Don’t Just Digitize Your Organization: Transform It

The Power of Pre-Ordering:
How Retailers Can Maximize
the Feature

When a shopper clicks to buy their favorite brand of perfume, and sees that it is out of stock, what do they do? In this saturated e-commerce world, they may move on to another retailer. As soon as the consumer finds a place that has the perfume available, they check out. The first retailer misses a sale.

A similar scenario can play out for up-and-coming products. A retailer may be in the process of designing and manufacturing a new item. If customers are unaware of its pending arrival, how can they buy it? Again, shoppers may visit other places to see what’s new. Even if they don’t, there are no sales made before the product launches.

The pre-order function resolves both issues. It helps retailers retain customers even when supplies diminish. It also enables companies to forecast sales. It can make it easier to monitor cash flow and manage the supply chain. When used well, it increases interest and boosts profitability.

Tapping into the power of the pre-order function isn’t as simple as making sure it appears on a website. It must be placed correctly. Shoppers need to know how to use it. The button should lead to information that clearly lays out what to expect. It can even offer customers special benefits to help them get exactly what they want. At its best, the pre-order function creates more channels of communication and gets customers excited about what’s to come.

Who Needs the Pre-Order Feature

For retailers struggling with supply chain delays, the pre-order button brings relief. When inventory drops, firms can still extend an offer to customers. An online shopper might see that an item is not currently available. A note can be included alongside the “out of stock” message. It can direct customers to place an order now. A pre-order function could also allow shoppers to place a hold on the item. They might be charged when the product ships.

Customers who regularly purchase from a certain brand may prefer a pre-order feature. They may be part of a loyalty program through the retailer. By reserving an item that is out-of-stock, they are still investing in their rewards. They don’t have to go through the hassle of finding a different retailer that carries the item they want. They can avoid sharing their payment information and entering details in an unfamiliar site.

For retailers that want to offer loyalty members sneak peeks of upcoming products, the pre-order button is essential. Videos of the new item can be shared with VIP customers. Email messages can share details about its benefits. Text messages can keep them updated on when the product will arrive. Ongoing communication builds awareness. It also provides opportunities to interact more with customer groups.

Where to Place the Pre-Order Button

Making the pre-order button easy-to-spot is the first step. If customers can’t see the option, they won’t act. It must be large enough to catch attention on any screen. This includes mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.

The button must also include or lead to information on what to expect. Customers should be given details regarding the transaction, including dates and payment requirements. If they will be charged immediately, they will need to know approximately how long they need to wait for the item. If they will pay a deposit now and the balance later, they should know. Items that will be charged when they are shipped need to have dates listed too. Consumers will want to know the shipping and delivery estimates.

How to Generate Interest

For up-and-coming items, consumers need to be given a reason to care. What new features can they expect? What will it provide that they can’t find elsewhere? If possible, videos that show what the product will look like can spur on enthusiasm. Pictures and bulleted lists of benefits can help too.

Clothing items that fall in line with trends could be promoted to fashion followers. If runway shows display high end brands, middle market retailers might show shoppers how they will create similar pieces. The price point could fall in the customers’ budget. Attire that looks smart could drive demand.

Exclusivity also speaks. Companies might give loyalty members the chance to buy a product before others have access to it. They could sign up for an item, pay for it, and receive it early. They may be asked for feedback on the product. Asking for their input and giving them an item ahead of the crowd are ways to cater to the VIP audience.

Why Personalization is Powerful

Today’s shoppers are looking for more ways to get exactly what they imagine. If they see a new car, they may be attracted to its automated features. They might also want the model in a specific color. If they are dreaming of a metallic brown, they’ll be disappointed if the shade isn’t available. However, the chance to choose the color they want could lead them to make the purchase.

Pre-order buttons can lead consumers down a path filled with choice. Perhaps they can select the color they want for a car that will be created just for them. They might also choose what upgrades will best suit their needs. Maybe they opt for seats that warm up and remote starting. They might pass on video screens for passengers.

Providing customization helps customers feel they are being treated well. It also reduces waste and loss in the supply chain. Luxury items can be produced after they are ordered. Lower-ticket products could be made with the same standard base. Customers would then have the chance to add their personal touches to create a finished product.

What Influencers Can Do

Social media presents the opportunity to share up-and-coming products with an audience. Ambassadors can provide a “reveal” video. The footage could show them using the item, if they have early access to it. Or they might talk about why they are excited to see the latest version of a product.

Online communities might request input from members on what they would like to see. A group could collectively brainstorm and share ideas. A company might take their insight and create a product. The members could then sign up to receive the item as soon as it is made.

Why Pre-Order Helps Cash Flow

When it comes to transactions, the pre-order button offers a higher level of control. Brands can ask for payments to be made before the products are distributed. This gives them an influx of cash before shipping takes place. If payments are made later, it clarifies revenue forecasts.

The pre-order also reduces waste and cost. If customers are able to choose the type of merchandise they would like, production orders can be aligned with their requests. There is less risk of inventory that sits idle. Overall, it is easier to predict demand.

The pre-order button isn’t brand new to the online world. To make full use of its potential, retailers must have a plan for the feature. To increase profitability, the button should be easy to see and use. It should also promise a thrill that makes customers eager to pay. Their anticipation will be rewarded when a shipment arrives at their doorstep.

Gerard Szatvanyi

Author: Gerard Szatvanyi

As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.