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The Essential Shopify Store Launch Checklist

shopify.in/blog/shopify-store-launch-checklist

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 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 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.

“Good checklists, are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the
most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a
plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the
ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are,
above all, practical.”

—Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto

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

1. Add any available sales channels


A 2017 survey from the Harvard Business Review found that just 7% of consumers shop
only online; the consumer base is growing increasingly multi-channel; in fact, 73% use
multiple channels to conduct a single purchase with a brand.

Want to reap the benefits of multi-channel retailing for your online store? Find out how
to choose the sales channels will work best for you, and then add the available sales
channels to your store.

Here are some examples of sales channels that you can add to your Shopify store:

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.

Cupshe, which generates more than 3767.75₹M in annual revenue, attributes 35% of
their sales directly or indirectly to social selling.

When ORO LOS ANGELES launched Shopping on Instagram, they lifted MoM revenue by
29.3%, directly attributable to Instagram.

And when Sarah’s Treats & Treasures opened a sales channel on Amazon, they quickly
gained traction on the platform. Now, it’s responsible for 76.8% of their orders.

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
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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. Here’s where you can flex your creative muscles. Pepper, for
example, uses wearpepper.com for their URL.

You can also use a different top-level domain (TLD). A TLD is the .com part, but you’ll
notice that many websites have different variations, such as .gov and .org. Now, there
are tons of TLDs to choose from.

.store and .shop are common TLDs in ecommerce, but you can get creative here too.
Driftaway Coffee’s website is driftaway.coffee, for instance.

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. Place a test order on your site with a live
payment gateway 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 I 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. The Mood Store provides all the
necessary contact info on their page.

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.

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
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their website. Universally, customers often have questions about shipping, return policy
and how to get in touch. Ugly Drinks has a searchable FAQ page that they built on
Zendesk.

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.

Dollar Shave Club uses a branded template for their shipping notification emails.

Set up an email marketing app like Seguno or Klaviyo, and consider the following emails:

Welcome series
E-receipts
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.
Subscribe to a particular style of grammar, whether it’s MLA or APA is up to you. 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.

Hire expert help today


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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 web to ensure fast loading times.

At a glance, here’s how to optimize your images for web:

1. 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.
2. Optimize your alt attributes carefully. The alt attributes are used for web
accessibility and SEO. Again, be descriptive and consider your target
keywords.
3. Reduce the file size of your images. For 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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. 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.

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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Watch Video At: https://youtu.be/ZUG9qYTJMsI

A great brand can help your products stand out from


the crowd. Get a crash course in small business
branding with our free, curated list of high-impact
articles.

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 shoppers can get in touch. You’ll want to
include your business address, phone number and even live chat on most pages of your
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website if you can.

According to Total Retail, businesses that chat with site visitors increase cart size up to
48% and have three times better customer retention. Plus, live chat sessions have also
been known to increase order size. Orders that come through live chat for Nosh Detox
are worth ten times more than the site average.

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.

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.

Are there any other items you’d add to this store launch checklist? Let us know in the
comments below.

Ready to launch your online store? Start your free 14-day trial of
Shopify—no credit card required.

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