The Essential eCommerce Pre-Launch Checklist

The Essential eCommerce Pre-Launch Checklist

When you’re creating an eCommerce website, the choices you make can save you a lot of trouble. For example, using WordPress for an eCommerce website can be beneficial for you in many ways. You have access to some great eCommerce plugins. With eCommerce WordPress themes, you can make an online store look amazing – even like a work of art.

But even if you make all the right choices, there’s no way around the fact that starting an online store is often a long and strenuous process with lots of moving parts. The launch is the culmination of all that hard work, and you don’t have to be superstitious to believe that any fumbling of the launch might bode ill for the future of the whole endeavor.

So how do you make sure that everything goes well on the big day? You put in the work. But you also create a checklist to remind you of all the things that you need to verify, review or otherwise examine before the proverbial door of your store is opened.

The areas you should pay special attention to during your pre-launch checks, and which we’ll breakdown in finer detail, include:

Functional and Technical

Functional and Technical

If you’re in doubt about where to start, double-checking the functional and technical aspects and settings of your eCommerce website is always a good choice. After all, no matter how pretty your eCommerce website is, no one will get to see it if the website doesn’t work.


Choosing a hosting provider is a whole process in and of itself. However, because you can develop your whole website locally and then migrate it to a live server, you technically don’t need a hosting provider while developing your eCommerce website.

All the more reason to double-check the agreement you have with the hosting provider. Make sure you have ample resources at your disposal – as much as your budget will allow – and that you have the leeway to deal with any possible spikes in traffic. Be optimistic, prepare for stellar success.


Depending on the package you chose when signing up with your WordPress website host, you might already have automatic backups set up. But this doesn’t have to be the case, especially if you skimped on the hosting package.

You can back up your database manually, though. You can also use one of the many WordPress backup plugins, or jump straight in and use arguably the most popular choice – the Updraft Plus plugin. The important thing is that you have something you could use to restore your website later if need be.


You can’t have a website without internal linking, and there’s no use in internal linking if the links don’t work well. It’s a major issue that can severely affect your website’s functioning and have a detrimental effect on the user experience.

Getting familiar with best linking practices is a great way to know which problems to be on the lookout for. At the very least, any link you place should lead to a location that is online and accessible.

404 Pages

404 pages (or Page not Found error pages) are often squandered opportunities to engage the customer and get them back into the fray immediately after they’ve hit a wall. The trick to doing it? You need a good 404 page.

For starters, though, it helps to have any kind of 404 pages at all. After you’ve taken care of that, you can start thinking about creating engaging 404 pages, the type of which looks more like a desirable feature than a way to salvage a visitor’s attention and goodwill. You could also make sure to fix the 404 issues in the first place.

The Loading Speed

A respectable loading speed is almost mandatory for a website this far into the 21st century. Loading speed is something you should constantly be trying to improve, too, as it will give you a competitive edge. Quick loading speeds are known to reduce bounce rates, and they make your eCommerce website look spiffy and energetic.

Some of the things you can do to improve loading speeds include optimizing images for the web, removing unnecessary scripts and plugins and other kinds of clutter, and if you’re feeling adventurous, creating a static WordPress website.


In case your eCommerce website has been migrated, you’ll want to have the proper redirections put in place. This means that you can include 301 redirects manually. This isn’t the only redirect you’ll be able to perform, though.

You can also redirect users right after the login because you don’t want them to see your online store’s backend. You can also use 404 redirects to get users away from dead ends if that’s your strategy with dealing with broken links.


WordPress has plenty of contact form plugins you can use to give your website visitors – eCommerce customers – a way to reach out to you. This is core functionality for an eCommerce website, which can use forms both for marketing efforts and communication with clients.

The best way to check the forms on your website is to simply go through them and see what happens. Fill them out and experience them as a visitor and an admin at the same time.

eCommerce WordPress Themes
Tonda WordPress Theme

A Modern Elegant WooCommerce Theme

Biagiott banneri

Beauty and Cosmetics Shop

Gioia WordPress Theme

Modern Fashion Shop

Design and Branding

Design and Branding

Design and branding choices might induce a pleasing aesthetic experience in the viewers, but their role in your eCommerce website extends far beyond that. Design and branding are of key importance for recognizability, memorability, and even the ability to comprehend the message of the website.

Branding and Color Consistency

One of the key tenets of visual branding is the consistent use of visual elements throughout a single property – in this case, your online store. In practical terms, it means picking a color combination that’s consistent with your brand and sticking with it. It also means using the logo consistently.

The good news is that colors are fairly easy to customize in WordPress, so even if you come across some discrepancies, you should be able to fix them with no problems.

Images and Other Visuals

There are so many different things you can do to images and visuals on your website, and all of it will have a definite influence over the perception of your online store. The goal is, remember, to use the appropriate visuals in a way that gives them maximum quality while not influencing the website in any negative way.

To that end, you might want to edit WordPress images if they don’t fit the composition of a page well. You can add interactive images to spice things up a bit. If you’re worried about someone stealing your images, you can add a watermark to them. Mostly, however, you’ll just need to resize them to make them fit better.


This might easily slip your attention, but that small icon that appears in the topmost left corner of the browser tab is an integral part of branding. While we might have gotten used to seeing appropriate images taking that spot, the importance of having the right favicon becomes obvious when a website uses a bad one.

Creating and adding a favicon in WordPress is extremely easy, so there are no reasons not to do it. If you’re not sure which image to use for the favicon, your website’s logo is usually the best choice.


Another important visual element, the fonts you use need to be consistent and well-composed. Even though you won’t be limited to a single font, sticking with the same font family will ensure that you have enough variety while avoiding your fonts being all over the place.

You need to make sure that you choose the right font for your website. You can easily find inspiration in, let’s say, different font combinations. Alternatively, you can browse the web and, once you see something that you like, use a tool to identify the font and see how well it fits your website. But remember, once you settle on a font family or a couple of fonts, try to stick with them.

User Experience and Commerce

User Experience and Commerce

So far, the things you’ve seen on this checklist are the things you could easily include in a pre-launch checklist for a non-eCommerce website. Now, however, we’ll help remind you of all the things that are specific to eCommerce websites and the customer journeys that happen within them.


Few things will affect the user experience your website provides as how easily users can navigate it. The more difficult it gets for people to move around your website, the less likely it is they’ll spend some money on it – not when there are so many other websites that can do the navigation part well.

There are many different elements apart from the navigation menus you can use to improve your website’s navigation. You should take this seriously – people usually aren’t too interested in navigating a maze just to buy a pair of sneakers.


Speaking of ways to find the things you want, the ability to search your website can become crucial to your visitors and your sales alike. Not only do modern search bars offer an effective shortcut to the desired product, but they can also serve as recommendation engines, contributing to cross-sales and up-sales.

You can easily add a search bar to your WordPress menu. If you’re interested, you can have a Google-powered search on your website. But even if you’re not seeing the full extent of usability of search elements, covering the basics with a run-of-the-mill search bar will still do wonders for your website.

Contact Information

This might not seem like a big deal, given how you might have already included a contact form on your website. Keep in mind, however, that trust plays an important role in user experience, especially if you expect people to part from their money in your store.

One of the most effective ways to establish trust is by providing contact information – real-world contact information, not an email address or a form. A phone number is the least you can provide. A clickable phone number would make it even easier for people to contact you.

The Checkout Process

Problems with the checkout process are one of the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment. Making sure the checkout process runs smoothly should be high on your priority list.

You might want to keep some abandoned cart recovery tools handy in any case. There will always be people who give up before making a purchase, and that’s fine. During the pre-launch phase, make sure you remove any obstacles in the checkout process that might impede their goodwill to shop at your online store.

Payment Processors

People like to use all kinds of payment processors these days, and you can do your best to accommodate them. You can enable Stripe as a payment processor, but you can also accept Bitcoin in your online store.

The important thing to do is to test those payment processors and currencies before the official launch. Some, if not most, will have a test payment process you should go through. Finding out that payment processing is the thing that broke on the launch is one of the worst possible scenarios.

Inventory Monitoring

Depending on the type of store you use, inventory monitoring can be easier or more difficult for you. When you have an Amazon affiliate store, you don’t have to worry about inventory at all.

But if your online store is your own, you should make sure that there’s a way to regularly and timely update the inventory status. You don’t want to sell things if you don’t have them, right, or at the very least you’re not sure your supplier has them. Go up and down that supply chain and look for possible breaking points.

Shipping Information

Shipping is another big factor that plays into the success of your eCommerce business. It’s not just the price you put on it, either – transparency about shipping will affect the cart abandonment rate, for example.

There are shipping plugins that can let your visitors choose tracking options or even the carrier. While you’re free to choose the plugin and the options you want to offer – at the price point you choose – it’s important that you let the customers know about it sooner than later.

Customer Communication

There’s one thing you should know about WordPress – it’s notoriously unreliable with email delivery. As an online store, your website will probably send out its fair share of emails – order confirmations and the like – so you better make sure you have a way to deal with WordPress’ email deliverability issue.

One of the ways to do it is to use SMTP service providers. If you’ve set this up already, good for you! If not, make sure you look into it before the website launches. You don’t want to spend your online store’s first weeks looking for an email that was never actually sent.

Product Descriptions and Images

All the products should have properly loading images and descriptions – if you were using placeholders or anything of the sort, now’s the time to get rid of it. This is the last inspection before the launch, after all.

Products require a lot of work. Some online stores allow for bulk editing of products, which you might want to embrace wholeheartedly if there’s just too much work to be done in a short timeframe.

Content and Search Engine Optimization

Content and Search Engine Optimization

As you’re nearing the end of the checklist, you’ll start finding the items that should help your fully functioning website appear in search results. It’s also the place where you’ll find content checks, to not drive away from the visitors with shoddy content.

Check for Placeholder Text and Images

All of those Lorem Ipsum placeholders that came in very handy when designing the website won’t do you much good if a customer sees them on a live website. Few things will make your website appear unprofessional more than leaving text placeholders when the website goes live.

It’s not that different for images. Now’s the time to have your images rendered and uploaded to your website. This won’t be the end of your odyssey with images – there’s always something to do around them – but for now, just make sure you replace any placeholders with the real thing.

Proofread the Content

Speaking of things that will make your website look completely unprofessional – a copy that has one typo too many has serious potential to rock your website’s credibility. Typos and grammar errors can find a way into your content, so you should always be on the lookout for them.

There are grammar checker tools that might also help with spelling issues. However, you shouldn’t rely on them completely. You shouldn’t rely on yourself too much, either, if you’re the person who wrote the content. Professional proofreaders are usually worth the investment.

Meta Descriptions

You might be familiar with what meta descriptions are and what they do. If you ever used a search engine you’ve seen them, even without knowing them. These snippets of text play an important role in attracting visitors and sending valuable signals to search engines.

Adding meta descriptions in WordPress isn’t too difficult. An SEO plugin you use might have it as an option – Yoast SEO does, and it’s very easy to install, and useful too.

Image Optimization

There are several ways you can optimize images – for quick loading, for good looks, and – for search engine optimization. For example, adding image titles and alt text is a way to make images more search-engine friendly.

But that’s not the only way to optimize images for search engines. The list would also include the use of CDNs, the creation of an image sitemap, the use of responsive images – and a whole host of things you should check if you want to have well-optimized images on your website.

URL Structure

URLs to your website’s pages can look very wild and denote very little information about the page itself. Having a link structure that’s confusing or unrelated to the contents of the page isn’t always the best practice.

It might be best to keep the link structure clear and concise. Both search engines and people looking at the URL should understand what it’s about just from reading it. At the very least, they should be able to read it.


Your goal is to help search engines as much as possible to understand your website. Sitemaps are one of the ways you can do that. Using a sitemap, your website will tell the search engine crawlers what to pay special attention to, and just in general facilitate faster crawling.

How do you create a sitemap? If you installed Yoast SEO, it could do it for you. Your eCommerce platform might do it, too. Just make sure that you submit it to Google for indexation. Also, don’t forget that you can also noindex a page, too.

Schema Markup

It’s easy to make a case that too much effort goes to reaching that coveted first page in the search results, leaving other important facets of optimization underserved. For example, have you implemented Schema markup to your pages? No?

Well, that’s something you should fix before your website launches. Schema markup can significantly improve what your website looks like when it appears in search results, and that’s not something to be scoffed at.

Analytics and SEO Tools

There’s a variety of analytics tools you can use to follow the performance of your website. There are quite a few SEO tools you could be using, too. You’ll need the help of both if you want your eCommerce venture to have the best chances for success.

How you choose the tools you’ll use is up to you. Some are better than others, others are simply better suited for different kinds of websites, and some might be just too expensive for your initial budget. Whatever your situation might be, just make sure you’re not going into this endeavor without analytics and SEO tools watching your back.

Security and Legal

Security and Legal

Last, but not least, are the security and legal concerns. Seeing that you’re running an eCommerce website, and how that usually entails people leaving some pretty sensitive information with you, your website will be subject to intense scrutiny both from national regulators and the people who’d like to get their hands on that data for nefarious reasons. The first group, you’ll need to please. The second, you’ll need to fight off.


An SSL certificate is the basic security layer every website should be using. There’s no excuse for not having one in place, especially when dealing with people’s credit card numbers.

Make sure that an SSL certificate was applied to your website. Your hosting provider might provide one for you. You can also install one for free, or use one of the many plugins to do it.


While SSL certificates help keep your communication with your customers confidential and safe, a firewall has a slightly different role. Much like its name describes, it’s there to repel any attack that might come your way.

There are many firewall plugins for WordPress that would do the job well. Plenty of security plugins might be helpful, too. Don’t start your website before putting them into function and making sure they work well.


Spam might not seem like the biggest issue you can face in terms of security, but it’s not something you should easily overlook either. Spam comments can and often do contain links to suspicious websites, and moderating all those comments can be quite a job.

You can disable comments altogether, or try out different comment systems to see which one deals with the spam the best. There are also antispam plugins you might use.


It’s a common saying that people are the weakest link in any security chain. To be more precise, people’s behavior is often at fault for security issues. One of those behaviors is bad password practices, including choosing weak passwords and sharing them with others.

One of the things you can do is employ the aid of a password manager tool to make it easier for people to handle difficult passwords. But you’ll also make sure that the passwords are difficult, and that everyone working with them knows how to handle them properly.


It’s no secret that WordPress’ size makes it a target for all sorts of attacks. One of the ways to deal with this is to make sure your WordPress installation, as well as the plugins you have, are always kept up-to-date.

Updating WordPress is a whole process, and you should be careful when updating plugins, too. Still, you should learn the proper ways of doing it soon, and not only because you’ll want everything to be up-to-date on day one – but also because you should keep it that way.

GDPR Compliance

Love it or hate it, the GDPR has set regulatory standards regarding data gathering and processing practices. If there’s any chance your website might be used by EU citizens, you should make sure that it complies with GDPR.

This might be easier said than done, however. Even years after the regulation came into effect, some pretty big websites are still blocking EU visitors because they don’t want to deal with GDPR compliance. Still, given how eCommerce is alive and well in the EU, it’s safe to say that staying compliant with GDPR is something that can be done.

CCPA Compliance

GDPR isn’t the only privacy-protection regulation in the world. The California Consumer Protection Act mandates protection for people’s private information. In practice, complying with the CCPA was often achieved via the inclusion of a Do Not Sell Button.

If you plan to have any business with the citizens of California, you should make sure the button is prominently displayed on your website.

Inform the Visitor

As an online business, you must provide access to certain documents so that every visitor can see them. Even if you don’t have an obligation, it’s in your best interest to do so, as their lack could be used against you in legal proceedings.

Terms and Conditions, a Privacy Policy, and information regarding consumer rights and practical matters such as returns, should all be present on your website. Have them in place before the kickoff, and don’t skimp on creating them, either. You want legal documents to be written by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

The launch is one of the most important moments in the lifecycle of any website – especially an eCommerce one. A smooth launch might not guarantee smooth sailing further on, but it can contribute to it tremendously – especially if you have the products and the marketing campaign to par.

The importance also means that it’s a busy time – there are lots of things to do, navigate, and set into motion. Overlooking a single thing might be a disaster – or it might have no consequence at all. But is this the risk you want to take? Probably not, especially when all you have to do is create a pre-launch checklist and follow it. As simple as that.

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