Blog / Beginner's handbook / Ecommerce Store Launch Checklist: Start Selling With Confidence
Blog / Beginner's handbook / Ecommerce Store Launch Checklist: Start Selling With Confidence
Are you ready to launch your ecommerce store? Exciting! But before you start, it’s crucial to have everything in order and properly planned out. That’s where an ecommerce store launch checklist comes in.
A launch checklist helps you prepare to open your online store. We’ll break down the launch process into small manageable steps so you can keep track of the progress. It will help you stay organized and focused as you work towards your launch date.
So explore the checklist, check off all the tasks, and get ready to launch your dream store!
Before you start, double-check if you’ve done everything on this list:
Decide on a niche and target audience
Choose a business model
Determine the pricing of your products
Choose and register a business name
Set up a business bank account
Obtain the necessary licenses and permits
Set up accounting and bookkeeping systems
First things first: choosing a dedicated platform.
A good ecommerce platform can determine the success of your online store. It provides key tools and features to run your business smoothly, ensures secure transactions, and helps your store handle a large volume of traffic.
So, how do you choose the right ecommerce platform for your business?
Here are a few things to consider:
Ecommerce platform pricing can range from free to several hundred dollars per month.
Research the cost of the platform, including upfront fees, annual subscription fees, and transaction fees. Ensure the platform fits your budget and assess any potential cost savings or benefits in the long run.
Not all ecommerce platforms offer the same features. Some platforms are more focused on helping you manage and sell products, while others offer more advanced tools like email marketing and customer segmentation.
Determine which features are necessary for your business and choose a platform that meets your needs.
If you’re not tech-savvy, you should choose an ecommerce platform that is easy to use. Look for platforms that offer a simple, intuitive interface and clear documentation.
Does the platform allow you to customize your online store to match your brand? Can you add custom pages, logos, and color schemes?
Some platforms provide a wide range of templates and design options, while others may be more limited. If you have particular branding or design needs, assess how customizable the platform is before creating your store.
Does the platform integrate with other tools and services you use, such as accounting software like SoftLedger or email marketing platforms? Choose the platform that offers valuable integrations for your business, such as:
Ensuring the security of your online store and your customer’s personal and financial information is crucial. Look for an ecommerce platform with web application and API protection along with secure servers and encryption to protect your data.
Think about your future growth plans and choose a platform that can grow with your business. Evaluate the platform’s ability to handle larger volumes of traffic and transactions.
Choose a platform with reliable customer support in case you encounter any issues or have questions. Look for platforms that offer various forms of support, such as email, chat, and online resources.
There are many ecommerce platforms to choose from, each with unique features and benefits.
Some popular options include:
A reliable ecommerce platform is vital for the success of your store. Make sure to read reviews and compare pricing and features to find the best fit for your business.
Want to create your own successful and memorable website? You’ll be well on your way if you pick the right domain name and hosting provider.
Your domain name is the web address your shoppers will use to access your site. So choose one that’s memorable, relevant to your business, and easy to spell. There are a ton of domain name registrars, each with different pricing and features. Research and compare options to find the best fit for your business.
Once you’ve landed on your domain name, it’s time to choose a hosting provider for your website. There are various types of hosting, such as shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting.
When selecting a hosting provider, consider your budget and the type of website you intend to create. Evaluate the reliability and speed of the hosting provider, as well as any additional features they offer. For example, website-building tools, email hosting, and customer support.
Have you decided how your online store should look?
If so, it’s time to bring your vision to life by designing your storefront and branding. It’s a fun and exciting process but plan your layout and navigation carefully.
As you design your storefront, keep your target audience in mind. Think about the overall look and feel of your online store.
What are your customer’s interests and preferences?
How can you make them feel welcome on your website?
What should be their first impression of your store?
Do you want a sleek and modern design or a rustic and vintage vibe?
Consider the colors, fonts, and imagery you’ll use to create a cohesive and visually appealing storefront.
Your online store reflects your brand; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Try out various design elements to see which suit you the best.
Next up is branding, which includes everything from your logo and tagline to the content you use on your website and social media. Your branding should be consistent across all your marketing materials and accurately reflect your values and brand personality.
Shoppers are tired of online stores that look and feel the same. So you need to make sure that your ecommerce store provides a more personalized experience for your customers. It will help you secure a better position in the retail industry.
Some ecommerce platforms come with a range of built-in functionalities that you can use to customize your store and create a personalized experience.
For example, Shopify has many features for customization, like custom pages, email templates, and others. So you can opt for Shopify development services to create a high-functioning online store.
Here are some other ways to add custom functionality to your store:
There are many apps and plugins, like payment gateways, email marketing tools, feed marketing tools, and social media integrations that you can use for your store.
If you have programming skills, you can write your own code with custom scripts, plugins, or themes.
If you lack the necessary programming skills, you can hire a developer for complex customizations or specific requirements.
Ecommerce platforms and third-party tools offer APIs that let you connect your online store to other systems, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or shipping providers.
Be strategic when adding custom functionalities to your store. Consider what will benefit your customers and help you achieve your business goals.
Just like setting up a cash register at a brick-and-mortar store, you need to set up payment gateways and methods in your online store. Research the best payment gateways and methods for processing transactions to select the ones that fit your needs.
When selecting a payment gateway for your online store, your goal should be:
To give your customers different payment options
To accept payments from customers seamlessly
To offer complete security during transactions
To provide fast payment processing
You can use third-party payment processors like PayPal or Stripe, or a payment gateway provided by your ecommerce platform.
Fulfillment and shipping determine how your customers will receive the products they buy from your store. Setting up these services is crucial for providing a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
Finding the best fulfillment option
Choosing delivery methods
Selecting a shipping carrier
Determining the cost of shipping
Setting up shipping zones and rates
It’s important to choose services that will ensure smooth and efficient fulfillment and delivery to your customers.
Now it’s time for the most vital part of selling online—creating product listings. Your products should be easy to find and order, so make sure your customers can effortlessly browse through your store.
When you create product listings, include all the necessary information about your products, and consider using the remove image background API to create clear photos with transparent backgrounds. That way, customers can make informed decisions when they shop. Include the product name, a detailed description, and a fair price to provide a complete picture of your products.
Printful can help you create product listings easily and efficiently. We offer a wide range of personalized product categories, including clothing, accessories, home decor, and more. Plus, our product design tool makes it easy to create custom designs.
We handle printing, packing, and shipping your products, so you can sell products online hassle-free and focus on growing your business.
Running an ecommerce store can get a bit overwhelming when it comes to inventory management and tracking.
When setting up inventory software for your ecommerce store, there are several key aspects to keep in mind:
Inventory: Determine the information you need to track for your products, e.g., product name, SKU, location, and cost.
Storage and fulfillment: Pick a product storage and fulfillment method. You can choose to do everything in-house or use an outsourced third-party provider.
Order management: Make sure your inventory management system integrates with your order management system. This will provide accurate stock level tracking and prevent overselling.
Real-time updates: Choose a system that provides real-time updates on stock levels. So your customers always have access to the most up-to-date information.
Automated alerts: Set up automated alerts for low stock levels or out-of-stock items to manage your supply chain.
Cost: Choose an inventory management solution that fits your budget and provides the features you need.
User-friendly interface: Select a system with a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and use for your team.
Do you think it’s too much to handle while managing your ecommerce business?
Consider using Printful. Our platform seamlessly integrates with your ecommerce store and updates your stock levels in real-time, like magic. So you don’t have to worry about running out of stock or overstocking your products.
Your home page isn’t necessarily the first page your customers visit. They may be brought to your pages via search engines or marketing ads. So, what are these necessary pages we speak of?
Here’s the list of must-have pages for your ecommerce website:
Terms and conditions
Search and search results
These pages are the foundation of your ecommerce website. They help establish your website’s credibility, provide information, and offer a seamless shopping experience.
If you’re selling products or services online, your ecommerce store must include easy-to-understand policy pages.
Here are some common policy pages that you may want to include in your ecommerce website:
Terms and conditions: Lay out the rules for using your website, f.ex. customer conduct.
Return and refund policy: Specify your policies for returns, exchanges, and refunds, including any time limits and conditions.
Shipping policy: Provides details on shipping options, delivery times, and shipping costs.
Payment policy: Outlines the payment methods accepted on your site, as well as security measures to protect sensitive information.
Disclaimer: Outlines any limitations of liability for the products or services you sell on your site.
Copyright and trademark notice: Outlines the legal protection of your content and branding.
These pages will not only protect you but also provide transparency and peace of mind for your customers. Carefully check the information you include in your legal policies to make sure your customers understand them easily.
A newsletter allows you to keep your subscribers informed about your latest products, promotions, and events. It offers a direct channel of communication with your target segment. But how do you get thousands of subscribers for your newsletter?
The first step is to set up a newsletter sign-up form on your website. To set it up, you can use a platform such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact. These platforms allow you to easily create and manage your email campaigns and subscribers based on their interests and behaviors.
Make sure to place your sign-up form in a prominent location on your website to encourage visitors to subscribe. Offer a discount code or another incentive for new subscribers to increase sign-ups.
Most ecommerce platforms have a built-in customer account feature. Let your customers know why it’s beneficial to have an account and make sure they can easily track their orders and save their shipping information for faster checkout.
When it comes to the login process, it’s crucial to make it secure and user-friendly. Offer password recovery and two-factor authentication to keep your customers’ information safe. And make it easy for them to log in, so they’ll keep coming back.
By offering a smooth and secure login experience, you’ll improve customer loyalty and increase the chances of repeat orders.
Before you go live, make sure that you’re all set to resolve customer queries!
If you’re wondering where and how your company should provide customer support, consider the following eight popular customer service channels.
Email is straightforward and easy to use. Email support also means asynchronous communication, so one customer service representative can work on multiple conversations simultaneously.
However, some conversations are more technical and require more back-and-forth communication, so it’s better to provide support through other communication channels as well.
Live chat is great for customer support as it’s fast and easy to use. Customers can get a response much quicker than by sending a request via email.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers will try to solve problems themselves before contacting support.
Self-service lets customers find answers without waiting for a response from your support representatives. It can include a blog, webinars, context-sensitive in-service guides, or a video library.
A study by Statista shows that 47% of respondents favor brands that provide customer support through social media.
Find the social media channels where your audience is most engaged and develop a presence there. Answering questions and providing excellent customer support on social media, will increase confidence in your brand for prospective customers.
For some types of support questions, screen sharing and co-browsing can be game changers.
A video call eliminates the back-and-forth nature of email and you can answer customer questions and explain processes by showing rather than telling.
According to the statistics presented by Vanilla Forums, 83% of customers would use an online community for customer support if it was available. What’s more, community support reduces the workload of your customer support team.
It may seem like most texts received these days are from businesses sending out coupon codes and discounts. Many of these companies also offer support in the same channel.
But mobile messaging isn’t just limited to texting. You can offer mobile messaging through services like Signal, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger. Although informality may make some clients feel uneasy, it can be advantageous for quick and transient conversations.
Specific demographics tend to avoid writing emails or talking to a chatbot, and are more likely to connect over the phone. If your main target audience prefer calling instead of chatting, you’d do well to set up phone support as well.
The goal of every ecommerce store owner is to get their site to the top of the search engine rankings. And the secret to doing that is SEO optimization.
By following best practices for ecommerce SEO, an online store can:
Attract more qualified traffic
Increase the store’s visibility
Improve overall performance in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page)
By using the right keywords on your website, you’ll make it easier for potential customers to find you. Think about what your customers would type into a search engine to find products like yours.
For example, if you sell handmade, organic soap, you might use keywords like “natural soap”, “organic soap”, and “handmade soap”. Use these keywords in your product descriptions, page titles, and meta tags. This will help show search engines what your website is all about.
But here’s the catch: don’t overdo it! Stuffing your website with too many keywords is known as “keyword stuffing” and it’s a big no-no in the world of SEO. Instead, aim for quality over quantity and use keywords naturally in your content.
Design and loading speed are an integral part of SEO.
Due to poor design or slow loading speed, visitors often leave your site shortly after opening it. This results in a higher bounce rate for your website. If search engines see that your website has a very high bounce rate and slow loading speed, your ranking will drop.
A well-designed website can help lower bounce rates. Ecommerce sites should load fast and have clever navigation that clearly conveys what visitors will see when they click on a link. It encourages visitors to view at least a few pages, even if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away.
The addresses website visitors use to access the pages of your ecommerce store are known as URLs. A URL can contain a lot of information in a small space. It can contain category names, product names, and file types.
URLs should be specific and include keywords relevant to what is displayed on the page.
Avoid URLs like:
Search engines can’t get information from this URL.
Use a URL like this instead:
Alt text is the alternative text that’s displayed in place of the image in case it can’t be loaded or when the user’s mouse cursor hovers over the image.
Alt text is another way to get relevant keywords on your website. It helps search engines know what’s displayed on your website and why it’s on this particular page.
If you sell other brands’ products online, you may receive product descriptions directly from the manufacturer. We encourage you to avoid duplicating product descriptions.
Duplicate content across several pages probably won’t hurt anyone. However, due to changes in search engine algorithms, more and more websites are being penalized for duplicating product copy.
To avoid hurting your ranking, you should create a new, authentic description for each item you carry to stand out from the competition.
Ranking for your chosen keywords and phrases can be quite challenging if your site doesn’t have a lot of original content. To fight this, post original and relevant content on your website.
Like other retailers, you can report on industry news, trends, or developments. Ensure your posts are detailed and accurate to provide value to your readers.
If you consistently write blog posts on a specific topic you are knowledgeable about, search engines may recognize you as a thought leader and rank your posts higher.
Ecommerce and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ecommerce marketers use social platforms to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and promote products through organic posts and targeted advertising.
How to use social media for ecommerce:
Social Media is a great place to advertise your new business, products, services, events, and promotions. It’s also a great way to start a conversation with your target audience. Building brand awareness is a time-consuming process.
So you’ll have to:
Show your personality and values
Be consistent in your messaging
Talk to your target audience
Show your worth
Create a consistent posting strategy using social media scheduler and a consistent voice and message to increase brand awareness. Publish in multiple channels and formats. Participate in hot topics, hashtags, and direct conversations with users.
There is no stronger advertising channel than social media. The global reach of advertising on social media is already enormous and growing rapidly.
This is the advertising reach by social media channels according to the Hootsuite report:
2.17 billion Facebook Ads,
44,044,444 Instagram Ads,
1,024,444 Tik Tok Ads
4,444 4,444 LinkedIn Ads
The audience is huge. Too big actually. As such, these social channels also have powerful targeting and segmentation tools.
To effectively promote your brand on social media, make sure you:
Identify your target market and audience
Establish targeting parameters to focus on that audience
Create compelling content strategies to attract them
Define goals and KPIs for each channel
Choose Ad types
Provide the right conversion metrics
Your social media advertising goals will determine the types of ads, KPIs, and conversion metrics you choose and the platform you invest in.
People spend hours scrolling through their social media feeds, and wouldn’t it be great if they could buy your products without ever leaving the platform?
Most social media platforms have built-in shopping features, so all you have to do is connect your ecommerce store and start listing your products. And don’t worry, the checkout process is just as seamless as the shopping process. Your customers can complete their order with just a few clicks.
With the right tools, social media is a goldmine of brand data. Social listening is the process of scanning social media for brand mentions and related conversations.
Nearly 80% of respondents use multiple social listening tools, and a third spend over $100,000 on their social listening platform (Source: The Social Intelligence Lab). Not only that, but it provides valuable insights such as:
What products do people like most?
Where might there be recurring problems or issues?
Public sentiment toward the brand
Email marketing is all about sending targeted, personalized messages to your customers. This could be anything from a weekly newsletter to a special promotion for a new product launch. And the best part? You can reach your customers right in their inbox – a place they visit every day.
So, how do you get started?
Connect the right email marketing tool with your online store. With features like automated campaigns, personalized messaging, and detailed analytics, you’ll be able to create campaigns that really connect with your customers.
You can do this by offering exclusive discounts, early access to your products, or even just a friendly nudge to sign up for your newsletter. And once you have a list of interested customers, you can start sending them regular updates on your progress, sneak peeks of your products, and exclusive offers.
By starting your email marketing campaigns before your store launches, you’ll have a loyal group of customers ready and waiting to make their first purchase.
It’s crucial to connect Google Analytics and other tracking tools with your online store before launch so that you can collect user data from the first day.
With these tools, you can gain valuable insights into the behavior and preferences of your target audience, as well as track key metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, and revenue. Additionally, you can use this data to identify areas of improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your store for better results.
To set up Google Analytics, you need to create a Google account and then follow the instructions to create a new property for your website. Once you have created the property, you will be provided with a tracking code that you need to install on your website.
You can either do this manually by adding the code to the header section of your website or use a plugin for your CMS (content management system) to automate the process. Along with Google Analytics, there are other tracking tools that you can use to enhance your data collection and analysis capabilities.
Some of these include:
Heat mapping tools to understand where visitors click and what they interact with on your website
Conversion rate optimization tools to track and improve conversion rates
A/B testing tools to test different versions of your website and determine what works best
Customer feedback tools to collect customer opinions and feedback
It’s important to note that some of these tools may require technical skills to set up, so you may need to hire a developer or web analyst to help you with the setup process. However, the investment is well worth it, as it will provide you with the data you need to make informed decisions about your store and help achieve your business goals.
No merchant wants their sensitive customer information floating around on the internet like a lost balloon. Ecommerce businesses handle sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers and personal details, and it’s crucial to take the necessary steps to protect this information.
You need to implement a variety of security measures to protect sensitive customer information and prevent fraud.
Consider the following security measures:
SSL certificates: An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is necessary for encrypting the data transmitted between the customer’s browser and your website, ensuring that the information is kept confidential and secure.
Fraud protection: Implement fraud protection tools, such as 3D Secure or Verified by Visa, to prevent fraudulent transactions and protect both the customer and the business.
Strong passwords: Require customers to create strong passwords and encourage the use of two-factor authentication.
Regular software updates: Regularly update the software and plugins used in your ecommerce store to prevent security vulnerabilities.
Data backups: Regularly back-up your website and store important data off-site to prevent data loss in case of a cyber-attack.
Payment security: Ensure that all payment transactions are secure and processed through a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant payment gateway.
Access controls: Implement access controls to restrict access to sensitive information and limit the damage that can be caused by unauthorized users.
By implementing these security measures, you can create a secure and trustworthy ecommerce store that lets customers shop without worries.
The checkout process can determine if a customer completes an order or abandons their cart. By streamlining the checkout process, you can make it easy for customers to complete their purchases and increase sales for your store.
Here are the best ways to optimize the checkout process:
Simplified form fields: Keep the number of form fields to a minimum, only asking for the information necessary to complete the order.
Guest checkout option: Offer a guest checkout option for customers who do not want to create an account, as the process of creating an account can prevent customers from ordering.
Clear call-to-action: Include a clear call-to-action, like a "Buy Now" or "Checkout" button, to guide customers toward completing their purchase.
Payment options: Offer a variety of payment options, like a credit card, PayPal, and bank transfer, to cater to different customer preferences.
Mobile-friendly design: Ensure that the checkout process is optimized for mobile devices, as an increasing number of customers are using their mobile devices to make online purchases.
Real-time feedback: Provide real-time feedback, like error messages, to help customers correct any mistakes in their information and complete the purchase.
Trust signals: Include trust signals, such as security logos and customer reviews, to build trust with customers and assure them that their information is secure.
Before you launch your ecommerce website, integrate additional sales channels to expand your reach, boost visibility, and ultimately drive more sales.
Here are some of the sales channels that you should consider adding to your ecommerce store:
Online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, are popular shopping platforms and an excellent way to reach a wider audience.
Social media platforms will help you reach more customers and drive traffic to your ecommerce store. By using features such as Facebook and Instagram shops, as well as Pinterest Shopping Ads, you can showcase your products and engage with customers, increasing brand awareness and driving sales.
Comparison shopping engines, f.ex., Google Shopping and Bing Shopping, are powerful tools to reach customers who are actively searching for products online.
Affiliate marketing involves partnering with other websites or influencers to promote your products and increase sales. By offering commissions or other incentives, you can encourage affiliates to promote your products to their audiences.
If you sell physical products, consider setting up a pop-up shop or participating in trade shows or events to reach customers in person.
Want to launch your ecommerce store with a buzz? Here’s how to do that.
While developing your ecommerce store, prepare your marketing strategies for the pre and post-launch events. The key is to find promotions and discounts that align with your brand and attract customers to your store.
Here are some promotional campaigns and discounts you can offer before launching your ecommerce store:
Pre-launch discounts: Offer exclusive discounts to customers who sign up early or order before the official launch of your ecommerce store.
Giveaways: Run a giveaway or contest to generate excitement and attract customers to your store. Offer a prize that is relevant to your product line.
Early access: Offer early access to your ecommerce store to select customers or influencers to generate interest and create a buzz.
Free shipping: Offer free shipping on all orders for a limited time to incentivize customers to buy.
Buy one, get one: Offer a “buy one, get one” for a limited time to drive sales.
Limited-time flash sale: Create limited-time offers for exclusive products or services to create a sense of urgency and increase sales.
Referral programs: Offer a referral program where customers can earn discounts or rewards for referring friends to your ecommerce store.
Coupon codes: Offer discount coupon codes to incentivize customers to buy your products.
Customer loyalty programs: Offer a loyalty program where customers can earn rewards for making purchases and engaging with your brand.
By making a strong first impression, you can lay the foundation for a successful ecommerce business.
Make sure your ecommerce store is in tip-top shape before you release it. It’s vital to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently, as a website with technical difficulties or poor user experience can drive potential customers away and harm your sales.
Test your website and fix any problems before the launch:
With more and more customers shopping on their mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile. Test your website on different mobile devices to make sure it’s user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Ensure that your payment gateway is working properly and that you can process payments without any issues. Test your payment processing with a dummy transaction to make sure everything is set up correctly.
A slow-loading website can be a major turn-off for customers, so it’s important to test your website’s speed and performance. Use tools like GTmetrix or Pingdom to test your website’s loading speed and resolve any issues.
Test your customer support channels, such as live chat or email, to make sure they’re working properly and that you have the resources to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner.
Review all the content and copy on your website to make sure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and in line with your brand’s messaging.
Here are a few ways you can test your ecommerce store before launch:
User trials: Gather a small group of people to test your website and give you feedback on navigation, functionality, and overall experience.
Functionality tests: Ensure that all the key functions of your website, such as the shopping cart, checkout process, payment gateway, and email notifications, are in proper working order.
Security tests: Conduct security tests to identify and fix any security vulnerabilities. Keep your website safe from hacking, data theft, and other security threats.
Load tests: Test your website’s performance during heavy traffic, so you can be confident it can handle a surge in customers.
By taking the time to thoroughly test your ecommerce store and resolve any issues, you can set your store up for success and provide your customers with an exceptional shopping experience.
This marks the moment you’ve been eagerly waiting for: the launch of your ecommerce store! After all the planning, designing, building, and testing, it’s time to make your store live for online shoppers.
From designing your storefront to optimizing your checkout process and creating promotional campaigns, each step is vital to ensure that your online store is set up for success from day one.
With hard work and a clear strategy in place, you can create a thriving online store that provides a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
So go ahead and start selling!
Sagarika is a Content Marketing Specialist with a passion for developing effective content and marketing strategies for SaaS businesses. Besides her work, she loves traveling and exploring new horizons.