The Essential Shopify Pre-Launch Checklist

by | Apr 4, 2022 | eCommerce

Starting an online store can be an exciting part of your business journey. But while thrilling, it can also be a lot to juggle. How are you supposed to load inventory? How do you create a content marketing strategy? And who the heck is going to promote all this work you’re doing? A Shopify checklist can help you take a systematic approach to launching your store. We cover the ten essential steps in setting up a Shopify store to ease your mind and help you stay on top of your progress.

Before you start setting up a Shopify store

Starting a Shopify store is one of the best decisions you can make for your online business. With it, customers can purchase our products and have access wherever and whenever they want through their smartphones or tablets. To start a successful e-commerce site, you must have the right tools and infrastructure in place from day one – this will help ensure customer retention and increased revenue due to the proportion growth rate over time.

Most businesses first consult an expert about the best marketing strategies for their niche when they launch their online stores. Digital marketing specialists can develop content and media strategies to promote your business on social media platforms. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or TikTok are essential as these platforms have millions of active monthly users. Experts can also advise you on local laws and regulations and provide advice related to your upcoming store.

Below we’ll give you some brainstorming ideas to start toying around before signing up for your paid Shopify account. (psst, you also have a 14-day free trial you can use before you commit to the right plan).

  • Do you already have an e-commerce store? Because it’ll be easy enough to migrate it to Shopify.
  • What sales channel would you be keen on utilising?
  • You can also opt to buy an existing Shopify store with a robust online presence.
  • Think about pricing plans and what each Shopify plan offers.
  • What sales channels will you be using?

CONTENTS:

  1. Set up your online store
  2. Establish your sales channels
  3. Add a custom domain
  4. Review your checkout process
  5. Create your non-product pages
  6. Conduct a site and content audit
  7. Product and image optimisation
  8. Install essential Shopify Apps
  9. Build your pre-launch marketing plan
  10. Finally setup billing and business data

Shopify Themes

1) Set up your online store

The first step is to set up an online storefront. This process varies depending on what type of business you’re starting. Still, it generally involves filling out forms with your information so that they can be stored securely by Shopify’s servers. Information you’ll need to provide includes:

  • Name of your store
  • Billing information
  • Tax information
  • Choice of payment provider (we recommend Shopify Payments – powered by Stripe
  • Shipping information
  • Locations – addresses for dispatch and returns

Once all the nitty-gritty details are clarified, the fun can begin! Top tip: while you’re here, set up email notifications about order emails, local pickup and delivery emails, customer emails, and shipping emails.

At this point, it is also time to select your store theme. There are lots of Themes out there. However, as with everything, cheap is not always the best. Shopify has around 90 Themes that are from approved companies. These themes include page builders for every area of your Shopify site. They are packed with features that you will want on your store, including, but not limited to:

  • Offers and discounts
  • Recommended products
  • Email Capture
  • Full customisation
  • Enhanced support
  • Collection filtering
  • Fast store speed loading
  • Mobile ready
  • Gift cards
  • Social shares
  • Mega menus

There are more features than this, but you get a general idea. Check out these Shopify Themes.


Shopify Sales Channels

2) Establish your sales channels

Search engines aren’t the only platforms that allow your Shopify store to become discoverable. A multichannel sales strategy will enable more traffic to your store.

Examples of sales channels include:

  • Instagram
  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • Facebook Shop
  • Messenger
  • Whatsapp
  • Google Shopping
  • Pinterest.

Each channel will require its marketing strategy and resource efforts, so it’s essential to conduct thorough research to determine which channels will be most successful for your business. Because this is your first Shopify store, focusing on two or three channels will suffice.


Custom Domains

3) Add a custom domain

Your default store will automatically have the keywords’ myshopify.com’ attached to the URL. But if you want to take your business or personal website from good to great, then adding a custom domain is critical. Keeping things simple and relevant is vital here; you want users to remember your site and be attracted to it. When adding a custom domain, you can buy from Shopify or a third-party provider. Finding a URL can be tricky, and it’ll require some originality when working around incorporating your brand into your URL.

Top tip: numbers in your URL are your enemy!


Checkout Process

Checkout Process

4) Review your checkout experience

You’ll learn pretty quickly that cart abandonment is something you can escape – 70% of users abandon the cart at checkout, and as a business, optimising your checkout experience is key to retaining sales. Before launching your store to the world, take some time to play around with your checkout experience. Some key things to evaluate include:

  • Having an option to track delivery
  • Testing if discounts and promotions are automatically applied
  • The ability to edit cart contents
  • Email notifications that will confirm a purchase with proof of payment
  • If shipping rates are applied
  • Secure payment methods are available

Shopify Pages

5) Create and flesh out standard website pages

Your site must be well established when a user lands on it. If a user is unfamiliar with your brand, they can use your website as an opportunity to get to know you and your services – this is a great way to build trust with your customers and create a memorable brand experience. Shopify has several templates to create standard website pages, but we’ve put together a round-up of the pages all eCommerce stores should have:

  • A homepage: create an overall look and feel for your brand and give your customers an idea of what services you offer.
  • Contact page: provide users with all the means for keeping in touch with your company and ensure that it’s easy for them to find all the information they need.
  • About page: use this as an opportunity for your customers to get to know you and your company – share your accomplishments, goals, values, and beliefs. Many shoppers are interested in a brand’s purpose and mission.
  • Frequently asked questions (faqs): faqs reduce shoppers’ anxiety about purchasing, earn trust, improve navigation and prevent customer complaints.
  • Store Policies: Include content about your store’s shipping, delivery, and return policies.

Content Audit

Content Audit

6) Conduct a site and content audit

A thorough content audit is the first step to improving your website’s SEO. The SEO audit allows you to identify what information about the company, products, or services is most relevant for search engines and users so they can rank higher on SERPs (search engine results pages). A content audit involves looking at the technical and the written side of things. Part of your Shopify SEO checklist should apply expert Shopify and SEO gurus to conduct their research to bring you the best results.


Image Optimisation

Image Optimisation

7) Product and image optimisation

A good quality photo can make all the difference between getting top rankings or missing out entirely, so it’s worth taking some time to ensure you have high-quality pictures available. Low image quality can affect conversion rates, as can high-quality images that take too long to load, but there are ways you can improve your images:

  • Reduce the size of your images – try and keep them below 200kb
  • Choose the correct file type – ideally jpg or png
  • Name images descriptively and with keywords – be sure not to keyword stuff
  • Test how the images look on your site and that they’re well suited to your brand image

There are a number of different free and paid apps that you can use to optimise your images on your Shopify store. Each has it’s own features and benefits, here are some that we have used in the past:


 

8) Install essential Shopify apps

Shopify apps make it easy to sell online with various features tailored for particular products. Apps are a powerful way to enhance the functionality of your site, boost sales, and personalise your customer experience. Shopify offers over 4,000 apps developed by Shopify and third-party developers. Each app has its benefits and features, so it’s essential to look into ones that’ll work for your site. You can check out our guide on the best Shopify apps to get the ball rolling – remember to limit the number of apps on your site to keep things running smoothly.

Top tip: Active Campaign specialises in helping brands increase their revenue through email marketing and an app we use on all of our client sites, given that it results in a 173% increase in revenues.


 

9) Build your pre-launch marketing plan

It’s not enough to launch your product. It would be best if you also had a marketing and promotion plan, so people will buy what you have on offer.
It’s also important to remember that during the first year, you can’t expect sales to skyrocket. Good things take time and patience!


 

10) Finally set up your billing information and ensure all your business data

If your 14-day free trial ends, ensure that your billing information is accurate to avoid losing all your progress. Look over all the information you’ve provided and thoroughly check the site – you’re officially ready to launch your Shopify store!

Launching your Shopify store

And there you have it, the ultimate guide on how to set up your Shopify store. With this checklist, you’ll cover the essential steps that tick off the vital aspects of any Shopify store, regardless of what your e-commerce store is selling.

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