Opening an online store is an exciting venture. With the internet’s capabilities, you have a chance to share your products and services with the entire world. But this journey may be fraught with anxieties, as well. What if your store doesn’t do well? What if people don’t find it? And how do you know that you’re ready to launch?
This is a question many online entrepreneurs ask themselves as they near the end of building their website. They may not be sure if they’ve taken all the steps they need to, or if it’s the right time. Fortunately, we can help with this handy checklist.
Let’s go over the steps you’ll need before your store is ready to launch.
If you don’t have a product ready to sell, your online store isn’t ready to launch. This seems fairly obvious, but sometimes — when the online store is merely one portion of your website, for instance — you might have a “store” tab that simply says “coming soon” with no products listed. You can only have “coming soon” up for so long before people lose interest. If you can hide your online store until you have something ready to sell, that’s usually for the best. Otherwise, you can send out an email in your newsletter when your store is open.
Today, you aren’t just limited to setting up an online shop on your website. You can open a shop on Tik Tok, on Pinterest, on Ko-fi, Instagram, or Facebook. These are all social media platforms that you should consider using anyway, to market your brand. You should spend some time marketing your brand and teasing what’s to come before you launch your website. Having other sales channels, such as these platforms or retailers like Amazon, can also help you start making income while you set up your shop.
You can usually set up a free, limited website on platforms like WordPress or Wix. However, your website’s name will always be attached to their domains. If you want your own unique domain, as well as a website url that is a bit sleeker than yourstore.wordpress.org, you’ll need to pay for a custom domain. This may come with the premium plan for these website builders or you may have to purchase it shortly. It’s a good idea to get a custom domain as soon as you can and to trademark your brand name so that it isn’t stolen by the competition.
Once you’ve set everything up in your shop, try to view it like a customer. The products are up and the site is accessible. Now go through your shop, choose a product to purchase and go to your cart. Go through the checkout process. Is it smooth? Intuitive? Does any of it take too long to load? Make tweaks to optimize the process wherever you need to before you launch your website. If it isn’t convenient for customers to buy from you, they probably won’t.
While we’re on the subject, you should also look at your website from different formats. It might look great on your desktop, but does it look the same way and deliver the same quality on mobile? What is the user experience like for both? If it’s slow and laggy on one or frequently brings up errors, you want to improve that. This is especially true if the format that’s lagging is mobile, as most of your sales will likely come from mobile shopping. But ideally you want both to be performing as well as possible.
Your online shop is more than just a list of your products. You should have an FAQ page where customers can get any common questions answered, as well as a “contact” page where they can reach out for anything further. An “about” section, either on a separate page or within your home page, will introduce your brand to your customers. Landing pages or blogs can help to build SEO. Try to have at least three blogs up when you launch. It might also be a good idea to have a page that goes over your “mission” as a company and your values.
Once you have all of these elements down, you’re ready to launch your online store. Good luck!