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How to Make Sure Your Shopify Store Will Make Sales (Before Building & Launching)

It’s december 2016 and I came across Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek” for the very first time when I wondered…

“Is it actually THAT simple to start and run an online business?” 

Mr. Ferriss made it look so easy.

Back then I was in the military, got a solid paycheck every month and had nothing to lose. So I gave it a go.

Now, four years, several businesses and quitting my day job to work fulltime on my business later I’m happy to say; yes, it’s actually simple.

But even though it’s simple, there’s no guarantee that every idea will become big. In fact, the vast majority of ideas are just a waste of time and money.

Aside from “business is simple”, another main idea from The 4-Hour Workweek is testing an idea before jumping into it. Better known as “validation”.

Quote from The 4-Hour Workweek:

“[...] She instead uses the same two services to create a single webpage with the content of her one-page ad and an email sign-up for a free “top 10-tips” list for using yoga for rock climbing. She will consider 60% of the sign-ups as hypothetical orders.”

What Tim meant is this:

Instead of putting in time and money into a business you want to start, create a simple webpage with a form for people to enter their email address if they’re interested in the idea.

If no one will sign up, you didn’t waste a lot of time or money on this. It’s a very smart and risk-averse approach to entrepreneurship. You can test all of your ideas this way until you find one that works.

Also, Noah Kagan (#30 at Facebook and founder of AppSumo) said in his Mint Marketing Plan ebook:

“Noah knew the best marketers never turn a customer away, even if the shelves of the store are still being stocked. To capture inbound customer interest, the pre-launch Mint landing page featured a prominent email registration form: “It’s coming! Sign up here and we’ll let you know before everyone else.”

So… summary of Tim’s and Noah’s statements: Collect emails to see if people are interested in what you’re doing.

But there’s one issue. 

Unless you’re developing software or creating digital products, collecting emails with the help of a freebie (that is relevant to your audience and your business) is hard.

For software = give a minimum viable product (mvp) in return of emails to test your idea.

For digital products = give a free mini-course / pdf in return of emails to test your idea.

For ecommerce = you CANNOT give free products. Because they cost real money and even people who are very unlikely to become your future customers will do a lot to grab free products (even if the products are useless to them, they can still sell them on eBay). This is definitely not what you can consider “testing an idea”, it’s called charity.

To validate an ecommerce business “The Tim-Ferriss-Way” you need:

  • A way that is 100% free for you (remember, you want to test)
  • An incentive for your future customers to sign up (that is relevant to them)
  • Something that gives you confidence that your online store can actually work

...and, on top of that, all of that has to be fully automated so you can focus on developing your idea.

So yeah… two good friends and I developed a Shopify app that can do that. 

  • You don’t have to leave Shopify’s free trial.
  • You don’t have to build a Shopify store.
  • You don’t have to pick a Shopify plan.
  • You don’t have to pay for a domain.

Usually, you can’t make products visible without picking a paid Shopify plan and removing the store password. This means, without entering your credit card details, your customers can’t see anything.

We, however, make this possible.

How? Read on.

First, it’s a chatbot. That’s how we automate the process for you.

Your future customers will be lead to an outside-of-shopify URL that goes like this:

https://shoplaun.ch/YOUR-STORE-NAME

(look, you don’t have to pay for a domain, you just saved $12)

This fully customizable chatbot-webpage will lead your customers through a conversation where they can set the products* you have on your Shopify store on their future wishlist. To actually get them to do this, we highly recommend to incentivize them with a pre-launch discount.

*In fact, you don’t need to have the products ordered/built yet. All you need is an image or mockup of the product you want to sell in the future. Create a product in the Shopify backend, upload that image and you’re good to go.

We take the image, product name and price from your Shopify backend and make it visible for your customers on an external site.

After picking their favourite products, they have to enter the email address where they want the discount code to be sent to on the day you launch. Yes, you can also send that email straight from our app.

Last, but not least, they will be asked to share your pre-launch campaign with their friends so you can get even more reach.

By testing your idea this way (= collecting emails) you’re not just building confidence that your idea can actually work but also have a list of potential customers. While others open their online stores without anyone ever noticing it, you can send an email blast and get customers on the day you launch!

Here’s a demo campaign: https://shoplaun.ch/core-live-chat-demo

(The texts you see are our pre-written templates. You can use them or write your own ones.)

Our beta users used this to…

  • Test their whole business ideas
  • Checked demand for different sizes & colors of clothing before ordering
  • Ran a giveaway (instead of a discount-incentive they said “which product would you like to win?”)

Get it free from the Shopify AppStore here.

We keep the pricing fair for both sides: free until you hit over 5k+ users per month because we believe if you have that many visitors, you’re making enough sales to be able to pay for the app. 

Oh yeah, the app is a live chat for your Shopify store as well. So as soon as you decide to launch your store, you can set up support-request automations, promotional offers, upsells, influencer-automations, and other fun stuff. We’re here from validation to scaling ;-)

I really hope you will use this app to find out if your next idea can actually work. It will save you a lot of time, money and headaches.