Shift4Shop's pre-order module allows you to take orders and payment for items that are not yet available. Perhaps the items have street/release dates that must be honored, or maybe you'd like to gauge the demand for an item to determine how many units you should order from the distributor.
When an item is purchased via pre-order, the order is created on the store and the payment is pre-authorized on the customer's card. At the time of the order's placement, the shopper's credit card information is also automatically saved (via tokenized gateway). When the customer checks out, the order is then placed in your store's PRE-ORDER status/queue.
Upon reaching the item's availability date, you will process the order simply by moving it into the NEW order status queue (or have the store automatically move it for you), and the store will capture the authorized amount*. From this point, you can process the order and ship it to your customers as normal.
As described above, the initial processing of payment for the pre-order will be to authorize the card only. Then, when the item becomes available and the order is moved from PRE-ORDER status to NEW, the pre-authorized amount is captured.
It should be noted that different payment gateways have different expiration periods on pre-authorization functions. For example, Shift4 Payments employs a 7-day expiration on pre-authorizations. If you are using a different gateway, you should confirm with them what their respective pre-authorization practices are.
So, as you move the order from PRE-ORDER status to NEW, the system will attempt to capture the pre-authorized amount. If - for whatever reason - this capture fails (i.e. the pre-authorization period has expired), the store will instead process the charge as a new transaction. If the charge fails at this second point, then the order will not go into the NEW status and will remain in PRE-ORDER until you can correct the credit card issues with the customer.
To use the Pre-Order Module, you will need the following:
- A Shift4Shop account that is on a Pro Store plan or higher
(This also includes the End-to-End eCommmerce plan)
- Your store must use a credit card processor such as Shift4 Payments or PayPal Connect.
Setting up the module
To begin setting up the module, follow these steps:
- Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
- Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Modules
- Once in Modules, use the search bar at the top to search for "Pre-Ordered Items"
You will have the following settings available to you in the module:
- Enable Pre-Orders Module
Mark this checkbox to enable the module on your store
- Automatically process orders on availability date
When the pre-order item is purchased, the order will reside in your store's PRE-ORDER status queue and the customer's card is authorized for the charge. When the item becomes available, you can move the order to the NEW order status and the credit card charge is captured. By marking this checkbox, the store will automatically move the order to the NEW status for you when the item's availability date arrives.
- Number of days before item's availability date to send reminder/notification email
Use this field to specify the number of days (before the item becomes available) when the store will send the customer an email to remind them of the order and its approaching date for fulfillment.
This email's template can be found and edited in the Settings >Design >Emails page. Look for "Pre-Order Notification" under the Order Emails section. (not to be confused with the "Pre-Order" email template, which is for the initial order when it is placed).
Once you have completed configuring your desired settings, click "Save" at the top right of the screen to complete the preliminary setup.
Setting products to Pre-Order Status
By following the steps above, the Pre-Order module set up is complete. The next part of the process will involve setting which products will be made available for pre-order.
While still logged into your Online Store Manager
- Go to Products >Product List
- Click on "Add a Product" at the top right to begin creating the product.
If you've already created the product previously, locate the product you'd like to edit and click on its thumbnail image, ID or name to open it up
- While looking at the product's information tab, scroll down to the inventory control section
- Set inventory control to "Pre-Order"
- Next, set the product's Date Available to reflect when the item will be available for full purchase.
(i.e. Street Date, Release Date, etc) this setting will also correspond to the "Date Available" setting found in the product's Advanced Tab.
- Click "Save" at the top right of the screen
- Repeat this process for each pre-order item in your store.
You can also use CSV to designate products for Pre-Order. The column headers for the CSV file will be the following:
(use 4 to make the product a pre-order item)
(use this to specify the product's Date Available)
Pre-Order On the Store Front
Here's a reference of how the pre-order process will appear on your store front to your customers.
- Item Display
The Pre-Order Item(s) pages will show the item's Stock message as "Pre-Order" along with the the item's availability date. The new wording will appear on the product listing page, category pages, home page and anywhere else where the product's stock message is displayed. The text for this display can be edited in Store Language using the "Availability-Preorder" language label.
- Purchasing the item
Your customer can purchase the pre-order item just as they would any other item in your store. They can buy multiple units of the item (if you don't limit quantities), select gift wrapping options (see gift wrap module), and even have individual units shipped to different locations (with multi-ship to).
However, it is important to note that the pre-order item can only be purchased separately (on its own order) and cannot be combined with additional items on the same order. The store will inform your customers of this requirement and will instruct them to finish their current order before trying to buy additional items. This rule will apply in the following situations:
- If the customer tries to purchase a pre-order item first and then tries to add a different product to their cart.
- If the customer tries to purchase a non pre-order item first and then tries to add a pre-order item to their cart.
- If the customer tries to order separate pre-order items at the same time (i.e. two different items that are in pre-order).
- Viewing the (Pre)Orders
After placing an order for the Pre-Order item, your customer can log into their My Account section and view their pre-ordered items. The pre-orders will be found under the "Track your recent orders" section of the My Account page, as well as a new section labeled "Preordered Items" which will be located directly below the recent orders section. This new section will contain a link labeled "View Details" which will show them their pre-order item orders (with the item availability dates), order numbers and balances*.
While the order is in the Pre-Order status, your customer will see it listed in the My Account section with a balance due. This is because their payment has not yet been collected on the order. Remember that upon pre-order purchase, the card is only authorized for the amount, and the funds are not collected until the order is moved to the NEW order status. While the order is in this Pre-Order authorization phase, it can be canceled (if you or the customer wishes) and the authorization will simply expire without charging the customer's card.
Pre-Order Item Inventory
Be aware that Pre-Order Item inventory is deducted at the time of purchase. In other words, when the customer pre-orders the item, and the order is placed into PRE-ORDER status, the item's stock for the order is deducted from your store's inventory. If the item starts off with 0 inventory, then the store will display the stock in negative quantities to indicate how many orders for the item have been received.
This can be useful for situations where you may be using the Pre-Order function to gauge how much demand the item will have before ordering it from your vendors.