You’ve finally got your new e-commerce website all set up. So exciting! Congratulations! Are you ready to launch it though? That’s another matter entirely. Hold on to that bottle of champagne… It’s time to check for holes in your ship before it hits the high seas of the online marketplace. Here’s an e-commerce launch checklist, to make sure you haven’t missed any key pieces that could hamper your online success.
What to look out for in 14 checkable steps… These are little details that make a world of difference in how your website performs.
1. Is Your E-Commerce Website Responsive?
What this means: This is super important! Your search engine ranking will suffer if every page, including your storefront product pages, aren’t mobile-friendly, for those shoppers on smart phones and tablets. Your website should look stunning, be easy to read, and simple to navigate no matter how it’s viewed.
2. Do You Have a Brand Strategy Behind That Site?
What this means: Everything you send out to the public represents you, from your brand logo to your messaging, taglines, and even product descriptions. Make sure your brand is recognizable and represents you well. People should be able to tell what you’re all about at first glance. Every decision, even your logo colours, should be guided by an underlying strategy and objective. Hiring an expert to help you is highly recommended.
3. Is There a Connection to Several Sales Channels?
What this means: Today’s customers tend to be “multichannel”, which means, they use more than one source to search for your brand’s products and services, including your website, social media, online marketplaces, and/or brick and mortar stores. A 2017 survey by the Harvard Business Review shows that 73% of consumers tend to use multiple channels to conduct a single purchase with a brand and they also spend more than those who use only one sales channel.
Find out how to choose the sales channels that work best for you. For example, when ORO Los Angeles launched shopping on Instagram, it lifted month-over-month revenue by 29.3%!
Some examples of online sales channels you can seamlessly integrate with your e-commerce store include Instagram, Facebook, Messenger and Pinterest, which can be connected directly to your online shopping cart, so you can easily keep track of orders, products, and customers across all platforms.
4. Do You Have A Custom Domain?
What this means: Instead of just plugging in your legal business name, consider a custom domain name for your site. It gives you brand recognition and makes it easier for people to remember your URL. First, ensure it’s free to use by conducting a domain name search. If the name isn’t already trademarked, you can purchase your custom domain name directly through a domain registrar or ask us to help you. You may need to get a little creative if your preferred option is taken. For example, if your name’s Blossom, you could use weareblossom.com.
You can also use a different top-level domain (TLD). A TLD comes at the end of a URL, such as: .com, .org, .biz, .store, .shop etc. You’ll notice that it’s commonplace. Many websites do this.
5. Have You Reviewed Your Checkout Experience?
What this means: According to Baymard Institute, the average rate for online shopping cart abandonment is almost 70%! Before you drive any traffic to your online store, you’ll want to ensure people can actually complete a purchase. Fix any errors and remove friction at checkout, otherwise you risk losing more sales.
When testing your checkout process, you’ll want to make sure:
- Shipping rates are transparent at checkout
- There is an option for order status tracking
- Discount codes can be applied in the cart
- A shopper can edit their cart’s content
- Familiar payment methods, such as PayPal, are available
- Contact information can be easily accessed in case order editing is needed
- A branded confirmation email is set up so the buyer knows their purchase was successful
- Correct currency is set up, with the ability to switch currencies based on shopper location if required
- Shipping and return policies are clearly defined, so customers know what to expect
6. Have You Checked That Your Website Has Crucial Pages?
What this means: Our E-commerce Launch Checklist would be incomplete without addressing website content. Every website should have these foundational pages, so visitors can learn more about your company. This builds consumer trust in your brand and it imparts some of your corporate culture, which assures people that you treat your staff and customers fairly.
Based on our research, these are the pages we most recommend for online stores:
- Homepage. Arguably the most important page on your site. It’s the first place people land, and it establishes the overall look and feel of your website. Your homepage should communicate your brand values and unique service proposition (USP). It’s also the place to provide clear navigation, so visitors can browse your products and/or services and special features.
- Contact page. Contact pages convey authenticity and assure shoppers that your business is real. Make sure to include a phone number, email, and retail address (if there is one), so potential customers can contact you with questions. Include a contact form, so they can send you a message without leaving your site.
- “About” page. An overlooked page! This is where shoppers learn more about your company, your brand, and the people behind your products, and it can be an effective sales tool. About Pages can show your reliability, your commitment to customers, and that your brand has its own beliefs. Research shows, 71% of consumers buy from brands who share similar values.
- Service/Product-Specific Pages. If you have many products or services, you may want to include service/product categories in the website navigation. It streamlines the buying experience, so visitors can quickly navigate to the products/services that interest them.
- FAQ page. It might help close a sale if you can answer the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) on one of your website pages. Tips for crafting a good FAQ page: Think about what you’d like to know before you complete an online purchase. Scope out competitors FAQ sections. Address typical questions, including shipping and return policies, sizing, contact info and if applicable, information on allergies and ingredients.
7. Can Shoppers Easily Contact You?
What this means: Remember that contact page we recommended in point six of our E-commerce Launch Checklist? That’s not the only place where you should have information on how customers can get in touch. At the very least, you’ll want to include your phone number and business address on most pages of your website.
8. Have You Customized Your Email Notification Settings?
What this means: Email can help you stay in touch with your customers and can lead to repeat sales. The platform you use to create your store should allow you to set up custom branded automated emails. It should also allow you to edit them as your business changes. Here’s an example of the automated email marketing drips we’ve helped clients set up:
- Welcome to our community
- Purchase confirmation
- Shipping notifications
- Your invoice and thank you for your purchase
- Reminders to revisit items still in your cart
9. Have You Proofed Your Content?
What this means: Sometimes you’re so focused on certain things, you won’t notice small mistakes or typos that could make your site appear unprofessional. Make sure to proofread your content for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Use proofreading techniques, such as reading in reverse—start with the last line in a paragraph and work your way to the top. Remember to fix any broken links and any “404 page not found” errors. Copy consistency is also important. A brand guide can help to establish a consistent tone and editorial style that your team can easily follow.
There’s a lot to do and a lot to know to craft the right content that sells your brand. If you want foolproof copy, we suggest hiring content writers with an understanding of e-commerce. Original Ginger has a team ready to pen the most persuasive content for your products.
10. Do You Have a Variety of Images for Each Product?
What this means: Don’t include one image of your product. Show it from all angles, including close-up views. Use “lifestyle” images to show someone wearing or using the product. If a variety of colours are available, use a professional photographer if you can. At the very least, set up proper lighting, so that colours are as true to life as possible.
11. Have You Optimized All Images?
What this means: Here’s one item to also add to your e-commerce launch checklist. There’s nothing worse than slow-loading images. It hurts your search engine ranking and can damage your user experience. Slower load times have also been shown to lower conversion rates.
To avoid this, make sure to optimize all your images by clearly naming them for search engines, adding detailed alt attributes for site visitors who are visually impaired, keeping images to reasonable file sizes, using sharp, quality, hi-res images, and keeping to JPEG images for photography and PNG images for graphics and icons.
Bringing someone on board for creative direction can help you curate the right images for your type of site. A professional agency like ours can give you access to that kind of expertise, along with photographers who know their lighting.
12. Does Your Website Offer a Wish List?
What this means: Wish lists are a great way to ensure a positive browsing experience. When choosing a shopping cart, consider that some customers may need time to decide, without losing their shortlist of preferred products. We don’t know about you, but we often like to choose items and send them to a wish list for review, before adding our final items to a shopping cart.
13. Adjusted Your Tax and Shipping Settings?
What this means: Check that your tax settings and shipping rates are appropriate for the product(s) you’re selling. Don’t make the mistake of not charging enough and allowing your shipping costs to eat into your profits. Test out your tax and shipping settings before launching your store.
You might also need to add sales tax, depending on where your business and customers are located. If you’re not sure which tax settings to use, it’s best to consult with an accountant.
14. Do You Have a Pre-Launch Marketing Plan?
What this means: Once you launch your site, you have to get the word out so people know about it. That’s where brand strategy comes into play. Check out our FREE downloadable Branding Guide for great insights and tips!
When it comes to your site strategy, make sure to plan and document what, when, and how you’ll reach your target audience. Will you announce the launch through your social media channels, through a newsletter, in-store, or maybe throw a virtual “launch party” where you send out email invites? Is it part of a larger brand awareness campaign? How does it fit into your overall goals? Whatever marketing tactics you choose, make sure all your marketing activities work together towards the same goal.
Your E-commerce Launch Checklist Helps You to Start with A Plan in Hand
Well, we’ve taken you through the 14 steps of our E-commerce Launch Checklist to ensure a successful launch of your e-commerce website. With everything checked off, it’s time to kick things off and start sailing – oops, we mean selling! So, hoist your sails and finally crack open that champagne. You’ve got a solid and sturdy website that’s ready to wow the world with your unique offerings. Go get em’!
Looking for affordable e-commerce solutions and experts in digital storefronts? From e-commerce websites to brand strategy, content writing and custom photos, contact Original Ginger for help with e-commerce set up!