Enabling pre-orders at your store is another way to sell more products and process more orders.
Depending on how you configure pre-orders, you could use them to accept orders for items that are currently out of stock and products that haven’t yet been released.
Once you’ve enabled pre-orders, you’ll be able to take an order with the option of collecting an upfront payment rather than sending potential customers away empty-handed.
Thankfully, this way to sell more products at your store is very easy to set up if you’re using WooCommerce.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about a WooCommerce extension that can add this functionality to your store and the process for enabling WooCommerce pre-orders.
Benefits of Enabling Pre-Order Functionality
Depending on which tool you choose for enabling pre-orders at your WooCommerce store, there are many ways to implement this functionality.
For example, you could be able to collect payments upfront when the pre-order is placed or have the payment collected automatically when the product is released or becomes available. If you choose the latter option, there’s no need for the customer to return to your store to complete the order.
You could also create digital downloads, such as eBooks and software, and physical products, such as clothing or gadgets, that are available for pre-order.
A good WooCommerce pre-order extension will let you manually or automatically determine when a product is available. This could be on a predefined date, such as for a product launch. Alternatively, it could be an unknown date when a product comes back into stock.
Charging customers a fee for placing a pre-order could also be a setting that you choose to enable.
WooCommerce Pre-Orders Extension
One tool that you can use to add this functionality to your store is the WooCommerce Pre-Orders extension.
The extension costs $129/year and integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce.
It has all of the pre-order functionality you’re likely to need, including:
- Ability to set the time and date of product release/availability.
- Display a countdown timer to product release/availability.
- Collect payments upfront or automatically on the date of availability.
- Send emails to customers who have placed a pre-order.
- Allow customers to manage their pre-orders easily.
While this extension might not be cheap, if you want to increase the chances of visitors to your store making a purchase rather than simply leaving if an item is out of stock, it should be a good investment.
Also, if you plan to sell items before they’re released or available, then a good WooCommerce pre-order extension is essential.
Creating Pre-Order Products with WooCommerce
If you decide that the WooCommerce Pre-Orders extension is the right tool for your store, you can purchase it from the WooCommerce website.
After that, you can download the extension file and upload it to your site by clicking on the Plugins → Add New sidebar menu item in your WordPress admin dashboard.
Next, click on the Upload Plugin button. From the Upload Plugin screen, click on the Choose file button. Then navigate to the location on your computer where you downloaded the extension to and select the extension file.
Next, click on the Install Now button, followed by the Activate Plugin button.
Setting Up WooCommerce Pre-Orders
You can access the extension settings by clicking the WooCommerce → Setting sidebar menu item in your WordPress admin dashboard and then clicking the Pre-Orders tab.
From the settings screen, you can customize a few things, including:
- Button text for placing a pre-order and adding item to cart.
- Text that’s displayed relating to availability dates.
- Text that’s displayed in the cart and checkout area.
You can also decide if you want to enable pre-orders for products that are out of stock at your store. If you’re not sure if items will be coming back into stock or you’re sure they won’t be, then keeping this disabled is probably the best option.
Creating a Pre-Order Product
Once you’re happy with the extension settings, you can enable pre-orders at your store. This can be done for both existing products and any new ones you create.
To do so, either create a new product (Products → Add New) or go to the Products screen (Products → All Products) and choose a product to edit.
Scroll down to the Product data panel on the Edit Product page and then click on the Pre-orders tab.
Now you can choose whether the product can be pre-ordered and, if so, when it will be available.
You can also add a fee that will be added to the product price when it’s pre-ordered.
If you’d like to collect the full payment upfront, you can choose Upfront from the When to Charge dropdown menu. If not, you can choose Upon release.
Opting to charge the customer upon release of the product means that the customer will either be charged on the availability date specified or when a store manager manually completes the order. The payment can be collected by automatically charging a saved credit card or via an email instructing the customer to make the payment.
If you change the release date of a pre-order product, any customers affected will be notified of this change via email.
You can customize the email templates in the same way that the other WooCommerce emails can be customized (WooCommerce → Settings → Emails).
Adding a Countdown Timer to Product Pages
Although the release date (if known) will be automatically shown on the product page by default, you can also add a countdown timer.
To do so, simply add the following shortcode to the Product Description and/or Product Short Description panel on the Edit Product screen:
When the product is published, the shortcode will be replaced by a countdown timer.
Managing WooCommerce Pre-Orders
You can view and manage pre-orders at your store by clicking on WooCommerce → Pre-orders from the sidebar menu in your WordPress dashboard.
You can then check the status of the pre-orders you’ve received. You can also cancel any orders that haven’t been completed.
You can also view the pre-orders from the regular WooCommerce Orders screen (WooCommerce → Orders).
It’s worth noting only one pre-order can be added to a shopping cart at a time. Also, if there are any other products in the cart when a pre-order is added to the cart, the cart will be emptied of all of those non-pre-order products. This is to avoid payment conflicts.
Customers can also view and manage any pre-orders they’ve made from their account area at your store.
That about covers how to start taking pre-orders at your WooCommerce store.
As you can see, the WooCommerce Pre-Orders extension is very easy to use. It also includes all of the essential functionality you’re likely to need.
By enabling pre-orders at your store alongside other functionality, such as product add-ons and product recommendations, you should be able to sell more products and process more orders.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions about WooCommerce pre-orders.