You run an ecommerce store, and you reason that everything is done online these days, so you decide you don’t need a dedicated phone line for your business.

But is that really the right move…or are you missing out on potential business as a result?

Let’s look at situations where you should have a customer service phone line, as well as situations where it might not be necessary, since every business’ needs are different.

You Should Have a Phone Line If…

Having an 800-number front and centre on your website can instil confidence in your customers and make your business seem more trustworthy. It’s a subtle psychological trigger: having a number makes your company seem more legitimate.

Having a phone number for your ecommerce site communicates to your customers that you are ready and eager to help if they have a question or issue. Let’s look at a few examples of when you should consider having a dedicated line for your business.

1. Your Audience Skews Older

While there are other means of communicating with customers, like chat and email, consider your target customer. If they’re older, they may not be comfortable with these communication tools, and may prefer to talk to a real, live human on the phone.

To ignore your audience’s needs could cost you a lot: it turns out that Baby Boomers spend more online than Millennials!

2. Customers Have Questions/Issues That Can’t Be Addressed Online

Your FAQs page may only get you so far. While certainly, customers have standard questions about shipping and returns that can be addressed on your website, your products or services may require more hand-holding.

If you have products that can be customised or history has shown that the questions your customers ask are diverse, having a dedicated phone line can ensure that you answer those questions and encourage people to buy in the moment.

3. You Thrive on the Upsell

While shoppers can buy your products online, you may actually sell more if you interact directly with them. In fact, if you dedicate resources to upselling, you might see 70-95% of your sales from upsells.

When a customer calls about a product, your customer service staff (or you, if you’re a one-person operation) should be trained on how to gently nudge him/her to buying more.

Here are some tactics:

  • Notify them of a special offer on that particular product.
  • Tell them if they reach a certain purchase threshold, they will receive free shipping.
  • Offer him/her an exclusive discount if they increase their purchase total.

Related: Boost Your Profits By Upselling and Cross-Selling

4. Your Products are High-Dollar

Buying a toothbrush online requires zero mental energy beyond deciding what colour. But some products — such as artwork, high-end jewellery, and electronics — are bigger decisions for shoppers. Some of these categories, particularly electronics, are highly competitive based on price, so anything you can do to sway a shopper to buy from you is worth the investment.

In this case, your website may just be the warm-up. You might make the actual sale online after you walk through the features and benefits of the product with the caller. She may simply want to feel good about the decision and does after talking to your company.

You May Not Need a Phone Line If…

While there are reasons to consider having a customer service phone line for your ecommerce store, the fact is: it’s an expense you might not need to invest in. Not only do you need to sign up for actual phone service, but you may also need an automated system as well as customer service reps. For the very small ecommerce business, these may be expenses beyond their reach.

In these scenarios, however, you might not need a phone line at all.

1. You Only Sell on Amazon

Selling on Amazon provides many perks, and one is that shoppers really don’t expect an individual seller to have its business number on a product page (and Amazon itself makes it notoriously difficult to find a customer service number on the site). Amazon sellers that respond promptly to customer inquiries online usually have better Amazon seller metrics, so put your focus there instead of worrying about having a phone number.

2. If Chat and Email are Sufficient

If you’ve been using other forms of communication for customer service, like email and chat, and have had no complaints or issues, why fix what isn’t broken? Especially if your audience skews younger, these are tools that can be highly effective (and cost-effective) at reaching your customers.

3. You Have a Personal Relationship with Clients

If, for example, you sell to other businesses and have a personal interaction with each and every client, they probably have your email and cell phone number, and that suffices. As long as they can reach you, there’s no reason to invest in fancy phone services.

Your Options for Customer Communication

Whether you decide to invest in a phone line or not, know what options are available to you to connect with customers.

  • Google Voice: Your very basic option when adding a phone line for your business is Google Voice; it’s a free phone number you can access through your cell phone, and you can set up the voicemail to be for your business rather than personal. The only limitation is that you are the only one who can access this number through your cell, so it’s ideal if you’re planning to answer all business-related calls.
  • Auto Attendant Services: By setting up automated prompts on your business phone line, you can reduce the number of calls your reps actually take. For example: if customers can call to track an order or check their balance through the automated system, only the calls with product questions will get fielded to the reps.
  • Live Chat: Customer service reps can address customer questions on your website through a chatting app. You can even hire people from a customer service chat company to manage those inquiries for you.
  • Chatbots: Alternately, you can use chatbots, which use artificial intelligence to help customers without human assistance. Chatbots can answer frequently asked questions or direct a shopper to a particular product.


Deciding if and how to offer phone support is a really tough one especially for small ecommerce businesses with limited staff. The decision to have a phone line will depend on your ecommerce business’ specific needs so think carefully before you make the call!

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