You’re finally launching your Shopify store after all your hard work. It’s exciting, but can quickly become overwhelming.
A million thoughts run through your mind. You aren’t sure you’ve completed everything necessary for a smooth launch day.
Are all of your products loaded correctly? Have you created a marketing plan to promote your store? Does your website look trustworthy?
Instead of running around aimlessly as you start a business, entertaining every frantic thought, take a methodical approach to yo
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Why a launch checklist is so important
Your store looks great, your products are loaded and ready to go, and you've set up all of your social accounts. Are you forgetting something?
With so many moving parts, it’s easy to miss a simple but critical step in a successful business launch. When you need something to go well, a checklist can help reduce ambiguity and streamline the work that must get done.
Pilots and astronauts use a checklist for every flight. After checklists were created for the B-17, pilots flew 1.8 million hours with 18 B-17s without incident and proved to the government that the aircraft was safe.
Furthermore, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine famously found that checklists help decrease complications and mistakes in medical care.
Even when the stakes are much lower, the pen to page approach is still a powerful way to cut through the fog and surface the can’t-miss tasks. So, it can even make sense to create a simple, effective checklist when you’re launching your Shopify store. Let's explore how to do just that.
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Your Shopify store launch checklist
- Add any available sales channels
- Add a custom domain
- Double check your payment gateway
- Prepare your standard pages
- Review your email notification settings
- Conduct a content audit
- Optimize all images on your website
- Install an analytics tool
- Have a prelaunch marketing plan
- Adjust your tax and shipping settings
- Make it easy for shoppers to contact you
- Install only the essential apps
- Set up your billing information
1. Add any available sales channels
Numerous studies on online purchase behaviors and consumer preferences have found that 65% of consumers are comfortable purchasing from third-party sellers if they are active on known marketplaces and verified platforms.
In our blog on the need to diversify your sales channels, we covered how listing your business on popular online marketplaces and selling sites can help you generate more brand awareness and sell more.
Based on who your target audience is, you can explore adding sales channels to your Shopify store with the help of apps. Explore them here.
Some of the important ones in India that we’d recommend include:
- Google shopping
All sales channels connect with the core of your Shopify business, so you can easily keep track of orders, products, and customers across all platforms.
For example, Vahdam Teas’ primary sales channel is their online store on Shopify:
But they have also listed their products on channels like Amazon to reach more consumers from their target audience:
2. Add a custom domain
This is usually the first thing I do when I’m opening a store, but depending on how you work, it might be the last thing on your mind. Adding a custom domain for your site will give you brand recognition and make it easier for people to remember the URL.
You’ll want to conduct a domain name search first to see if your business name is available. If it is, and the name isn't already a trademark in use by another business in your industry, you can purchase your custom domain name directly through Shopify.
If your custom domain name isn’t available, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go back to the drawing board. You can use these domain name tips and tools to come up with one that suits your business the best.
Remember, a domain name is more than just a digital identity. It has a big impact on the trust the online shoppers have on your brand as you start to sell online.
Here are some example of custom domain from Udyan Tea and Blue Tokai:
3. Double-check your payment gateway settings
Here’s a quick one: Before you drive any traffic to your store, you’ll want to ensure people can actually complete a purchase.
Remember to go through the different payment methods that your target audience prefers to use while making online purchases. For example, cash on delivery is a popular payment mode chosen by consumers in India.
Once you have set up the payment gateways, place a test order on your site to make sure everything works. You can refund your order immediately afterwards.
4. Prep your standard pages
It’s important to have a few static pages for visitors to browse and learn more about your company.
Here are a few pages we recommend most online stores include in their sitemap:
Homepage: Your homepage is arguably the most important page on your site. It’s often the first place people land and if not, the second place they’ll go. Make sure you have clear navigation to get to your store, as well as the other important static pages listed below.
Contact: If potential customers can’t contact you with questions, you could be missing out on lots of sales opportunities. On your contact page, provide information on all of the ways shoppers can get in touch with you. Consider including a contact form so they can send you a message without ever leaving your site.
Here’s an example of a simple contact page from Skippi Ice Pops:
About: Your about page is where shoppers go to learn more about your company and your brand. Many store owners overlook this page, but it can be an effective sales tool if approached with the strategy.
Here’s an example of a good about us page from Dohful:
Frequently asked questions (FAQs): At launch, you might not have lots of information around which questions customers will ask the most. To craft an effective FAQ page, you can predict inquiries and also look at competitors to see what questions they answer on their website.
Universally, customers often have questions about shipping, return policy and how to get in touch.
For example, CosMix tackles this consumer need for information by adding a section on their product pages.
Store: Last but certainly not least is your actual store. Many ecommerce sites have a separate homepage and store page. This page is usually called “shop” or “store” in the site menu and navigation.
5. Review your email notification settings
Email is a powerful tool for online store owners. On your Shopify store, there are several automated emails that you’ll want to customize before launch. Edit your email templates and create sequences that nurture your list and ultimately drive sales.
Your emails are also responsible for customer engagement; keeping online shoppers that choose to buy from you, actively engaged with your brand to continue buying in the coming period of time as well!
For example, here’s a simple order confirmation email from Capt Zack, an online store for pet supplies and food:
Some of the most important email marketing automations you should have in place include the following:
- Welcome series
- Abandoned cart notifications
- Order confirmation
- Shipping notifications
6. Conduct a content audit
Sometimes you’ll be so close to your work, you won’t notice small mistakes like spelling, grammar, or broken links. Reviewing backwards, starting at the last paragraph and making your way up, will help you spot errors that you may have missed before.
When it comes to the copy, consistency is the most important thing to remember.
If you want to get creative with spelling or make up your own words, it’s okay if it’s on brand, but it should be the same across your site.
On the technical side, you want to look for broken links and 404s in particular, as well as any image-rendering issues and mobile-responsiveness. Check it out on different browsers and devices so you can understand if a bug is universal or device-/browser-specific.
Looking for a second set of eyes to ensure your store is ready to launch? The Shopify Experts Marketplace helps connect you with experienced Shopify agencies and freelancers who you can hire to audit your store and give additional guidance.
7. Optimize all images on your website
Slow-loading images can hurt your site’s user experience and performance in search engines, especially if you’re running a flash sale for your store at launch. It’s important to make sure all your images are optimized for the web to ensure fast loading times.
At a glance, here’s how to optimize your images for web:
- Be descriptive when naming your images. This helps with the SEO ranking of your site and product pages. Use keywords that you’re trying to rank for.
- Optimize your alt attributes carefully. The alt attributes are used for web accessibility and SEO. Again, be descriptive and consider your target keywords.
- Reduce the file size of your images. For the web, you don’t need the same quality as you would for print. You can also use a free tool like TinyPNG to compress images and further reduce the file size.
- Choose the right file type. Generally, you’ll want to stick with .jpg or .png, but you might also use a .gif for thumbnails or decorative images.
- Optimize your thumbnails. Thumbnails show up all over ecommerce sites, so they have a noticeable impact on page load times. Make sure you use the smallest image possible.
- Test your images. You’ll want to know what’s working and what’s not and, more importantly, why. Run some A/B tests to see which types of images work best (i.e. contextual vs. white background).
8. Get a complete understanding of Shopify Analytics
Analytics are important to set up from day one. This data will give you valuable insight into your visitors and customers.
Your Shopify store will have its own set of analytics reporting built-in. There are a number of metrics that this dashboard presents to you - from store performance, visitor insights, customer insights, sales channel performance, marketing performance and more.
Hence, make sure you have understood your analytics dashboard and where you can find the data you’re looking for, and what it means.
If you’re new to analytics, read this guide on Shopify analytics and reporting.
9. Have a pre-launch marketing plan
Once you launch your site, you’ll want to make sure people know about it. The best way to do that is with a marketing plan.
Document your marketing plan so that once you go live, all you have to do is follow the steps you’ve already outlined.
Again, we can look to Dollar Shave Club as an example. At launch, the razor company set out to disrupt the industry. And they created a video to share that vision, which quickly gained brand recognition.
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10. Adjust your tax and shipping settings
You’ll want to check that your tax settings and shipping rates are appropriate for the product(s) you’re selling.
Otherwise, you could unknowingly eat into your profits by not charging enough. Double check your tax and shipping settings before launching your store.
Depending on where your business and customers are located, you might need to add sales tax. Not sure which tax settings to use? Your best bet is to consult with an accountant familiar with taxes in your area.
We also recommend learning and complying with the requirements of e-invoicing GST.
11. Make it easy for shoppers to contact you
Remember that contact page we recommended you set up? That’s not the only place where you should have information on how shoppers can get in touch.
You’ll want to include your business address, phone number and even live chat on most pages of your website if you can.
According to Freshworks, 41% of consumers prefer live chat to reach a business and 32% prefer getting support on more convenient channels like phone and chat.
We also now recommend adding commonly used channels like WhatsApp to make it easier for consumers to reach you. Read more about it here.
For example, Shumee, an online store for baby products offers support on WhatsApp to assist visitors in making the right purchase:
12. Install only essential apps
Though there are tons of apps in the Shopify App Store, not all of them are essential for a brand new store. In fact, some won’t make sense for your online store at all.
When you’re just getting ready to launch, you’ll want to install only the most essential apps, and which ones are most important will depend on your business and your industry.
Some must-haves we recommend include:
There are a few other Shopify apps we recommend to bring efficiency to your business operations. Check them out here.
We also recommend integrating your ecommerce with every social media effort you put in. Read more about it here.
13. Set up your billing information
If you’re coming to the end of your 14-day free trial, set up your store’s billing information to ensure there aren’t any hiccups when your store is finally live.
Start with a plan in hand
Now that we've taken a look at the essential launch items for your Shopify store, it's time to flip the switch and start selling.
But don’t forget to carefully follow through this checklist. Don’t rush the process!
Haven’t gotten an online store set up yet?