Fastest Way to Set up Pre-orders in Shopify

Rob Elgar - Writer for Egnition
By Rob Elgar
Head and shoulders photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Updated July 27, 2023.

A shop owner preparing stock and setting up pre-orders on her Shopify store.

A pre-order allows you to take a deposit for an out-of-stock or a not-yet-available product and charge the remainder of the funds once the product is available. Therefore, communication with the customer is essential because they have paid for a product in advance. Utilizing a back-in-stock notification form or setting up your email to automatically contact customers about out-of-stock items are effective ways to keep communication open.

By marking items as out of stock and allowing customers to pre-order, you ensure your customers receive their products as soon as possible and provide yourself with a forecast of your products' potential demand.

How to Enable Pre-Orders in Shopify

Pre-orders can become complicated because different pre-order setups work for different users and their products. The simplest way to set up pre-orders in Shopify is by installing a pre-order app from the Shopify app store.

Shopify suggests the following:

Types of Pre-Orders

There are three main types of pre-orders you can choose from. These include:

  • Pay Now Pay Now is the most common type of pre-order. This will take your customer through the normal checkout process, where you'll receive the pre-order funds immediately. This can be used to cover wholesale costs, but customer expectations and timely delivery are things to keep in mind.
  • Pay Later Pay Later, as the name suggests, doesn't include any transfer of funds until the product is available. Pay Later pre-orders can be used to indicate a product's potential demand as well as for marketing purposes such as contact gathering.
  • Crowdfunding Crowdfunding is usually done through third-party apps such as Crowdfunder. This pre-order is similar to Pay Now in the way that funds are received immediately. This type of pre-order is ideal for startups that need to raise capital, but will require more traffic as customers will be reluctant to pay for something with no promised arrival date.

How to Authorize Pre-Order Payments

There are certain tips for selling out-of-stock items that you can keep in mind. Signing off on pre-order payments before your customer has been notified that the product is unavailable can lead to inaccurate sales metrics.

Similarly, recording a sale once the product has been dispatched but not yet fully paid for could cause issues if the customer no longer has the remaining funds available.

To avoid this, you can turn on manual payment authorization with the following steps:

  1. From your Shopify Admin Dashboard, navigate to Settings > Payments.
  2. In the Payment Authorization section, select the Manually capture payment for orders box.

Shopify's authorization period is seven days. If you wish to prolong this period, a third-party payment method will need to be used.

How to Add a Pre-Order Page Template in Shopify

Follow the below steps to add a pre-order page temple:

  1. Log in to the Shopify Admin Dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Themes > Action > Edit Code.
  3. Select Add a new template in the template section.
  4. Select product from the Create a new template for box, name it "pre-order," and select Create template.
  5. Locate the code {% section 'product-template' %} and replace it with {% section 'product-pre-order-template' %}.
  6. To change the button text, replace addToCart: {{ 'products.product.add_to_cart' | t | json }}, with addToCart: {{ 'Pre-order' | json }},
  7. Select Save.

Next, you'll need to add a corresponding section directory with the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Sections > Add new section.
  2. Under the Create a new section called box, add "product-pre-order-template" and select Create section.
  3. Delete all the code and replace it with all the code produced after completing step 7 above.
  4. In the new product-pre-order-template.liquid file, you'll need to replace <span data-add-to-cart-text> {% unless current_variant.available %} {{ 'products.product.sold_out' | t }} {% else %} {{ 'products.product.add_to_cart' | t }} {% endunless %} </span> And replace it with <span data-add-to-cart-text> {{ 'Pre-order' | json | remove: '"' }} </span>
  5. Select Save.

Lastly, you'll need to assign the new pre-order template to a product.

To do this:

  1. Navigate to Shopify Admin > Products > All Products.
  2. Select the product that you wish to make available for pre-order.
  3. Locate the Themes templates section in the sidebar.
  4. From the drop-down menu, change product to product.pre-order.
  5. Click Save.

Bottom Line

Setting up pre-orders in Shopify can be easily done with a third-party app and some simple code changes.

Giving your customers the option of pre-ordering can help boost sales, provide a financial forecast, help with future marketing, and aid in determining the demand for a product.

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