The day has come. You have spent hundreds of hours designing, configuring and even coding your professional, highly functional online store. Firstly congratulations and do yourself a favor and pat yourself on the back, this is a real accomplishment. At this stage you probably can’t wait to introduce your masterpiece to everyone you possibly can, but hold back and go through the list below of the 10 things you probably forgot to check before releasing your baby into the world.
1. Contact forms and emails
Now that you are ready to sell products online with cash exchanging “hands” it is critical for your long term success that you provide quick and easy ways for your customers to contact you. The most common way is through a contact form or email address which is displayed on the site.
Before you launch your site, make sure that your contact forms are working and directing the messages to the correct email addresses. Send yourself a few test messages and emails to verify that the forms are working and your dedicated sales and support email addresses are working.
Forgetting to include a favicon on your site is most definitely the least important item in this list but one of the most common things which are forgotten by website owners.
Your favicon is part of your branding and helps visitors that have multiple tabs open to easily find your site. Return visitors will get familiar with the icon and associate it with the general way you do business. Take the 3 minutes it takes to upload a favicon to your site.
3. Stock Levels
Most ecommerce platforms allow you to set the stock amount for your products. Make sure before you launch your store that these numbers are accurate so that products don’t disappear because they are “out of stock” which will cost you dearly.
4. Basic SEO
Once your store is live, Google and other search engines will sooner or later come across it and crawl your entire site. You want the search engines to crawl your site so they can index your pages. If your pages do not contain the basic SEO tags (Title and Description) and your images do not contain alt tags then you will be doing yourself an injustice.
Search engines still account for a large percentage of traffic and it is critical for driving traffic that your pages are optimized for the search engines.
Make sure you include unique Title and Description tags to all your pages and that all your images have alt tags.
5. Phone numbers
If you have decided to provide visitors with a direct phone number to your business, then make sure that the number is working and if necessary, redirected to whoever is responsible for taking the calls. Make sure you include the international dialing code so overseas based customers and visitors can dial you successfully.
If you are using any extensions or modules for added functionality, then make sure you test each one to see that the expected functionality is experienced from a visitor’s perspective. If you experience any issues, you may have to post a question on the forum thread related to the extension/module and wait for an answer. This can be very frustrating, but it is important to launch your store when everything is ready, especially important aspects of the user experience.
7. All your links
Don’t you hate clicking on a link which takes you to a page that doesn’t exist? Believe me, your visitors will hate it just as much. Make sure you go through your entire site with a fine tooth comb and check every link, both internal and external. Don’t forget to check your social share buttons to make sure they are linking to the correct social profiles and all the other links in your footer.
8. Google Analytics
Being able to analyze a wide range of statistics about your visitors is critical for making correct marketing and product related decisions. The best free tool available to online store owners is Google Analytics.
Google’s real-time view is very handy to test if Google is tracking your site. After you implement the code on all your pages, visit your site and wait to see if you appear in the real-time stats in Google Analytics.
9. Social and sharing buttons
Leveraging social networks and our innate desire to communicate and share is a very powerful way to not only grow the amount of traffic you get to your store, but also to convert visitors to fans and grow your own online following.
Don’t forget to implement large share and social buttons throughout your site to drive referral traffic.
The standard location is in the footer but the header is usually a better location because it gets more exposure. Provide share buttons near each of your products so visitors that like your products can share them with their friends and family.
After months of hard work getting the store ready it is almost time to launch. The final check that most people forget is testing your payment options.
Visit your site as a visitor and make test purchases using the different payment options you are providing. Make sure that each payment goes through successfully and that all confirmation emails are sent. If there are any problems then make sure to talk to your payment providers (Paypal, Neteller etc) and your credit card company.
Preventing interested buyers from making payments is the most detrimental thing you can do to your business.
I would love to grow this list, so if you have any other things which do not appear in this list then please let me know in the comments section below.
About the Author: Justin Butlion is the Content and Social Marketing Manager of Yotpo. Justin loves to blog about e-commerce, online marketing, web development, and entrepreneurship.
“Digital World In Data Center Room” courtesy of watcharakun / www.freedigitalphotos.net