How to accept pre-orders in your Ecwid store

Pre-orders let your customers place orders for products that aren’t currently available. This can be the items that are temporarily out of stock or those that you only plan to launch on your store. As soon as you receive a pre-order, you can place the order with the manufacturer or the wholesalers or start producing the item yourself (e.g., goods with bespoke features).

In Ecwid, there are various ways to collect customer pre-orders. You can accept pre-orders for all the products in your store or only for individual products. They can be prepaid pre-orders or the pre-orders that you take without charging your customers until the products are manufactured. The option you choose will largely depend on the products or services you sell.

Pre-orders help you limit idle inventory, examine the market and gauge your customers’ demand. They also allow you to save money on the initial investment. In this guide, we will tell you about the pre-order options that you can set up in Ecwid.

If you plan to accept pre-orders, please, take time and study the rules concerning them in your country. Then describe your policy on pre-orders (payments, estimated shipping & order fulfillment time, returns, etc.) on your stores’ legal pages to keep your customers informed.

Accepting pre-orders via postponed self-pickup
Accepting pre-orders for Out of Stock products
Accepting pre-orders via modified Add to Bag buttons
   Step 1. Informing your customers that this is a pre-order
   Step 2. Renaming the Add to Bag buttons
   Step 3. Setting your payment methods
What’s next?

Accepting pre-orders via postponed self-pickup

If you produce your items on a regular basis — e.g., they are baked goods or flower bouquets — and have a brick-and-mortar store, the easiest way to collect pre-orders is to use the self-pickup options. They are in-store pickup, curbside pickup or drive-through pickup, or any other similar option that you have in your shop.

As the settings allow you to specify your order fulfillment time, you can postpone the pickup by any time it usually takes you to prepare the order. Along with that, you can add your business hours. This way, your customers will know at checkout what is the closest available slot they could pick up their order. Based on this information, they will select the preferable time.

To charge your customers, you can use both online and offline payment methods. The first option will allow customers to pay when placing a pre-order in your online store, while the second allows them to pay later (e.g., by a credit card in your offline store). Choose the option that is likely to suit both you and your clients.

You can set up self-pickup options in your Ecwid admin, Shipping & Pickup → Self Pickup.

Here’s a video describing the process:

Once your customer places their order, you will be able to access its details from the email notification for this order or from the order details in your Ecwid admin (My Sales → Orders). There you can also search orders by pickup date and time to see which ones should be fulfilled first. And if you enable Order is ready for pickup notifications (Settings → Notifications), your customers will get an email once you change the order status to "Ready for Pickup".

Tip: In case you offer self-pickup for specific products only and want to disable it for the rest of your items, you can use the product-specific shipping settings. They allow you to enable and disable shipping options for certain products.

Accepting pre-orders for Out of Stock products

In case you want to collect pre-orders for products that are currently out of stock, you can add special buttons to the product pages. Your customers will be able to click the button to get in touch with you about the potential order.

Technically, products can be out of stock for different reasons. Because you have run out of them or because they are not yet available in your store. In both cases, pre-order requests will help you measure the demand for your product. For example, if you need to plan your stock for a new item or you are unsure about how many units of your regular item you need to reorder.

If you are using the online inventory tracking in your Ecwid store, your products are automatically marked as Out of Stock and receive the Sold out label once the quantity of a certain product is equal to zero. They become unavailable for purchase, and the Add to Bag button disappears for them.

This is how a product page looks when the item is out of stock:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__8_.png

If you don’t see the items with zero quantity in the storefront, make sure that the Hide out of stock products setting is disabled in Settings → Cart & Checkout.

If you want to collect pre-orders, you can change the Sold out and Out of Stock texts that are displayed in your store into Pre-order or some other similar text using the Store Label Editor. Additionally, you can add a product ribbon that will be displayed on the product list above the default Sold out label. This ribbon may also contain information on the estimated date the product becomes available.

All you’ll have to do afterward is add special pre-order buttons to the pages of your out-of-stock products.

Tip: If the product is new to your store and has not arrived yet, you can start collecting pre-orders for it. Just create this product in Catalog → Products and enter “0” into the Quantity in Stock field in the Stock Control section. Later, when the product arrives, you can change “0” into the actual number that you have in stock.

There are several options that you can use to add pre-order buttons to your out-of-stock products.

Adding Pre-order buttons with Get an Offer app

First, it’s the Get an Offer app from the Ecwid App Market. It helps you create a special pre-order button with a custom text (“Place a Pre-order” or any other) that appears on the pages of your products. The app has a special option that allows adding buttons automatically to all your Out of Stock products. So, once you run out of a product, the button immediately appears on its page. When a customer clicks this button, they can leave their contact information.

The Get an Offer app allows you to choose what information to collect from your customers. You can configure the pre-order form to your liking. For example, create a text field so that your customers are able to ask additional questions or specify how many units of your product they need.

You can use the Get an Offer app not only for your out-of-stock products – it’s also available for selected products or for all the products in your store.

Using the Back in Stock Notifications app

Second, it’s the Back in Stock Notifications app. It allows you to add a special Notify Me button to the out-of-stock products. Once the product (or a specific product variation) is back in stock, your customers will automatically get a message to the email address they specified. All they will have to do to go back to your store and make a purchase is click the Buy now button in the email.

The Back in Stock Notifications app allows you to track down the number of subscribers for each out-of-stock product (or product variation) and to create your own templates for email notifications.

Adding custom Pre-order buttons

Third, you can add a custom button to the description field on your product pages. After a customer clicks this button, they will be able to email you a pre-order request for the product (along with questions concerning the item, if they have some).

To create a custom pre-order button:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to Catalog → Products.
  2. Choose your product from the list or create a new one.
  3. Open the General tab.
  4. Find the Description field.
  5. Switch to the HTML mode by clicking the <> sign:

    How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__2_.png

  6. Сopy this code:
    
      <p>
    <a href="mailto:info@mymail.com">
    <img border="0" alt="Place a pre-order" 
    src="https://dabuttonfactory.com/button.png?t=Place+a+Pre-order&f=Calibri-Bold&ts=24&tc=fff&hp=20&vp=15&c=11&bgt=unicolored&bgc=444" "="">
    </a>
    </p>
      

    You can apply different button styles, colors, and text by using Dabutton factory or any other button generator.
  7. Paste the code that you copied into the Description field and change the info@mymail.com part in mailto:info@mymail.com into the email address where you want your customers to send their pre-order requests.
  8. Save the changes.

That’s it!

This is how your product page with a newly created Place a Pre-order button may look:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__5_.png

When your customers click the Place a Pre-order button, they will be prompted to mail a pre-order request to the address you specified in the button code.

Stock Control, Ecwid App Market, and Store Label Editor are available on Ecwid Venture, Business, and Unlimited.

If you are using the Free plan, you can still collect pre-orders using the custom Place a Pre-order button:

  1. For this, you will first need to remove the Add to Bag button from the product details page for your product with the help of a CSS code:
        
    .ec-size .ec-store.ec-store__product-page--12345 .details-product-purchase__controls {display: none;}
    .ec-size .ec-store.ec-store__product-page--12345 .product-details-module.details-product-purchase {margin-bottom: 0px;}
    

    Just replace "12345" in the code with the ID of your product, and add the resulting CSS code to your CSS theme according to our instruction.
  2. After you remove the Add to Bag button, you can add the custom Place a Pre-order button to the product description field as described above. This way, your customers will be able to mail you their pre-order requests and other questions.

To add the Place a Pre-order button for other products, just repeat the process for them.

You can also use another CSS code to mark that your product is available for pre-order:

    .ec-store__product-page--12345 .product-details__product-price::after {content: 'Pre-order'; font-size: 18px; color: #D3001A;}

This text will appear next to the price field:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__4_.png

By now, you are probably wondering what happens after you have added your buttons. Here is the story: when the product is in stock, you can send your customers a message to prompt them to place an order in your store. Remember that you have already collected their emails? Not to mention that the Back in Stock Notifications app does this automatically.

Optionally, instead of online purchase, you can discuss all the details (including the time frame for delivery) with your customer via email or phone and charge them using one of the offline payment methods. You can also collect all the necessary details (like shipping addresses) from customers and then create orders on their behalf to have a comprehensive order history in your Ecwid admin panel.

Accepting pre-orders via modified Add to Bag buttons

As an option, you can rename the Add to Bag buttons in your store into Place a Pre-order buttons and add a note to your product(s) that this is a pre-order. This way, customers will add products that are available for pre-order to cart – like they do with regular products – and check out.

There are three key steps that are necessary to set up this option.

If you are using Stock Control, do not forget to specify the stock for the products that can be pre-ordered. You can make it "Unlimited" or any fixed number.

Step 1. Informing your customers that this is a pre-order

You need to make it evident to your customers that certain products can only be pre-ordered and that the shipping will be postponed. You can do it with a note on the product details page or using any other option like product ribbons or subtitles. So, before customers add your product to cart and check out, they will know that it is a pre-order that will be shipped later. We also recommend specifying the estimated delivery time right on the product page to set proper expectations with your customers.

If only a part of your products is available for pre-order, you can add all of them into a separate category (e.g., “Pre-orders”). Also, you can add “pre-order” to the name of every product (e.g., “Avocado, pre-orders only”). This way, your customers will definitely see this text on the checkout page if they occasionally missed the category name.

In case you want to make sure your customers acknowledge that the product is only available for pre-order, you can create a special product option for that:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to Catalog → Products.
  2. Open the product you want to edit.
  3. Open the Options tab.
  4. Click Add New Option.
  5. Enter “Pre-order” (or any similar text) as the option name.
  6. Choose Drop-down list or Radio Buttons as the input type.
  7. Tick Do not preselect default value.
  8. Click Add New Value and call it “I acknowledge this is pre-order and the shipping will be postponed”.
  9. Save the changes.

That’s it!

This is how your product page may look:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__3_.png

With this modification, it will be impossible to add the product to cart without acknowledging that it is a pre-order.

You can also describe your policy on pre-orders in your legal documents and then require consent to terms and conditions at checkout.

Step 2. Renaming the Add to Bag buttons

If you are using your store only to collect pre-orders and do not sell regular items, you can change the “Add to Bag” and “Buy now” texts for all the buttons in your store with the help of our Store Label Editor. For example, you can rename these buttons into Place a Pre-order. After your customer presses this button, the product will be added to their cart as usual.

You can additionally change the Go to Checkout and Checkout texts (as well as any other text that you feel needs changing, for example, rename Place Order buttons to additionally stress that this is a pre-order).

Changes made via Store Label Editor are applied to all the products in your store. In case only a part of your products are available for pre-order, you can rename Add to Bag and Buy now buttons for these particular products using CSS codes:


/*rename the Add to Bag button for this product on the product page*/
.ec-store__product-page--12345  .form-control--primary .form-control__button-text { font-size: 0;}
.ec-store__product-page--12345  .form-control--primary .form-control__button-text:after { content: "Place a Pre-order"; font-size: 19px;}

/*rename the Buy Now button for this product in the grid*/
.ec-size .ec-store .grid-product--id-12345 .form-control--animated.form-control--done .form-control__button-text {font-size: 0px;}
.ec-size .ec-store .grid-product--id-12345 .form-control--animated.form-control--done .form-control__button-text:after {font-size: 16px; content: "Place a Pre-order";}

Just replace "12345" in the codes with the ID of your product and add the resulting CSS code to your CSS theme according to our instruction.

This is how your product page may look after you rename the Add to Bag button:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__6_.png

Step 3. Setting your payment methods

The payment method you use for your pre-orders will largely depend on the products you sell. We believe you don’t want to scare off your customers. Some products can be pre-ordered with 100% online prepayment, and it will feel right. Others are usually paid for only upon delivery.

Overall, you can use both the online and offline payment methods. The first option will allow customers to pay when placing a pre-order in your online store, and the second allows them to add the product to cart and complete the checkout without paying right away. Choose the option that is likely to suit both you and your clients, or enable both.

You may also study the online payment methods that allow making pre-authorization charges on your customers’ credit card, like Authorize.net. This way, you can place a temporary hold on the customers’ card and complete the transaction when needed.

In case you go for an offline payment method, you can rename your payment method into "Pre-order" or even into "Payment method will be discussed via email". This way, customers will know which payment option to choose at checkout.

If you sell custom goods, you can add various product options (including file upload) and assign price modifiers. This allows you to collect all the information you need to fulfill the order and to include the possible additional expenses into the price.

Another way to effectively use product options and price modifiers is to create an opportunity to place a deposit. Customers may not like paying the full price for a pre-order, but in some cases it’s reasonable to ask for an advance. For example, if you need some guarantee that a customer is really going to order later. You can have various payment options available for your product: 100% payment and a 50% or 25% deposit at the same time.

Later on, you can send your customers who paid a deposit an invoice or a payment link from your payment processor (e.g., PayPal or Square) to pay the rest of the price.

To create a deposit opportunity:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to Catalog → Products.
  2. Open the product you want to edit.
  3. Open the Options tab.
  4. Click Add New Option.
  5. Enter “Payment Type” or "Deposit" (or any similar text) as the option name.
  6. Choose Radio Buttons or Size as the input type.
  7. Tick Do not preselect default value.
  8. Click Add New Value and add a few choices to this option, such as "Full Amount", "25% deposit" and "50% deposit".
  9. Add corresponding (e.g., -75% and -50%) price modifiers to your deposit:

    How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__1_.png

  10. Save the changes.

This is how your product page may look:

How_to_accept_pre-orders_in_your_Ecwid_store__7_.png

Once your customers add your product to cart and check out, they will receive an email notification confirming the order. You will receive an email notification as well, and you will also be able to access the order from your Ecwid admin (Sales → Orders). After that, you can get in touch with your customer using the contact information they provided at checkout and discuss the order and the future payment (if needed). When you are ready to ship the order, just inform your customer about it.

Remember: If you chose the offline payment methods, at this point, you have not yet charged your customers. You can request cash on delivery, send a PayPal.me link, a NextPay invoice, or a Paypal invoice — or choose any other offline payment option you like, e.g., an offline credit card payment to your courier using Square reader or PayPal Here.

Once the order is finally paid, do not forget to go to My sales → Orders and change the order status to “Paid”.

What’s next?

Once you’ve set up your pre-order options, you can additionally promote these products. Especially if they are some rare items that people would love to order beforehand. Write a post on your social media or in your blog, or place a special banner on your store front page.

When you receive a pre-order, make sure to do everything you can to fulfill it flawlessly. As pre-orders somewhat challenge customer trust, they can help you build a reputation. Keep your promises and deliver the orders on time, and the clients will know they can trust you.

Pre-orders are often a chance for your customers to get something unique, and you can add a small present or a discount coupon to the package. This way, you will make their experience even more pleasurable and maybe also get yourself some return customers.

So choose the method that suits your store best and start accepting pre-orders!

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