As you grow your Shopify store, you’ll add new products based on consumer demand and trends.
There will be times when you would want concrete proof of demand for a product or a collection before adding it to your store. At other times, you may see a sudden surge in the demand for a specific product in your store that goes out of stock, and now you need to make the decision of restocking it or not.
With the speed at which consumer demands change or are influenced, making assumptions in both scenarios can lead to either overstocking or understocking. We see losses in both!
This is where having a pre-order sales strategy can help.
What is a pre-order?
A pre-order is when a product/service is listed on a website before it is manufactured or before it is launched or isn’t for sale yet, but will be in the near future. Through pre-orders, brands can allow customers to pay for the product in full or part to reserve it before it is available.
In this manner, customers can be sure that the product won’t sell out and brands can get an idea about the product’s potential sales volume to plan its inventory better.
How do pre-order sales work?
Think about this scenario for a minute. You’re launching a new product and you post all about it on Instagram.
You ask your followers to send you a direct message to place a pre-order. Now imagine you have 20k followers on Instagram alone and 20% of them are sending you messages, while others are dropping a comment on the post.
Typically, brands allow pre-orders two weeks to two months before a product is available. Too long a timeline might result in customers losing interest in the product and too short a timeline may not give them enough time to place an order.
To make things simpler, Shopify stores can automate pre-orders easily. With apps like Pre-order Today, they can easily swap the ‘buy now’ button with a ‘pre-order’ button that typically takes them through the same checkout steps as a normal purchase.
Once the product is ready to be shipped, customers who placed an order early on are automatically notified. The fulfillment process of the order is pretty much the same, thereafter.
When Knoxlabs, a company that sells virtual reality-based products, wanted to launch a funky cardboard box for users to play games, they chose to take the pre-order route. They created a simple website that focused on driving pre-order signups, which helped them test the waters.
Within a week, they had over 500 pre-orders. In this way, they were able to generate enough interest and hype for a new, yet-to-be-created product as well as gauge the demand for a completely new, innovative product that they had to build. You can read the complete case study here.
But there’s more to pre-order strategies.
Getting customers to pay upfront for a product that isn’t even available yet and will take time to reach them, is not so easy. Although it’s totally doable.
Pre-order sales strategy to increase your sales and revenue
1. Form a team dedicated to handling pre-orders
The success of a pre-order strategy depends on whether or not different aspects and processes through the product sales journey function in tandem. Your team must have a marketing expert and a developer.
All your team members must have complete knowledge about the product and need to be passionate. To make your pre-order strategy a success, it is important for your team members to have a complete understanding of the product/service.
Moreover, they should be aware of the progress of the campaign to be able to answer any incoming queries.
Are you a pre-order manager? Here’s how you should be thinking and the experts you need.
2. Prepare your product description
Selling a product that’s ready and working is difficult. Imagine how difficult it must be to sell something that’s not yet ready. But don’t fret. You don’t have the product, but you have the details.
Use your creativity to create an impressive, informative product description. Share as much as possible to get customers interested in the product – product pictures, descriptive details such as size, colors, material, etc.
You could also share behind the scene videos or photos.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re getting things together:
- Share clear details of the product along with visuals and videos
- Include zoomed-in product photos that help customers better understand product features
- Set up a ‘Pre-Order Now’ call to action that helps customers take the desired action towards checkout
- Allow customers to pay via different methods or contact you to learn more about payments for pre-orders
- Incite FOMO by limiting the quantity of the upcoming product or the period for placing a pre-order
- Offer discounts as incentives for early birds to encourage more pre-orders
Here’s a good example of a pre-order strategy in place:
3. Set up a pre-order button on the product/collection page
When you’re setting up a pre-order product page, make it clear that the product is up for pre-order. Don’t confuse customers by adding too many tabs such as ‘Buy now’, ‘Out of stock’, and ‘Pre order’ altogether.
Let the pre-order button be the highlight of the page.
Appikon’s Pre-Order Today app can help you set up pre-order buttons on the product and collection pages that are soon to hit the store. The app automatically swaps the ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’ button with the ‘Pre-order Now’ call-to-action. This removes any kind of distraction there may be on the page.
Here’s an example of the pre-order button on a product page:
4. Create a preorder shipping and cancellation policy
It’s important to think of shipping and cancellation policies before you start your pre-order campaign. This will help you consider all the necessary details that should be shared with customers beforehand. These are the points you should take care of:
- Mention clearly, the date the products will be available and be dispatched. It’s easy to share this information on the product page itself, preferably next to the ‘Pre-Order’ button
- Let the customers know that they will be informed once their orders have been shipped and sent shipment tracking details
- The cancellation policies will depend on your particular brand. While some brands allow cancellation at any time, some have a time limit
- Depending on whether or not you have charged the customers part of full payments for pre-orders, you should inform customers about cancellation charges, if any
- A good idea is to include your policies in the pre-order confirmation communication you send across
5. Plan out your marketing campaign
For marketing strategies to be effective, they need to be planned well before execution. The same applies to the pre-order marketing strategy. There’s a lot that it involves: deciding the platforms, creating content calendars, writing content, designing creatives, SEO strategies, paid adverts, and more.
For instance, here’s a draft of what your pre-order marketing plan will look like:
Before pre-order campaign
Marketing activities done before the launch of a pre-order campaign are much more important than the day the product launches.
- Include SEO activities for organic traffic
- Content marketing and paid advertising for generating traffic from different channels
- Plan discounts, offers, and incentives to improve pre-order sales
During pre-order campaign
Once your product/ collection is launched, stay flexible to make changes to your marketing activities based on the performance.
- Send out emails and publish content for different stages of the sales funnel
- When you notice pre-order sales reducing, put in efforts to push more orders
- For continued pre-order sign-ups, continue your marketing activities
After pre-order campaign
Once your pre-order campaign is over, use the contacts and data collected to build customer relations and push future sales.
- Plan emails and content for different channels to keep customers engaged
- Ask for feedback and reviews to engage customers
- Send product recommendations to customers
6. Use urgency to drive pre-order conversions
Customers that are already excited about your product will preorder easily. But what about visiting customers? You’ll have to make an effort to get them to order.
Creating a sense of urgency works well to drive pre-orders. The psychology of scarcity and the fear of being left out are often used as marketing tactics to persuade audiences to take any action on what is being presented to them.
Here are some ways to nudge your store visitors to place a pre-order:
- Present the product in a way that it comes across as a unique one
- Set a deadline for placing pre-orders
- Create a sense of scarcity. Eg., ‘Only 10 available’
- Offer discounts and incentives for early birds
7. Manage your pre-order orders separately
When you run pre-order campaigns, It’s important to prioritize your pre-order customers. You can’t afford to upset customers who have placed pre-orders with communication that is not relevant to them.
It’s best to manage your pre-order orders separately. This will help avoid confusion or missing out on pre-order customers when the product is finally in your store. It might seem like a difficult task, but you don’t have to do it manually.
Shopify Pre-order Today app shows you pre-orders on your inventory dashboard as well as within the app. It collects all pre-order information in one place – customer details, product/collection pre-ordered, contact details, and more.
What’s more, the app allows you to export data to a CSV file and use it for personalized marketing.
8. Manage customer experience and expectations
Today’s customers expect the best experience when shopping from brands. 86% of customers are willing to pay for a great customer experience (CX). CX also influences on-the-spot purchases. A study shows 49% of customers ended up buying on impulse when brands provided personalized recommendations.
To offer a great online shopping experience to consumers, brands need to be able to answer their questions before, during, and after they place a pre-order on the store.
For example, customers might want to know when they would receive their orders, or whether or not the product is available for their location. Implementing a live chat is one of the best ways to address their concerns.
Customers expect brands to keep in touch with them once they place a pre-order. Here’s a list of communication they expect from you:
- Thank you or confirmation emails once an order has been placed
- Updates of when the product will be dispatched and when it will reach them
- Shipment tracking details
- Follow-up email – ‘Hope you like your recent purchase’
Here are the 4 key stages of customer decision making and expectations from brands they interact with:
9. Continue building a buzz around the product
Your product might be ground-breaking, revolutionary, or out of the world. But unless you spread the word about it, customers aren’t going to be aware of it. That’s why you need to continue building a buzz around your product even post-launch.
There are several ways to do so:
- Create another marketing strategy to promote products once they hit the store
- Collaborate with influencers to promote your products
- Send press releases to media publications to feature your new product/ collection
- Run paid ad campaigns on search and social media
- Publish content through the product life cycle
- Ask for referrals from your existing customers and get word of mouth marketing going
Have you planned your pre-order sales strategy right?
Whether you’re someone who’s just starting out, adding a new product/ collection to the store, or thinking of restocking one that went out-of-stock, having a pre-order strategy is like securing your sales and revenue – before the market or trend changes.
So if you haven’t already, we hope this guide helps you get a high-converting pre-order sales strategy in place!
Ready to let your Shopify store visitors place a pre-order?