Preorders give your customers the opportunity to reserve a product(s) from your store before they’re actually available to buy. More and more retailers and suppliers are opting for this e-commerce option as it gives them a solid idea of item demands. Plus, it provides a guaranteed number of sales before the product has even dropped.

However, if preorders aren’t handled right - specifically in terms of customer service - the reputation of your business could become compromised. Here are 5 preorder hacks that every brand needs to consider…

Why should a company do this?

Before we jump in, it’s useful to know why a company would benefit from incorporating a preorder service:

- Boost revenue: By taking preorders, businesses have the opportunity to start selling and earning money sooner. Meaning they’ve got a much larger window to begin selling their products/services.

- Form excitement about your product/company: A preorder option can build hype surrounding your business and product or service. Successful marketing strategies can create anticipation in customers, not to mention instil a FOMO aspect to your new or upcoming drops.

- Predict future demand: Preorders can provide businesses with an early indication of future demand. Not to mention generating a solid idea of the number of products/materials that need to be invested in. 

1. Market them right on social media

Everyone is on social media these days, which means you need to make sure your brand is front and center on multiple platforms - especially when it comes to preorders. They can be the ideal promotion for your products, as campaigns can focus on creating excitement and momentum around the imminent release of your item. 

So, when looking into strategies, include paid advertisements on different social media sites, eg Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And if your business is big on other platforms, like TikTok, utilise the audience there to entice your target audience, too.

2. Communication is everything 

Once you’ve launched and tested your preorder campaign on socials, make sure you keep your customers in the loop in other ways. For example, by dropping emails to your list of subscribers detailing the current status of their order, and just thanking them for their custom. Plus, clear info detailing the release date of the product. 

This could also include shedding light on the manufacturing process and keeping them updated on the predicted shipping and delivery dates, including if they change. 

It’s also important you share info if your items end up being shipped later than the original date. While you may not want to share if there are delays, your customers are more likely to appreciate your transparency as it shows them you care. And in e-commerce, trust is everything. 

It’s vital for building customer loyalty and maintaining reputation, which are key success and longevity factors for a business. 

There are a few other communication points that your customers will be grateful for, too, including: 

- Detailing how many items are available for preorder

- Any terms and conditions that may apply

- Your cancellation timeline (if you offer this)

- Payment methods that are accepted

- Expected shipping or delivery date

- Excellent customer service

3. A hassle-free preorder payment strategy

Sometimes, consumers may be a little dubious about ordering things online. Which is why it’s integral that businesses have a simple, clear and accessible process that customers can follow. In terms of preordering, the two following methods are the most hassle-free options for a smooth, faultless buying process:

- Authorise a buyer’s credit card details and charge it automatically once the product has been shipped.

- Accept the preorder but ask for payment once the product has been restocked. (Although a simple and legitimate choice, you do run the risk of the customer cancelling the order should they find another in-stock version of the product from another retailer.)

While requesting full payment in advance is also an option, it’s not as popular amongst consumers, as many feel uncomfortable paying for something that is physically unavailable at the time of purchase. The only time when this payment strategy could be non-negotiable is if the item is unique or very valuable.

4. Your timelines need to be kept short

In retail, the worst thing you can do is keep your customers waiting for a long time. If you’re going to offer a preorder option, make sure that the time between ordering and the product being back in stock isn’t too big.

A two-week to two-month timeline is pretty standard - the latter being more common if the product is one-of-a-kind, more expensive, or made to order. 

These timeframes work well with preorders - any longer than this (we’re talking from over two months to a year) - customers will rightly lose interest in the product, source it elsewhere, forget about it, or simply re-evaluate whether they actually need the item. 

5. Keep up the momentum

So, plenty of customers have preordered your hot new product. What now? Well, it’s simple, really. Make sure it gets to them in one piece, and within your stated timelines. (Referring back to the communication section should you encounter bumps along the way.)

We get that this step isn’t directly related to the preorder process, but it does boost your brand’s reputation if you deliver what you promised right from the start. For example, if your products always arrive late or in poor condition, who’s going to be pumped for a new item? Or realistically, who’s going to preorder from you again?

The e-commerce journey is just that - a journey. So every step of the process needs to flow.

Utilise the success of the preorder

Whether you’ve been offering the preorder option to your customers since you first launched, or you’re looking to incorporate it into your retail strategy, it’s a useful tool (that when done right) can really boost the success of your brand.