Let’s say you’ve found that gap in the market and got yourself a new product to sell online. After searching high and low you’ve found your supplier and ordered samples. Finally, you’ve placed that order for your initial inventory and are just waiting for it to all come in…But now what?
You may be thinking that all the hard work is now done, but truth be told you still have a long way to go, this is down to the fact you are in your pre-launch phase which is a critical time for every new online store due to the fact that it’s going to set the tone of your business going forward.
Launching your business without being prepared can be a recipe for absolute disaster, which is why following these 10 points before setting your eCommerce store live into the wild may just save your bacon.
Prepare All Social Networks
For a lot of businesses (especially eCommerce), social media is the lifeblood that brings a consistent flow of traffic and customers due to it being an audience which is solely focused and interested in your products and brand.
Claim Your Name
As a general rule, you will more than likely want to cover your bases with two of the largest social networks around, that being Facebook and Twitter. Even if you don’t think you’ll be using them heavily, you should try to claim your name on both in order to manage your brand and prevent others from taking them in the future. If you cant try and use the exact same name on all your social channels as it’s going to make it easier for people to find you.
In the world of social media, there’s nothing worse than having different usernames on each network so make sure to opt for a name that is available on all networks.
Choose Your Social Networks Wisely
Beyond the comfort of Facebook and Twitter, you may also want to join other key social networks too. Some are better than others for different types of businesses, so you will need to work out over time what works best for your brand.
If you have a very visual array of products or a brand which celebrates a certain lifestyle, then Instagram and Pinterest might be great options for you. Also, If you plan to produce video content then you may also want to ensure that you can claim your name over on the likes of YouTube as well.
It’s important to remember that social networks require time and commitment to cultivate so only really choose the networks you can plan and manage properly.
Set Profile and Cover Photos
The next thing you will want to do is set your profile and cover photos, as well a fill your social networks with some relevant posts so that new followers will have something to look at and scroll through.
In order to make sure your images are the right sizes, be sure to check out our social media image size guide.
See also: Social Image Size Guide
Build A Following And Start Connecting
After you’ve completed the initial set up, the hard work really starts…building an actual following. I will put it blankly the first few hundred followers are going to be hard to both obtain and maintain, therefore you will want to dedicate some time each day on building your following, like and comment on other like-minded posts in order to connect with people with similar interests and you should see your numbers start to rise. Building a consistent and loyal following takes time so if you haven’t reached hundreds of followers in the first couple of months don’t feel disheartened.
Get Your Email Marketing Ready
Now you have your desired social accounts all set up, the next stage is to sort out what will be one of your most important communication channels with your customers… Email marketing.
It has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective marketing channels, providing a consistently high return on investment.
Choose Your Email Provider
There are many different options when it comes to managing your email marketing, and will want to choose the one that will be best for your business. The best place to start is to consider which eCommerce platform you will be using and to then look at which email providers integrate with your chosen platform.
Here at Media Lounge, we are in favour of Magento which has a host of email options with direct integration, these include:
Set Up Templates and Launch Campaigns
Once you have decided on your email marketing provider, you will need to spend a few hours fully getting to grips with the software. Since email marketing can be the most effective form of marketing, you should make sure you get things ready for your launch date, such as setting up templates, crafting a welcome email, email marketing campaigns and shopping cart abandonment emails too.
Launch Your Landing Page
Next is building your landing page. A landing page is essential for a few reasons as it will be your brand’s temporary home until you are ready to launch the full site. The point of a landing page is to showcase your brand and almost tease your pre-launch audience as to what’s to come. Most importantly though, it’s a key place to start building your email list of people that are interested in what you have to say and learn more about your launch.
Install Google Analytics
It’s important to set up Google Analytics from day one. The use of Analytics will give you the valuable insight into your visitors and customers. In a physical store, you can actually see your customers and easily chat with them. However, online you’re essentially blind without the use of analytics.
The 4 steps to fully put Google Analytics in place are as follows:
- Create your GA account
- Connect your GA to your eCommerce store
- Activate eCommerce tracking
- Set up Funnels and Goal
Do Your Keyword Research
It’s important to do your keyword research as it’s a crucial part of SEO. The underlying value of choosing the right keywords is to help Google and other search engines understand what your eCommerce site is all about. This in return increases your visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results whenever a potential customer is looking for the type of product you are selling.
Build Your Online Store
Now that all the essentials are set up, you’re finally ready to begin working on your actual store. This is a huge task so, try to ensure you give yourself enough time.
Some of the things you will need to take into consideration are:
- Choosing the right store theme
- Overall Store Design
- Product Photography
- Product Descriptions
- Adding Apps
Decide On Your KPI’s
Before you launch, you will want to define a few key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor while going forward. Defining the metrics that are important to you and your business early will help keep you on track and very focused.
There are few key performance indicators that everyone should track for their eCommerce business such as:
Sales Key Performance Indicators:
- Monthly Sales
- Average Order Size
- Average Margin
- Conversion Rate
- Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
Marketing Key Performance Indicators:
- Site Traffic
- Unique Visitors vs. Returning Visitors
- Time On Site
- Page Views Per Visit
- Traffic Source and Referrals
- Newsletter Subscribers
- Social Media Followers
Know Your Shipping Strategy
Your shipping strategy is an integral part of your eCommerce business. Shipping profitability can be difficult and there is a crazy amount to learn, so you’ll want to prepare carefully for it.
There are several important factors to consider including:
- Packaging Options and Materials
- Which Shipping Carriers to Use
- Shipping Time and Costs
Finalise Your Launch Promotion And Strategy
You’re getting close to launch day so you will want to consider the actual launch itself. How do you plan on launching this brand new business? Will you launch with a promotion such as 20% off your first order, or free shipping?
What communication channels will you use in order to tell your audiences about your launch?
The good news here is that you’ve already been building up a strong email list and a loyal following on social media, so you have an excited audience to share your news with. You may also want to consider reaching out to relevant publications to possibly have your new store featured for launch.
Now that you have completed the following 9 steps, it’s time to launch your online store to an excited and expecting audience. If you have done everything on the list, you should have a healthy following on social media and an email list of people ready and waiting to purchase from your new store.
Don’t forget though. Building a business is hard work and a long road and it won’t just happen overnight, but hopefully, this guide will able to set the right tone for your business from the very beginning.