Why can't I use my Gmail or Yahoo email address for the store's merchant emails?
In a previous article, we describe how 3dcart merchants can control which email address their store's message appear to be coming from when they are sent to recipients.
By using the sections outlined in that article, you can specify what the "From" email address is on each of the messages generated and sent by your 3dcart store. For example, if the Merchant Information email is set to be owner@[yourstore].com, all messages coming from the store will appear to come from that specific email address. Additionally, if the new order confirmation email template is edited to include sales@[yourstore].com then all order confirmation emails will appear to be coming from your store's sales department.
It is important to note however, that the email address specified for your store should be for either your specific domain or a domain that you have DNS control over.
Why does it matter what email address I use?
The reason it is important to use only your domain's emails for these sections is due to something called Sender Policy Framework or SPF for short.
What exactly is SPF?
SPF is a way for Internet Service Providers to help curb the amount of unsolicited emails coming into their networks. When an email is received by most Internet Service Providers, the receiving mail server will check who the sending email appears to be, and what IP address the message originated from. It then checks the email domain's SPF record to ensure that the IP address the message came from is allowed to send email on behalf of that domain.
To help explain it a bit clearer, let's say the following applies to your store:
When the recipient's service (Earthlink) recieves the email, it will check to see who the email says it's coming from. In the above scenario, the email says it's coming from HotMail. The receiving mailserver then checks the IP address that the email originated from and sees that it's coming from 126.96.36.199. It then checks HotMail's SPF record to see if that IP address is allowed to send email as coming from HotMail. Since it won't find the IP address on Hotmail's SPF record, the message is flagged as possbile spam on Earthlink's spam filtration system.
Usually, if it only happens a few times, the messages will be allowed through. However if the SPF check is failed multiple times, eventually the ISP will block all incoming email from that specific server's IP address and will prevent all email from getting to all of their recipients causing further problems.
So how do I prevent this?
Simple. Be sure to use only email addresses @[yourdomain] or a domain that you have control over. The reason for this is because - as a 3dcart merchant - your store already has the necessary SPF record information added to it by default. So by using your own store's domain, you can ensure that the SPF record checks done my the ISPs never fail.
Aside from the technical aspect however, there's also a practical reason for using your own domain name for your store. It's simply more professional. Place yourself in the shopper's place and think of how secure you would feel in your transaction if an order was placed on a specific domain, but your receipt came from firstname.lastname@example.org instead of the domain you just ordered from...
Well... That's a good point, but I also have another domain for my main company presence. What if I wanted to use THAT as an email address for my 3dcart store?
Fair enough. This is a genuine situation that some merchants may face. You have mulitple stores, but one main parent company and you would like all emails from all stores to appear as coming from the same parent company.
If this is the case, then you will need to add 3dcart's SPF records to your alternate domain. The proper SPF record is as follows:
v=spf1 include:spf.protection.3dcart.com ~all
Presumably, since you own the alternate domain name, you also have control over its DNS configurations, so you can simply add an SPF record to the other domain as needed. Just check with your DNS provider's support on how to do this. Once done, then your email address @[alternate-domain] will work for your store without any issues.