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The Power of Pre-Orders: The Right Way To Build Hype and Validate a Product

calendar 2021-10-14 | glass 8 min read | user Ricky Hayes
Power of Pre-orders

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Most business owners value views, likes, followers, and a huge email list.

I mean, who doesn't love that?

Now, while views, likes, followers, and huge email lists are good...

But having these doesn't mean you can now sell like gangbusters.

Here's what I mean...

It's like having a bunch of visitors daily who admire your products and leave, buying nothing.

Listen, we're in the market to build a business. I won't mind spending money on blogs, videos, and influencers only if they create a paid value exchange for me.

Pre-orders do just that for your business.

And they do a lot more than that!

So, what is a pre-order? Why is it essential for your business? What goes into creating a killer pre-order strategy? 

That's exactly what we're going to cover in today's article. 

Let's jump straight in…

What Is A Pre-Order?

A pre-order is an order placed for an item that is not yet commercially launched or available.

Offering pre-orders means you let customers reserve things in advance. It is a product validation process that allows businesses to reduce risk and create hype.

Having customers paying money for your idea before it's ready is the best motivation you can get.

But as they say, different strokes for different folks.

Things will work differently for a startup offering pre-orders than established brands. For example, sometimes, brands use this strategy to test the demand for their next launch. 

So, you know it's not always about having instant sales. You can use this strategy to test the waters if you're planning to launch something big and unusual.

If your products are exclusive, customers will buy them before they land on the market.  

Let's take the example of the iPhone 12 and PS5 here. Both tech products were available for a pre-order way before their actual launch date.

Pre-order for Play Station

And it's not just branded products that are available for pre-order.

Many small-scale brands also ask customers to pre-order stuff.

Blowout cards can be a good example.

They ask customers to reserve their hottest products before they're released.

Blowout card pre-orders

But like anything else, pre-orders won't work for everyone.

Let's dive into the following section to see if this strategy has potential for your business. 

When Would You Offer Preorders?

The amount of investment that goes into running a physical store is enormous.

You invest your days and nights developing a product that may or may not sell in the market.

I know you have done market research.

But admit that the entire idea of launching a product revolves around your gut feeling.

Speaking of the production process...

Mostly, there are independent suppliers involved. That means you need to confirm the availability of materials before you commit anything further.

Those vendors ship parts to your assembly partner.

And from there, you can pick, pack, and deliver products to your customers.

The entire process isn't just strenuous, but time-consuming too.

Now, imagine creating a product that customers are not willing to buy. The entire idea of running a business goes into the trash.

After all, there is no business without customers.

Offering pre-orders before launching a product is an excellent way to validate your idea.

Here's when you would offer pre-orders…

Your Goal Is To Build Hype

Do you want to create a buzz around your collection? Offer pre-orders. 

You can also take it a step further and announce a limited pre-order supply for your buyers. 

For example, you can offer 30 pre-orders spots (on a first-come, first-serve basis). 

The fear of missing out will encourage your customers to pre-book their orders right away. 

Pre-orders may also do wonders for you if...

Your Goal Is To 'PLEASE' Your Buyers With Unlimited Quantity Of High-Demand Products

Is there a product or collection you launched previously with high demand? Something you launched with limited quantity earlier? If you answered yes, I have good news for you.

You can use pre-orders to please your customers with an unlimited supply of your high-demand products.

Don't forget to use Debutify's Back in Stock add-on to notify customers about the back-in-stock status of items they missed earlier.

You can also nurture loyalty with your pre-order strategy. Here's how...

Your Goal Is To Grant Early Access To Your VIP Customers

Keeping your VIP customers happy can be the best thing you can do for your business.

They not only will contribute to your conversion funnel but also recommend your brand to others.

Luckily, your pre-order strategy can help you with this too.

All you need to do is grant pre-order access to your loyal customers.

It is the same as asking your VIP buyers to go behind the rope while others stand in a queue.

Who doesn't like VIP treatment? We all do.

You can reach through a targeted email and let your loyal customers know how special they are. 

While most businesses can benefit from pre-orders, they are not for you if:

  • Your suppliers are not reliable, or you often face issues receiving things from them on time.
  • You work on retail platforms like Amazon or eBay. Why? Because these platforms support quick delivery. You may lose your account in case of late deliveries and negative feedback

So yes, like anything else, pre-orders also have their limitations. 

It would be better to have a clear idea of what you can or cannot achieve using this tactic. Doing so will help you manage expectations. 

Also, it would be easier for you to plan better.

I'd like to discuss the pros and cons of pre-orders in the following section.

This will give you a better idea of what you should or shouldn't expect using this strategy.

Pros And Cons Of Offering Pre-Ordered Products

Pros And Cons Of Offering Pre-Ordered Products

Let's start with the benefits first…

Guaranteed Sales And Revenue

Pre-orders result in guaranteed sales for your business. And guaranteed sales mean guaranteed revenue. 

You Can Determine The Demand For Your Products

With pre-orders, you can also determine the future demand for your products. 

It is easy to predict that customers want your products if all pre-order spots fill in no time.   

You Can Build Hype And Validate Product

With a winning pre-order strategy, you can create a buzz around your collection. By allowing customers to pre-book limited slots, you'll make them feel they're buying something really valuable.

Also, others will feel that they should join the clan ASAP.

You Don't Have To Worry About Unsold Inventory

Selling products before they even arrive will remove the risk of unsold inventory. Startups will benefit greatly from this.

A few perils…

The Risk Factor Is Always There

Pre-order guarantees sales of a few specific items. That means you can't build your complete strategy around it.

You're Dependent On Your Supplier

The success of your pre-order strategy depends on the efficiency of your supplier. So, if you're unsure about them or their performance, this strategy can cause more harm than good.

Using It On Retail Platforms Is Out Of The Question

As discussed above, customers who buy from Amazon or eBay expect fast deliveries. You can't ask them to pay for something and wait using one of those platforms. 

I hope you have a clear idea of what you can or cannot expect from a pre-order strategy at this point. Let's dig deeper and explore some practical aspects...

How To Do Pre-Order Business? (Choosing Your Pre-Order Method)

How To Do Pre-Order Business? (Choosing Your Pre-Order Method)

Here are the 3 most common types or pre-orders you can offer:

1. Pay Now: This is the simplest of all. Your customers will pay you upfront for the products. The only trouble is sometimes customers' regular orders get mixed up with their pre-orders. This may result in complicated delivery costs and communication issues.

2. Pay Later: You can also send your customers payment links to pay later. They can complete their checkout process through your store. Again, sometimes customers change their minds. If that happens, you might not be able to collect all requested payments.

3. Crowdfunding: When you accept the pre-orders through a campaign page. This involves extended delivery times like 6 to 8 months. The only downside of using this option is you might end up targeting early adopters and not your ideal customers. You don't want that.

You Need A Strategy If You Want To Get The Most Of Your Pre-Orders...

Today's business owners need to learn one thing. They can't automate every task to drive growth.

Whether it's social media, content, or pre-orders, you will need a strategy to move forward. 

Wondering how you can build an effective pre-order strategy for your business? Head over to the next section to find out...

Building An Effective E-commerce Pre-Order Strategy

Only Promote New Products For Pre-Orders

Do you have a new product launch in the pipeline?

Launch it through pre-orders. Sure, you can also use pre-orders to announce back-in-stock alerts. But this tactic usually works when the demand for your products is too high.

Online visitors like to be the first to buy a new item. So, unveil all your new or upcoming products via pre-orders.

You should also...

Advertise Your Pre-Order Campaigns On Social Media

Social media can be the best place for promoting your pre-order campaigns. Retarget those who visited your pre-order page but bought nothing.

You can also create and publish a video showcasing your campaign highlights.

Don't forget to...

Add Urgency To A Purchase By Offering Incentives

Throw in a limited-time discount offer on pre-orders. This will push your customers and encourage them to take timely action

Add Urgency To A Purchase By Offering Incentives

The very essence of using a pre-order strategy is to build hype. For this, you have to...

Spread The Word

The more you spread the word, the better your current customers will respond to your campaign. Send out an email to every customer on your list. 

Also, add T&Cs, the total quantity of products available for pre-orders, and other details.

Play It Safe With Pre-Orders...

Every new idea needs validation.

Pre-ordering is an amazing tool to drive sales for your next product launch. 

The best part?

It takes the guesswork out of the process.

As always, Debutify will help you spice up your pre-order campaign like no other tool.

Use Debutify to notify your customers of what's back in stock. Also, our order-tracking add-on will help buyers track the delivery of their pre-orders in real-time.

Push Your Pre-Order Sales With Debutify's Growing Arsenal Of Sales-Boosting Add-Ons

14-Day Trial. 1 Click Installation. No Credit Card Required.

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Written by

Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.

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