Officially pushing the button to launch your Shopify store is an exciting moment — your products are just a few clicks away from being live to the world. But there are several steps you need to take between deciding to sell on Shopify and actually launching your store. To make sure you’re hitting your first sales goals and keeping your customers happy from the get go, use our handy Shopify Store Launch Checklist to make sure opening up your shop is smooth and stress free. We’ve got you covered from prep work and technical set up through optimizing sales.
Shopify Store Launch Checklist
Part 1: Do Your Homework
✔ Know your target customers and have a marketing plan
There are over 500,000 active stores on Shopify. If yours is too general or has too many competitors, you may find it hard to make sales. Making sure you have a target market and a plan to reach them is one of the single most important steps you can take. Here are 60 inspiring Shopify stores to give you some ideas of successful businesses, plus tips on crafting your marketing plan.
✔ Choose your products carefully
While there’s no limit to how many products you can add to Shopify, and the ideal amount for each store will vary, it’s smart (especially for first-time store owners) to start out with a smaller line up. Keeping things simpler in the beginning means you can do some marketing tests, see what appeals to your customers, and if you manage inventory it’ll keep your costs to launch lower.
✔ Get great photography of your products
First impressions are everything — especially when it comes to online shopping, so high quality images are a must, and totally worth the investment. If photography isn’t in your wheelhouse, hire a local freelancer who can style and shoot your images. You’ll also want to make sure your images are optimized. Nonsensical files names and big files with slow loading times can both hurt sales. Check out these simple tips for optimizing images for Shopify.
Part 2: Setting Up Your Shopify Store
✔ Pick a Shopify store theme
One of the great things about Shopify is how many themes there are to choose from. One of the most challenging things is deciding which one is right for your business. Read up on things to consider before you pick one, plus our 10 favorite themes.
✔ Add your products
Put those beautiful photos to work for you, and don’t forget to add keyword-rich product titles, descriptions, and page urls to make it easier for people to find them.
✔ Set up a custom domain
When you create your online store, the default domain is “www.your-store-name.myshopify.com.” To enhance your brand, optimize for SEO, and look more professional you’ll want to have a custom web address. Check out these 10 tips on picking a url from the experts at GoDaddy.
✔ Organize your store with product categories, pages, and navigation
Make it easy for customers to see the types of products you offer, get full details on individual products, and get back to your main shop page.
✔ Take care of shipping and financial settings
Make sure you’ve select your shipping settings, added payment methods, set your selling currency, and entered your tax information.
✔ Enter your store policies
Will you accept returns? For what reasons and within what length of time? Will you offer store credit or full refunds for them? How will you handle it if a product is damaged during shipping? Spell everything out before you launch. Hopefully you’ll never have a customer dispute, but you’ll want to have a clear and consistent way to deal with any issues that come up.
✔ Review everything with fresh eyes one more time before launching
Once you’ve done all of your set up, take a break. When you’ve had a chance to reset, go back through your store and check the spelling of your product names and descriptions, click all your links, and double check your settings one more time.
✔ Make it live, and be your own first customer
With all of your careful prep you should be ready to publish your store and start promoting it! Try making a small purchase under a different email address than the one you use for your store. This will help you see how everything works, not just from your side as the seller, but also as the customer so you can make sure your first real customers have a great experience.
Need more step-by-step information on the technical set up? Shopify has a great “essentials” checklist with detailed how-to’s for all of the items above.
Part 3: Optimizing Your Shopify Store
✔ Customize your store’s email templates
Shopify lets you brand and customize several email notifications that will go to your customers including e-receipts, order confirmations, and shipping notifications. You should also consider setting up a “welcome” series that goes out to new customers with things like coupon codes or other products they might like, and abandoned cart notifications. An app like Seguno can help you do this.
✔ Set up a reporting schedule and track your key stats
Once you’ve started driving some traffic to your Shopify store, you’ll want to run reporting at least monthly to understand:
- Where customers are coming from so you can optimize your marketing strategy
- Returning customers vs. new to help you figure out if your marketing for existing customers is working
- Which products and pages are getting views, and the conversion rate for each product to help you understand which product categories need more promotion, which you should expand, and which you should drop
Shopify’s app store has a number of reporting apps like Better Reports to help you sort through your stats easily.
✔ Don’t miss out on sales because you were out of stock
Especially in the beginning, stocking can be a major challenge for store owners. If you’re holding inventory, you’ll most likely wind up with too few of some items and too many of others. Even if you’re drop shipping, your supplier may run into stock issues on popular items. An easy way to manage inventory shortages without losing sales is to spend 5 minutes to set up BackInStock and notify customers when an item they wanted is available. You can even try it free.
✔ Make a list of goals and keep putting in the time
Scaling a Shopify store takes experimenting, focus, and time. Once you’ve hit the basics on this list, you can start looking at things the best Shopify tools, going deeper into your store’s SEO, or creating seasonal or holiday-specific marketing plans.
But remember, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and create an impossible to-do list for yourself. Keep looking at your reporting data, pick a few priority items to focus on each quarter, implement them and see how they impact your numbers, and repeat.
Love This Shopify Store Launch Checklist?
Check out our interactive version so you can check off each item as you go, set email reminders for tasks, and more.