You had the spark to open an online shop and well Shopify is the easiest and super user friendly to do so. This checklist applies to any online shop not only if you are opening your eStore with Shopify.
Instead of running around aimlessly as you start a business, entertaining every frantic thought, take a methodical approach to your launch. Ease your mind and stay organized with this handy Shopify store launch checklist.
Table of Contents
Why a launch checklist is so important
Your Shopify store launch checklist
Start with a plan in hand
Why a launch checklist is so important
Using a checklist for work is one of the most effective ways to ensure that work is done well and completely. Many high-performing products and project managers use release plans or checklists for managing product launches. This simple technique offers a templated approach to planning and executing upcoming releases in a comprehensive, predictable, and efficient way.
Your Shopify store launch checklist
Even tho the list looks long don't try it to do in one day, grab a letter and a pen (exactly a letter and a pen, not a Google Document or Trello)
Go through this list slowly and the think about each step in your experience when you were shopping online.
Add your chosen sales channels
Add a custom domain
Thoroughly review your checkout experience and payment gateway settings
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 pre-launch 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 your chosen sales channels
What are the channels you shopped online before and why? Think about your audience where are they most likely to be or shop. My advice would be, focus on a maximum of three of them if you are a small team.
Here are some examples of online sales channels you can add to your Shopify store:
Buy button and checkout links
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.
2. Add a custom domain
Adding a custom domain to your site gives you brand recognition and makes it easier for people to remember your 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.
It is important to choose the domain because if a customer doesn’t trust the validity of your brand, they will not purchase.
Choose a Domain Name that helps your SEO, online traffic, unlike offline foot traffic, is most often funneled through a search engine.
3. Thoroughly review your checkout experience and payment gateway settings
Before you drive any traffic to your store, you’ll want to ensure people can actually complete a purchase. We don't want to scare you or demotivate you but according to Statista.com, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 88%. It’s wise to fix any errors and remove friction at checkout, otherwise, you risk losing more sales.
Read the full report of shopping cart abandonment rate worldwide 2020, by industry here
When testing your checkout process, you’ll want to make sure:
Shipping rates are surfaced during checkout
Discount codes can be applied in the cart
A shopper can edit their cart’s content
Familiar payment methods, such as PayPal and Shop Pay, are available
There is an option for order status tracking
The contact page can be easily accessed in case order editing is needed
An email notification is sent to confirm a purchase
A language and currency switcher and a shipping policy clearly stating who pays duties and taxes are both available if offering international sales and shipping
With Shopify Payments, you can place a test order on your site with a live payment gateway to make sure everything works.
4. Prepare your standard pages
It’s important to have a few pages that visitors can browse to learn more about your company. In Shopify’s research on what wins buyer and customer trust, we found that shoppers to a brand new store are looking for answers on whether the store is an upstanding business and if it treats its customers fairly.
Based on Shopify research, these are the pages we most recommend 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 go. The homepage is a place to establish the overall look and feel of your website and ensure you have clear navigation to browse your store.
Contact page. A Contact page offers shoppers reassurance a store is authentic. List a phone number, email, and retail address (if there is one). If potential customers can’t contact you with questions, you could be missing out on lots of sales opportunities. Consider including a contact form so they can send you a message without ever leaving your site.
About Page. Your About page is where shoppers go to learn more about your company, your brand, and the people behind your products. Many store owners overlook this page, but it can be an effective sales tool if approached in two ways:
Shoppers often are trying to make sure businesses will be around for the long term. An About page is a chance to show your store is real.
Many shoppers are interested in a business’ mission and purpose and if the business shares any of their values. Sharing your brand’s purpose, principles, and why the business was started can win you new customers who support similar causes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). 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 websites. Universally, customers often have questions about shipping, return policy, and how to get in touch.
When preparing the FAQ for your store think about what question you made in your mind after buying online.
5. Review your email notification settings
An email is a powerful tool for online store owners. On your Shopify store, there are several automated emails you’ll want to customize before launch. Edit your email templates and create sequences that nurture your list and ultimately drive sales.
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 backward—starting with the last paragraph and working your way to the top—will help you spot errors you may have missed.
When it comes to your copy, consistency is one of the most important things to remember. Adopt a particular editorial style guide, whether it’s MLA or APA. If you want to get creative with spelling or make up your own words, that’s OK, as long as it’s on-brand, but be sure to be consistent across your site.
MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is a style of formatting academic papers that is used mostly in the arts and humanities. APA stands for the American Psychological Association, the professional guild who first developed the guidelines of the style.
On the technical side, you want to look for broken links and 404s in particular, as well as any image-rendering and mobile responsiveness issues.
Always check out your site on different browsers and devices so you can understand if a bug is universal or device/browser-specific.
7. Optimize all images on your website
Slow-loading images can hurt your site’s user experience and performance in search engines, and slower load times have been shown to lower conversion rates. It’s important all your images are optimized for the web to ensure fast load times. Shopify handles the technical complexity of keeping your images fast because we know speed matters for online stores. Here’s what else you can do to improve load speed and optimize your images for the 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. Alt attributes are used for web accessibility and SEO. Again, be descriptive and consider your target keywords.
Reduce the size of your images. On Shopify, you can keep images at the same quality you’d use for print, but try to keep them at reasonable pixel size. For example, a typical thumbnail image is 50 x 50 pixels, so there’s no need to upload an image that’s 4000 x 4000 pixels.
Choose the right file type. For most online images, a good rule of thumb is to use JPEG images for photography and PNG images for graphics and icons.
Review your thumbnails. Your brand logo is incredibly important. It’s how customers associate the name of your business with a visual. Thumbnails show up all over eCommerce sites, so make sure they’re clear across their many sizes on your online store.
Test your images. You’ll want to know what’s working and what’s not and, more importantly, why. Run some A/B image tests to see which types of images work best (i.e., contextual vs. white background).
The size and type of image you upload in your web has a big impact on your web load time, and you don't want to end up paying for optimization latter after the web is online
Images typically make up 21% of an average website these days so it’s crucial that you take the time to optimize every image you upload to your site.
8. Install an analytics tool
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, but you may also want to install a third-party tool. Google Analytics is one of the most well-known and popular analytics tools, but you can also look at SE Ranking, Piwik, and Adobe Analytics. You can even use a combination of tools to analyze your business, but we recommend you get used to tracking these basic eCommerce metrics first.
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 once you go live, all you have to do is follow the steps you’ve already outlined.
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.
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 customers 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 ICMI, businesses that chat with site visitors have a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour, a 40% increase in conversion rate, and a 10% increase in average order value. Nosh Detox has seen similar results, with orders coming through live chat worth 10 times more than the site average. For those apprehensive about offering a new customer support channel, we have a great article to read that'll help you ace live chat as a small shop, How to Save Sales, and Solve Customer Problems with Live Chat.
12. Install only the essential apps
Though there are tons of apps in the Shopify App Store, not all of them are essential for a brand new business. 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 deciding which ones are most important will depend on your business and your industry. To help, we’ve compiled a list of free Shopify apps that can help streamline operations in your business, from marketing to shipping.
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 finally goes 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.
Are there any other items you’d add to this store launch checklist? Let us know in the comments below.