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The Ultimate Checklist for Launching a Shopify Website

The Ultimate Checklist for Launching a Shopify Website

The Ultimate Checklist for Launching a Shopify Website

Having been through the launch process for a multitude of Shopify websites, we've built a checklist for your e-commerce clients to verify that things are "all systems go" in those moments leading up to launch. After being asked by dozens of other e-commerce entrepreneurs, we decided to assemble what we consider The Ultimate Checklist for Launching a Shopify Website. Keep in mind that this guide assumes all design is complete, content has been implemented and any necessary apps have been installed. This is not a strategic review but rather focuses strictly on the technical, detail-oriented tasks that you'll need to double-check before unveiling your new digital baby to the world. In addition, it only looks at the launch process as it pertains to Shopify's Online Sales Channel. Pre-launch tasks associated with Shopify's POS system, social commerce integrations, mobile SDK or Buy Button will be covered in future guides.

Products

Shopify Products

This section is used to manage all of your product information including inventory, collections and transfers. Pre-launch, your focus is primarily on getting accurate product data and collections configured. In this guide, we assume you've already either manually or bulk uploaded products, and that the remaining work is primarily verification. To ensure your Products are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Verify that inventory levels are accurate.
  • Verify that products have the appropriate taxation status applied.
  • Verify that the correct product weights are applied.
  • Verify that you've added any applicable variant-specific images.
  • Verify that images have appropriate, keyword-optimized alt tags.
  • Verify that variants have applicable unique SKUs.
  • Verify that products have unique and keyword-optimized META information.
  • Verify that all relevant tags have been added to support product filtering.
  • Configure the appropriate values and images for gift card products.
  • Configure either rule-based product collections or curation-based product collections.
  • Manually sort products for curation-based product collections.
  • Verify that collections have unique and keyword-optimized META information.
  • Verify that a featured image has been added for each collection.

Customers

Shopify Customers

This section is used to manage and add customers to your Shopify store. Pre-launch, your primary concern is dealing with any existing customer data that you already have. To ensure your customers section is properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Import any past customers. Keep in mind that past orders cannot be imported and that only customer contact information will be added.
  • Create any "Customer Groups" (i.e. VIP, wholesale, etc) by using the 'Customer Tags' feature.
  • Send out customer account invitations.

Discounts

Shopify Discounts

This section is used to manage any discount codes you offer customers through your Shopify store. Pre-launch, your goal is to ensure any existing discount codes are transferred into Shopify. To ensure you have all of your discounts properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Bulk import any past discount codes using the Bulk Discounts app.
  • Configure any applicable free shipping promotion based on order value.
  • Configure any applicable discount codes for specific customer groups such as wholesale customers.
  • Configure any applicable discount codes for bulk purchases.

Blog

Shopify Blog

This section is used to manage any blog-related content on your website. Pre-launch, you want to ensure any existing blog content or launch-specific blog content has been added to your website. In this guide, we assume you've already added content to your blog. To ensure your blog is properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Configure unique 'blogs' for each type of content that would be better managed as its own blog (i.e. press, news, events, etc).
  • Determine whether customers can comment on blog posts or not.
  • Configure any featured images for your blog posts.
  • Verify the appropriate tags have been added to blog posts.
  • Verify that each blog post has unique and keyword-optimized META information.
  • Configure a Feedburner URL to support RSS subscriptions for your blog.

Pages

Shopify Pages

This section is used to manage all of the 'static content' or pages on your website. Pre-launch, you want to ensure any information a customer might need to assist in their buying decision is readily available. In this guide, we assume you've added any content that is unique to your business and look at the more general content one would expect to find on an e-commerce website. To ensure you have all of your static content properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Setup an About Us page.
  • Setup a Contact Us page with an embedded contact form.
  • Setup an FAQ page.
  • Setup Shipping and Return Policy page.
  • Setup Legal and Terms and Conditions page.
  • Remove any 'sample pages' that were setup during store development.
  • Verify all spelling and grammar with a tool such as Grammarly.

Themes

Shopify Themes

This section is used to manage the theme associated with your store. The theme you choose will dictate the layout, functionality, and look & feel of your website. In this guide, we assume all of the design and coding has been done for your theme. To ensure your theme is ready for launch, run through the following checklist:

  • Create a backup of your theme.
  • Create a duplicate of your theme and name 'Test Theme' for any changes you want to preview before going live.
  • Assuming it's supported by your theme, add any language translations necessary.
  • Assuming it's supported by your theme, save any of your theme settings as a preset.

Navigation

Shopify Navigation

This section is used to manage any navigation / menus that are used on your website. Pre-launch, you'll need to ensure all navigation is working properly given its impact on customer experience. To ensure your navigation is properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

Domains

Shopify Domains

This section is used to manage the domain name settings associated with your Shopify store. Pre-launch, you'll want to make sure you have your domain settings 100% verified as improperly configured DNS information can cause serious delays during the launch process. To ensure your domain settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Review and follow Shopify's guide for configuring custom domains - note that this is the LAST thing you do before you're ready to go live with your website.
  • Review and configure your email hosting settings
  • Note that if you need to have site-wide SSL encryption and not just SSL on your checkout page, you'll need to upgrade to Shopify Plus.

Settings > General

Shopify General Settings

This section is used to manage the general settings associated with your Shopify website. Pre-launch, you'll want to thoroughly review all of the sections within the settings panel within Shopify. To ensure your general settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:
  • Update the store details and contact information.
  • Verify the standards and formats for currency, weight, etc are properly configured.

Settings > Payments

Shopify Payments

This section is used to manage the payment gateway and processing settings for your store. Pre-launch, you'll likely be using a bogus or testing gateway, so it's very important that the settings are review before going live. To ensure your payment settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Update your primary payment gateway.
  • Add any applicable secondary payment gateways (i.e. PayPal, Amazon, BitPay, etc).
  • Add any applicable manual payment methods (i.e. paying offline).
  • Configure whether to charge customers the moment an order is placed or upon manual review of the order.

Settings > Checkout

Shopify Checkout

This section is used to manage the checkout process settings for your customers. To ensure your checkout process is properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Determine the role customer accounts play in checkout.
  • Configure the applicable fields for the checkout form.
  • Configure the abandoned cart email settings if using Shopify's default cart recovery feature.
  • Configure marketing acceptance settings for customer accounts.
  • Configure fulfillment settings for order placement.
  • Add any necessary conversion tracking pixels.
  • Configure checkout language settings.
  • Add refund, privacy, and TOS statements.

Settings > Shipping

Shopify Shipping

This section is used to manage all of your shipping settings within Shopify. Pre-launch, you'll want to really pay attention to shipping settings, especially pricing and methods, as it's an area where customer experience is highly influenced. In this guide, we assume you're using one of Shopify's supported shipping providers (i.e. FedEx, USPS or UPS). To ensure your shipping settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Update your store's shipping origin address.
  • Configure which shipping zones you'll want to support. A good way to think through this is by answering the following questions:
    • Are you going to use carrier-calculated shipping rates or flat shipping rates?
    • Which carrier do you want to use (i.e. FedEx, USPS, etc)?
    • What sort of 'shipping zones' do you want to setup (i.e. Massachusetts vs USA, New England vs the USA, East Coast vs the USA, etc)?
    • What shipping options (i.e. ground, air, etc) do you want to offer for each zone?
    • For flat rate shipping, do you want to base shipping cost on order weight or order price?
    • How do flat rates change based on different units (i.e. 1lb - 5lb, 5lb - 10lbs) and shipping zones?
    • Do you want to charge any sort of flat or percentage markup on top of the carrier-calculate rates from your account?
  • Configure any settings in which you'd want to offer free shipping.
  • Configure your shipping label settings.
  • Configure your default shipping packages (if using USPS).
  • Configure any applicable third-party fulfillment services.

Settings > Taxes

Shopify Taxes

This section is used to manage all of your tax-related setting within your Shopify store. To ensure your tax settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Determine whether taxes are already added to the product price or if they need to be charged separately.
  • Determine whether you also need to charge taxes on shipping fees.
  • Determine whether you need to charge EU Digital Goods taxes.
  • Determine whether you need to charge taxes within specific countries or sub-regions.
  • Configure any tax overrides for specific product types.
  • Configure any tax overrides for specific customers.

Settings > Notifications

Shopify Notifications

This section is used to manage all of the default Shopify-provided email notifications sent to customers. Out of the box, these notifications are fully functional using Shopify's default language, but they can be modified beyond that. To ensure your email notification settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • If planning on sending account invitations to customers being manually added to the website, be sure to review the content/template of the email notification.
  • If not planning to do fully custom HTML email templates, at least add your company logo and basic branding.
  • Configure which staff members should receive notifications as orders are placed by customers.

Settings > Gift Cards

Shopify Gift Cards

This section simply manages whether gift cards should have an expiration date.

Settings > Files

Shopify Files

This section is used to manage all of the files that have been uploaded to Shopify. It also allows you to easily edit images using Shopify's built-in image editing capabilities. To ensure your files are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

Settings > Account

account-page

This section is used to manage your general Shopify account information, primarily around billing. Pre-launch, your goal is to ensure the right people have access to your store and that all billing information is squared away. To ensure your account settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Add the appropriate credit card (especially if having worked on a development store) and select a Shopify plan.
  • Add the appropriate users and respective permissions.

Settings > Online Store

Shopify Admin

This section is used to manage settings that are specifically related to your Online Store sales channel. Pre-launch, there are a few things here that need to be verified. To ensure your Online Store settings are properly configured before launching a Shopify website, run through the following checklist:

  • Update homepage META information.
  • Add your Google Analytics account information.
  • Deactivate any password associated with your storefront.

301 Redirects

Shopify Redirects

Unfortunately, the redirection management capabilities within Shopify are fairly limited. They do provide the ability to add individual redirects within the Navigation section of your store, but anyone migrating a site with 100+ SKUs will find that fairly daunting. We recommend using the Traffic Control app to handle bulk uploading of 301 redirects. Keep in mind that you'll want to ensure any URLs of your existing website have a corresponding redirect setup. In general, review the following types of content on your current site and determine whether it requires a redirect:

  • Products
  • Blog Posts
  • Collections
  • Pages
  • Files

After Launching a Shopify Website . . .

It's a pretty comprehensive list, but given the value your storefront plays in your business, you'll want to spend the extra time configuring and verifying that everything meets your requirements. Once you've launched your website, then you can start counting the dollars and experimenting with some of the other great features Shopify has built into their platform including:


Photo Credits: Shopify.com