages”. I then subscribed all of the lullubee team to this group. This allows anyone to post a message to email@example.com, but only lullubee team members will see the messages or can access the group. Now whenever someone emails firstname.lastname@example.org, that email gets forwarded to anyone within lullubee that has subscribed to it, and we can go to the group to see all the past email threads. Once we get significant customer support volume, we will probably want to upgrade to a dedicated CRM system, but for now this works fine.
The final step was to set up a company phone number. I didn’t want to put our personal cellphone or home phone number on the website, for obvious reasons, and we don’t even own a landline (who does these days?), so I looked for a virtual phone solution. At first I hoped Google Voice would work, but I was dismayed to find out that Google Voice did not allow multiple numbers to point to the same phone, and as we already use Google Voice on all our numbers we needed to find another solution. I checked out a bunch of them, RingCentral, Grasshopper, Phone.com, and some others, and ended up going with Line2 as they had the cheapest monthly plan, at $9.99/month. I was surprised that I couldn’t find a free virtual phone service. As I was typing up this post, I went back to the Line2 site and it seems that they have added a free package, which I plan to test in the near future. Line2 has an iPhone App that initially gets the call, presumably using the data connection, and it has a different ring, so we know if its a customer calling the lullubee number from the website, and we can answer the phone appropriately. If you don’t answer via the iPhone app, it forwards the call to your regular phone number.
So now we had our basic website up and running on the lullubee.com domain, email addresses for the team, a support email address, and a company phone number proudly displayed on the site.