Various aspects collectively go into making and launching an online store. It is vital for you as an e-commerce business owner to be on top of everything. Keeping track, checking, cross-checking, and testing every step of building your online store ensures you provide your customers with the best quality user experience.
Every element starting from the website design to the final checkout point should be as seamless and efficient as possible. If not, then you will encounter customer dissatisfaction with slow loading time, broken links, incomplete product page details, and difficult-to-navigate checkout. Thus, keeping a checklist can help you navigate and test out your e-commerce business site.
What Is an e-commerce Checklist?
By definition, an e-commerce checklist is a set of actions and steps that should be followed to ensure the successful launch of an online store. An e-commerce checklist helps in analyzing the processes, assets, and steps that you need to create a streamlined process for your store before its launch.
Simply put, the e-commerce checklist is a roadmap that you design and follow to ensure success even before you make a sale. The checklist asks you to pay attention to the interface and design of your website before its launch.
Why An e-commerce Checklist Is So Important
When building your e-commerce store, questions will pop up in your head about what theme works for the brand, what media format to use on this page, and which payment options to provide. It’s best to write down these questions so they can help you create a checklist of things to consider.
With this checklist, you will be able to make sure that all of the necessary steps are not missed. This will give you a boost of confidence knowing that you have the right plan and know what needs to be done next.
Your e-commerce Store Launch Checklist
This is a checklist for launching an online store. It covers some basics as well as action steps that entrepreneurs take when starting their own businesses.
Prepare standard pages
Online stores need to provide a lot of information about the store. This will give the visitor a chance to learn more insights about your company and in turn help them make a purchase.
Here are the website pages you should prioritize before you start working on the product and checkout pages –
Home page: Your homepage establishes the entire look and experience of your site, inviting the customers to browse by providing clear navigation. This makes it one of the most important pages of your website. Link your category pages and product pages on your homepage for clear and easier navigation. The homepage is also a great place to highlight your brand’s product promotions and ongoing offers.
About page: Here, customers learn about you, your company, and the values your brand offers. The About page helps customers connect with your business and company through a well-crafted brand story.
Contact page: This page will help customers get in touch with you. You can optionally provide your store’s physical address (if you have a brick-and-mortar store) and phone number, email, and a contact form.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page: Customers often want to know more about the products they’re buying. You can tell them what they need to know through your FAQ page. It is great to have a medium to answer customer queries on your products, the brand, or even the manufacturing details and more. Compile all these questions, answer them and share them on a page that the customers can visit.
Terms of Service page: It’s important to share your legal policies and services with clients. This can help you legally, protect your business, and also build trust.
Design listing pages
A listing page is a page that displays your products as they are divided into categories. This page category makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and for you to organise your website.
Additionally, adding features like a short introduction to the category, filtering and sorting functions, customer reviews, internal linking of the categories and sub-categories, etc, can enhance the SEO and increase conversion rates.
Design product pages
Product pages show the product and its details. The buy button is also displayed, so essentially this page is to bring you sales. If this page is not optimized properly, it can lead to loss of sales and making little to no profit.
To optimize this page for maximum results, keep in mind to add these elements-
- display the “add to cart” prominently and constantly. Make the call-to-action button stand out by using contrasting, bold colors in the design of the page.
- Be sure to use high-quality multimedia depicting your products from various angles. Add the 360-degree look and zoom-in features.
- When writing your product description, ensure to highlight the benefits of your products along with the features, and sell the product by showing how it emphasizes convenience and enhances the quality of life.
- Highlight the product styles, colors, sizes, stocks, costing, etc, ensuring transparency.
- Give your customers factors that will have them trust your products and business by displaying reviews and testimonials from direct reviews or social media.
Design shopping cart page
The primary goal of the shopping cart page is to lead the customers to the checkout. And when they’re ready, customers review and finalize their purchase decisions on the shopping cart page.
To create an effective shopping cart page, you need to include the details of the products. Do add some call-to-action buttons to retain customer attention, like “Proceed to Checkout”.
Be transparent about the costing to avoid unexpected/hidden costs, leading to cart abandonment.
You can add a mini cart widget that lets the user add items to the cart without having to leave the page. The widget can be just a drop-down menu of what they are buying or it could appear from the left side of the screen. Just make sure it is clear and easy to read. This is also a great place to display any cart special discounts like “add more items worth $15 and avail free shipping” or “buy 2 more items from the range and get 20% discount”- providing the incentive for shoppers nudges them to purchase more items.
Design checkout page
If the checkout page is not optimally designed, it can lead to cart abandonment. Thus, ensure to review and test this page carefully. Avoid making customers scroll endlessly. Display the final purchase review, the payment options, and payment information on the same page.
On thos page, offer a variety of payment options like e-wallets, credit and debit cards, net banking, specialty cards, and loyalty cards.
Additionally, if you can, add a live customer support chat in case the customer has a query or needs help to complete their purchase.
Once the payment is confirmed, lead them to an order confirmation page where you can thank them for shopping with you and perhaps offer some discount codes as incentives to push them to shop with you again.
The shipping, returns, & refund policy page
The shipping policy, returns and refund policy pages are essential in providing your customers with transparency and trust.
This page will help customers understand the shipping times of products. People often look at this page when they need to buy a product quickly or if they want to save money on their purchases by ordering ahead due to current or upcoming holidays. Thus, this page should cover the costs, shipping time and duration, regions, and the shipping methods provided by the business.
Return and Refunds policy page:
These sections are often combined into one, providing details and processes for returns, exchanges, and refunds. This page can cover answer queries on item returns, accepted return timeframe, expected refund timeline, etc. Provide information for these categories after confirming the same with your delivery partners, ensuring both partner’s policies are aligned.
Ensure your site is secure
It is crucial to use good website security services, one that is compatible with your platform. It is highly recommended to use HTTPS, promote strong passwords, and closely observe admin activity.
Good security is essential not only on the business front, but also on the customer’s end.The safety of your customers is imperative. In order to protect their personal information, it is important to protect the security of your site. If their information is misused due to poor security, it can ruin the brand’s reputation as they may expose this about the business.
Weak security can be detrimental to organic SEO because it can manipulate what search engines see, which can lead to blacklisting on Google and hindering organic growth.
Check e-commerce SEO
E-commerce SEO has the most potential to drive conversion rates and generate revenue. It is worth investing in, as most online shopping journeys start with an online search. Additionally, the traffic to the sites comes majorly from search engines.
Optimize your site by using relevant keywords related to your niche in your titles, descriptions of categories and products, and URLs. You can also add schema markup to increase Click-through-Rate. Backlinking and outbound linking can generate traffic and authenticity.
Optimize website for conversions
Conversions are essential for an e-commerce website. You can optimize your store to ensure high conversion rates by using videos to showcase your products, a live chat addressing the doubts and concerns of the customers, and provide customers with a navigation menu for easy access. Also, ensure that the site search works properly on all pages of your website. It’s vital to adapt your website to be mobile-friendly and fully responsive.
Install essential apps for your store
E-commerce platforms offer a wide variety of apps to help you better manage your business. You should install essential apps, especially those for marketing and promotion, sales channels, and SEO.
Set up an e-commerce help desk
To retain customers and boost sales, good customer service is essential. Thus, choosing the right customer help desk is important. It will help with customer support, and cover more sales by increasing engagement.
Set up email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to reach out to existing customers and welcome new ones. Most platforms will have email marketing services that you can make use of. If not, you can use an external service to create emails to engage with your customers and drive sales. You can set up welcome emails where you introduce the customer to your brand, order confirmation emails, cart abandonment reminders, and shipping and delivery updates.
Connect with sales channels
Customers shop using multiple channels nowadays when purchasing from a brand. Therefore, it is a good idea to maximize the efforts of inviting more customers and sales by expanding the sales channel across various platforms.
For example, you can combine your site with a marketplace like Facebook marketplace or Etsy, where you can sell alongside other vendors. Using marketplaces like this opens up the opportunity to engage customers whom you necessarily don’t target, thus widening the scope of sales.
You can also start selling on social media since now customers also purchase from social media platforms.
Here’s a list of sales channels you can make use of-
- Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok)
- Google shopping
- Facebook marketplace
Connect all these channels back to your site to track their sales and analyze the data of purchases, orders, and customers.
Set up analytics
The key to optimizing the store is Analytics. Correct data that underlines customer behavior, products that yield maximum sales, which page is the most visited, and how many people visit your site, can help you constantly update your sales strategy to provide exactly what the customers require.
Various platforms now provide their own data analytics and reporting software, that are built-in, tracking traffic, sales, and conversion rates. You can, however, also integrate third-party data analytics tools like Google Analytics,etc.
A combination of tools for data analytics can provide you with an in-depth view of the customer’s journey and reaction, helping you establish the ways you can increase sales and conversion rates.
Develop an e-commerce marketing plan
It is not enough to just put your products out there and expect them to bring you success and profits. Performing Marketing tactics brings your products closer to potential customers and convinces them to eventually purchase them.
If you don’t have a good marketing strategy, you’ll fail to capitalize on new opportunities like social media marketing where you can create content such as images, videos and more that will get your customers attached to your brand. You can hook your audience with engaging content and direct them toward your brand’s e-commerce website.
Your marketing plans should include SMART goals and objectives. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and set with a specific timeline.
You have to be clear about the target audience and their buying persona; having a clear understanding of your target audience and their characteristics like location, age, etc, can help you target your products better.
Use various marketing tools such as SEO, content marketing, influencer marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertisement, and email marketing to help achieve your sales goals. Be sure to keep in mind and use topical and holidays in your marketing activities.
Integrate payment methods
Integrating various payment methods will lead to lesser cart abandonment. Since every customer has a different preference for payment methods, providing them with various options can help in customer retention and loyalty.
You can integrate payment methods like credit and debit cards, bank transfers, and prepaid cards; you can add digital walkers like Google Pay, ApplePay, and PayPal (if you are selling in China, add WeChat to the list).
You can target the millennials and Gen Z by adding a buy now and pay later option.
For faster payments, you can use ACH (Automated Clearing House) where you can give control over the payments and increase payment accuracy, and the payments will also be processed faster, thus the customers will also receive their purchases faster.
For credit cards, you will need to set up payment authorization to get the payment from the customer’s bank to yours and this can be done by accessing the e-commerce platform admin.
Run e-commerce testing
Carefully make sure that any errors found in your website have been fixed. Limit all mistakes to avoid people getting frustrated with you. Run constant A/B tests to see what people like and what helps you to generate conversion and boost sales.
Here’s a list of tests that you should run on your site before launch:
- A/B testing all the CTA Buttons,
- Testing multiple CTAs per page instead of using one CTA per page.
- Test the functionalities and integrations of all e-commerce apps, social media, and analytics tools.
- Test the payment function and the payment gateway.
- Check the responsiveness of the site’s mobile adaption.
- Check the compatibility of the sites with various web browsers as customers do use a variety of them like Google, Bing, Firefox, etc.
- Remember to check SEO functions and performance.
- Test the flow of the entire website, similar to how the customer will browse. Check the homepage images, search functions, pop-up forms and widgets, account and customer information pages, the overall loading time of the site and the loading time of each page, site security, etc.
- Send yourself email marketing content as a test.
- Test purchase and understand the operation of the ordering functions on all devices like mobiles, desktops, tablets, and even smartwatches.
Summary: The Checklist for a Successful E-commerce Store Launch
This checklist is designed to help you make sure everything is covered. It will help you stay on top of things and reduce the stress that comes with planning.
Just to summarise, these points should be on your checklist;
- Prepare standard pages
- Design listing pages
- Design product pages
- Design shopping cart page
- The shipping, returns, and refund policy pages
- Ensure your site is secure
- Check e-commerce SEO
- Optimize website for conversions
- Install essential apps for your store
- Set up an e-commerce help desk
- Set-up email marketing
- Set up analytics
- Develop an e-commerce marketing plan
- Integrate payment methods
- Run e-commerce testing
This is our list of things you should do before you launch your e-commerce store. We hope it increases your confidence and helps with launching an online store on any e-commerce platform without missing any steps as well as helps your customers and the longevity of your business.
This e-commerce checklist makes the process of creating your website easier. The checklist will ensure that you are checking all of the necessary boxes, from overall design, to website infrastructure and product pages.
Please bookmark this guide for future reference and to ensure that you are always up to date on the current process. You can also share this with your business partners so they know what to do too, or share it with someone who is starting an online store to help them go through the process themselves.