Journal

The 9-Step Guide to Launching a New Shopify Store

26 Oct
2021

You've worked day and night on your new Shopify store. Everything feels ready to go, but you can't shake away the feeling that something is missing...

Oh, that's right! You're missing a Shopify store launch checklist.

With a Shopify store launch checklist, you can check off last-minute to-dos and feel confident in launching your Shopify store.

But here's the thing: You have no idea what to add to your list.

Good thing you found this post—we've got you covered with the ultimate Shopify store launch checklist!

In this article, you'll learn:

  • Why a launch checklist is effective
  • 9 things to do before launching your Shopify business
  • How Sendlane and Shopify work together 

Let's dive in.

What Makes a Shopify Store Launch Checklist Effective? 

Think back to the last time you went on vacation. Maybe you flew to the balmy islands of Hawaii. Or perhaps you bundled up for Switzerland.

Regardless of where you vacationed, you needed to prepare for a certain amount of days away from home. You might've done this on the fly. But most of us will prepare with a packing list.

Packing lists are similar to a Shopify store launch checklist. "Much like anything in life," Mike Lohmann, Sendlanes's Customer Success Management shares, "having a checklist when launching your Shopify store is key."

Planning ahead "allows you to map out the journey ahead of time and makes sure nothing is forgotten or left behind," Mike continues, "You can certainly place yourself in a much better position if you don't skip this step."

So what makes a Shopify store checklist effective?

The best prep lists cover everything from your product photos to your marketing plan *cough cough* like the store launch checklist below.

Image? 

Shopify Store Launch Checklist: 9 Things to Check Off 

1. Make your online shop credible with a custom domain 

Every Shopify account comes with a primary domain: yourshop.myshopify.com.

A custom domain, however, removes "myshopify" from the URL. So your domain will look something like: yourstorename.com.

Online stores prefer custom domains for two reasons:

  • Increased brand recognition: Shopify is a powerful eCommerce platform. But it has nothing to do with your brand. Removing "myshopify" avoids confusion and sticks to your store name.
  • Better discoverability: Online users are more likely to search lululemon.com than lululemon.myshopify.com

Now for the real question: How do you know if your custom domain is available?

You can do a domain name search at who.is. Who.is tells you if your preferred domain is available.

Is your domain available? Great! You can buy it directly from Who.is. Or, buy your domain name with your Shopify account.

And if your domain is taken?

First, you can find the domain owner on who.is and ask if they're selling. The downside of this option is that most domain sellers hike the price tag.

Not to worry. If the domain is over budget, you can opt for the following options:

First, choose a different domain extension and change your URL from ".com" to...

  • .org
  • .online
  • .co
  • .io

Second, tweak your domain name. For example, texassteakhouse.com could change to txsteakhouse.com.

You can also add a verb or noun to the beginning of your name:

  • gotexassteakhouse.com
  • learnfreelancing.com
  • mymorningbrew.com
  • hellosurfer.com

As long as you remove the Shopify logo from your domain name, you’re good to go. 

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2. Enhance your store using Shopify apps 

One reason why store owners love Shopify is because of the apps.

Apps can automate marketing, shipping, and sales—all great things! Keep it simple and download only the essential apps:

  • Email marketing: Use Sendlane's Deep-Data for Shopify integration to leverage data and personalize email campaigns.
  • Customer service: Support new customers with real-time support
  • Product reviews: Display testimonials throughout your Shopify store.
  • Order tracking: Allow users to track their order and shipping details
  • Backup: Automatically back up your online store data

You might be tempted to download every app you see. 

Don't do this! Going overboard can affect your load speed. Instead, make a list of what your new store needs before visiting the Shopify app store. This way, you won't get distracted. 

3. Reach out to more customers with sales channels

Also known as a marketplace, a sales channel lets you sell products across multiple channels. Think Instagram, Etsy, and Amazon.

66% of online purchasers value convenience over the price. The more sales channels you have, the more convenient it is to support your business.

Shopify store owners like the following sales channels:

  • Facebook shop: Give Facebook and Instagram users access to your shop.
Source
  • Buy button: Add a "Buy Now" button to product pages, landing pages, emails, and blog posts.
Source
  • Checkout links: Just like a “Buy button,” you can integrate on and outside of your website. 
Source

Take a look at Shopify’s list of available sales channels

To maximize multi-channel retailing, focus on your target customer. Figure our where your customers are showing up most and engaging.  

4. Increase online sales with a checkout process audit 

Have you ever landed on a checkout page, only to struggle with roadblocks, like high shipping rates and website errors?

We've all been there. Baynard found that high abandonment rates almost always stem from checking out.

Looking at this graph, a standard checkout page’s shipping and financial settings are the primary reasons for cart abandonment.

So how can you avoid this problem?

It's simple: Audit your checkout settings. As you review your financial and shipping settings, make sure to cover:

  • The pre-checkout stage: Browsing for products
  • The add-to-cart stage: Adding a product to your cart
  • The cart stage: Reviewing your cart
  • The billing and shipping stage: Entering payment and contact information
  • The summary and review stage: Reviewing and finalizing the payment

Psst... Our eCommerce checkout flow guide will guide you through each outlined step above!

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5. Review your standard pages to optimize the customer experience

You're more than halfway done with your Shopify store launch checklist! Let's keep going and review the rest of your eCommerce store pages:

  • Homepage
  • About
  • Product detail and listings
  • Terms of service
  • FAQ
  • Contact

We'll go through each page with Verve Coffee Roaster

Starting with the homepage—capture your site visitors' attention with solid branding and web copy. And make sure your menu and buttons are easy to see and navigate. You get bonus points if you add a search bar!

Onto the about page. Connect with your audience with your authentic story and vision.

Protip: Show off your amazing team with high-quality photos!

Now let's move on to the product detail and listing pages.

Surprise, surprise... 41% of online shoppers agree that a product detail page impacts their purchasing decisions.

So how do you avoid poor product pages?

One word: Images. Avoid stock images and showcase your products with professional product images.

Along with the name and price, always add an optimized description and include shipping costs and payment options. Brownie points if you add social proof.

Now let's talk about the terms of service page. As boring as it sounds, your legal and privacy terms are vital to your Shopify website. You can't launch your online store without it.

You can build a separate term of service page or integrate it with your FAQ (see below).

And speaking of the FAQ, answer your potential customers' commonly asked questions. Most questions revolve around:

  • Shopify payments: The type of payments you accept
  • The shipping zone: Where you ship products
  • Return policy: When and how a customer can return your product


One more thing—create a contact page and add an appropriate email, address, and contact form.

If you're a first-time eCommerce store owner, visit other Shopify stores and take note of their best features. How can you integrate those elements into your online store?

6. Integrate your email software with Shopify 

Email marketing is more than communicating with buyers. It also captures leads, reduces abandoned carts, and retains new customers. 

You can't get in on these perks without integrating your email software with Shopify. Sendlane, for example, can connect with your Shopify store and gather customer data.

Pretty handy, right?

Well, it gets even better. You can use insights from Sendlane and create a personalized welcome series, abandoned cart email, and shipping info emails.

Let's go over each one.

Welcome series: Every email sequence starts with a good ol' welcome series. A welcome email invites potential customers to explore and connect with your brand.

Source

Get the ball rolling with a 10% "welcome" discount, or offer free shipping.

Abandoned cart: Win back abandoned cart users with a quick “Hey, your cart is waiting!” email. 

Source

With Sendlane, you can personalize your abandoned cart emails using our drag and drop builder. 


Order confirmations: Woohoo! Someone purchased a product *cue happy dance.*

Confirm their order and send them a big "THANK EWE!"

Source

Shipping notifications: Getting something in the mail feels just as gratifying as receiving a present. Keep the excitement going and attach a tracking number to your next shipping email (courtesy of Shopify).

Source

Of course, there's more to email marketing than a few templates. Dig deeper and read about how eight email marketing campaigns increased ROI.

7. Prepare for your grand opening with a marketing strategy 

A pre-launch marketing plan increases your chances of sales from the get-go.

As you brainstorm ideas, you might think of tactics like:

  • Promoting your online store on multiple channels
  • Building sales-focused landing pages
  • Running paid advertisements

These strategies are helpful. But Kevin Indig, Organic Growth expert at Shopify, shares something even better—creating organic content.

"Other than typical pre-launch strategies, you should start adding content months before you launch - basically as soon as you decide to sell a product." Kevin advises, "The benefit of that strategy is that you place your brand in the minds of your visitors without paying a dime for it."

Better brand visibility and less money out of your pocket? We're in! But how exactly will organic content successfully launch your store?

"The goal is to start getting organic traffic from Google before you launch your online store." Kevin adds, "Of course, the content doesn't go away when your product launches. It's a good long-term investment."

To get started, build a resource library about your product—how it works, the problem it solves, and how to use it. Take a look at our Sendlane 101 resources for examples.

As you create new content, repurpose what you have into:

  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletters (Start an email list and notify subscribers when your store launches!)
  • Infographics

Do this step right, and your content will live forever.

To sum up: It's no secret that organic content takes strategy and time to build. But as Kevin said, it's a long-term vision to scale your Shopify store.

We think it's worth it. Wouldn't you agree?

8. Integrate an analytics tool and learn your shoppers’ behavior

A key strategy to any marketing plan is nerding out over data.

You know, analyzing customer behavior, lifetime value, average order value, revenue, etc... that type of data.

With Sendlane, you can analyze your Shopify store data on one page.

While you're at it, take advantage of our Beacon—pixel-tracking feature. Similar to Facebook Pixel, Beacon follows your web visitors as they explore your website—giving you a first look into what's selling and what's not.

You can also use a third-party tool like Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a staple tool for every eCommerce store. They dive into metrics like:

  • Most visited webpages
  • Least visited webpages
  • Bounce rate
  • Acquisition

Data doesn't lie. As you gather more info, ask yourself the hard questions, like:

  • Did my pre-launch marketing plan work?
  • When is the best time to start selling in my marketing funnel?
  • Are customers using my additional sales channels?
  • Is my online store ranking high on Google's search engine?
  • Are incentives like offering free shipping boosting sales?

And most importantly, is my business model working?

9. Proofread your online store one final time 

You're almost done! The last thing to check off on your Shopify store launch checklist is a final proofread.

Along with double-checking (or even triple-checking) for typos and broken links, do one final sweet over your:          

  • Website navigation
  • Checkout process
  • Email marketing campaign
  • Mobile-responsiveness
  • All the images in your Shopify store
  • Customer support system
  • Overall marketing plan

As you review your online store, ask yourself, "If I were a customer, what would I want to see on each page?" and add those elements.

And you don't have to go at this alone—ask your team, family, and friends for feedback. The more eyes, the better off you'll be.

Are You Ready to Launch Your Online Store? 

Now that you've read through this entire Shopify store launch checklist, it's hard to imagine launching your Shopify store without this handy prep list, isn't it?

As you prepare for the big day, go ahead and bookmark this page. This way, you can come for help anytime.

And while you're at it, check out how Sendlane can uplevel your Shopify store; start your 14-day free trial right here! 


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