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7 Things You Need to Do Before Launching an Online Store

Written by Tom Ewer on September 22, 2014 Blog, How to sell online.

Launching an Online StoreGearing up for the big launch of your online store can be a bit overwhelming.

After all, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Is your site as good as it can be? Are your products interesting enough to capture attention? Is there a market for them?

These are things that you take care of in the early planning stages of your business – when it’s more of an “on paper” thing than a “real” thing. I’m going to assume you’ve got your bases covered on that stuff.

For now, I want to talk about the things you need to do right before you hit publish on that e-commerce site you’ve been working on day and night. Those things that, when done properly, can launch your business head and shoulders above the competition.

1. Have Site Monitoring in Place

One of the first things you should do is figure out how you’re going to track site traffic and conversions. One of the most popular ways to do this is through Google Analytics. It requires inserting just a brief bit of code into your site to setup and the rest is pretty straightforward, though you will need to configure e-commerce tracking and establish your sales goals.

Google has several great tutorials on this, however, so I won’t bore you with the details here. Instead, I’ll just say that the convenience of being able to see how your site is performing across a variety of metrics – landing page conversions, social media, advertising, etc. – is a godsend for already overtaxed business owners.

2. Establish a Newsletter

An email newsletter is one of the most effective tools to have in your marketing arsenal.

Seriously, nothing compares to it. Just think about it: an email marketing campaign will put you in your subscriber’s inboxes on a regular basis. That’s an excellent opportunity to offer coupons and discounts, announce new products, and provide helpful information.

Your first step is to select an email marketing platform. A few popular options include MailChimp, Aweber and Constant Contact.

Then you’ll need to select your template, customize it, and write your welcome email content. You’ll also need to add a subscribe form to your site.

You’ll want to have all of this setup (at the very least) before your store launches. After all, if someone visits your site and wants to learn more, they’ll want to subscribe to keep tabs on you. And if they do subscribe, they’ll be expecting to receive at least one email right away. Ideally, you’ll have several followup emails prewritten so there’s no risk of falling behind schedule once you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of site launch.

3. Get Set Up on Social Media

When running an online store, you absolutely need to have a social media presence – and a robust one at that. This is how many people will find out about your products for the first time, so it’s essential that you establish compelling profiles as soon as possible. Try to get the same username for all the social sites. You’d want your Twitter profile (www.twitter.com/yournamehere) to match your Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yournamehere), for instance.

You also shouldn’t feel compelling to establish yourself on every single social media site that ever existed. It’s a better idea to focus on a couple and to make your profiles and engagement level rock solid than to spread your efforts too thin.

Don’t forget to customize your cover and profile photos, too, if you really want your brand to stand out and resonate.

4. Develop a Backup Plan

Literally now, backup your site. Whether it’s on WordPress or not, WooCommerce or not, back it up. Regularly. There are no exceptions here.

While every single website owner should back up their sites on a regular basis, it’s doubly important for e-commerce sites. Your livelihood is at stake, yes, but inventory and individual pages tend to be updated more frequently than on other sites. It’s essential then that you make it a priority to backup your site and its database in case of a technological disaster.

If your site is on WordPress, you might want to consider plugins like BackupBuddy and VaultPress as potential backup options.

5. Establish Your Shipping Options

Shipping can make or break your online store. Seriously. A customer who adds your products to her shopping cart can still exit your site without completing the purchase if your shipping costs are too high. This is especially true if you’re selling something that can be found on an online big box store like Amazon or Walmart.

Keeping that in mind, it might be a good idea to offer flat rate shipping or to absorb shipping (or at least part of it) as an expense on your end to keep customers on the path toward conversion. Of course, if you’re drop shipping you don’t need to worry about this step but businesses that manufacture a product or sell wholesale products will need to think about shipping before the store goes live.

6. Check (and Double Check) Your Site

This is your last chance before the site launches so you’d better take advantage of it! Now’s the time to evaluate your site down to the smallest detail. You won’t get another chance – at least not before the general public has a chance to view it – so make sure you take your time and get it right.

A few things to look for include:

  • Proofreading all copy on the site
  • Making sure all the links work (and direct toward where you intend)
  • Ensure product pages are informative and anticipate customer questions
  • Contact information
  • Social media information

7. Plan the Announcement

So, how are you going to let the cat out of the bag about your brand new online store? A simple press release isn’t going to cut it (though you should certainly do that, too). You need to have a robust plan to attract the attention of as many people as possible upfront.

You can do this by offering a site-wide discount straight out of the gate. Or hold a contest of some sort. You’ll want to post frequently on your social media accounts prior to the store’s launch as well as do some community building. It won’t do you any good to share frequent messages if you don’t have any followers.

Once the big day arrives, make sure your launch plan is consistent and takes into account every place you have a presence online. Take the diversified approach and you should be good.

Conclusion

You put a lot of work into setting up an online store so it’s important that you pay equal attention to the period of time leading up its launch. This will ensure you make the biggest impact in your industry possible. The bigger the impact, the greater the sales – and the greater chance you have to actually making this thing work.

If you’ve launched an online store in the past, I’d love to hear what you did just prior to launch. Did you follow the above tips or was there something else you found to be invaluable? As always, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

Image source: jurvetson

2 Responses

  1. bb
    September 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    Lovely tips and think these are just the surface and marketing work but the real ecommerce operation is more deeper than this especially when it comes to managing inventory, security and payment gates. But you’ve done justice to the headfirst start upper. Thanks

  2. Vatsal
    October 20, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Suggest tips for my website

    http://onswap.in/

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