WAKE UP TO YOURSELF
So you have a great product you want to start selling or even are selling already elsewhere and have decided on opening an eCommerce store. It really is quite easy with the 14 day free trial offered by Shopify. With a great idea and a bit of drive, these 14 days is more than enough for you to get going. In fact, your store can be built well within the 14 day trial period is even over.
I often suggest using the 14 days as a deadline for getting the shop launch-ready. Once the site is live you or your developer can begin building out your store even further, it then does not have to be such an intimidating task, but it’s really just the first steps in your new eCommerce adventure. You can then break it down into smaller tasks, which makes it feel possible.
It’s not really that hard to get an eCommerce site up and running but it can be to get a viable business going. Even though Shopify makes a basic site set up really user friendly, almost any shop owner with reasonable levels of success will tell you it can be a hard road to make your first sale, and an even tougher road to become profitable.
At DanChristieDesigns, we pride ourselves on making the task a little easier. Another essential piece to launching, getting sales and becoming profitable is learning how to prioritize, break things down and make it happen.
We have put together this short guide on how to make it through the free trial to a live shop. You should always think of your site as a work in progress and know that once live your can always add new features and change the looks.
GET IT TOGETHER
If you are a little scared and nervous to launch, you are heading in the right direction.
Here is our list of things to get your store ready for launch day:
Selecting the right theme in Shopify requires a bit of vision. There is no harm and in fact we suggest to get a clearer vision then look at what is already out there and working, a select choice of stores that you’ve found and possibly already shop with and that are doing well. These stores can act as your vision catalyst for your own store. With your vision now clear, choose a theme that you can stick with for your first year. You don’t really want to be changing your design in your first year.
It can waste a lot of your time and too often the perfectionist in us all fall into this trap. They tell themselves that changing the theme is productive. It simply is not. So again make sure your theme design complements your vision and stick with it.
We recommend start up stores to have at least 1 to 10 products ready to be launched. This will vary of course depending on your business. What is important is that the first products that are uploaded are done so with consideration for future listings. This will also serve as some training to understand the Shopify platform and it’s product related features.
A few things to remember: ensure sure your images are good quality and optimized for fast loading (TinyJPG is a great tool for compressing those large images without losing quality). Your retail pricing is well thought out, that your product descriptions are attractive and that you fully understand how Shopify uses categories, which they call ‘’Collections’’. A thorough understanding of this and other features is essential.
A nice looking product page that you can duplicate will allow you to add more products faster and more efficiently when you begin to grow your shop with more products or services.
You cannot make sales if you cannot accept payment. This is a critical piece of your pre-launch. With PayPal and Stripe payments, you can easily tick this item on your checklist.
PayPal simply requires you to fill in your PayPal account details in the Shopify dashboard.
To use Stripe payments, you simply need to sign up, activate and then connect in the payments section of your Shopify account. It has never been so easy to begin setting up a gateway for accepting all the major payment methods.
You have products loaded, now time to put some serious thought into your shipping rates. This will save you a lot of bother and of course money. Nearly all shops when first opened have had unprofitable surprises with their first orders because they neglect to put thought into the shipping rates. We always suggest starting with flat rate shipping and a “Free” shipping option. Let’s face it, nothing is actually free and you will need to account for this in how you set your pricing of your products.
Work out your most expensive shipping cost and your cheapest, and put the median or highest price as the flat rate. Sometimes you will gain, sometimes you will lose, but if planned properly it can be quite easily made to level itself out.
Also, set a flat rate for international shipping if you choose to ship outside of your country. Setting shipping rates takes a huge amount of thought and calculations, this can always be adjusted over time.
The standard static pages that you should launch with are the following. About Us, Contact Us, FAQs, Return and Shipping Policy, Terms of Service and Privacy pages. If you sell anything with size variations, having a size chart page would also be considered crucial. All this can be a bit of work but it doesn’t have to take too much time. Use your competition stores to guide your vision.
Do not copy but I suggest building on other ideas and improving on them. They will have put a lot of effort into these pages. Your About Us page may be one of your most important pages and hiring a professional copywriter for this can be a great investment, but certainly not necessary.
A few hundred words describing your story and the unique product/service you are selling are all things to consider including on your about page.
For your FAQ’s page, you can start with a simple 5-10 anticipated questions, then build on this over time.
Write out your shipping and return policies. It always helps to offer a no fuss return policy but never assume that people won’t take advantage. Having been in this field for years now people will if they can find a way to take full advantage of softer policies. Do not neglect putting in serious time here to ensure you do not get caught out with any policies that leave you open to shady consumers as well as ensure you policies are all legal for the areas in which you conduct your business. We cannot stress enough that these need to be thoroughly thought out and always cover yourself.
Your contact page should have an email form; address and social media account links. A phone is an optional extra these days and having a customer chin-wagging for hours can take up valuable time that you could be using elsewhere to actually grow your business.
You can always start with basic templates available online for your Privacy and Terms pages but read through them so you can properly edit where it’s needed.
If you want to get any ranking for your target keywords on Google, you can’t skip this one. Understanding what people are searching for is a key element to getting momentum on search engines but do not waste money on cheap hacks, which may have even more negative impacts.
We will not go over how to do keyword research but select a tool that works, we use Keyword Researcher (one of the best keyword tools we have used, and for a small one time price, it can’t be beat),
Find what words people are using and list down the keywords along with their search volumes. Once you’ve done that for around 50-100 search terms, choose a consistent structure for your SEO Title tags and descriptions.
This will help improve click through rates and conversion rates. Overall, be consistent with the words you use to describe your products and how you structure your Meta data.
To grow your store and to make better decisions, you will need to collect and analyse data. Setting up Google Analytics is not only one of the most important things to do; it may also be one of the easiest things to get done on this checklist.
Simply create an account here and grab the tracking code then drop in the right spot within the settings of your Shopify dashboard. At the same time, activate the enhanced eCommerce features for better eCommerce data tracking. To get template Analytics dashboard for eCommerce check out the Analytics Gallery.
While Google Analytics will help you track data, Webmaster Tools helps you track the overall Google friendliness (health) of your website. Google WMT is a good way to understand the technical aspects to running a healthy and well-structured eCommerce store. I suggest taking time to understanding how this tool works. Through internal alerts you can stay fully aware of minor structural problems.
There are far too many apps available in the Shopify store that promise to add functionality to your store. The truth is most are likely to be more of a hindrance then actually adding anything of value, you simply need to focus. If you need help sifting through the garbage we put together a short list here that we feel actually help and the majority are Free. Each app you decide to add to your shop may add cost but more importantly, will add non-essential work and distract you from your goal, which is to launch and get your first sales. Don’t be fooled by the promises of apps.
Each app generally comes with it’s own set of instructions to integrate into your store and get full value from. We strongly suggest to focus on a select few apps that you think will be critical in helping you get your first sales within the first few months of your store launch. Browse the app store and make these decisions wisely. If you have more than 5 apps at launch, it’s probably too much. Stay lean so you can move fast and be efficient.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Ok, this part can be a little trickier and requires more work than anything above. At the very least, a basic launch plan could consist of cold emailing 5-10 relevant online publications or bloggers telling them about your project, announcing your launch on your personal Facebook page and to anyone around you that will listen.
Do not make the mistake of thinking people will just show up and your site will be on Google overnight with thousands of sales rolling in. Some ways of launching can be very planned like publishing a guest blog, to a simple announcement to your immediate social circle. Focus your launch around your website and a select choice of social media profiles.
You should spend as much time as possible interacting and engaging with people on your chosen platform in the pre-launch phase. If you’re not willing to do this work, this early, you’re just not fit to run a shop. This is not about a get rich quick scheme; so don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. Talk to people before, during and after your launch through any relevant online and offline medium.
If you have limiting beliefs or you are embarrassed about your venture, find ways to conquer this. If you’re not ready to put your name behind your project – there is a problem and this might not be for you. Self-awareness is a big part of the entrepreneurial journey so make sure you consider carefully the road you are about to take.
In summary, here are the points again:
This is just a short checklist of the most important things to get your store ready for launch.
If you need some help or guidance on any one of these checklist elements, get in touch with us directly.
Take a look at our Packages that can help you get some of the development, design and maintenance tasks needed for your store.
Comments will be approved before showing up.