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by Michael P. Hill December 22, 2016

As the holiday shopping season winds down and we look forward to an exciting new year in ecommerce, most Shopify merchants have a long list of “to do” items for 2017.

Here’s our list for some solid, actionable and easy things to tackle in the new year.

First, and perhaps most importantly, think about some of the main goals you have for your Shopify store this year. Try to whittle the ideas down to a handful of concrete aims rather than broad, vague thoughts. Write them down or even consider printing them out and hanging them near your workstation.

Then, with every initiative decision you make for the year going forward, think about if it will lead you to one of these goals. If it won’t, it may be worth taking a step back and considering the priority of the idea.

It’s also a good idea to outline what your priorities are for the year ahead. These are a bit different than your goals, because they relate to specific, actionable tasks you want to get done, but should still relate to one of your main goals. When setting priorities, try to distinguish between "urgent" vs. "important" and take into account the estimated effort required for each.

Be sure to jot down the cost or resources you need to accomplish each action item and consider what sales or other benchmarks you may need to reach to make these happen.

Then, think about how each goal and other specific tasks you have on your list tie into making this benchmark a reality.

In addition, here’s a handy checklist that will help you get the most out of your online shop and storefront theme in 2017:

  • Plan to upgrade your theme to the latest version to get the latest features and bug fixes. Out of the Sandbox’s new Shopify Theme Updater app can be a big help in this area.
  • That said, with the new sections feature coming soon to all Shopify themes in the theme store, it may be worth holding off on upgrading for a few more weeks. This will also allow the holiday season to settle down a bit and for you to catch your breath.
  • Once you’re live with the new sections version of your theme, you’ll be able to experiment with a variety of layouts on your homepage to draw shoppers in. Make a list of ideas you want to try and see how they work out! Then, consider how these layouts might help you accomplish your goals.
  • Review your product meta descriptions and title tags. Focus on trying to create compelling text that draws searchers in and encourages them to click on your result. While it’s still a good idea to include keywords in these tags, trends are indicating that more focus should be placed on making these copy points snappy and compelling.
  • Review your product descriptions. Think about what customer service emails you got over the holidays and what questions were asked. Can you answer these questions up front in the product descriptions?
  • Consider your product photography. Does it need a refresh for the new year? How does it compare to your competition? Is there a way to make it stand out or show off the detail of your products better?
  • Also consider what photography and imagery might work best in slideshows and your image banners. If you’re redoing your product photography, that is also a great time to shoot some new images for these areas. There are also a ton of free stock photo sites out there, so be sure to check them often to grab some new images you can use to keep your site fresh.
  • Review your FAQ and About Us pages to make sure everything is still accurate. It may be worth giving everything a bit of a refresh with some new copy. Also consider what questions you’ve seen pop up over the holiday season — and be sure to include these answers in your copy.
  • Review and update your social media profile biographies. It’s a good idea to change these up now and then and make sure that they still capture your brand and product offerings.
  • The start of a new year is also a great time to create a list of publications, blogs and sites that you’ve been featured in and build a page featuring links to them.
  • It’s also a good time to start following up with holiday shoppers — including gift givers and recipients — to gather feedback about your products and purchase experience. This also is a great opportunity to request reviews for your products.
  • Use the data and information you learned from the past holiday season to consider adjustments that might need to be made to your products or product line. Perhaps some features or designs need to be tweaked or new items need to be added to meet commonly requested features. Focus on using hard evidence and data from what was likely your busiest time of the year.
  • If you’re concerned about an after-holiday slowdown, start brainstorming promotions or discounts you can offer to drive new sales. Think about any images, graphics or email marketing needs that you anticipate and start lining up resources.
  • Although discounting can be a great way to drive sales, also keep in mind that there are many ways to promote your products and boost shop traffic without discounting — such as blog posts, social media updates and other content.
Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.

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