Journal

The 8-Part BigCommerce Store Launch Preplist

17 Dec
2021

You're just about ready to launch your BigCommerce store. But you still have a few loose ends to tie up before going live. 

Scratch that... you still have to tie up MANY loose ends—welcome emails, web design, security measures... the list goes on. There’s so much to do that you might feel like launching a new store is overwhelming, or even impossible.  

Good news! We've got you covered with an 8-step BigCommerce store launch prep-list. We'll guide you through the final steps of launching your online store, so you can hit the ground running.

Ready to get started?

8 Steps to Launch Your New BigCommerce Store

1. Improve your online store with BigCommerce apps

Starting an online store isn’t as easy as uploading a few product images and picking your price. Successful store owners need to account for a range of tasks, like providing customer support, handling taxes, and designing your website.

While these tasks can be fun at first (except for taxes... who likes those?) managing everything alone is a recipe for burnout. 

That’s where BigCommerce apps come to the rescue. These apps integrate with your online store and help you automate the boring and repetitive parts of your business, so you can get back to the parts you enjoy. 

For new stores, we recommend starting with the following four apps: 

  1. Dominate: Optimizes checkout flow and includes 100+ languages, currencies, and payment processors. And it's free.
  2. FavSEO: Improves your SEO by updating your site's title tag, meta description, and other search engine settings. It also measures your load speed and offers keyword research.
  3. Yotpo: Enhances customer reviews on your site and offers loyalty programs.
  4. Avalara: Sets up and calculates sales tax on autopilot.

Imagine how much time you'll save just by downloading a few apps. And this is just a sneak-peek into BigCommerce's selection—take a look at the rest of them here.

2. Avoid abandoned carts with an intuitive checkout process

Ask an eCommerce owner, "What keeps you up at night?" and they'll probably say abandoned carts. It makes sense—the average checkout completion is only 49 percent, according to Littledata.

To be fair, 58.6 percent of buyers are in "browse" mode and don't want to buy anything. But this same study found that extra costs, creating an account, and slow delivery also often lead customers to abandon their cart.

Streamlining your checkout process within BigCommerce helps make sure potential customers turn into actual customers. Check out how to give customers a seamless checkout flow:

1. Pre-checkout: Turn a *virtual* window shopping experience into a potential purchase using descriptive product pages and high-resolution images. 

2. Adding to cart: Make it easy for shoppers to hit “Add to cart.” You can copy Primally Pure’s tactic and offer a discount when customers land on a product description page. 


3. The cart: Clearly lay out the price and quantity of each item. You can even include shipping information and payment options. 


4. Billing and shipping: Create a simple checkout and billing form.

5. Finalizing the purchase: Complete the purchase and follow up with a confirmation email (more on this soon). 

Pro tip: When your store is live, use Sendlane's data to spot where customers are likely to drop off during checkout!

Oh, and you can't forget about an abandoned cart email. This type of email reengages shoppers by incentivizing them to finish their purchase. Most abandoned cart emails start with a clever hook and end with a freebie. 

Source

Overall, the best abandoned cart emails are:

  • Direct: Guides users back to their cart with a clear CTA button.
  • Segmented: Customize the email with images of their cart.
  • Incentivized: Do you offer free shipping or discounts? Include those perks.

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3. Convert more users with search engine optimization

If you want more people to visit your site, you've got to improve your SEO. SEO impacts your web traffic, your visibility on search engines, and overall sales. 

I get it... SEO is intimidating. Sure, you can always outsource to an SEO agency or download a few SEO apps to assist the process. We recommend starting small with these four tips:

Mobile optimization: By 2025, more than 10 percent of sales will come from mobile. Keep up with the trend and choose a responsive website theme (one that responds well to desktop and mobile).

Page load speed: As the internet gets faster, customers’ patience for slow websites wears thin. Before launching your store, check your load speed with FavSEO, the BigCommerce app.

Keyword search: Optimized keywords help your eCommerce site rank higher on search engines—specifically Google. Here's BigCommerce's recommended list of keyword search tools.

Optimized rich snippets: Rich snippets add extra information about your store on Google's search engine. Fashion brand Lands’ End includes product ratings right in their rich snippet below:

So do rich snippets actually drive more clicks?

It appears so! Online users click on rich results 58 percent of the time and click on non-rich snippets only 41 percent of the time.

Remember Yotpo, the customer service app we talked about in step one? Here's where it comes in handy. Yotpo can add rich snippets to your products and services.

4. Retain new shoppers with a welcome email series

You know that saying, "First impressions matter"? This holds true for your eCommerce store, too. 

A great welcome email sequence helps turn new shoppers into brand advocates. "The best welcome flows," Jess Meher, CEO of Wonderment shares, "...are helpful and not overly sales-y. There is nothing that annoys people more than to sign up and suddenly receive a deluge of promotional emails as if you (the customer) are just a number."

The only problem? “Too many welcome sequences focus only on conversion and not retention,” Jess reveals. Driving sales isn’t worth the expense of your customers’ support. Ditch the pushy sales emails and deliver valuable content instead—interesting stories, educational guides, and a community. 

Of course, welcome emails don't fit in one box. 

What matters most, according to Jess, is purchase confidence. "You want to give customers peace of mind that they should buy from you and help them extract maximum value and delight post-purchase.”

Let's put these tips into action and go through a standard email sequence:

We'll start with the signup/place an order email.

Source

Welcome new customers with a discount, community invitation, or piece of content. With a “ Here’s what to expect from us “ section, you can also lay down the foundation between you and your customer with a "Here's what to expect from us" section.

Source

Next are shipping updates. This transactional email informs buyers about their product arrival.

Source

Now let's talk about helpful content.

Source

Omsom educates readers about Asian cuisine in a series of bite-sized lessons. Talk about fun and engaging. For you, helpful content might look like a webinar series, eBook, illustrative videos, or live Q&A... you've got options!

Last but not least, there are additional promotion emails. Discounts, sales, early access, and events are a few things you can update users about on a regular basis.

Increasing purchase confidence is easy with Sendlane. You can customize your welcome emails and deliver read-worthy content based on your shopper's behaviors using this data.

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5. Improve the customer journey with well-designed web pages

Your online shop's design isn't just for looks—it's also a tool to captivate your audience. An intuitive design helps users navigate through your site and engage with content.

Let's go over the big four standard pages: Your homepage, about, product page, and product descriptions.

Savannah Bee adds the most important links to their homepage, as well as high-quality images.

The main menu and product sections make it easy to click through their site.

Next is the About page. This is your opportunity to share what makes your store unique—whether it's a story, your mission, or a timeline of how you came to be.

Personalize this section with photos and a message from the founder... AKA you!

Your product pages should move visitors from browsing to adding to their cart (stage one of the checkout process).

Savannah Bee keeps it simple, listing each product's images, name, and price. But a quick description or "Quick view" might suit your customers better.

Let's move on to the product description page.

Pump your shoppers up with a raving product description. And don't forget to add positive reviews! When given the choice, buyers would rather read reviews over other incentives.  


Source


Your product description page is also a chance to cross-sell and maximize sales! One example of cross-selling is adding an "Other items you may like" section. This section makes it easy to add extra items to your cart.

While you're auditing your standard pages, look through the rest of your website and make sure they’re customer-ready: 

  • FAQ
  • Contact
  • Terms of conditions
  • Privacy policy

Analytic tools like Beacon shed insights about your customers' journey through your site and your overall website performance.

6. Secure your eCommerce store from threats

As a kid, you probably heard your parents say "Safety comes first" one too many times. Or, maybe you're the one saying this to your children now.

Whatever the case, safety really does come first—in the real world AND the online world. Without security measures, your store might face a cyberattack or data breach. And it's not just your data at risk, but your customer's information as well.

But don't worry! Here are a few recommendations to protect your store:

1. Automating backups: If a server is down, you might lose previous web updates. Backup software like Rewind will backup your eCommerce store on autopilot.

2. Limit access to your admin: Multiple admins are great if you're delegating tasks, but keep in mind that admins have access to data-sensitive information. Use the BigCommerce backend to update your admin settings regularly and limit access only to those who need it.

3. Add an SSL certificate: A certificate authenticates your site's identity and secures the connection between your server (website files) and someone's computer.

You know a website is certified when a lock icon appears next to the URL.

You'll get a free SSL certificate when you buy a custom domain with BigCommerce, but you can also buy one separately.

Protecting your website isn't one of those "I'll do it later!" tasks. Set a reminder to review your security settings every month. You'll thank yourself later.

7. Gather customer insights with an analytics tool

Measuring and tracking your store’s analytics sets you up for deeper awareness around your online shop, helping you spot opportunities for improving sales and giving customers a better experience. 

The real question is... which analytics tool should you choose?

For starters, there's Google Analytics. This tool is standard for all types of online websites, including eCommerce, blogs, and personal sites. Google Analytics is best at identifying your web visitors, how they find your site, and which websites are referring traffic to your business. 

But here’s the con: It doesn’t analyze customers on a personal level, making it harder to customize the buyer's journey.

Here is where other analytics platforms like BigCommerce come into play. BigCommerce’s built-in analytics tool tracks your customer's spending habits and behavior.

Some metrics you can track include:

  • The number of customers you attract vs. returning customers
  • Successfully converted abandoned carts
  • Overall revenue generation

BigCommerce can track newsletters and abandoned carts. However, it doesn’t offer many features in the segmentation department. The lack of customization is a loss if you want to personalize your emails. 

Sendlane, on the other hand, does!

Alongside segmentation, you can also monitor your email campaigns’ performance and add variable tags to emails. Variable tags customize emails by pulling certain information from your customer’s data in Sendlane. 

Image? 

8. Audit your BigCommerce store one last time

You've got one last step before launching your store—auditing your website from beginning to end.

First, check on the big stuff, like your customer support system, marketing plan, and inventory settings.

Next, keep an eye out for the smaller things, like:

  • Typos
  • Grammar/spelling errors
  • Broken links
  • Redirect errors
  • Placement text
  • Oversized images
  • Slow load speed

And finally, ask your friends and family to visit your website. Along with their recommendations, take note of their overall experience. Did they have an easy time navigating your shop? Did your pages load quickly? And does your website align with the average shopper?

It's official. You're ready to launch your BigCommerce store!

You've launched your BigCommerce store... What's next? 

Woo-hoo! Your BigCommerce store is ready for take-off.

Now is the time to think about your online store's future. How will you continue to deliver an engaging shopping experience from here on out?

Here's an idea: Let Sendlane do the job for you.

Sendlane will track your entire customer journey and personalize your online store messaging from the get-go. Give it a try and sign up for a free 14-day trial!

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