The number of online merchants has never been higher as selling products and services online is easier than ever. There are multiple popular eCommerce platforms that are rich in features and simple to maintain. Something more – creating an online store has never been simpler and requires very little of your time. Nowadays everybody with minor computer literacy is capable of creating their very own online store but the people who know what needs to be done are the ones that stand up among the competition.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms with 9.1% of the whole market share. Currently, more than 275 800 websites are using Shopify with 4.667 added in the last month. Different reports show that Shopify’s revenue for 2018 is more than $480 billion. Basically, there is not that much that can go wrong if you choose Shopify as your primary eCommerce platform.
Building and maintaining your first online store with Shopify is simple and will not take a lot of time, however ,if you want to establish a profitable business there are a lot more things to be taken care of. In this blog post ,we’ve gathered valuable information for every eCommerce enthusiast. Nobody is perfect and may forget something important, so we are sharing our essential Shopify store launch checklist to help any in need. It may come in handy even to previous Shopify users but it is absolutely vital for everyone new to the business.
1.How Can A Checklist Help Me?
We know that every beginning is difficult and for this reason, we want to help everybody in need as much as we can. There are a number of things that every web store owner needs to take care of before the shop is online and forgetting something important is quite possible. This is why having a checklist with all important steps is a method that everybody can benefit from.
Having a checklist of the awaiting tasks will improve timing and will reduce stress. Following it will prevent you from any dull mistakes that will set you back. We live in times where valuable resources are shared freely and everybody should benefit from the correct information!
2. Add As Many Sales Channels As Possible
Many surveys through the years showed that only 7% of users shop only from a single online source. Everybody else is using different channels to purchase the needed goods. This means that if you want a profitable online store you need to adopt multi-channel retailing in your strategy and share your products to a wider audience.
You should start by figuring out what are the channels that your products can benefit the most from. For example some of the popular sales channels that you can add to your Shopify store are Amazon, Google Shopping, Kik or selling directly via social media channels like Facebook or Instagram. A survey from October showed that since Instagram sales are alive more than 29.000 stores are actively selling through the platform.
All of the above-mentioned channels will be basically connected to your main Shopify page so you can comfortably keep track of all our sales from one source. There are multiple examples of big companies that increased their sales greatly by adding an extra sales channel like Amazon or including a social media platform like Facebook into their business strategy. To sum up, using multi-channels doesn’t washout your aim in business – it even improves it!
3. Having A Custom Domain Is A Must
Adding a custom domain is the action that will show the world that you mean business! Having a custom domain is critical if you want to be seen as a professional and not just someone who is selling goods from their garage. Not to mention that a domain with your business’ name will introduce brand recognition and people can actually remember the name of your store. Nobody…I repeat nobody will take you seriously if you are using one of those start-up domains.
The first step towards this action is to conduct a research if your business name/domain you want to use is actually free. If yes – then you can directly buy the domain through Shopify. If the name is not free (something I don’t wish to anybody, but happening more and more often) you have two possible paths to follow. The first is to go back to ground zero and think of another name. This approach is necessary only if you want stick to the actual name and only that for a domain name. If not, you can try to be creative and slightly change the domain name. An example is how groups and other celebrities use “weare” or “iam” in front of their names – like “wearezombiecats”.
Of course, you can always play with the top-level domain (.com). Nowadays there are TLDs that correspond to a specific industry like .coffee; .bike; .yoga or many others.
4. Double check your Payment Gateway
The main thing when operating a business is receiving money for your offerings. As a web store owner, your customers need to accomplish their purchases and transactions successfully -without any difficulties or technical issues. In order to achieve high quality on the matter the whole payment process needs to be tested thoroughly.
Before you start to share the address of your online shop you should place a couple of orders and see if they will go through all the way. It is best to ask some friends or colleagues to do the same. The more testing – the better! After all, you can refund all those transactions immediately.
5. Include the Standard Website Pages
Operating an online store should be focused on the products, but they are not all you should care about. The image of your company is something you should take very seriously, as nobody will buy a product (no matter how awesome it is) from a suspicious-looking company. This action is part of your whole marketing strategy and is essential for every ambitious business. So, in order to make your potential customers trust your business, you should at least add a couple of pages containing information about your company, mission and other valuable information.
Let us start with the landing point of every website – the Homepage. Your Homepage will probably create the first impression in your potential customer and we all know that first impressions last long (if not forever). Be sure to invest more time in your Homepage, create a clear and understandable navigation, valuable information about your products and other important pages.
Having a proper Contact Us page is a must. If it doesn’t look adequate someone might think you are a phony. In addition all you customers should be able to contact you with any questions. Having a simple contact form is always a good idea. The same “phony” accusations may occur if you don’t have a solid About Us page. In it, be sincere and explain how did your company and product form, what are your ideas and what do you want to accomplish.
With time it is a good method to fill up an FAQ page. Sometimes an answered question in the FAQ page might turn a ‘maybe’ into a ‘buy now’. As a heads up, we can share that you need to include questions and answers about shipping time and costs, guarantee, return policies and getting in touch with representatives. Include valuable and true information in the above-mentioned pages and you will attract more customers.
6. Don’t Forget About The Power Of Email
If you have serious intentions about your online shop you must focus on the usage of e-mail communication and include it into your marketing strategy. An email is a powerful tool that every big eCommerce platform offers and every shop owner should use it wisely. Shopify offers various automated emails that you just have to customize to your own needs. Adapt and refine your templates in accordance with your customer list.
Using email for business purposes is not only about sending out newsletters or shipping/purchase information. Nowadays we have marketing email applications (MailChimp or Picreel for example) that will open up a wide gamma of opportunities. With these specific apps, you can send out awesome e-receipts or welcoming messages, shipping or abandoned cart notifications as well as order confirmation.
Even with all those messaging applications that we use email is still one of the top communication methods for business purposes. Use it wisely and a lot can be accomplished!
7. Go Through a Content Audit
If you’re working with software development you probably know very well that testing is the most important part of Quality Assurance. No matter how automated and user-friendly an eCommerce platform like Shopify is, testing is still vital. A broken link might always occur as well as something caused by human error. Basically, everything written has to be checked for any grammar or spelling mistakes because as human beings we can always mix up something in the hurry.
When it comes to the way of writing, all content in your online store should be consistent. You should follow the same style, tenses, and wording in all your written content. One could check the popular MLA and APA websites, advocating particular grammar styles. Our opinion is that written content should be unique but consistent across all the pages.
Besides the written content part it is always a good idea to check for broken links, any image or video problems, and responsiveness for different sizes of screens. The more operating systems, devices and browsers you test your Shopify store – the better! We need to be confident in our quality!
8. Optimize All Images In Your Web Store
We mentioned checking the images for problems in the previous paragraphs but there is a lot more that can be done when it comes to visuals. First of all comes the time needed for an image to load. A slowly opened image will not only bore your visitors out of your site but will damage your SEO score and will reduce your position in search engines. To avoid such problems you need to be sure that all images in your web store are optimized for web usage.
Optimizing your images for web viewing firstly means to reduce the size of the file itself. If your image has been made with a resolution above 30mpx it is suitable for printing on a billboard but will take tons of time to load in your web store. The file type is also connected to its size. For example.JPEG is smaller than.PNG, but it is better to use.GIF for thumbnails. These thumbnails should be as small as possible as they are visible all over the web store and will increase page loading time if not small enough.
Optimizing your images for SEO purposes is also important. If you want to keep your search engine ranking high you should be very descriptive in your image’s naming. Use keywords that are important for your business as you’re being crawled with their help. The same applies to all attributes. Last but not least, check if all your images are displaying in the right resolution.
9. Install an Analytics Tool
We live in times of severe business competition, so in order to succeed one needs to aim for perfection. In the Web business world this is accomplished by researching your web store’s analytics.
Shopify provides a built-in analytics tool that includes reporting but one may want to install another option as well. Some of the popular web analytics tools are Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, SE Ranking and Piwik. If you’ve never used an analytics tool before there are tons of online resources that will help you. The main point is to study your visitors and customers, their preferences, their habits and try to adapt your Shopify store according to them.
10. Having a Pre-Launch Marketing Plan Will Help A Lot
The word ‘marketing’ is kind of trendy nowadays but this is for a reason. The market is flooded with good ideas and in order to gain profit you need to plan and execute a carefully prepared marketing strategy. The best time for planning your marketing strategy is before your Shopify store goes online. If you start to think of ways to advertise after your shop is alive you are already too late.
You need to start thinking about your preferred marketing actions and document them way before the day your Shopify store becomes active, so on that day you should just initiate the needed steps. You need to work towards brand recognition from the beginning of your Shopify journey. If you feel confident you can create your marketing plan by yourself but if not, it is better to speak with a professional. There are some tricks that are not known to the broad public but can do wonders with your web store’s popularity.
11. Adjust your Tax and Shipping Settings
Conducting commerce via the Internet is far easier from opening a physical shop but it lays on the same economic pillars that are valid for all kinds of trade. The first rule, valid for every type of business is to make a profit. This might sound a bit self-explanatory but you have to calculate your shipping, rates and taxes in accordance to the production or importing costs. If this is not calculated precisely and you’re not charging enough, your store might eat your profits.
You need to calculate your prices and the needed tax and shipping settings way before your store is operational. Depending on the laws your state/country imposes you should check if you aren’t missing some tax. After all, you are a real business and you should not forget about sales tax for example. It is again a good idea to speak with a professional if you need advice.
12. Shoppers Should Be Able To Contact You
We mentioned the importance of a proper contact page in the points above but you should include your contact information in more places so that every customer can reach you. It is a good idea to include your contact information (address, telephone, social media accounts etc.) in the footer of every page. Make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get in touch with you.
The option for live chat with a web store is very popular nowadays and there are surveys showing that businesses offering live chat have up to three times better client retention and increase the customer’s cart size by more than 40%. Your Shopify store will definitely benefit from live chat and you should not underestimate this option.
13 Install Only the Essential Apps
The Shopify App Store offers hundreds of apps but you shouldn’t try and use all of them as not all of them are imperative for a brand new store. Think about the applications that will suit the needs of your products, services and customers.
As this is a Shopify store launch checklist you need to think about only the most necessary apps for a new store. Determine which applications can actually impact your sales from the beginning and install only them. For example, check out apps like Exit Offers, Receiptful, Yotpo Reviews, RetargetApp or ALT Text and think which ones of them are suitable for your business strategy.
14. Don’t Forget About the Billing information
Last but not least is the billing information. As we said before, you need to receive money seamlessly to conduct business. If you are close to the point when your 14-day trial expires you need to be sure that your billing information is set up correctly. We don’t want to miss any payments right?
Setting up an online store with Shopify is easy but making a successful business with the eCommerce platform might require a bit more. If you’re new to the online commerce business our Shopify Store Launch Checklist is the perfect help that you can get. Just follow our points, make sure that everything is done according to our advices and you will be ready and fully operational when your web store goes alive. After that you can focus on how to make your products better, how to increase your client base and gain more profit. As businessmen to businessmen – focus on the needs of the customers and there is nowhere to go wrong!