When you accept pre-orders, you allow customers to order an item ahead of time, before it’s available, with the understanding that it will be shipped later.
Amazon, for example, often lets shoppers pre-order books at a discounted price a few months before they’re released. Phones, laptops, and video game consoles are often available for pre-order to generate hype and buzz. Restaurants offer pre-orders for holiday cookies and Thanksgiving turkeys.
But why? And how can pre-orders help your business?
The benefits of accepting pre-orders
1. Judge interest in a new product.
Launching a new product can be scary. What if no one likes it?
But pre-orders can take a lot of the uncertainty and risk off of the table. By sharing your product with people in your target audience, you can judge their interest and learn whether or not they’d actually purchase before you spend a lot of money on inventory. This is also an opportunity to evaluate your pricing and make any necessary adjustments before you officially launch.
2. Improve cash flow.
One of the challenges that come with launching a new business or product is managing cash flow. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money?” Well, it’s very often true. But it can be difficult to have the money needed upfront to manufacture in large volumes.
With pre-orders, you can generate revenue before manufacturing your products. You’ll also have a much better idea of how much inventory you need on hand.
3. Create buzz around a product launch.
People that pre-order want to feel special, like trendsetters. After all, they’re among the first in the world to get their hands on a brand new product!
That’s exactly why pre-orders are such a great buzz-generator. Not only do people want to set trends, they also want to tell others — their friends and family members — about the trends they’re setting. They’re excited and proud to share the news for you! That, paired with an effective launch campaign, can give your new product or business a huge head start.
4. Understand how many items you’ll need to create.
As we mentioned earlier, manufacturing can be expensive. You don’t want to waste money on too much inventory, but you also want to make sure you have enough. With pre-orders, you know exactly how much inventory you need to get started and also gain a good idea of how much to manufacture moving forward.
Learn more about why you should sell your product before you make it.
Tips for pre-orders
1. Create a landing page just for your pre-orders.
Yes, product pages are great, but landing pages provide an opportunity to deliver more information to potential customers. In most cases, your product (or even your business!) is unproven, so you need to convey as much trust as possible.
Start by including clear, high-quality photos of your product, from a variety of angles. Make sure that color and size are conveyed accurately and, if you sell clothing, consider including pictures of people wearing it.
Then, add details like measurements, ingredients and nutritional information, age ranges, and anything else that would help people make a purchase decision. Money-back guarantees, certifications, and testimonials (if you have any at this point) also go a long way towards creating trust.
Finally, make sure to include several purchase buttons, distributed throughout the page. Present your site visitors with multiple opportunities to buy without going overboard.
Want to write descriptions that sell? Check out this post for tips.
2. Be specific about when items will ship.
Pre-order customers are putting a certain amount of faith in you when they purchase, knowing they won’t receive their product right away. So, on your landing page, be very clear about when their order will ship and stick to it! Make sure that your manufacturing and delivery processes are in place to meet your timeline.
3. Build awareness ahead of time.
Create anticipation before you open for pre-orders with an effective marketing campaign. There are several ways to do this, and you may want to implement more than one!
- Paid advertising. Pay for ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to reach a new audience or people that have previously visited your site. Learn more about online advertising.
- Social media marketing. Periodically share posts on your social media accounts in the weeks leading up to pre-order availability. Let followers know what’s coming up and how to purchase. Learn more about social media marketing.
- Email marketing. If you already have a customer list, reach out to them via email to let them know about pre-orders. As existing customers, you can make them feel special by giving them the opportunity to purchase your items early. Learn more about email marketing.
- Influencer marketing. Send social media influencers samples ahead of time in exchange for their honest review. This is a great way to reach a new audience and gather testimonials you can use on landing pages. Learn more about influencer marketing.
Read our article about generating quick wins for your online store for more marketing ideas.
4. Offer an incentive.
So why should your pre-order customers buy something they won’t receive right away? Typically, you want to offer them some sort of bonus.
One option is a discount, like 10% off, for purchasing early. You could also throw in a free accessory or add-on when you ship the product. Or, sell an exclusive package only available for pre-order that includes multiple items that all go together.
5. Consider limiting pre-order availability.
FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a powerful motivator! Add this strategy to your pre-orders in a couple of different ways:
- Include a time-based countdown. Consider only opening for pre-orders for a few hours or days and make it very clear to customers that they’ll miss out if they don’t order within a certain time window.
- Limit the number of pre-orders you accept. By only allowing a certain number of people to purchase your new product ahead of time, you establish the feeling of exclusivity that trendsetters are really looking for.
Want to learn more about this strategy? Read our post about creating urgency.
6. Track everything!
Make sure that you set up tracking on your site before you launch pre-orders. This will provide you with valuable information about who purchased your product and where they came from. You can use this information to market to those customers and reach new, similar audiences.
7. Don’t stop marketing once products are delivered.
After you fulfill all of your pre-orders, the work doesn’t stop! Start by reaching out to the people who ordered your products to request reviews, encourage them to share their purchase with friends, and ask them questions about their experience. This helps you reach potential customers and gain valuable information that can help you improve iterations of your product.
You also don’t want to let the momentum die. Invest the revenue you generated from pre-orders back into inventory, product development, or marketing.
Which of your marketing strategies led to the most orders? Continue running ads, sending emails, or partnering with influencers when you officially launch the product.
Start accepting pre-orders today
Pre-orders are an incredibly effective way to generate buzz around a new product, earn money for manufacturing, and learn about the interest level in your item.
The WooCommerce Pre-Orders extension provides everything you need to accept pre-orders online. Choose to accept payments upfront or after your product has shipped, add release dates to product pages, send emails to pre-order customers, and more.
Get started with WooCommerce Pre-Orders today.