Are you hoping to open an online store? You’re excited to bring a product you LOVE to the hands, homes, and hearts of your dream customer, but what do you do first? And then next… and then next? It seems simple: create a product, sell a product, bada-bing, bada-boom. Done! But there’s actually so much more that goes into it, from defining your customers and planning your products to making sure your marketing is on point and actually setting up your e-commerce shop. It’s a LOT, but it’s not too much for you—that I know for sure. That’s why I’m handing over my exclusive online store launch checklist today.
My all-in-one online store launch checklist
As someone who absolutely loves the world of e-commerce, I also realize it’s not exactly a straightforward marketplace to enter into. Let me break it down for you and give you the exact online store launch checklist you NEED to get started.
Use this detailed list to run through all the big and small details you’ll want to cement before opening up your online store. Print it out (or, heck, take screenshots on your phone) and mark off each item one at a time as you prep your new online store.
I can’t wait to shop for your stuff!
1. Define who your customers are.
Knowing your ideal customers will help you understand how to best market your future products. What they like and dislike, the kinds of branding they’re attracted to, the products they already use and love… All of these details will help you refine how to create messaging and visuals that attract the RIGHT people.
Here are a few writing prompts to help identify who your ideal customers are:
- Who are they now? (Think age range, type of career, family life, hobbies, preferences, pet peeves, etc.)
- What does their current reality look like?
- Where do they want to be?
- What does their destination look like?
2. Plan out your products.
The next most important step is determining your product suite. What will you actually sell in your store? Is it one kind of product or will it be varying items? Will you sell digital products, physical products, or both? Are they created by you or are you sourcing them elsewhere?
Important: if they’re physical, you’ll need to source a drop shipper to partner with. (Because I’m pretty sure* you don’t want to be in charge of packaging and shipping each product you sell.)
(*And by pretty sure, I mean definitely.)
3. Choose your online store platform.
Next up is deciding what online platform to use to host your e-commerce shop. A few questions to ask as you review your options…
- Consider the tools you’ll need and tools you have. Do they integrate?
- Will the platform be able to support your growth as you scale?
- Is it easy to design and customize?
- Is the platform mobile-friendly and easy to navigate from a phone? (Important because 67% of mobile users window shop from their phone, and 70% of those users return within an hour to make a purchase, according to an article from OptinMonster.)
- If you run a specialty business (like subscription boxes or CBD), does the platform you select support that business type?
And if your platform of choice doesn’t have a payment processor, make sure to select one (like Stripe or PayPal), as well as what payment methods you accept (credit/debit cards, digital wallets like Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.).
We personally love Shopify because it’s straightforward to set up, design, and customize. Plus, it has all the tools you could ever need in scaling your online business endeavor.
4. Name your store and get a domain.
On to some of the more fun and creative pieces of opening an online store: naming it and purchasing your domain! Definitely consider some SEO keywords here, and research direct competitors to make sure your name isn’t too similar. I’d also check your local business registration service to ensure you have everything you need to get things up and running by the book.
5. Here’s everything you’ll need to set up your store.
Consider this a mini-checklist within the larger checklist of all the things you’ll need before opening your shop!
- Ensure all of the product descriptions are SEO optimized. (Research high-performing keywords and infuse them into the description copy.)
- Think through customer service. (What will this look like? Will you need to hire? If unable to hire, can you set up template emails to respond to common inquiries?)
- Create a b. (I recommend 14-day any-reason-refunds, which gives purchasers time to forget while still feeling like they have time to return if they really want to.)
- Create an abandoned cart sequence or customer retention sequence. (Pro-tip: The goal is to improve customer lifetime value because it costs more to attain a NEW customer versus selling to an existing one. Come up with a way to keep in touch with past customers!)
- Consider creating tutorials to help customers understand what your product is, how it can be used, and/or the process of how it will be delivered to eliminate questions and build trust. (You can use a simple tool like Loom for this!)
6. Create a strong store brand strategy.
You don’t have to go crazy with branding, especially at first. You can use free tools like Pinterest to gather inspiration for details like product colors, logo, color palette, and tone of voice. You’ll also use these pieces in marketing materials like emails, product packaging, shipping materials, and invoices. So, make sure it’s something you like, while also remembering you can always change it in the future!
7. Think through how you’ll promote your store.
Your marketing efforts can be really bootstrap in the beginning. Simply pick one platform to show up at first and commit to it. Continue adding in more marketing angles as you grow or have more bandwidth. And don’t be afraid to pivot or try something new if one method isn’t working for you!
Some of the places you can promote your store include:
- Social media posts
- Email marketing
- Your store’s blog
- A “joint venture launch,” where you use someone’s audience and they use your sales system (this is GREAT for those with a small following or email list)
- Facebook or Instagram LIVEs
- Facebook Ads: if you want to take a stab at paid promotions, retargeting ads are where you should spend your dollar. The warmer your audience is, the lower the cost to sell to.
- Facebook Groups: small groups are most effective here if you can find ones with a pointed purpose that your ideal customer would hang out in.
Another effective method is to offer the front end of your funnel by serving people with a blog post or Instagram post that touches on a topic connected to your product. Add a call-to-action so that then they can click through to learn more about the product or sign up for your email list.
Oooof! Okay, I know… Don’t freak out. Like I mentioned up top, there are a lot of moving pieces to open an online shop! But my hope is that you can use this online store launch checklist and tick through each item one at a time. That way, you can tackle it bit by bit, reduce overwhelm, and launch your shop without forgetting any major pieces! Take a deep breath and get after it. You can do this!