A successful ecommerce website can do many things, from informing customers about your brand to leading them through the sales process. That being said, brands need a proven ecommerce website launch plan to avoid headaches like broken links, difficult navigation, and lower conversion rates.
Your business's ecommerce site serves not only as a foundation for generating sales but also as a launching pad for further customer interactions and retention. As a result, the ecommerce launch checklist needs to include a few key components to ensure the site is properly prepared for an influx of website traffic and conversions. Guidance is here to provide your company with the support and information needed to design a site and make the launch successful.
In this article, you are going to learn the three parts of a successful ecommerce website launch: pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch. All three will need to work seamlessly together to guarantee a pain-free launch.
The Pre-Launch Ecommerce Checklist
The steps you take before launching a new website are crucial in setting the path to success. In order to maximize a site’s potential from the start, there are a few steps that should always be a part of the ecommerce website launch checklist.
Establish Brand Voice To Design Your Site
After the site loads, the page design, visual style, and structure provide the first impression that customers receive. When developing a brand-new site, the style and layout should be consistent with your brand's voice and image. This style includes everything from the font you use to the creative visuals you choose and the hierarchy of the content.
Determining the proper brand voice is not always easy. Guidance can provide the assistance you need to discuss the perception you want customers to have and how to craft the ideal customer experience.
Once a brand voice and style are determined, it is important to ensure the new site has been thoroughly tested and renders effectively on all devices including desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. This helps create a positive experience for every potential customer, no matter how they choose to interact with your store.
Identify and Verify Integrations
Integrations are an extremely valuable part of a new site, allowing the store to run smoothly while also improving the user experience for greater conversion potential. As you prepare, consider which integrations will benefit the business, which you’ll need to provide an enhanced customer experience, and how to configure them.
Examples of effective integrations for a new site include:
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to manage operations like accounting and procurement, and fulfillment. Examples of an ERP would be Netsuite or Infor.
- Live chat integrations for customer support like Gorgias or Zendesk.
- Payment gateways, like PayPal or Stripe, to process customer payments for purchases
- Email integrations to gather customer contact information and send promotional marketing email campaigns
- Customer review and rating integrations, like Yotpo, to demonstrate brand credibility.
The chosen site platform will offer different integrations and apps while allowing you to connect third-party apps as well. Examples of site platforms include Shopify, Optimizely, Adobe Commerce, and BigCommerce.
Configure Your Payment Platform
The sales funnel of any ecommerce website ultimately leads to the point of purchase, so it’s crucial that the checkout page has a payment platform that is properly configured and secure. The payment platform should feature all the comprehensive details before launch, including established payment methods, transparent shipping rates, and tax calculations that allow customers to feel confident in their purchase without any unknown costs.
In the days leading up to the official launch, it is important to perform test payments using an appropriate testing environment and credentials so that you can assess the full functionality of the payment platform and order processing.
Prepare Third-Party Contacts
Before launch, make sure you have been in touch with the Account Manager or representative for your main integration partners. They will be a priceless resource to help you verify that third-party app integrations are functional and established throughout the site. Remember, even the best ecommerce site launches can still have their issues.
Be sure to inform all important contacts of the launch date so they are available in case of any issues arising during or post-launch. These contacts will also support you in performing switchovers, updates, and any required dependencies.
Benchmark Data Migration
A data migration happens when you transfer information from one location to another, usually when you switch ecommerce platforms or move to a new server or hosting environment. This step of the checklist includes performing tests to determine how long a data migration will take for all products, images, customers, and order records into a new database. Having a benchmark for data migration helps you plan accordingly and establish an appropriate timeline.
This is also a great time to verify that all data being migrated to the new platform or server is functioning and appearing as expected before it’s time to go live.
Confirm Tracking Pixels
Tracking pixels are valuable pieces of code that provide you with important, business-critical information about visitors that browse your site. Tracking pixels offer information about ad impressions, browsing history, and email opens. This information is later used to send targeted ads and adjust future campaigns.
Before you launch a new site, ensure that all of your tracking pixels are functioning properly so you can extend your reach with each customer and improve marketing decisions down the road, and track the success of your campaigns.
Day-Of Ecommerce Website Launch Checklist
Launch day is the biggest day for your ecommerce site, but the right preparation and website development will have led you on a path to keep things running smoothly. Still, you’ll need to tie up a few loose ends before welcoming new traffic. To finalize the new site launch, you’ll need to include these items on the day-of ecommerce launch plan.
Adjust DNS Records
Domain name system (DNS) records are instructions that provide information about a domain, like the associated IP address, and determine how requests for the domain are directed. The DNS records affect what customers see on the page. In short, this is what determines where visitors are directed when they click on a link or type in the domain URL.
On the day of launch, you’ll want to shorten the Time To Live (TTL) so that you can address issues as they arise and have your site refresh frequently so you are confident that customers will see the newest and most accurate version of the site. After the initial launch, you can extend the length of the TTL so your site is on record in case of any issues or outages.
Verify SSL Functionality
SSL certification ensures that customers are protected when they visit the site by authenticating your site identity and establishing an encrypted connection. Before launch, you should purchase SSL certification and then verify it.
You’ll need to verify certifications, especially after adjusting DNS records, so that customer information is protected and encrypted after the site goes public. Once you have updated the DNS, verify that SSL certificates are fully functional to avoid any potential issues.
Remove Site Preview Components
Before you launch any new site, spend time moving throughout the site and testing all of the functions in preview mode. Once it’s time for launch, all preview components will need to go. Start by removing any site features that you used to preview, like test products or discount codes that you implemented and don’t want customers engaging with.
Perform Site Quality Assurance Testing
Before launching your site, thoroughly test the site map and its functionality. The goal here is to see what customers will see when they access the site. A site quality test is a chance to check for display issues or broken links, assess load times, and ensure all integrations have correct production-ready credentials working with production environments.
Ecommerce Website Post-Launch Checklist
The work isn’t over once the new site is launched. After your site goes live, it is important that you perform ongoing monitoring and testing to ensure performance and make any adjustments to improve the site's useability.
Ensure SEO Strength
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps keep your website ranking well in search engines so that customers can find the store organically. Once your site is live, you need to set it up for success. Google needs to be able to crawl your site to include it in search results, and you can help enable the process by ensuring that site crawling is allowed in robots.txt, checking your site structure for 404 errors that need to be corrected, and submitting your sitemap to Google via Google’s Search Console dashboard.
After those tasks are completed, creating quality content for the site is the next step. This is an ongoing process, as you should thrive to create at least monthly content, like blogs or resource pages, to improve your chances in search rankings.
Perform Ongoing Site Testing
Site tests will give you valuable information about how the site is performing over time, so testing should be a routine process after launch. Use product regression testing to assess the success of your website launch and uncover any potential bugs. Consistent testing is vital to ensure that any updates or newly introduced features do not create problems with existing features or impact your core site functions.
Monitor the Site
Immediately after launch and into the future, you need to monitor the site so you can identify and address issues as they arise. Specifically, keep an eye on your web servers, database performance, and frontend production store. Issues in these places need to be addressed quickly so you can avoid losing potential traffic or sales.
Reviewing analytics of traffic and site performance will also help you discover broken navigation paths that could affect the customer experience and allow you to fix them in a timely manner.
Caching and CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers that can be used to speed up webpage loading times. Using a CDN allows you to temporarily store, or cache, information on servers around the world, which reduces the load on your site while making the experience faster for customers in different locations.
A CDN can also help you redistribute traffic to eliminate the risks of a DDoS attack so the site stays online and functional for customers.
Connect Your Marketing Channels
Your ecommerce site is the home base for your business, but it isn’t the stopping point. After the site is launched, it’s time to expand your brand’s reach by linking your social media channels to your site and vice versa. These options help connect with more customers and pull them into your site, allowing you to build stronger relationships.
Fulfill Your Ecommerce Launch Plan with Guidance
A proper ecommerce launch plan is valuable for creating a successful website that attracts and converts visitors into customers. To develop an effective ecommerce checklist and ensure smooth execution, you need a team of seasoned experts like those at Guidance.
Guidance will provide you with the support you need to prepare your site for launch. From helping you establish a brand identity to developing a conversion-optimized website, we’ll be with you every step of the way.