How Preorders Can Make Your Online Store Better

Balancing inventory with customer demand can feel like walking a tightrope.

If you don’t have enough inventory, then you’ll sell out and likely lose sales. If you have too much inventory, then you’ll likely have to offer discounts to clear it out, which can eat into profits. 

Managing inventory well is about striking that perfect balance between demand and supply. You want to get it just right.

Offering Shopify preorder sales is one way to help you keep your inventory in check. A lot of merchants understand how it can help you increase sales. But what many don’t realize is that running preorders also comes with a wider range of benefits.

In this article, I discuss how preorder sales help you increase sales, improve marketing, better manage your inventory, stay competitive, and why it’s an important addition for stores of all sizes. 

Shopify Preorder Sales Benefits include increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, better inventory management, enhanced marketing, and gaining a competitive edge.

1. Increased Sales

One of the biggest benefits Shopify store owners enjoy by enabling preorders is increased sales. Offering pre-orders allows you to receive income immediately before the product is available. This helps you sustain a consistent cash flow.

Earlier this year, I preordered an expansion pack to the game Final Fantasy XVI: Rising Tides. The additional content was segmented into 2 parts each with its own launch date. By purchasing the full pack I was given access to the first part immediately, and I was guaranteed the second part when it launched at later date.

By essentially allowing customers to preorder the second part of the expansion pack, the gaming developers were able to generate a large portion of revenue even before the rest of it launched. This helped them report cash flow and revenue in earlier quarters. It also boosts sales in the sense that I will be a guaranteed customer when the second part of the expansion launches.

Another way to look at how preorders can boost your overall sales volume is that they capture the interest of customers who are willing to secure their purchase now. This ensures you’re not losing sales because of eager customers who search elsewhere for similar products.

Another interesting note is that:

“Consumers who preorder are more likely to purchase a high-price, high-performance option rather than a low-price, low-performance option.”

Jun, Kim, and Park, 2019

If you sell variants with different price ranges, preorders can help you push more of the higher-priced options, further increasing sales.

2. Improved Customer Satisfaction

Clearing out your inventory from a sales surge feels good as a Shopify store owner. It indicates strong demand and successful sales.

However, when a customer visits your store to purchase an item and finds the item sold out, they will likely be disappointed.

In this way, strong sales can be a double-edged sword.

Product availability has a particular flow where the status of each product may be drafted, in preview, active or closed. Strategic management of products at each of these stages will improve customer satisfaction:

  1. Products that are drafted are not available for purchase on your store and will not create any unwanted demand.
  2. Products that are available for preview with a “Coming Soon” label will set correct expectations with customers and help curb any dissatisfaction that comes from products being sold out.
  3. Active products with preorders enabled will reduce customer frustration and impatience, help to retain customers for the future and give customers a feeling of exclusivity.
  4. Closed products with back-in-stock alerts enabled offer customers an option to receive a notification when products are back in stock. Customers will appreciate the communication, building trust and loyalty.

Following all of the stages above ensures that the flow of product availability is handled well from beginning to end and improves customer satisfaction by reducing the chances of customer disappointment.

I used to work for Bell Canada at the retail store, where most of my day was spent selling cell phones. We did not have any kind of preorder process for iPhones or other popular phones when they launched – it was first come first serve.

When a new iPhone launched, we would usually sell out 1 hour after opening in the morning. For the rest of the day, we were consoling disappointed customers who were expecting to pick up a phone that day.

Most of these customers would go to other carriers in the mall to try and get the phone. They were willing to switch carriers and even break their phone contracts in some cases in order to get it!

Being sold out of a product is a challenging scenario for you and your customers. Preorders, coming soon labels, and back-in-stock alerts help you manage this challenge better.

3. Better Inventory Management

Offering preorders allows you to forecast demand and make decisions about how much inventory to order, and when you’ll need it. 

If you run a preorder on an upcoming product and get 50 preorders in one week, then you can look at your supply options and decide if it makes sense to continue offering preorders for another week.

This data provides insights into customer demand, helping you to adjust your inventory levels accordingly. By aligning your inventory plans with actual customer interest, you’re more likely to avoid overstocking or understocking. This in turn leads to cost savings.

I also briefly worked at a company that sold food ingredients to food manufacturers. For example, we would sell organic flax seeds to bread manufacturers across North America.

We barely kept any stock in our warehouse, as we would normally ship straight from producer to factory. When new products would come out, we would run preorders so that we could precisely determine exactly how much we would need on launch.

This process allowed us to keep a near-to-zero inventory, which was as cost-effective as possible for our team.

4. Enhanced Marketing

Preorders and coming soon labels create a buzz and excitement with your customers that has significant benefits for your store and marketing overall.

When customers are eager to purchase and have the option to order ahead, they are generally willing to share their email address which you can use for further marketing efforts. This email list is valuable for future campaigns when you might have limited edition products in the future.

I once bought a winter coat from a Shopify store – the store was called Noize and probably isn’t too well known.

After I bought the coat, I forgot about the company since winter coats tend to be a one-time purchase. But they’ve managed to stay connected by emailing me occasionally when new collections launch on their store, and I’ve found myself going back to see what’s new.

This is a good example of how email lists and email marketing help retain customers who might have only made one casual purchase.

The buzz and excitement from preorder sales ripples through social media communities, too.

“Previous studies (Nisara, et al., 2018; Xiong, et al., 2014) have indicated a positive impact of buzz on social media performance and have found that buzz through social media communities enhances a company’s reputation and thus its performance.”

Xiong & Bharadwaj, 2014

Customers who order ahead might share the status of their preorder on social media sites like Instagram. They may also interact with friends in direct messages or comment sections about the preorder as well.

5. Competitive Edge

Let’s face it – you want to be better than your competitors. You want your customers to see you as the better option. You want your brand to be the top choice when customers think of your products or services.

Offering pre-orders, back-in-stock alerts, and Coming Soon labels on your store sets your store apart from competitors who may not be doing this. Small details like this get noticed by customers and lead them to choose you when they evaluate which option is best.

Offering pre-orders, back-in-stock alerts, and Coming Soon labels sets your store apart from competitors who may not be doing this.

It also shows that you value your customers’ interest by making the effort to communicate the status of your inventory and products. You value your customer’s time and are committed to keeping them informed.

Earlier this year I surveyed about 600 Shopify stores to ask them what challenges they faced running their online store. One of the top responses was “staying competitive”. It’s hard to stay competitive when you offer similar products at a similar price point, so it’s important to make sure you are constantly raising the bar for yourself.

By offering preorders, you can also capture market share from competitors who may not provide this option, giving you a strategic advantage in attracting and retaining customers.

A preorder app will automate important features for you, like limiting the number of preorders sold.

Conclusion

So, you’ve learned about the benefits of running preorder sales. You can see how they will not only increase sales, but help you offer a better customer experience, manage your inventory better, and stay competitive.

Now you may find yourself wondering how to set up preorders on your Shopify store. Well, the great thing about Shopify preorders is that it’s easy to get started with an app.

A preorder app will automate important features for you, such as communicating shipping timelines and delays, or limiting the number of preorder sales that can be sold so that you can continue to meet demand. 

You’ll also have a much easier set-up process which will ultimately save you time. 

The best app for to run preorder sales on your store is Preorder Pro + Back in Stock.

The app makes managing preorders easier than ever. You can follow these instructions to set up Preorder Pro + Back in Stock to your store.

I hope this article has given you the motivation to make positive changes to your store today, enabling you to create a better shopping experience for your customers and drive your business’s success. If you’d like to explore preorders further before getting started, you can learn more in our Guide to Shopify Preorders.


Preorder Pro + Back in Stock

Everything you need to add pre-order, coming soon, and back in stock alerts to your shop.