Shopify Launch Checklist

Definition of Agile and How is it used to deliver website projects for eCommerce?

Regardless of how much time and resources you’ve dedicated to the project and launch preparations, launching a new eCommerce shop or replatforming is always a highly stressful period. Despite the fact that using Shopify is often a cleaner procedure than using other platforms, mistakes may still happen, thus it’s crucial to have a reliable testing strategy or plan. Over the last several years, I have participated in the launch of many Shopify sites, and I typically gain a lot of knowledge from each one. In order to ensure that launch preparation is handled seriously, I’ve also worked on launches with several other non-SaaS platforms.

It’s important to keep in mind that there will be items on this Shopify launch checklist that are specific to your store as well.

It’s important to keep in mind that there will be items on this Shopify launch checklist that are particular to your store (such as details about data migration, setting up any custom apps, dealing with integration issues, other front-end platforms if you’re launching a headless site, etc.). This Shopify launch checklist is designed to provide a comprehensive list of areas that need to be checked or taken care of at the point of launch.

This tutorial is intended to cover all you need to know while preparing to launch your Shopify or Shopify Plus shop; if there is anything else you believe I should include, please contact me or make a comment below. It’s important to note that in a perfect world, by this time, you would have finished UAT and gone through a whole set of test scripts that you had previously tested against. Keep a watch out for a future article when I discuss writing Shopify Plus test scripts and the migration process.

This manual focuses on tasks that need to be completed before and after being live, so you would be nearing the conclusion of the migration and build process. The following are some of the things you need to have completed before launching:

  • Complete UAT phase and all regions of the site have been approved for launch
  • Installed payment processors and properly tested in test/sandbox mode
  • detailed integration testing with feedback from several internal stakeholders (e.g. finance, CS, IT etc)
  • Setup and application of all Shopify shop settings.
  • Tax and shipping settings were made, and they were thoroughly evaluated, including via testing phase.
  • tested the data after migrating all orders and clients.
  • Ensure that all data is completely moved, all redirects are flawless, and other SEO-related site improvements. This should have undergone comprehensive testing.
  • ready to send account holders reactivation emails
  • Install all third parties and applications (e.g. search, reviews, product recommendations, email provider etc)
  • Set up integration and address any ESP concerns (such as opt-ins and -outs, data transfer, etc.)
  • All material was set up, synchronized, and moved before all shops went online.
  • Plans for any launch-related problems and a roll-back strategy
  • All triggered and transactional emails have been configured and tested.
  • the site’s performance has been improved
  • Moving on to preparing for the opening of your new Shopify or Shopify Plus shop is an option if you’re satisfied with every one of these areas (or if you have enough preparations to address difficulties once online).

Pre-Launch Shopify Launch Checks / Tasks

Put the current site into maintenance mode & enable maintenance page

When you’re ready to begin the launch process, you may activate your maintenance page and place your current site into maintenance mode (try to make sure you serve a 503 response code – down for maintenance). This should ideally be fairly straightforward, with very clear language, and optimized for all device kinds.

Check all payment methods are set up and in production mode (out of test / sandbox mode) + test orders

As launch day approaches, you should switch all of your method methods from test/sandbox mode to production mode. This is quite simple and only a tickbox for Shopify Payments or direct payment solutions like Stripe, but it will be somewhat different for other, less common payment ways like Klarna, PayPal, Mollie payment methods, etc (e.g. moving to your primary account or changing API keys etc)

You must include this in your plan if you provide subscriptions, have an additional checkout, or anything similar. This must be done for each shop if you’re opening overseas ones.

You should set up a number of payment ways to test everything thoroughly, including the integrations, reports, refunds, etc., after this has been completed for all payment methods across all shops, etc. Make every effort to include as many important stakeholders as you can in the process.

Final tests on integrations

Just make sure you’re satisfied with everything related to integrations now that the site is virtually ready to go live and everything is operating in production mode. For example, someone from finance might concentrate on reporting coupons, gift vouchers, refunds, store credit use, etc., and maybe someone from operations would make final checks around handling of inventories.

The mapping of fields and any custom logic is an area that may often go wrong around launch and has to be validated as part of a launch process if you’re utilizing an iPaaS or integration middleware provider.

Final SEO checks

  • One of the most important things to pay attention to is SEO since it is often one of the greatest factors in evaluating whether a replatforming project was successful or not. The important areas that need to be verified are: Redirects all mapped precisely across all shops and tested (ideally this would be based on 3+ years of GA landing pages), your sitemap, product feeds, etc. 
  • You should have spent a lot of work putting the site in a good position from an SEO viewpoint.
  • All page kinds, including dynamic pages, should be included (e.g. filters)
  • Everything moved flawlessly, including all content that was sent to the new website and all meta data that was EXACTLY the same.
  • Setup of canonical URLs and no index logic is consistent with prior site expectations.
  • Hreflang is logically designed to account for edge scenarios 
  • The use of structured data markup is adequate.
  • The SEO engaged is prepared to keep track of any 404 errors after launch and rectify them as necessary. They will also check Google Search Console and submit sitemaps, among other things. Any address change must be prepared for in advance

All third parties are setup and in production mode / using a live account / set to use live URLs

Verify that all service providers are prepared for launch and are in production mode. A good example of this is search, where the base URL must be modified and the product data must be re-synchronized once the DNS has been updated and the password page deleted. Across all shops, this has to be verified for all third parties.

All third parties must be examined since things like address validation solutions may also be put to sandbox mode, etc.

Ensure other systems are production-ready

As with other Shopify features, it’s crucial to keep in mind that all systems are configured for production mode as well. For instance, most ERPs provide a sandbox environment for testing before you connect to the current or a new live equivalent. In an ideal world, you would also have thoroughly tested any middleware layers and the live-to-live integrations.

Ensure Google Analytics & Google Search Console are set up and ready

Make sure that all shops and domains have a complete setup and that any necessary adjustments (such as multi-currency for GA, website domain exclusions, new payment method referrer exclusions, etc.) have been made.

Ensure GTM container is published and ready

Make sure that Google Tag Manager is completely configured on all shops and that the container(s) are published and available. Prior to this step, you should have spent time putting up the optimal dataLayer, getting all of your pixels and tracking into Google Tag Manager, etc.

Ensure you have a backup of your previous site for reference

This is a crucial point: I generally advise keeping a backup of the prior site up for at least one or two months so you have a reference in case any SEO problems, content changes, problems with the conversion rate lowering, etc. arise. This has to be on a local or password-protected server, but it also needs to keep track of order information, among other things, so you have a reference for customer care. This will also be very beneficial if you need to do further migration after launch.

Set up any required domains and ensure Shopify is pointed to them

Due to Shopify’s inability to create sub-folders for foreign sites, it is possible that some of your domains will change if you have an international setup. I usually advise setting up these subdomains ahead of time and pointing the domains to Shopify so that you have them configured and are familiar with the procedure for the main switchover.

Switch the DNS and remove storefront password

You may now alter the DNS of any domains and get ready to delete the password page from your Shopify shops if you’ve completed all of these tests and are completely satisfied. Just make sure there aren’t any sitewide no indexes in place after you’ve finished. As said above, these are the main topics that apply to the majority of Shopify and Shopify Plus shops.

Setup a survey for bugs and feedback

In order to gather additional information and customer examples of problems during our most recent launches, we put up surveys on the site (subtle feedback requests for any bugs or difficulties) and the purchase confirmation page (process feedback, bugs & NPS). This kind of monitoring is crucial if you want to quickly address any defects as well as bugs discovered within the warranty period.

Remove all test data

It’s best practice to just go through and delete any test product data, customers, etc. once you’re ready to go live. Simply maintaining order and preventing strange user experiences on the website will benefit from this (with test products being indexed in the search for example).

Turn off paid advertising channels and ensure URLs are mapped

When you are ready to launch, make sure that all paid advertising activity is stopped and that all advertisements and campaigns have the new URLs mapped to them so that activity can be resumed.

Prepare customer services

Your customer support staff will get more reports of problems and inquiries about the website, especially with customers (who haven’t activated their accounts) being unable to check in. To aid with this, I would advise educating your customer care staff and setting up FAQ sites. Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure the account activation prompt is there on the login page for users who need to activate their accounts but are unable to login.

  • Gotchas & common problems to look out for when launching a Shopify store
  • Some emails are still accessible on overseas websites (e.g. transactional emails if sending externally or cart abandoned emails etc)
  • In various regions, several foreign retailers are still in the testing phase (e.g. payments, third parties etc)
  • Unchanged third-party base URLs (e.g. search, product recs, reviews etc)
  • Mishandling of tax or discount line items in certain circumstances
  • omitted redirects
  • No new domains have been set up yet (e.g. international sub-domains not domain exclusions in Google Analytics)
  • Data feeds are not configured to correctly handle variations.
  • Inadequate setup of inventory management for subscribers
  • On the core shop, SEO migration works well, but not on international stores

Post-Launch Shopify Launch Checks / Tasks

Once your Shopify / Shopify Plus shop has been officially launched, it’s critical to get as many customers as you can to place test orders and test the different features of the website and systems. Key post-launch inspections and operations include, among others:

Lots and lots of test orders

It’s crucial to do as many test orders as you can after being alive in order to attempt to uncover flaws and difficulties. Some test order criteria can be:

  • Test each payment option with various ordering kinds (inc promo code, inc gift card usage, inc login, inc other forms of discount, inc opt in etc)
  • orders for testing various gadget kinds
  • Use these evaluations in all businesses.
  • Practice refund procedures (inc partial refund, full refund etc)
  • Test the MOTO ordering procedures, etc.

Send reactivation emails

Sending out your account reactivation email to consumers as soon as you go live on the site will help to guarantee that they can do so and keep their account. Sending this via your ESP would be ideal because you could monitor openings, clicks, and other actions as well as send non-openers a follow-up. In order to do this, you would export all customer emails (who have accounts) and their activation links, then upload them into your ESP. Additionally, this needs to have been checked before launch.

Test integrations

Based on the aforementioned, confirm that all orders are being integrated appropriately; in particular, pay attention to how items like:

  • Discount codes
  • Gift card usage
  • Multiple payment methods
  • Multiple delivery types
  • Mixed basket (e.g. pre-order and normal)
  • Refunds and partial refunds
  • Usage of store credit
  • Inventory changes
  • Notification handling

Extensive redirect testing

This should be a top focus once you go live. All redirects should be list crawled utilizing, and after that, make sure that all destination URLs produce a 200 response code. To make sure there are no redirect chains, misdirected redirects, etc., you would then run a redirect report.

404 handling processes

You should have a procedure in place for monitoring 404s, which feeds back based on visits of sites that are 404ing and Google Search Console, in addition to monitoring any current redirects. Assign this duty to your team, and make sure you respond to 404 pages as quickly as possible.

Verify Google Search Console + submit XML sitemap and any change of address requests

All of your Google Search Console profiles must be examined and validated, and the site probably needs to have a verification code added (unless you can get any of the other routes to work)

Once you’ve finished, double-check all of your XML sitemaps and submit any change-of-address requests for items like foreign sub-domains.

Other SEO checks

Just make sure you’re satisfied with the technical SEO aspects, like how the site is crawled and how dynamic pages are handled, etc.

Test Google Analytics setup and conversion tracking

After going live, you may verify your Google Analytics configuration correctly. Check for items like:

  • Check the channel attribution to make sure that no redirects are removing tracking parameters, there isn’t an unexpected increase in direct traffic, sponsored traffic is being reported appropriately, etc.
  • Reports on international traffic are accurate (ideally with a combined view and local views)
  • Money is reported accurately (local views set to local currency, master view has currency conversion working etc)
  • There are new referrer exclusions added (e.g. Shop Pay, any other payment methods, international domains etc)
  • Any necessary events or specific dimensions have been added and are active.
  • Any custom reports for problems, etc., have been set up and are operational

Additionally, confirm that all of your conversion tracking and third-party pixels are operating as intended. It’s important to note that the project recommends Elevar for this kind of work; their tool is excellent for setting up Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager.

Data feeds checked and working

Once your site is operational, you may restart sponsored traffic; however, you’ll need to include the feeds in order for Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and Facebook product advertisements to function. These must be confirmed before launch, but they are very simple to set up using a tool like Data Feed Watch.

Data checks

Just make sure that all customer, order, and product data is accurate and flowing properly to Shopify and other platforms.