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Did Video Games Kill the Pre-Order Star?

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
Did Video Games Kill the Pre-Order Star? Video games continue to be one of the hottest items for retailers to organize pre-orders for. But those orders come with their fair share of challenges as well. Here, we take a look at what retailers can learn from the video game brands for their own products. Do an internet search for the words “pre-order” and you will inevitably hit page after page of results on the good and bad of pre-ordering video games. The bad includes hype and price while the good has to do with exclusivity and ironically, price again. Pre-orders allow your customer to reserve an item from your store before it’s officially available. With this, retailers gain insight into demand and get a guaranteed number of sales. Before the product has even officially launched. But if pre-orders are not handled well, they can damage brand reputation. Which in turn affect sales of the product once it hits the shelves. How can retailers, in the video game business and otherwise, take advantage of all the benefits of the pre-order? And avoid the potential pitfalls of it?

Press Start for Pre-Order

Video game publishers spend a great deal of time and effort crafting their pre-order strategy. They want to generate buzz and early sales for their titles. Just like the games themselves, full of action, excitement and storytelling, an effective strategy for pre-ordering can help retailers gain an early fan base and add to the promotion of the product. But if not dealt with well - it is not the best way to go. Some of the past challenges with pre-orders help retailers of all products, who are looking to develop their own pre-order strategy, to learn what to do and what not to do.

Challenge: “The game is not what was expected”

Product quality seems like an unnecessary element to mention but it is one of the biggest challenges with pre-ordering video games. You’ve heard the idea that sometimes the hype doesn’t live up to the reality? Well, that phrase could be defined strictly by video game pre-orders. As always, it comes down to making sure that the customer is getting what they want - and managing their expectations. Make sure to determine what the key message is behind your strategy to guarantee that what you are communicating to the customer is what you will be delivering.

Challenge: “There is little actual reward for the customer for pre-ordering”

With a video game pre-order, customers may receive points or avatars for the game, or even promotional products like collectables. What will your customers receive when they use this fulfillment strategy? Is the reward tied to an existing loyalty program? Does it involve free shipping? Whatever the reward, ensuring that it holds value for the customer is what remains the number one objective.

Challenge: “Delays”

Pre-ordering can often be done months or in extreme cases, even years before the actual product is even ready! With so much anticipation already built into the order, any delays in the actual release and availability of the product can be severely damaging to the integrity of the brand and campaign. Coordinate your campaign with everyone involved to ensure that the trust your customer puts in your brand when pre-ordering is verified. Moreso, make sure that your system for taking and fulfilling pre-orders is up to the challenge because the last thing you want is pre-order customers getting their product after other customers already got theirs.

How Can Retailers Make a Pre-Order Strategy Work FOR THEM?

This fulfillment strategy is beneficial to a retailer because it can act as a survey for demand and a guarantee of revenue. It is also a very effective marketing technique to create buzz. One of the best ways to ensure that your pre-order strategy is a win is by making sure that the communication between your brand and the customer is constant and detailed so the customer is always aware of what is happening. By actually investing in getting the pre-order right, and not just selling the hype, retailers of all kind of products beyond video games can benefit from having customers gain early access. Having the right technology in place to help manage all of the moving parts of pre-orders is one of the best investments retailers can make. Ask us how we can help you play the pre-order game like a video star.   Author: Carla van Deventer is part of the OrderDynamics Marketing team. Her background in corporate communication and events helps her navigate the ever-changing retail tech world.  
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