As a new store owner, you've done all you can to make your storefront ready for customers: you've created categories, uploaded images of your inventory, and even fine-tuned your website's template. With so many details to take care of, it's easy to overlook a setting or two. So before you open your store for business, check out the following tips compiled by our Support team. It just might save you some stress at launch time!
Updating DNS Can Affect Your EmailIf you bought your domain name from a third-party registrar, you’ll need to point the name servers to Volusion so that customers can access your store. Most merchants don’t realize that pointing name servers affects your MX records as well. The MX (Mail Exchange) records control where your email gets sent to, so it’s important to make sure they’re configured correctly. For business owners, not having access to email is like not having a cup of coffee in the morning… nothing functions correctly!
Many merchants use domain-based email addresses (ending in @yourdomain.com) with a third party host, such as Gmail. Whether you purchased a domain name through Volusion or through another registrar, you’ll need to update the MX Records in order to use a third party email host. If you’ve added a Volusion-hosted email to your monthly plan, just leave the default MX Records for Volusion (or add them back, if you previously deleted them). You can update MX Records from your myVolusion area.
Pro Tip: Decide where you want to host the email associated with your domain name. Update your MX records accordingly.
Allow Time for SSL InstallationWhether you decide to accept credit cards through Authorize.net, PayPal Pro, or another gateway, you’ll need an SSL certificate for your store. If you’re still fuzzy on how this works, not to worry; most business owners don’t learn what SSLs and gateways are until they need to accept payments online.
A payment gateway is a service provider that processes electronic credit card payments for your ecommerce website. (You can learn more about the different payment options and transaction settings in our Payment Gateways knowledge base article.) An SSL certificate helps ensure that credit card transactions are safe during an online purchase. It protects your customers’ data by encrypting any information that gets sent through your website.
What most merchants don’t realize is that it can take three to five business days for our team to install an SSL on your store, whether it’s a Volusion SSL or an SSL transferred from a third party. There can also be delays in processing an SSL order if you don’t place it from the account associated with your hosting plan, or if your domain name registration details are private. If you have any questions about the process, please contact our Support team.
Pro Tip: Buy your SSL early so you can process credit card payments securely at launch.
Test and Fine-tune Order ProcessingBefore you make the jump to go live: test, test, and then test again! This means going to your store as a shopper (not logged in as an admin), adding an item to your cart, and following the checkout process to place an order. You’ll get to experience your store through the eyes of your customers, which is always a sound business practice. You’ll also get a chance to figure out your preferred workflow for incoming orders.
Once your first orders roll in, you’ll be excited to ship those items to your customers right away. It’s an exciting milestone for your online store! Before you ship that box, though, don’t forget to visit the Orders section of your Admin Area and collect payment. The process for capturing funds will vary, depending on how you set up your payment options. If you decide that you need to change the way you accept payment, check out our Payment Settings article for more options.
Pro Tip: Before you launch, test the checkout process; before you ship, get that cash!
Prepare in Advance for Earnings ReportsToward the end of the fiscal year, many merchants want to take advantage of the built-in Reporting feature to calculate their profits after subtracting Cost of Goods Sold. Unfortunately, if you don’t configure your products correctly when setting up your store, this reporting feature won’t provide much insight. When creating your products, be sure to take the extra step of adding the Vendor Price to each one. This field tells the Reporting system how much the product costs to manufacture or purchase wholesale. It’s subtracted from the selling price in order to calculate the net profit for each purchase of that item.
In the Advanced Settings section of a product’s editing page, select the Vendors tab and enter a value in the Vendor Price field. Keep in mind that the system doesn’t calculate these fields retroactively; if you add a Vendor Price later on, that value won’t be taken into account for previous orders. For that reason, we highly recommend setting vendor prices when you initially configure your products.
Pro Tip: Add Vendor Price at the beginning to get better reports in the end.
Give Purpose to Product CodesWhen creating your products, be mindful of the Product Codes you assign. Each product page’s URL contains the product code, so updating this value in the future may impact custom coding and SEO settings for your store. Each product code must be unique from others in your store, and it helps if the product code is meaningful or recognizable in some way. Trust us: when you export your entire products list, it’s harder to locate and analyze data for product codes composed of random numbers and letters! You should also consider how your product lines may expand in the future, since you may need to add a product with a very similar code at some point down the line. Try to choose a product naming method that allows for future growth.
For a list of guidelines, tips, and best practices when assigning product codes, see How to Define Your Volusion Store’s Product Codes.
Pro Tip: Give your product codes some TLC; they’ll be around for a long time!
When you follow these tips, you’ll be more prepared than ever to launch your store. Every business has a unique set of needs, so don’t hesitate to ask our team if you have questions about additional settings. We’ve found that merchants who look toward the future are even more successful in the present! For a handy checklist of items you should complete before going live, see our knowledge base.