The fashion and apparel eCommerce industry has seen the fastest growth over the years. In 2020, the eCommerce fashion industry accounted for close to 30% of overall sales, in the US alone.But, it’s an industry where trends change fast.So, if you’re a fashion and apparel store, you’ll experience two situations often:
- Popular items running out of stock
- Launch of new collections to keep up with the trends
In either case, shoppers won’t be able to purchase an item instantly, because it’s not yet available in your store.So, are okay to lose buyers to your competitors or find a way to retain them?The latter, of course!And this is where pre-orders on Shopify come in.
Using Shopify pre-orders on fashion and clothing stores
We’ve put together some scenarios and examples for fashion and apparel stores to use pre-orders more effectively to increase sales.
1. When a product trends and sells out fast
Fashion and apparel are among the fastest-selling items on eCommerce. It’s possible that some items in your store start trending and sell out fast. This means when shoppers visit your store to purchase those items (because they’re still trending on the channels they follow), they might see them ‘Sold Out’.At this point, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to restock the items or not. If you’re going to replenish the stock, you could allow shoppers to pre-order.You can use a Shopify pre-order app to automate this process. As soon as a product gets sold out, it’ll bring up the pre-order button. By adding the pre-order option, you can hit two birds with one stone:
- Retain shoppers who would have otherwise left without buying anything
- Gauge the product demand through the number of pre-orders that you receive
That’s helpful, isn’t it?And there’s more.A key aspect of customer satisfaction is how well your store is able to fulfill orders. The pre-order plan can help you boost customer satisfaction, too.Here’s how:You can use pre-order data to adjust your stock inventory. By knowing the demand for a product, you can make sure that you always have enough stock to fulfill demands.The result: Increased customer satisfaction rates, and hence, increased sales.
2. When you launch a new collection
When a brand is launching a new collection, there’s always apprehension and doubt - how will it be received by customers? Will they like it? Will it get sold and make profit? There are many such questions.In this case, assumptions and guesswork might lead to losses. For example, you launch your new collection with a large inventory on the assumption that shoppers will definitely like it and buy it. But if it doesn’t see enough sales in the first week of launch. This could derail your business badly by hitting your revenue goals negatively.Fashion trends and consumer demands change fast. And so, it’s risky to overstock your inventory when launching new collections. The best approach is to validate new collections.There’s a way to do it - offer pre-order.Pre-order will help you make early sales, before the collection is launched. This way, you can get concrete proof of consumers’ interest and demand for your collection.And then?Once you know the numbers, you can stock your inventory accordingly. This way you can avoid overstocking or under-stocking.There’s one more way you can benefit from offering pre-order when launching a new collection. You can test the demand of the new collection with a pay later option. That way, if you see the collection isn’t doing well, you do not have to commit to high production.Here’s an example: In January 2020, London-based brand Birdsong, completely moved to a pre-order model. Each product on their website mentions the estimated time of delivery.
3. When you’re collaborating with another brand
Collaborations between brands are common in the fashion and apparel industry. It helps brands in many ways: to reach new audiences, to break into a new niche, and to amplify their message in a bigger way than a single brand can do on its own.If you’re collaborating with another brand, you can make pre-order a part of your collaboration strategy to generate more sales.Here’s how you can do it:Suppose you’re collaborating with a designer to create a limited edition collection for your store. You can start creating a hype for the collection much before you launch it by offering the pre-order feature on your Shopify store.As it’s a limited edition collection and shoppers might not want to miss the chance to buy it, it’s most likely that a large portion of the collection will get sold on the first day of pre-order launch. (As is the case with most pre-order launches)When shoppers pre-order from your store, you’ll get an idea about the interest that collection is gaining. It’s possible that certain designs from that collection are outperforming others. You can even make marketing and partnership or collaboration-related decisions based on these pre-order activities.For example, you can focus your marketing efforts to promote the designs that aren’t doing well to push their sales. That way, you can be sure that a large part of the collection is getting sold.Similarly, if you see that a collaboration is of lesser interest to your audience, you know you will need a longer runway for promoting it before launch.Also read: Pre-order strategies to push your pre-order sales
4. When you’re bringing back an old collection
It’s possible that some of your older collections saw a lot of interest from customers. And you might want to bring back that particular collection.But in the fashion industry, trends change at the speed of light. Customers might have fallen in love with a collection in the past, but that collection might not have any takers in the present.The best way to gauge customer interest for an old collection - offer pre-order.Here’s what you can do:
- Announce that your old collection will be back in your store soon
- Allow shoppers to pre-order
- It’s an old collection, so you’ll already have images, content, and even product pages; all you need to do is bring it all back again and add a pre-order button
- Assess shoppers’ response and then decide your inventory
With pre-order, you also have the benefit of making items as you receive orders; meaning, create a piece only once an order is placed.It’s crazy how well a pre-order strategy works in this case, isn’t it?
5. When you’re including a new range of products
To scale and expand its offering, fashion and apparel stores have to keep adding new product ranges. Besides, if you want to keep pace with your competitors, you’ll have to add new product ranges.For example, if you’ve been selling clothes so far, you might want to expand your product range by adding accessories, or shoes. A bit later, maybe eyewear.But wait a second...When entering a new product range, you’d want to tread carefully. Before you jump into it head first, you should first validate the product range idea. You can test the waters with the help of a pre-order strategy.By allowing pre-orders for the new category of products, you can assess how shoppers are receiving it. Then, based on the number of pre-orders, stock your inventory accordingly.This way, you can also build anticipation for the new range as well as your brand equity.Moreover, if the pre-order response is not too good, you can decide to focus your marketing and promotions efforts toward the new range in order to make it a success.Here are tactics for your pre-order strategy when entering a new product range that will help you establish the new range faster:
- Offer discounts and deals on pre-orders
- Create FOMO (fear of missing out) by making the offers limited
- Make the offers time-specific and create urgency
6. When you’re offering limited edition of products
Allowing pre-orders can work wonders when you’re offering limited editions of products. A limited edition means your product/collection is already exclusive and not something that everyone can get their hands on because of the limited inventory it will be produced in.Now, generating high sales from pre-orders is not a walk in the park. Simply because it's difficult to sell products that are ready and available in stores (cart abandonment rate across industries is 69.57%). Imagine selling a product that’s not even available yet.But when you’re offering a limited edition of a certain product or collection, you can use the pre-order strategy a bit differently.When an item is in limited editions, it means there’s only a few of them. Scarcity is a strong prompt for shoppers to make purchases. Because no one wants to be left out or miss out on a good product.Here’s what you can do:
- Introduce a limited edition piece or collection in your store
- Offer it only through pre-orders
- Shoppers who are genuinely interested in it, will place pre-orders instantly
- Meanwhile, you can approach shoppers that showed some interest with targeted ads and promotional messages to entice them into buying
- Moreover, keep engaging customers that have placed orders with follow-up emails
You see how many engagement opportunities you create with pre-orders?
7. When you’re running a sale on your site
A fashion and apparel brand recently did this - it launched its annual sale with a pre-order only feature. All the items on the website were on sale, however, shoppers had to pre-order and pay later.How did this help the brand? By assessing the pre-order trends, the brand kept increasing the offers on the items that weren't getting sold. For example, on day 1 of pre-order a particular shirt was on 10% discount. However, when the shirt wasn’t getting sold on day 5, the brand increased the offer to 20% discount, and soon saw some buyers.You could also run pre-orders on select items on your site. You do not have to apply your pre-order strategy on all the items.
8. When you want to increase sales of a specific product/collection
You can employ pre-order strategy when you want to push sales of a specific product or collection. Wondering how? You’ll have to think creatively. Here are some ways:
- Combine pre-order with special offers: Give a discount or a gift to shoppers that place pre-orders. That way you’re enticing them to purchase a product before it’s available in your store and that too, with a special offer
- Make the pre-order time-sensitive: For example, allow pre-orders for a specific period of time only
- Create FOMO: Create a hype for the product with the help of FOMO. It will entice shoppers into buying the product due to urgency. 60% of customers make purchases because they fear missing out on a good product or an offer
Ready to leverage pre-orders on your Shopify store? Install the Pre-order Today app to get started.
9. When you want to be a size-inclusive fashion brand
It’s a known fact -- most apparel stores do not offer all sizes, especially plus sizes. But that’s not because they don’t want to be inclusive. Offering more size options means increasing inventory, which means more monetary investment. All brands cannot afford it.But what if we told you, you can make size inclusivity a reality for your online store with pre-order?Here’s how:Offer pre-order for sizes that are not too common, for example, XXS or XXLIf you have the facility to create these custom sizes, make them for these pre-order customersIf you don’t have the option of creating these, but placing an order for them to your wholesalers, you could do so. It might mean a longer waiting period for your customers, but it’ll be worth it for themOkay - now that we’ve covered the different scenarios where you can use pre-order and pump up sales, let’s look at when you should start pre-order - the timelines.
When should you take pre-orders?
Although pre-orders have many benefits for your Shopify store, you have to be careful in the way you plan it. One of the most important aspects to think about is the timeline of your pre-order strategy.When should you start pre-orders?It’s best to keep the duration of pre-orders somewhere in between - a week up to one or two months. If the time period between the pre-order phase and the actual availability date is too long, customers might lose interest in the product. Or it’s possible they even forget about the product.Conversely, if the time period between the pre-order phase and the availability date is too less, shoppers might not see any benefits of placing pre-orders and instead, choose to wait until the item is available.
Should you use a pre-order strategy for your Shopify store?
You saw the benefits of pre-orders! Shoppers are willing to wait for good products. Plus, pre-order as a strategy provides terrific opportunities to engage shoppers through updates after they place pre-orders.Clearly, the benefits of pre-order are many. However, you should plan your pre-order strategy well in order to see the highest results.And we want to help you out by making it all easy.