Roughly $300,000,000 AUD earned within 72 hours before the actual launch-of-sales date—seems impossible? Nonetheless, Tesla made it with pre-ordering deposits paid for its novelty Model 3 car. Some would argue that the corporation has a strong mission to back it and a huge crowd of supporters, much like the Apple addicts, hovering over the “Buy now” button day and night.
Pre-orders of Tesla Model 3 (Image credit)
The power of fan support and the underlying ‘selling’ idea matter, of course. However, benefiting from pre-orders is possible even if you are just a regular vendor of consumer goods on an eCommerce platform. Read on the article to learn tips on efficient early sales, related pros and cons, as well as Shopify pre-order features to aid you in managing a trade.
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About Pre-Ordering in General
Pre-ordering has been in use as a potent selling and advertising technique for years already. In the entertainment industry, the tool assists in commercializing works of art—books, musical albums, etc. Pre-release sales of iPhones by Apple Inc. is a known example of how the strategy is utilized successfully in consumer electronics. In both creative and manufacturing activities, pre-purchasing is a widely-accepted method to provide funds for future releases or innovations.
In eCommerce, pre-ordering is putting on sale an item that is out of stock for reasons, such as:
- A product is either under development yet or is only expected to be released by a specific future date.
- Merchandise delivery to a store is delayed or obstructed — e.g., due to the manufacturer’s failure to output a finished product, etc.
- No reserve of a particular commodity is left at the vendor’s storage locations.
Opening early sales of a product at an eCommerce store is a way to promise customers the product is going to be available on a pre-defined date. On the consumer side, pre-ordering is a means to guarantee no one can snatch a long-awaited purchase from under their nose.
Major eCommerce platforms offer pre-order functionality as part of their extended service packages. Implementations vary from advanced coding flows to create alternate product pages to special-purpose applications enabling easy tuning of virtual shop windows for the kind of sales.
Setting pre-order features with MageWorx Autopilot (Image credit)
On Shopify, the functionality is not included by default, but there’s a number of extra-pay options to choose from. For instance, the Pre-order Autopilot app by MageWorx. Easy to install and set up for any geographic location, the software enables pre-order features automatically—e.g., when you run out of particular merchandise. In addition, it allows monitoring commodity flows within a store and tipping customers on when to expect out-of-stock items to be back on sale.
How the Functionality Enables Vendors
Typically, eCommerce brands, including on Shopify, turn to pre-ordering to gain the following benefits:
- The assortment of listed-for-sale goods is diversified and amplified with pre-purchasable items.
- Pre-ordering features guarantee stable shopper traffic and certain income from pre-purchase deposits over a specific period.
- The functionality fixes up web stores with an efficient tool to assess demand for certain known and innovative products, to study markets and consumers.
- Because vendors can estimate required delivery volumes more accurately, they do not need to worry about unsold items left in stock.
- Knowing in advance about delays in supplies, store owners can still start selling, without customer claims about late deliveries and consequential losses.
- Marketing specialists can leverage pre-ordering as a means to promote shops on the web, extend the client base, or get the regulars interested in new offers.
For instance, pre-ordering features on Shopify allow the following:
- Substituting a product page with a pre-order template and editing the text on the Add to cart button
- Allowing pre-payments for orders without changing the underlying flow or causing any additional inconveniences to customers
- Keeping track of inventories to change the merchandise status—in stock or available for pre-purchase
Tracking inventory on Shopify with the Pre-Order Autopilot (Image credit)
Shopify’s Pre-Order Manager App allows you to launch crowd-funding campaigns, assign out-of-stock, coming-soon, and sold-out statuses to goods.
A Few Flies in the Pre-Ordering Ointment
Notwithstanding the above advantages, shop owners should consider the following before using pre-order features, whether on Shopify or elsewhere:
- Pre-ordering is by no means an answer to all marketing prayers. It may increase profits by ensuring that certain quantities are sold out. It may be a great technique to promote new offers. However, running a successful retail business requires more than the single tool to keep turnovers high and retain customers.
- When pre-ordering is intended to sell yet-to-be-released products, you should understand that much of what’s to happen subsequently is out of your control. Lots of things may go wrong—starting from manufacturing canceled to shipment delays. That’s where you are putting your clientele and business reputation at stake.
Also, consider that some platforms, such as Amazon or eBay, have strict delivery time requirements. A failure to meet the restrictions may result in your business losing an account altogether.
When Pre-Orders Work their Best
With the pros and cons, Shopify pre-order features or similar eCommerce functionality seem to bring most value for big events, such as:
- launching a small or medium business into a new market
- introducing a novelty product into your merchandise range
- promoting limited- or special-edition items
- advertising major discounts or deals
Whether an upcoming event of yours is one of the kind or not, make sure to weigh your risks carefully against benefits before relying on pre-ordering to get you on the best-seller list. Or read on for tips on maximizing the value of the early-sales technique.
How to Build an Efficient Pre-Order Strategy
Just as with any other business activities, you’d better get strategic about pre-ordering if you want to come out with gains rather than losses. The essentials to build a strategy to succeed include the following:
1.Think through a pre-ordering schedule for a newly released product. If you expect sales rates to be the highest on the product launch date or any time close to it, there is no way for you to avoid a major disappointment. The ‘big game’ starts weeks or even months before the actual release date. Therefore, the recommended timeline for opening pre-orders is 4 to 6 months prior to introducing a product into a market.
Pre-order demand variations (Image credit)
Also, count in the so-called dead period, which is usually 7 to 10 days after opening pre-orders and 7 to 10 days prior to the launch date. To keep pre-ordering at stable rates or minimize demand spikes, you need to exert extra efforts, such as promoting through mailout, social media, and other publicity channels.
2. Play the card of a product being a unique offer. Give potential and existing customers a real reason to pre-order, making an offer they cannot resist. Options are ample—extra discounts, a small gift delivered with an order, or another reward. An efficient technique is to relate to well-known and popular products, composing special-edition sets.
Pull the FMO game—consumers tend to fear missing out on buying something everyone else is dying to purchase. One way to achieve that is to limit merchandise for pre-ordering, either in terms of quantity or on-sale time. For instance, the first 100 customers have a 20% discount, another 200 are entitled to 10% off, and so on.
3. Raise awareness, promote, advertise, and promote more. Opening pre-orders for a product no one knows about is a bad idea and a sure way to say good-bye to best-seller ambitions. Therefore, make sure to advertise novelties, employing whatever channels are affordable.
Digital tools, such as Google Ads or YouTube, can help you to reach out to your audience. For example, Glowforge leveraged the power of Facebook and Google Ads to raise the total of $28 mln. within a month during its pre-order campaign. Emailing and PR, as well as content marketing techniques can also aid in raising awareness of newly launched products and creating the right amount of hype around them.
Hubspot statistics on social media impact (Image credit)
Getting the social media and digital influencers on board adds scale to promotional efforts. Then, the whole campaign just rolls like a snowball down the slope. The more falk talk about merchandise, the more people are likely to buy it. The more purchases people make, the more you get to be talked about. According to a Hubspot survey, 71% of consumers make their shopping choices based on social media reviews and publications.
4. Make allowance for an increase in customer flows and online traffic. If you have made a substantial dent into promotion, you will sure get a lot of requests. You need to be prepared to that—to have enough items in stock, bandwidth to handle the increased traffic, and a strong team to deal with incoming pre-orders.
As you can see, pre-ordering functionality can boost the growth of your online retail business by drawing more customers and securing stable turnovers. However, you need to apply it with reason and measure—hopefully our tips above can be of help. If you need more information about Shopify pre-order apps and plugins, visit the web page.