You’ve worked your tail off. From the first moment you thought to build an ecommerce store (whether it was two days or two years ago), you’ve been focused on this: the launch. You want everything to go perfectly. You’ve pictured it: your store goes live, and soon after, the sales start rolling in. You’re shipping out orders; making connections with customers… and everything just takes off.
To make sure the launch goes off without a hitch, a master checklist can help you keep track of all the important details.
Shopify published a great tool for e-commerce entrepreneurs: The Essential Shopify Store Launch Checklist. It covers all the basics that anyone who’s about to launch a new Shopify store might need to know.
A lot of it you may have already done. It’s a good reminder for things that slipped through the cracks. It will make sure you get through launch day in one piece.
But it’s not super comprehensive. It’s a baseline.
If you want to go beyond baseline, you’ve come to the right place. As Shopify design and development pros, we spend all our waking hours helping companies prepare for launch day. We’re gonna give you a peek into our inside track on the apps and strategies to take your launch above and beyond the baseline, and set your online store up for fast success.
Here are the 10 opportunities we advise our e-commerce clients take advantage of to set their online stores up for success on launch day (and our favorite apps to make it a breeze!):
#1. Make Your Transactional Emails Work for You
Transactional emails are triggered based on someone’s interaction with your site - usually during checkout or purchasing. The most common are:
- Welcome Emails: These are sent when someone first provides their contact info to you. They may have made an initial purchase, or subscribed to your newsletter or blog.
- Confirmation or Thank You Emails: Often these are sent for order or shipping confirmation. Also when someone changes their password, updates their credit card information, or upgrades their service.
- Reminder or Notification Emails: The most common is a shopping cart abandonment email.
- Request Emails: These may ask for customer feedback on a product or buying experience, or make other requests like “Share this with a friend”.
You could just include the basic necessary information, and leave it at that.
But your customers are expecting these emails. Simply by the nature of their content, they are highly personal and anticipated, which means they have a much greater chance of being opened, read, and acted upon.
“Compared with standard bulk mailings, the average revenue per [transactional] email is two to five times greater, and can be up to six times greater, than the all-industry average…” Experian: The Transactional Email Report)
Transactional emails are an ideal opportunity to cross-promote, upsell, and encourage sharing, reviews, and referrals. Make it easy from day one by including apps like Save My Sales and Spently in your launch checklist.
*** Shopify App Tip: Spently
This app is an email template builder with customizable themes. You can personalize the look and content to match your brand, and include marketing components such as product recommendations, discounts, referrals, and smart product upsells based on your customer's past purchasing behavior.
2. Collect Customer Feedback
Before you know it, you’ll be up and running and selling product. But how will you know whether your customers are happy with the products once they receive them? Or if you have hiccups in your shopping or fulfillment experience that need to be addressed?
You need to ask your customers for feedback. This will give you tons of valuable information about what you’re doing well, and where are your opportunities to improve. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
*** Shopify App Tip: Enquire
Set up simple, branded post-purchase surveys right on your order confirmation page. The app boasts a one-minute set-up that automatically styles on-page pop-up surveys to fit with your existing design frame.
Ask questions like:
- How did you hear about us?
- What best describes you?
- What product should be make next?
- How would you rate your shopping experience?
- What is your preferred method of connecting with us?
You’ll get helpful insights into how to better serve your customers, and make sure they’re happy shopping with you.
3. Recover Those Abandoned Carts
Expect that your shoppers are going to abandon items in their cart. It happens. In fact, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.63% according to e-commerce research firm Baymard Institute.
Some of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are sticker shock (often shipping costs that don’t show up until the end of the checkout process); the shopper was just browsing and not yet ready to make a purchase; they found a better price after comparison shopping; or technical site problems like complicated navigation or too-long load times.
So, what can you do to get those customers back to your checkout page to complete their order?
You can fix the issues that caused them to abandon their cart, but then how do you get them to come back to your checkout page to complete their order? Or try you again?
A friendly reminder email that they left something in their cart is an easy first step. But going one step further and reaching out personally to ask if there’s anything you can do to help is the true pro approach. Could be that they couldn’t get a coupon code to work, had a question about a product, or another issue that you could easily resolve.
*** Shopify App Tip: Save My Sales
Reach out to customers who abandoned their cart with personalized SMS messages from real live expert agents. This app’s agents review your FAQs, product pages, and customer reviews to respond to your customers’ questions quickly, offer discounts that you’ve determined, and close more sales.
4. Manage Landing Pages
Landing pages are different from product pages. You make a landing page as a destination for shoppers coming from a specific Facebook ad, email campaign, display ad, or any other paid, targeted traffic. They are designed to highlight a specific promotion, product or sale. The only goal for a landing page is to make a sale.
When campaigns include custom landing pages, companies see a 55% average increase in leads according to Hubspot.
But not everyone creates a new landing page for each new campaign. There’s your opportunity to go one better than your competition.
*** Shopify App Tip: Shogun
Don’t worry about hitting up your developer every time you need a new landing page built. Shogun has an easy drag-and-drop page builder that keeps your theme’s styling while giving you a custom page layout.
The app has a library of 30+ professionally-designed page templates to start with and customize. It dramatically reduces the time required to create landing pages (and even web design firms use it!).
5. Image Optimization
Your online store is chock-full of photos. That’s pretty common; images account for more bytes than any other part of a website - especially e-commerce sites.
Image size and complexity can make or break your website performance. And this has a huge impact on customer conversions and retention.
People just don’t want to wait for images to load.
If you’re not sure if your site imagery has been optimized, Shopify has a great post to help: 10 Must-Know Image Optimization Tips. It will help you make sure you have the right file types, reduce your image files sizes if needed, and name your images to support SEO.
*** Shopify App Tip: Crushpics
This brilliant little app will go through all your images and optimize them for you. Whenever you add a new product or asset image, it will automatically optimize it with no work from you.
6. SMS-Based Marketing
If you’re not already thinking about how you’ll use text messaging as part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to start. Consider this list of statistics compiled by EZTexting:
- Among the 18-34 year-old age bracket, text is the preferred channel for notifications from businesses.
- 83% of millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of receiving them.
- 75% of millennials prefer SMS communications for deliveries, promotions and surveys.
- 31% of consumers respond to SMS surveys, with an average response time of less than six minutes. 
- Consumers are more likely to open text messages before any other form of mobile communication. 
Infographic from TextMarketer.com.
Some communications that are ideal for sending via text include coupons and special deals, one-day sale notifications, order confirmations, and shipping confirmations.
A few best practices to get you started with SMS marketing:
- Send no more than 2-4 texts per month
- Only send during business hours (and consider time zones)
- Keep it short: 160-character limit
- You need to get consent first, inform subscribers that standard texting rates apply, and include “Text STOP to unsubscribe”.
- Personalize the content to the individual as much as possible
- Use a URL shortener
*** Shopify App Tip: Voxie
Voxie sends pre-scheduled text messages to customers, and either sends “smart” replies automatically based on the customer’s actions or you can reply personally from your web browser. The app makes it easy to establish a personal voice for your brand via SMS, and claims a 98% open rate, 92% response rate, and 30% purchase rate.
7. Marketing Automation
You don’t have the time to spend on repetitive marketing tasks. But marketing needs to happen. The answer is automation.
Marketing automation typically needs to be integrated with a data source like a CRM for managing customer contact information, purchase history, and social media activity. This data will help you personalize marketing messages to be more effective and relevant.
Some of the most common automated marketing campaigns include:
- Abandoned cart
- Promotional offer for discount customers
- Promotional offer for high AOV customers
- Win back
- Life event (bday, anniversary, etc.)
- Product or category follow up - After a customer makes a purchase, you can follow up with related products to what they purchased or products within a similar category.
- Electronic receipt follow-up
- Product replenish
Many of these messages can be part of a nurture campaigns, which creates a journey for email subscribers and takes into account opens, clicks, website visits, and purchases to automatically deploy customized emails.
*** Shopify App Tip: Kit
This free app looks at your products, visitors, and customers to make informed recommendations for your next marketing move. Kit is a proactive, artificially-intelligent assistant that can recommend the marketing activities most likely to drive sales. It can then help you create and manage targeted Instagram and Facebook ads, email marketing, and social posts.
8. Brand Your Shipping Collateral
You could just slap your store’s logo on a plain white sheet for invoices, packing slips and other fulfillment-related paper. Or you could take it one small step further for the most direct physical touch-point you’ll have with your customers. (Shipping collateral is also a hugely underutilized marketing opportunity for merchants.)
Shipping collateral typically includes:
- Packing slip
- Returns form
- Gift receipt
Consider creating your shipping collateral to match your store’s design, and including product images or other timely messaging (like a big promotion coming up or a new product launch).
*** Shopify App Tip: Order Printer Templates
While Shopify’s native free order printer app will quickly help you print out the necessary documents, customizing their design (like adding your logo) can be time-consuming and frustrating. This app provides professional-looking templates that you can easily customize with colors, fonts, logos, and other graphics and text to suit your brand. It will even make suggestions on what fonts and colors to use based on your website style.
9. Understand How Your Customers Act
In order to continue to improve in an effective way, you’ll need to supplement your own business intuition with customer behavior data.
Behavioral data can help you understand and define:
- Where do your shoppers come from?
- How many of them then search, browse, and/or make a purchase?
- How many shoppers view reviews and ratings before adding an item to their cart?
- How many visitors end up completing an order?
- Do shoppers behave differently according to regions and demographics?
- Where do customers drop off?
- Does your site have any bugs or usability issues?
This data can help shape your business strategies, such as where to invest your marketing and promotional efforts to get the most bang for your buck.
*** Shopify App Tip: Hotjar
There are a lot of data collection and analysis apps out there, but we recommend Hotjar to our clients for its visual representation of customer behavior using heat maps and visitor recordings.
10. Back That Thing Up (So You Don’t Lose Critical Data)
Shopify does backup your site’s data. BUT it isn’t available to you to restore your account. It’s only to cover Shopify in the case of a major disaster that takes down hundreds of accounts.
So what happens if someone makes a major error in your coding, or you get hit by a malicious attack or software glitch?
It’s on you to back up your store’s data.
*** Shopify App Tip: Rewind
Rewind is Shopify's top-rated backup app. It backs up millions of items for merchants of all sizes, from small shops to Shopify Plus stores, and makes it easy to restore data in minutes.
The app backs up your store every day including products and product images, inventory, customers, orders, collections, blog posts, theme files, navigation, store policies, shipping zones, gift cards, and customer saved searches.
It’s Time to Launch
Now that you have 10 pro tips to take your e-commerce store launch to the next level, you’ve ready for go time. This is the beginning of an exciting journey. On the path to building a successful e-commerce store and brand, there will always be something to improve, change, or grow - but these tips will get you off to a solid start!
Trellis is a full service eCommerce solution provider that specializes in implementing Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce based websites. Our capabilities allow us to plan and design a solution that not only meets your specific goals and budget today, but will also scale with you as you grow. Once a site is launched we stick side by side with our clients to help them improve the site and market the site to generate more customers.