Photo from Stock That Rocks
Launching an online store is exciting! You’re finally getting your stuff out there and ready to profit from your hard work. However, there are a few important things to do before hitting that launch button.
The pre-launch phase is critical for online store owners as it sets the tone for your biz moving forward. You want to make sure everything is set and ready to go so you can start making sales straight away! It’s so important for your customers to have a seamless first experience on your site.
Here’s a handy checklist of things to do in the pre-launch phase so you’ll be on your way to having a money-making online store!
10 Things to Do Before Launching an Online Store
1. Choose an Ecommerce Platform
One of the most important steps involved with starting an online store is choosing an ecommerce platform. Essentially, this is the platform that will allow you to build your online storefront so that your customers can view and purchase your products.
Here at Bloguettes, a platform we recommend is Shopify. It’s easy to use for both the store owner and customer, and the set-up process is a breeze! Shopify handles everything from marketing and payments to secure checkout and shipping, so you can focus on what you do best as an entrepreneur. Here are a few reasons why we love this platform:
Simple set-up process
Fast, responsive & reliable
Shopify is trusted by over 500,000 businesses worldwide
Pricing starts at just $9/month
Access to beautiful, responsive, and customizable themes
24/7 customer support
Create a mobile-ready site
SEO & marketing tools
2. Set Up Google Analytics
We cannot stress how important it is to have Google Analytics set up on your site! This amazing tool tracks your site traffic and conversion rates and as well as a hundred other things you never would’ve thought you needed.
G.A. is quite easy to install with just a little bit of coding, and you’re set. You can use the tool to gain valuable insight about your site, like who your visitors are, where they’re finding you, how long they’re staying on your site, your most popular pages, and more. We filmed a tutorial all about some basic terms you should know when it comes to understanding your analytics!
3. Establish an Email Marketing Plan
Marketing via email is so important and a great way to send out information like new products launches, sales, and more. It puts your brand right in the inboxes of your subscribers regularly.
Before launching your online store, you want to make sure you’ve established your email marketing plan and have your emails ready to go. This way, you can start contacting your list with important info pertaining to your store right away.
Make sure your emails are appealing and straightforward. With email marketing, there are endless opportunities to entice people to your online shop. You can offer coupon codes, introduce new products, give out information for certain products, host contests, and even just send out a “welcome” email.
4. Build Your Social Media Presence
Nowadays, being on social media is a must. The world we live in today is more competitive than ever, and having a strong social media presence can help you to stand out from the crowd.
Start building your following on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest before you launch your online shop so that there are already people interested in what you have to offer! Instagram is a great place to show off your products and develop your brand. You can even go as far as creating a shoppable feed with Planoly or Shopify!
Just remember to not spread yourself too thin! Pick one or two platforms to start out with and build up a following. Then as time goes on, add a little more on your plate.
5. Launch a ‘Coming Soon’ Page
A ‘Coming Soon’ page can act as your brand’s temporary home until your full site launches. If you start to advertise your page on your social media, it will give you a place to link to. It’s like a teaser trailer for your shop–so make sure it’s visually appealing and on-brand so it gives your followers an accurate sneak peek!
The biggest perk of a ‘Coming Soon’ page is it can help you to capture emails before your full site even launches. When it does go live, you can send out a welcome email or maybe even a special coupon for those who subscribed within a certain timeframe.
6. Get Shipping Squared Away
Flash back to the last time you shopped online. Your favorite store had a sale that was too good to miss and you added everything that you could afford into your virtual cart. You get to the checkout, plug in all your information, your credit card number, and scrolled down to see the shipping and did a double take. Yikes. You either choked the tears down and pressed confirm for the order or canceled everything and decided to save money.
The shipping part is something that has the power to shatter that shopping haze or bring one back to reality. Therefore, you want to really think about all of your options before your store goes live:
- Packaging options and materials
- Shipping carriers
- Shipping cost
- Shipping time
Research before you decide on anything and even check out competitors to see what they do when it comes to shipping!
Drop shipping is when a store sells a product that’s been purchased from a third party and has it shipped right to the customer. It’s different from the standard procedure because the merchant doesn’t have the product in their stock, nor sees it. They instead have a manufacturer who fulfills the orders.
With drop shipping, you don’t have to worry about:
- Managing or paying for a warehouse
- Packing and shipping orders
- Tracking inventory for accounting reasons
- Handling returns
- Continually ordering and managing stock levels
Some other perks include:
- Wide selection of products
- Can be run from anywhere with an internet connection
- Overhead expenses are low
This method is best for businesses that need to simplify their shipping process and want to save the time on packing and shipping, tracking, returns, and ordering new product. Not every system is perfect though, so we highly suggest you weigh the pros and cons before deciding.
7. Back Up All of Your Info
Back up, back up, back up! The internet is never steady and anything is possible. You don’t want all of your hard work going to waste, so save yourself the tears and the trouble and back up your site. If anything goes wrong, you won’t lose all of your valuable info!
8. Set a Launch Promotion Plan
Entice your following to shop before your site is even live! The possibilities of offers are endless that you can give in lui of the launch date:
- 20% off whole site for the launch day
- Free shipping
- Collaborate with bloggers and give them a discount code to share with their following
9. Product Photos
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Have you ever shopped online and been on the fence about purchasing a product because the photo was poor quality? We’ve been there too.
There’s no doubt that your products are amazing, and the only way online shoppers can know this is through your photos! Have a photoshoot day and set aside some time to take quality photos of your merchandise. Make sure they are aesthetically pleasing and are taken in good lighting.
10. Determine Your KPI’s
Prior to launching, you will want to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Defining the metrics that are a priority to your shop and business will help you in the long run. You will stay focused and on track on everything that’s important.
Here are some KPIs to get you started:
- Monthly Sales
- Average Order Size
- Average Margin
- Conversion Rate
- Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
- Site Traffic
- Unique vs. Returning Visitors
- Time on Site
- Page Views Per Visit
- Traffic Source and Referrals
- Newsletter Subscribers
- Social Media Followers
11. Keyword Research
Keyword research is an important part of SEO optimization. The importance of choosing the correct keywords is vital to having Google and search engines understand the content of your store and the products. In return, you will have an increase of views, engagement, and a higher chance of the search engines displaying your store in results!
So, do some keyword research before launching your site and creating copy for it. This way you can start gaining organic traffic as soon as you launch!
Want to learn even more about what it takes to start a profitable online biz? Be sure to sign up for our upcoming conference, The Workshop!