This is frustrating.
I want to configure my store to use a domain name that I've already purchased. I already own the domain, so I do not want to purchase one through Shopify. Easy enough, yes?
But trying to configure email in this situation is, apparently, impossible.
Under the Online Store > Domains settings, I've added my purchased domain. Shopify instructed me to point its A record to Shopify's IP address. Done. Status of the domain is now listed as "OK".
So now I want to do two things:
A) Configure email on this domain. Apparently, it's not possible to set up email forwarding within Shopify if you don't purchase the domain via Shopify. This is a foolish limitation; just give me an address where I can point my MX record, Shopify. But apparently, Shopify doesn't want to do this. So I have to configure my domain's mailserver myself. I have to spend extra money and effort to set up email hosting for the domain, when all I need is the email forwarding functionality that Shopify provides.
B) Configure my store to use an email address on this domain as its sending address when contacting my customers. Now here's the gotcha: under Settings > General > Store Details, I can specify an email address on my pre-purchased domain as the address I want Shopify to use when sending emails to my customers. BUT because the MX record for my domain does not point to Shopify's mailserver, when Shopify attempts to send email using that address, it trips spam triggers (SPF) in many of my customers' email boxes. As a result, my emails end up in their junk folder.
The only way around this (that I can see) is to specify firstname.lastname@example.org as the sending address in my settings. This is the native address that Shopify is using to send emails to customers, and won't trip spam triggers. But if I do this, and one of my customers attempts to reply to the email that Shopify sent, their reply will go to email@example.com, and will disappear into the ether. So then I've got a mad customer, and I don't even know it.
So...what do you recommend, friends? Is there no way to effectively configure a pre-purchased domain on a Shopify store, and expect email to actually work?
Depending on your needs you could check out a provider like Zoho mail (free for up to 25 mailboxes) or Google Apps for business. Our mail system isn't currently equipped to set up a forwarding through a domain that isn't one of our own as you said, but I will definitely pass along the feedback for better external email support!
Hi there Clay,
As Nathan mentioned you can host your email with a third party service like Zoho to get this all accomplished.
We've really tried to simplify this process, email for merchants is essential and we're trying to provide the best merchant solutions possible. The best solution was to offer this email forwarding only for domains we control. We're not running a full mail server, but rather forwarding emails at that domain to your email.
We're able to offer email forwarding since we can set up our infrastructure AND the domain settings automatically for your email at the same time. If we were to let you know where to adjust the domain settings our settings wouldn't match up and it still wouldn't work, while causing the same amount of frustration.
The best solution for your case and mine (I have several small stores that I started before Shopify, I'm in the same boat) is to use Google Apps ($5 a month email hosting) or Zoho (free). This provides the MX endpoint. You can then add an SPF record for smtp.shopify.com with your domain provider that would be similar to this:
v=spf1 include:shops.shopify.com ~all
Do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT use Zoho mail. Pay the $5 per unique user for google and stay as far away from Zoho as possible. I have imformed Shopify of the troubles with zoho a few times now. Zoho has a long standing issue of multiple outright outages for one... secondly and much more damaging to your business is that there is along standing ongoing issue of mail sent from zoho based accounts being automatically flagged by the receiving e-mail servers as spam. This is not a content based spam detection (say you have multiple hyperlinks in your outgoing e-mail) but rather just by the fact that your outgoing message left from a zoho server - the receiving servers (some) are identifying these as spam automatically. It gets worse.... Customer e-mails you and asks a question, you reply to their e-mail.... that return message (even though theiy initiated the contact with an outgoing message) can (and in my experience often did) end up in the recipients spam folder. As we all know - spam folders dont regulary get checked. As a result I have had multiple cases where some customers tried contacting me again, or worse in some cases where I was sending business e-mails to my own contacts - they were never received.
I've informed Shopify about this at least 3 times now - most recently early this week when I needed help switching everything over to google's business apps. The chat support told me he would indeed pass this message along up the chain of command. In my opinion Shopify needs to STOP promoting Zoho as an option.
Don't believe this review of zoho.... do a google search for "zoho mail going to spam" and you will have more than enough to read about to occupy your time!
I just had a quick look at your domain and it looks like now you do have records set for Google verifications, but I'm unsure if you ever had set SPF records for Zoho. Was this something you set up with Zoho?
Its not possible to just use Zoho without lining up all the DNS settings, well it is possible — however there will be spam flagging issues just like you mentioned.
I would warn about interpreting the rsults of the google search for "zoho going to spam." This isn't fully accurate. There are many people that have this issue (200,000 search results for zoho), but there are even more with "gmail going to spam" (28 million actually).
I wouldn't worry about those results. Gmail is just as reliable as any other email system but the entire picture needs to be understood. With Zoho the service is free, and because of that there is a bit less guidance readily available.
Don't hestiate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns
I'm having lots of issues with customers who have a gmail account. Why is this still an issue?? They think I am being forgetful, and I'm looking at their email account and knowing that they did not get their invoices, confirmation emails, etc. It's a HUGE problem now that Google is so dominant in the email industry. Shopify staff, you've got to do something about this, please. I cannot believe this is still an issue 6 years later.