Presale events have long been an effective marketing and sales tool. The gaming, consumer electronics and entertainment industries in particular are highly adept at launching presale events to their loyal fans. And it is no wonder why. Presales offer brands a great way to connect with their target audiences, generate buzz around new products and boost early sales. A well-conceived presale event can also go a long way in improving brand loyalty and customer retention.
Presale events are popular because they work. Products under development, soon-to-be-released items and new works from musicians or authors make great presale products. Today, as eCommerce competition grows fierce, brands are including presales alongside marketing strategies like flash sales, luxury sales events and specialty stores.
These sales event strategies offer brands a unique opportunity to connect directly with customers. Olivier Schott, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Scalefast, believes this connection is especially important in this day of elevated customer expectations. In a recent article, Schott pointed out that today’s customers want a deeper assortment of emerging eCommerce experiences.
“Brands are uniquely positioned to provide a much deeper product assortment while responding to changes in consumer tastes faster than retailers – but only if they have established a direct relationship with their customers,” he said. “Customers want to participate in these emerging experiences because they provide added value to the customer relationship.”
What Are Presales?
Presales let customers reserve or buy products prior to production. Typically, presales launch anywhere between two weeks and two months before a launch date. Payment options can differ from brand to brand. While some brands charge full payment at the time of the presale order, others take payment when the product ships. In either case, the outcome is the same. Loyal customers are able to buy a product in advance without worrying about it selling out.
A well-conceived presale event can offer great benefits to brands that do them right. Let’s take a deeper look at the advantages of presale events.
5 Advantages of Presale Events
Presale events can act as a testing ground for new products, ideas and concepts. They are also a great way to generate buzz prior to the official launch of a product, and they give brands an idea of consumer interest levels and provide valuable marketing data. Here are five benefits of a successful presale event:
1. Generates hype
Presales are a great way to generate buzz prior to the official launch of a product. They effectively tap into consumer FOMO, especially those customers who want to get their hands on a new product before everyone else. But buzz does not just happen; it requires a mix of targeted marketing and word of mouth. Brands can leverage social media and influencers who can drive traffic and tap into relevant communities. Adding a compelling sense of urgency through discounts or early-bird specials will also give people a reason to order.
2. Forecasts product demand
Presales can help DTC eCommerce retailers gauge demand for new products in a target market. Brands can then effectively estimate what quantity they need to fulfill the demands, which leads to better inventory planning. Brands can then adjust stock accordingly. In either scenario, consumer response to presale campaigns can help companies produce the right amount of stock. Then, rather than being tied up with unsold inventory, funds stay available for future marketing campaigns.
3. Builds customer goodwill and loyalty
Presale events encourage communication between customers and DTC eCommerce brands. This includes keeping customers in the loop on shipping and delivery dates and any anticipated changes. Even if a product ships later than expected, customers will appreciate continuous updates and transparency. This type of goodwill also generates hype, as pre-sale customers are likely to review a product before everyone else. Loyal customers then become an invaluable source of positive reviews, future sales and word-of-mouth marketing.
4. Provides valuable customer data
Presale events can provide valuable first-party marketing data. Brands can use this information to better target and segment specific audiences, and make data-driven decisions regarding pricing and stock allocation. Data can also measure customer interest in presale products, which helps with inventory control. Ultimately, brands can use presale data to inform and hone future marketing endeavors and improve overall business results.
5. Guarantees revenue and maximized sales
Presale events are an ideal way to ensure a set amount of revenue and sales during a launch window. As presale orders come in and customer traffic to an eCommerce web store increases, sales and revenue are bound to climb. As an added bonus, customer excitement for presale items means brands don’t have to worry about products going unsold. This gives brands a good idea how much product will be moved and the income it will generate. Revenue earned from advance sales can also be used to improve a product before it launches.
Strategies for a Successful Presale Event (from an eCommerce Expert)
A study by Scalefast found that “the most critical period for any product launch is the weeks and months leading up to the pre-order date. In other words, what eCommerce brands do before launch is much more important than what they do after launch.”
This illustrates why brands need a solid, well thought out presale strategy. To be effective, strategies should cover every step of the presale life cycle. Brands should consider everything from the product itself to the marketing campaign for pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. They must also focus on order and inventory management.
According to Schott, effective presale event strategy means covering all the bases. “The key takeaway is that to make your presale strategy successful, you need to be prepared to put in months — not weeks — of effort. It is a combination of all of the planning, outreach and consistent marketing that lays the foundation for achieving a surge in presales,” he said.
To this end, Schott believes it is crucial that brands market far in advance of presale event start dates. He recommends at least six months of lead time for most campaigns.
The Importance of Marketing
Ultimately, Schott said, presale success all comes down to marketing. Since marketing creates excitement and urgency, how well a brand handles presale marketing can make or break a launch campaign. Companies often market presale campaigns for upcoming products through social media and crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
“You need to let existing customers know something exciting is happening and constantly update them about the process (manufacturing details, shipping times, sneak peaks, behind-the-scenes looks, etc.),” Schott said. “Consistent email marketing is also critical to building suspense with existing customers.” Ample preparation gives brands time to reach out to educate influencers and media outlets about the new product.
Have a Strong Infrastructure
As a brand’s presale marketing efforts kick in and customer excitement builds, brands can expect an uptick in website traffic. According to Schott, proper planning includes having a solid website infrastructure in place well before launching a presale event. “In the best of circumstances, your marketing efforts will result in abnormally high website traffic,” he said. “Which is why your e-commerce infrastructure should be prepared to handle an extreme volume of traffic and orders on day one of your launch campaign and in the following days and week. If a brand is not prepared or does not have the right infrastructure, there is a risk that customers will not only be frustrated but may be lost forever.”
Own the Data
Presales events offer brands a great opportunity to obtain first-party data that comes from the customers themselves. According to Schott, it’s important that brands own their data rather than depend on third-party sources. “Owning your customer data is critical to making smart, data-driven decisions,” he said. “As regulations and privacy policies tighten, brands are losing access to purchased data, making it all the more important to own customer information outright. Shoppers want to feel connected to a brand and will provide first-party data in exchange for a unique or more personalized experience.”
Proper presale event planning is not easy and brands need to invest the time to do it right. But when done correctly, they can offer great benefits for DTC eCommerce brands and their loyal customers. For brands, they help accommodate products without the complications of fast shipping and overnight deliveries. Customers get early access to in-demand products and a calmer customer experience.
That is a win-win.
When it comes to helping DTC brands conduct successful specialized eCommerce events like pre-sales, flash sales and specialty stores, Scalefast is the hands-down expert. Talk to one of our eCommerce experts today to learn more and schedule a demo.