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Pre-Launching a Shopify Store in 13 Steps



For a lot of new online merchants, this might bring back some memories, but for those that are looking to start 2021 on the right step, these approaches might be worth considering before you dig in.


Where a great Shopify Theme is important on the scale of setting up your online shop, a lot of times, considerations for which Shopify Theme will work best for you come in later in the thought process to find out that how you wish your store would look like would end up turning out different. There is a creative process and there are the pesky must-have features that will compete in the same space – let’s cover these for a minute.


1. Start a Free Trial of Shopify:

Create a Shopify Login, and give it a Shopify Store Name – this is an internal name that’s unique to you, and is not critical at this stage, but must be unique. Answer the few basic questions, and you will have a Shopify Store sandbox for you to bring your ideas to life – the Trial lasts 14-days, which is plenty of time to get it refined.


2. Have your key business idea elements in hand:

a. Have your business idea defined, have a Tag Line, Value Proposition, Mission Statement, and Vision Statement on hand.

b. A researched business name – check to make sure it is unique, and that the product will fit in which categories in the marketplace.

c. A Logo is important in defining your business and being recognized. Product labeling may require consideration when the branded Logo might need to be positioned on labels.

d. Product types, such as physical products, digital goods, and services are the type of categories of products that are sold online – each has implications of delivery and customer handling in the store.

e. Product imagery will have to be produced with optimized resolution and image size (physical pixel width and height and for page loading speeds).


3. Shopify Theme:

While you are thinking of layout, the visual content vs. the copywriting vs. product listings vs. shipping banners vs. menu bar vs. brand logo vs. banners vs. various marketing collateral are trying to squeeze on the all-important Home Page.

a. Start from the bottom up – begin with your product page layout, get a feel for the description (amount of content) and how those products relate to one another.

i. See if you would like “Other buyers also bought these products” or “These products were also bought with this product” recommendation Shopify Apps.

ii. Product Images for your Shopify Product Pages need to be clean, consistent, colors must have considered with the palette of colors that will be used with your Shopify Theme.

b. Define the pages that you will require, and where would customers navigate. In your Shopify Store, a “site map” is your guide on what kind of structure you expect to have.

c. With the bottoms-up approach of content, content relationships, palette, navigation your elements that will provide input into your Shopify Theme are at hand.


4. Selecting your Shopify Theme:

Now that the basics are laid out, selecting your theme have to consider additional areas such as

a. Define the viewing format of your potential clients:

i. Mobile responsive layouts – review themes not so much on the desktops since a lot of the clients will use their mobile phones to look at content online.

ii. iPads and tablets are often considered to be desktop formats in today’s Shopify Themes, make sure you check them on different aspect ratio’s and sizes before you invest in a Theme.

b. Review the Shopify Theme Styles of the Theme you are considering since most Themes are now giving you a few options on how they present themselves to fit best with your product catalog.

c. Some Shopify Themes come with built-in features that Shopify Apps might enhance your feature-set, so if you have some Shopify Apps in mind and the Theme supports it, then consider your costs based on incorporating these with your Shopify Theme.

d. Some themes can be tried out based on a one-time fee before making a full purchase which is worth doing before you heavily invest your time and resources.

e. Fonts, sizes and colors can be selected separately, where some Shopify Themes have a menu for you to enter your choices, and if you need Shopify Help there are Shopify Experts that can assist you with it.

f. You can add several Shopify Themes and toggle between them until you see how they are looking to fit within the frame of your content. Using the Preview function, you can inspect them and get a feel for your store. Installing and customizing your themes are part of the creative process.


5. Home Page design, layout, and marketing:

From the above points, your preparation should have brought you to have the basics such as a logo, marketing collateral, color, and font choices.

a. First-time visitors are usually the focus for new businesses, but if you are established, and new visitors are a small percentage of your traffic, then existing clients might be the priority

i. Speak to the focused clientele, and how to serve them best.

ii. Have a dedicated area for new customers so that the right marketing can be presented to them and navigate to.

b. Building interest in your products through a good and clear value proposition all the while building trust (secure purchases, strong customer satisfaction via reviews, good warranties and return policies).

c. Keep your navigation to be simple and direct as much as possible so that visitors can easily reach their needs, add them to the Shopify Basket and go to the Shopify Checkout.


6. Navigation Menus:

There are typically 3 methods of navigation. There are the top Main Menu, the Footer Menu, and the Search bar that gives a list of results for the user to choose from. Using competitive websites to get an idea of the layouts, and best practices will help you get organized for your clients’ expectations.

a. Top Main Menu – where on the desktop it is laid out horizontally, keep in mind that in Mobile layout it is presented by “3 Horizontal Bars”, also known as the “Hamburger”. The presentation and placement of the Top Side Menu is dictated by the Theme, the pages that are to be selected have a title to be defined to be set within the Menu. Sub-menus are then created under the main headings – avoiding clutter and nesting of menus should be considered.

b. Footer Menu contains usually the less frequented pages such as Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Support and Warranty, and any other page that’s not a primary focus for clients, but must remain visible and accessible.

c. Search is a very important tool for your clients to find products without having to navigate to them. For this to work well, product “Tags” are set up for the search engine to find the items in your store.


7. Theme Settings:

Every Shopify Theme has its own settings, where you can change the visual identity, and bring you closer to your vision of your store. In the Shopify Store Editor, you can find the Theme Settings tab, and access Typography, Colors, and various other settings. Knowing the type of font, RGB color codes, and having your favicon ready is what you will need to tune your theme.


8. Customize your Shopify Checkout:

Under the same Shopify Store Editor, Theme Settings, you will find a way to also customize your checkout with your Logo/fonts/colors but also decide what is a required field in the checkout process. Take some time to ensure that these areas are well defined in your business model, especially when it comes to customer accounts.


9. Review your Store and get feedback:

Have friends and family review your creation and ideas first. See how they perceive your salesmanship, your trust-building, and what details they might add or suggest. This can be done by sending them the link to your Pre-launch Shopify Store which is password protected. This is a unique Shopify Login to view your store. Under Online Store/Preferences this can be set up to take on this activity. Collect the feedback for consideration, adjust as necessary and you are one step closer.


10. Setting up Shipping:

For the Products that are not digital, or services this area is important to setup as it is a cost for both the customer and your business to operate with efficiency, keeping you competitive is a must. You can setup offers with “Free Shipping if you spend XX” in your checkout, get real-time carrier rates, or charge a flat rate. Curbside pickup is now popular as well, or even local delivery. Make sure every scenario is well tested, and ensure that multiple products in a checkout calculate the proper shipping costs by weight and size (Threshold testing) for the right destinations/zones.


11. Set up Taxes and Duties:

Taxes and Duties apply depending on the client’s locations, the type of product/service, and where the item is being shipped to. This can be complicated depending on what you allow the store to service globally – so if you are not certain, see and consult a tax expert if need be.


12. Apply for Payment Gateways (Shopify Payments) and Payouts:

If you don’t have a Payment Gateway for your business, one will be required to operate the store – Shopify Payments is by default the easiest way to get that applied to, reviewed, approved and setup. If you already have a Payment Gateway, it will most likely be listed as one supported by Shopify, and you have to then set it up to connect your store to your account. Note that the costs and fees apply both in Shopify and your Payment Gateway provider, keep this in mind when factoring in the cost of sales.


13. Pre-Launch review:

Your store must only require 4 more things to consider it ready for launch:

a. Receiving and connecting your domain.

b. Having sales channels defined and activated.

c. Personalising your email notifications and SMS notifications.

d. Setting up the store for tracking and analytics so as to work on your online marketing.


Launching your store can be a matter of timing, inventory availability, logistics readiness, or event planning. All of which might play a hand in your launch plans. However, getting your store ready for launch is one of several activities to get your online business rolling out.


When time and resources may not be at hand, hiring a Shopify Expert might be more effective, we at TheGenieLab can help and get you there. If you would like to consult on a new store, feel free to inquire at wish@thegenielab.com.

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