Can U run an online store without a phone number?

12 replies
I have access to physical products I could easily sell online via an online store, but I have zero interest in answering phone calls or taking orders over the phone. I have no problem doing customer support via email though.

Is there an excepted method or strategy for running an online store without a phone number? Just accept PayPal payments?

If I sold enough and it was steady enough, I would expand it and hire an employee to do the phone and then accept mail-in payments (money orders) and phone orders.

Would customers find it acceptable if your e-commerce biz has online payments but no phone number? Thanks for any advice on this.
#number #online #phone #run #store
  • Profile picture of the author Matt Wahle
    Did it for over 10 years. No big deal.

    Put all your business info on the site (the more you can include, the better), just don't mention a telephone number. *shrug*

    Make sure you prominently post an email address where they can contact you though, and answer emails promptly!!

    I know there are people who claim they will not order from a site that doesn't have a phone number. That's fair enough; I won't order from a site that doesn't have an email address and a real live snail-mail address that resolves to something legitimate on Google.

    However, I don't think a telephone number is as much of a hindrance as many people like to claim. I received only 2-3 complaints per year about not having a telephone number (and I emailed those people back to thank them for their feedback), and let's just say there was NO PROBLEM with order volume.

    Of course the alternative is, you could always get a cheap toll-free number from Kall8, and hook up a voicemail message that asks for their email address for the reply. LOL

    MW
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111120].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Wintermute
    Okay, I guess I'll go for it then
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111250].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Mukul Verma
    You can run your site how you want it.

    Having a 1 800 # makes people think you are bigger, more credible and make more sales. Here is the kicker, people will call you less, they just want to know they can call if they need anything
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111362].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Jagged
    Not sure how other hosting services are but with hostgator....with the business plan (12.95 mo)...it includes a free 800#.

    *from hostgator:
    The Business plan provides a free toll-free number for your web site and business.
    Minutes Included Per Month: 100 -- Additional Minutes: 4.9 Cents
    Included minutes are based on a calendar month. By default, you'll be able to receive calls from US callers only. You can enable calls from Canada in your control panel, but will be billed 6.9 cents per minute for all calls from Canada due to the increased costs of providing service there. This service is provided and supported by Voipo for new HostGator clients.*

    A phone is not necessary but it does add a bit of credibility to your online presence....
    I ran online stores for years without one...but recently did add a 800# to cover them all...to early to tell if it improved business...i'll keep track of that...

    Good luck,
    Ken
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111443].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Wintermute
      So what would you say? Something like this:


      "1-800-555-7777, call for support but we do not take phone orders..."


      Eh, I don't know what to say ha ha.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111460].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Jagged
        Originally Posted by Wintermute View Post

        So what would you say? Something like this:


        "1-800-555-7777, call for support but we do not take phone orders..."


        Eh, I don't know what to say ha ha.

        Word of advice...
        If your planning on having a phone for your online store(s)
        ....know your products so you can answer questions about them
        ....know your store policies so there is no question when asked...
        ....have patience with customers...treat them the way you would want to be treated at another companys customer service desk...

        Make up a little binder with:
        • product info & specifications
        • photo's (if possible)
        • shipping methods
        • shipping weights
        • return policies
        • privacy policies
        • product supplier / manufacturers phone #'s for more technical qeustions...
        Keep this by the phone for easy reference....

        Nothing looks worse to customers than contacting the one in charge & having them know nothing about what they are selling...

        JMO,
        Ken
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111511].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Mukul Verma
        Originally Posted by Wintermute View Post

        So what would you say? Something like this:


        "1-800-555-7777, call for support but we do not take phone orders..."


        Eh, I don't know what to say ha ha.
        You can state that and if you need a reason. I do not take phone orders, but will walk a customer through it on the site. I would say something like "The reason is for customers protection of there information. I use Paypal and Google Checkout which both put a lot into protecting clients information. We dont get the information and do not want it. This way our customers are protected" and they always understand it is for there own safety.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1112469].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JWB
    Originally Posted by Wintermute View Post

    I have access to physical products I could easily sell online via an online store, but I have zero interest in answering phone calls or taking orders over the phone. I have no problem doing customer support via email though.

    Is there an excepted method or strategy for running an online store without a phone number? Just accept PayPal payments?

    If I sold enough and it was steady enough, I would expand it and hire an employee to do the phone and then accept mail-in payments (money orders) and phone orders.

    Would customers find it acceptable if your e-commerce biz has online payments but no phone number? Thanks for any advice on this.

    While it is entirely possible to run an online store without a phone
    number,,,I think it would be a mistake to do so....

    Having a number on your site gives your store a huge boost of credibilty.
    When you dont have a number, future customers could get a sense that you may be trying to hide something..and as we all know, perception is everything...

    By all means, get a number for your site...
    Even hosting services like Hostgator have 800 numbers that you can get to simply have it available for your website...
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111467].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author TPFLegionaire
    I would very much recommend a phone number , I would even say to put a freephone number (remember to put an alternative that is not freephone)

    You could even get a number with revenue sharing although I would not consider a premium line unless that is part of the business plan.

    Nowadays you can have the phone line going to a voice mail and then the voice mail directly transcribed to your email with no human intervention.

    Just because you are comfortable communicating by email does not mean your customer are.

    Another possible solution is a live assistant software (there are some very good ones completly free, so you can chat(write) live to your prospects.

    Also, consider outsourcing your phone answering service. I use Odesk to find people (see the many outsourcing thread on this forum).

    If you would like to see how these are implemented, keep an eye on one of my site : vitrines.co.uk
    I am building it right now and it will have frephone and live assistant (first maned by me, then probably outsourced), hopefully by the end of the week.

    I think it is part and parcel of doing business to try to give as many opportunities for prospects and customers to get in touch with you.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.Good luck with your project.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111528].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Matt Wahle
    The "free" 800# provided by Hostgator is crap... it completely lacks the features needed by many businesses. You'd be better off getting a $10 hosting account and getting a $2.95 Kall8 number (10 + 2.95 = 12.95 ... same price) which will buy you voicemail, voicemail-to-email, call announcing, custom routing by number & time, custom blocking by number and region, fax, fax-to-email........ ALL included in the base price.

    Forgot to mention earlier that we designed our site so that the lack of phone number was not obvious. Like, we didn't leave the phone-number-should-be-here spot blank. We filled it with prominent graphics that referenced our customer satisfaction guarantees, and links to Customer Support resources (FAQ, Contact Us, etc.). We filled that space up comfortably so it looked natural and it wasn't like the phone number was glaringly missing. To be honest with you, I wonder how many people even noticed.....

    MW
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1111802].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author KDStyle
    You can make onlain store without a phone number, but this is not good idea. If customers want to ask you something in real time, it`s will be impossible...
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[1112352].message }}

Trending Topics