You went back to check your store and noticed an error in the checkout page settings, preventing customers from making payments on your store.
Do you think you would experience the moment of dread in that situation?
I bet you would.
When you’re launching an online store, there are many details to remember—and those details can make or break your business's success.
However, by having a rock-solid ecommerce launch checklist in place, you can eliminate errors and rid yourself of “dread” moments forever.
The following checklist will help you figure out the key things you need to get ready when launching your online store. Think of it as a quality-assurance check for your ecommerce launch.
Let’s jump in.
The 15 step ecommerce launch checklist
Get the core pages of your online store set up
Design listing pages
Create product pages
Make a shopping cart page
Put together a checkout page
Check on your ecommerce SEO
Optimize your website for conversions
Add essential apps to your store
Install an ecommerce help desk
Set up email marketing
Connect your sales channels
Set up analytics
Develop an ecommerce marketing plan
Integrate payment methods
Run ecommerce testing
1. Get the core pages of your online store set up
Your ecommerce website is where customers will visit to learn more about what you’re offering. It’s also where shopping activities happen.
Hence, ensure your website includes these most recommended standard pages:
Home page: This is arguably the most important page on your website. A well-designed homepage should tell what your business is all about and your unique value proposition. It should also include links to product pages and category pages on your store.
About page: This is where customers learn about the people behind your products. A good About page should tell your brand story and what you stand for. It should also include trust elements to prove your store is real and credible.
Contact page: Ensure you display your phone number, email, and real physical address (if any) on the Contact page. Make it clear about how customers can get in touch with you to showcase your authenticity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page: Customers might have a lot of questions before deciding to buy from you. Having an effective FAQ page will help you offer a self-service solution to customers and avoid answering the same questions repeatedly.
Terms of service: This page covers your legal base, what’s included, and what’s not in your services.
Shipping, return and refund: Nearly half of the consumers check an online store’s return policy before making a purchase. That’s why having a dedicated shipping, return, and refund page on your website is crucial. Doing that is also an excellent way to build trust with your potential customers.
A worthy note is that your ecommerce website doesn’t have to include a blog page. It depends on your marketing strategy, product types, and target audience (more on that later).
2. Design listing pages
A listing page or a category page is where customers discover your products associated with a specific category. It’s useful for keeping your website coherent and helping customers find what they’re looking for quickly. You can take listing pages to a whole new level by using them to increase conversions and enhance your overall SEO.
Ensure you include the following elements in your listing pages:
A short introduction to your category.
Filtering and sorting functions
Best sellers and reviews.
Product quick view.
Internal linking among categories and sub-categories.
3. Design product pages
Product pages are where the buy buttons show up. But they’re also where many other things can go wrong: lack of trust, unclear information about products, etc. That’s why each product page must be optimized as much as possible.
Keep in mind the following:
Display the add to cart button prominently. Above the fold is an ideal place because it’s at customers’ reach at all times. Also, make it stand out by using contrast colors.
Use high-quality, professionally crafted pictures from different angles. Enable product image zoom and 360-degree view features in your theme.
Write a solid product description. Focus on the benefits of your products, not just features. In other words, how your products make customers’ lives easier and better.
Check product-related components, including styles, sizes, colors, inventory tracking numbers, tax rates, currency, product weights, etc.
Establish trust with customers by displaying trust badges, reviews and testimonials, or other social proof types.
4. Design shopping cart page
The shopping cart is where shoppers review their selected items and make the purchasing decision. The goal of this page is to lead shoppers to the checkout page.
Follow these tips to create an effective shopping cart:
Display product details, including product names, images, sizes, colors, and prices, clearly. This helps shoppers remember their selected products and why they want to have them.
Use a clear, attention-grabbing call-to-action (CTA) button, for example, “Proceed to Checkout” or “Go to Checkout.”
Make the cart easily editable, like removing items, changing size/color/quantity, etc.
Display social proof to maintain trust with shoppers and avoid unexpected shipping costs/taxes/hidden costs.
Add a mini cart widget. It’s a good idea because shoppers can add products to their cart without leaving the page they’re on.
5. Design checkout page
The checkout page is where cart abandonment often happens. So ensure you review it carefully as much as possible.
Remember these to build a high-converting checkout page:
On an ecommerce website, conversions are critical. Check out the following to make sure your store is optimized for high conversion rates:
Use videos to demonstrate your products.
Show live chat to address shoppers’ concerns and answer their questions faster.
Make your website user-friendly and fully responsive on mobile devices.
Display countdown timers and/or stock countdowns to give shoppers a little push to take action.
Optimize menu navigation. Make it super easy for shoppers to find whatever they need.
Ensure site search works well, not just product information but also related products, delivery times, return policies, and more.
Make information about your products and services easily findable and visible.
Use a “sticky” buy button so shoppers can easily proceed to checkout whenever they’re ready to place an order.
Enable the Pin It button so shoppers can share your products on their Pinterest wishlists.
8. Install essential apps for your store
Every ecommerce platform offers an app store filled with amazing apps to extend your commerce store’s functionality and grow your business. That’s why you should find the most essential apps and install them into your store:
Here are some app types you should consider:
Apps for marketing and promotion.
App for increasing sales and conversions.
Apps for sales channels.
Apps for SEO and site optimization.
Apps for finding products and managing inventory.
App for customer service (more on that later).
9. Set up an ecommerce help desk
Good customer service means better customer retention and more sales. That’s why choosing the right help desk is crucial for your online business. It’ll not only help you provide the best customer support, increase engagement, and convert more sales in the process but also seamlessly integrate with your current ecommerce platform.
For ecommerce businesses, Gorgias is an ideal solution as it’s an ecommerce-dedicated ticketing system and has tight integration with Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento.
Here is what Gorgias offers:
Update orders directly from your help desk and work faster with smart automation.
Manage customer requests for multiple storefronts, either on desktop or mobile apps.
Use Shopify and BigCommerce variables to auto-respond order-related tickets.
Integrate with third-party apps like ShipStation, Slack, and Recharge.
Use macros to automate tasks and perform actions like adding tags, bulk action.
Provide instant support by setting rules based on customer intents.
Deliver omnichannel support, e.g., SMS messaging and social media.
Easy to use, no learning curve involved, no feature overload.
Impartial customer support for all merchants, regardless of the plans you’re using.
10. Set up email marketing
Using email marketing is one of the best ways to develop and maintain a good relationship with customers. If your ecommerce business hasn’t taken the time to adopt email marketing, you’re likely leaving money on the table.
Here are the eight most important emails for ecommerce:
Welcome emails: Thank shoppers for joining your email list, set expectations for what’s to come.
Thank you emails: Thank shoppers for buying from you and reassuring them they’ll receive the order on time.
Survey emails: Send customers an email to ask for their feedback on shopping experience and their experience with your products.
Card abandonment email: Encourage customers to complete their purchase if they leave items in their carts.
Order confirmation emails: Confirm with customers the order they just made in your store.
Upsell and cross-sell emails: Sell customers additional products to increase your store’s average order value.
Promotional offer emails: Tell your customers about your site-wide discounts, holiday offers, free gifts, etc.
Customer loyalty and re-engagement emails: Send emails to existing customers or customers who haven’t purchased from your store in a specific timeframe.
11. Connect with sales channels
The U.S. now has over 230 million active social media users, with nearly 7 million added in 2019. That doesn’t mention the fact that ecommerce sales are heavily influenced by social media. Since your customers are very likely already on some social platforms, you might want to go where they are.
The secret to ecommerce success isn’t just to get your products out there and see how they perform. You need a marketing plan to bring your products to potential customers and convince them to buy.
Without a marketing plan, you might miss out on the fact that “More and more brands are competing for the same eyes. Facebook’s algorithm rewards video and motion-based creative that are more likely to hook your audience quickly. And customers are also more demanding, impatient and curious than ever before,” as Scott Ginsberg, Head of Content, Metric Digital says.
Ensure your marketing plan includes:
SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals and objectives.
Target customers, personas, and markets. You have to have a clear understanding of who you’re targeting, what characteristics define them, and where they’re located. Also, be sure you know their purchasing power and behaviors.
Channels, tactics, tools to execute your plan. Pay-per-click advertising, SEO, content marketing, influencer marketing, social media marketing, or email marketing—list out everything you’ll do to achieve your goals in detail.
A holiday marketing calendar that shows important holidays and events of the year. It’s also much better if you have a holiday marketing plan in place—the sooner, the better.
14. Integrate payment methods
One of the best ways to reduce abandoned carts is by providing as many payment methods as possible since everyone has different preferences.
Consider integrating these payment options:
Credit and debit cards, bank transfers, prepaid cards.
Digital wallets like PayPal, ApplePay, Google Pay. If you’re selling to China, WeChat should be considered.
Buy now, pay later. It’s a growing trend, especially among millennials and Generation Z.
ACH (Automated Clearing House). This method gives you greater control over payments and increases payment accuracy. Your customers also receive their purchases faster since ACH payments are processed quickly.
Regarding credit cards, you need to set up payment authorization to capture payment from your customers. You can do this by accessing your ecommerce platform admin. For example, in Shopify, you can set up automatic or manual capture of credit card payments. Shopify Payments provides an authorization period of 7 days.
15. Run ecommerce testing
To avoid errors and remove common online shopping hassles, you need to carefully test your ecommerce website before launching it. Also, run continuous A/B testing to identify what makes your customers happy and what brings conversions to your store.
Ensure you do the following tests:
A/B test everything about your CTA buttons.
Test multiple CTAs per page against one CTA per page.
Test ecommerce apps’ functionalities and social media integrations.
Test payment method functionalities.
Check compatibility with web browsers.
Test mobile responsiveness.
Check performance and SEO-related things.
Test websites, including homepage hero images, search button, all pages, pop-up forms, account pages, site loading speed, site security, and more.
Test email marketing sequences.
Test orders on mobile and desktops.
Use this ecommerce launch checklist to get your store ready!
This ecommerce launch checklist represents a roadmap for online merchants looking to start their business from scratch. Mastering the basics, and you’ll avoid all the hassles along the way.
Looking for a customer support app for your ecommerce store? Sign up for a Gorgias account and enjoy all the premium features for free in 7 days. Gorgias is an ecommerce-focused help desk solution that will help you create the best experience for your customers, improve your support team’s performance, and eventually drive sales.
What do you need to run an ecommerce site?
To run an ecommerce site, you will need a unique product or service to sell, a website, an ecommerce platform, integrated payment methods, a marketing plan, and an ecommerce helpdesk such as Gorgias to provide customer support.
What is ecommerce SEO?
Ecommerce SEO refers to the practice of optimizing an online store or website for search engines to improve its visibility in search engine results, gain traffic, and increase conversions and sales.
How do you do keyword research for SEO?
Keyword research is the process of looking for the most popular search phrases people type into search engines like Google or Bing, and strategically incorporating them into your web pages to gain visibility on search engine results pages.
How much does launching an ecommerce store cost?
The cost of launching an ecommerce store can vary depending on various factors, such as the platform you choose, the scale of your business, your product offerings, and marketing strategies. You can start a small online store with a few hundred dollars for basic hosting, domain registration, and an initial inventory. However, larger, more feature-rich ecommerce stores can require thousands or more.
Which ecommerce platform should I use?
The choice of an ecommerce platform depends on your business needs and budget. Popular options include Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. Shopify is user-friendly and offers a range of features, but it comes with monthly fees. WooCommerce is a flexible and open-source solution but requires technical know-how. BigCommerce offers scalability and various features, making it suitable for medium to large businesses. Consider your requirements and choose the platform that best aligns with your goals.