Pre-Orders, Fulfillment, and E-commerce: 3PL comes to the rescue
If you dream of a successful launch of a new product on the market - this post is just for you. Pre-orders are a really great marketing way to build a media crowd around a product that still... is impossible to buy physically.
Until now, the gaming industry has most willingly used this tactic, but other industries have followed suit. Focusing marketing efforts to create excitement for your product long before its launch date, or even before the manufacturing process starts, boost sales more than any other marketing trick up your sleeve.
Let's check out how can you use the pre-order strategy effectively and why should your e-commerce store use third-party logistics (3PL) to secure its' success.
What are pre-orders and why you should use them?
Pre-order in online business is a way of advance payment for a product before its release date. There are no limits to the products that could be distributed in the pre-order model. Latest tech gadgets, mobile phones, consoles, clothes, games - the list goes on.
From the point of view of both e-commerce and customers, pre-order is a real win-win situation: customers have a certain guarantee of order delivery at a predetermined estimated date - as soon as the desired product appears on the market. The store, in turn, is guaranteed with some certain quantity of sales. What's more, there are other benefits as well. Having someone items' ordered before it even reaches the warehouse has its obvious perks:
- easy estimating the demand lowering the risk of unsold stock,
- mitigating financial risk - the pre-orders can vastly secure the funds necessary for finance manufacturing costs and has a warranty of getting minimum sales level,
- it's a great marketing technique that bumps up the hype and anticipation around the pre-order product,
- limited pre-orders work as a great way for boosting the price tag, especially when it comes to exclusive products.
Pre-ordering the goods is a highly emotional decision for many consumers. The fear of missing out (FOMO) and the excitement built on social media channels build hype which sets the bar quite high for the end product and the entire sales experience. There is a very obvious conclusion from this psychology tendency: it is a good idea to focus on limited pre-ordering and thus focus on building online business awareness through word-of-mouth marketing and impulse buying.
To run a successful pre-order campaign both product, as well as its delivery, has to be of top quality.
How to play pre-ordering from a marketing point of view?
When running an e-business you will face many challenges - but also many opportunities that e-commerce offers. Online sales are more and more popular nowadays, which (unfortunately) also translates into higher and higher expectations of buyers.
So how to wisely use the lure, which is a pre-order - and win potential customers, build loyalty among the existing ones, avoid negative feedback, and what strategy to adopt...? Bet on pre-order work to be strategically planned and successfully implemented.
Pre-order marketing may be easy as a piece of cake - provided you take care of a few necessary steps:
Do not waste any time left before launching the product on the market and use it for online activities. This is the time when all hands must be on board - and when all holds are allowed.
Design pre-order campaign as wide as possible - on social media platforms, using the newsletter, by posting in forums for fans of your industry. After all, there is no better place to sell for online businesses than a target market and target audience. Provide as much detailed information as possible about the product that is yet to be sold.
Create the pre-order product page well, on which you will sell pre-order items - it should be clear, intuitive, and have a perfectly visible CTA, i.e. in this case the pre-order button.
Remember that pre-order works for customer satisfaction like the rest of the typical rules applicable on eCommerce platforms: buyers like to have a choice. Therefore, provide them with the largest possible choice of payment method (credit card, BLIK, Apple pay, transfer, etc.) and the choice of delivery method. Remember to include a return policy.
If at the beginning of the pre-order period you do not know the exact date on which the pre-order item will be released for sale - also be clear about it and inform that this date will be given soon. The more transparent you are with buyers, the better you will get out of it.
What you should keep eye on when planning fulfillment for your pre-order campaigns
The trust your customers give you by hitting that pre-order button in the online store is your chance to make or break customer loyalty.
The product quality is a key factor here naturally, but so is the way the final product reaches customers on its shipping date. Even the biggest can fail here, so make sure to apply a complete strategy for pre-order fulfillment.
Customer interest comes first. Customers are the ones who pay upfront for your promise. Make sure to deliver the product they opted in.
Inform customers about the estimated shipping date, but make sure they understand what estimated means. The world of eCommerce fulfillment, especially in the post-pandemic times can bring some surprises along the way. These can push the estimated shipping for a few days. From the customer's point of view, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a pre-order and seeing it appear as 'delayed. Especially when considerable time passed between the order and the shipping day.
Remember about issues related to pre-order payment - tactics regarding this issue vary. Some sellers require full payment immediately; some, in turn, pay the rest when ordering and the rest when finalizing the transaction and handing over the product.
Take advantage of the situation - and encourage clients for further purchases. A bonus for purchasing pre-sale products may be a discount on the pre-order itself, on related products, or on subsequent purchases.
Secure the stock in distribution sites at least a few days ahead of Day 0. This might sound trivial, but the more time you secure for the arrival and processing of your product, the fewer surprises you'll encounter. The fulfillment centers and warehouses need some time to receive, count, make quality checks of inbound goods, and make proper dislocation of all of them in the warehouse. No one is picking your products straight from the pallet after all!
To make a bang - coordinate the logistics. Pre-ordered products arriving in the hands of final recipients or to retail locations all at the same time can be an incredible source of social media marketing. Existing customers sharing information about the product they waited for at the same time is an incredible source for word-of-mouth marketing.
Third-party logistics (3PL) comes to the (pre-order) rescue
The proper pre-order sales and distribution process will rely heavily on the items you are selling. While digital goods are infinitely flexible and dispatch of such a product comes down to sending an email or releasing an application at a certain hour, the physical goods can get tricky.
To make sure all the pre-orders are dispatched to end customers on the same day or at least not before the release date you have to coordinate it with everyone in the logistic chain. This is not a big issue if you plan to distribute your pre-order items on a limited market. The more global your business goes, the more challenging this process becomes. Not that it's simple even for a single market!
Modern e-commerce businesses use third-party logistics to deliver the best experience for recipients of their pre-order products. Delegating the logistics operations to external operators, shops and producents may focus on sales and successful marketing.
Logistics, packing, dispatch, and last-mile delivery of pre-orders handled by the fulfillment center is a safe and secure way for pre-orders to reach your clients. Thanks to their expertise with the handling of goods 3PLs can advise on the best packing method, propose and mediate with obtaining custom packing as well as make sure the whole delivery process goes as expected.
In case you offer pre-orders on more than a single market, third-party logistics is even more crucial. The warehouses located in regions closer to your clients are sure to deliver the parcels faster, more secure, and provide more detailed information about parcel delivery statuses than the dispatch than even the best organized single distribution center.
Multiple 3PLs, single point of contact
Is it really possible to coordinate the upcoming product releases between many warehouses? After all negotiation terms, signing the deals and overseeing pre-order dispatch with a few separate partners may be a nightmare sure to result in many mistakes and misunderstandings. This is where marketplaces, such as Linker Cloud comes in handy. Having a single point of contact is a natural benefit for any eCommerce business planning its pre-order program.
Do not be afraid to offer pre-orders - with one partner to discuss all the details of the pre-order campaign and its distribution, you make sure that all the requirements will be homogenous thought all the markets and warehouses. The speed and ease of connecting with a single marketplace while benefitting from multiple channels of pre-order distribution is a great way to provide your customers with quick shipping, top service quality, and an awesome overall experience. This is a solid foundation for establishing a loyal customer for your online store.
We keep our fingers crossed for your online store and pre-ordering work - if you just take care of the pre-order offer properly and take the time to choose the best 3PL provider for you, you will have nothing more than accept payments, collect money and watch your online business develop and grow.