Adding pre-orders to Shopify Dawn

The Dawn Shopify Theme

Dawn is Shopify’s exciting new theme. As of the end of August 2021, new stores will be set-up with Dawn as default and have access to a bundle of new features which Shopify are calling ‘Store 2.0’. Among these new features is the long rumoured ‘sections anywhere’ ability, speed increases, support for 3d models out of the box and much more. However, the topic of this article is how to add pre-orders to Shopify Dawn. There are many compelling reasons to offer pre-orders, including their positive effects on cash flow, the flexibility they afford your product launches, and the risks they can offset. If you would like to read more about the benefits and strategies of pre-orders, I wrote an article for the Shopify blog here.

Dawn theme
ref: Shopify

Adding Pre-orders Manually

It’s possible to start collecting pre-orders without installing any apps or paying a developer to modify Dawn through a very bare-bones approach, although I don’t recommend doing this for several reasons that will be soon become apparent. Here are the steps:

Backup your theme
Always backup theme files before you change code, so you have a safe version to revert to if something goes wrong.
    • Shopify has a checkbox in the Shopify product section under ‘inventory’ called ‘continue selling when out of stock’. When checked, your store will accept orders for that product, even when the stock level is 0.
  1.  
      • This next step is the one I particularly don’t recommend, making a change to your store theme. Your store theme’s codebase can be found by clicking ‘Online Store’ from the left hand side of the Shopify admin and then ‘Actions’ -> ‘Edit code’
    • To signal to customers that the product in question is not ‘buy now’ and is a ‘pre-order’. You can change lines 266 – 270 of your ‘main-product.liquid’ file (found in ‘Sections’) from:

{%- if product.selected_or_first_available_variant.available -%}
  {{ 'products.product.add_to_cart' | t }}
{%- else -%}
  {{ 'products.product.sold_out' | t }}
{%- endif -%}

    1. to:

{%- if product.variants.first.inventory_policy == "continue" and product.variants.first.inventory_quantity == 0 -%}
  pre-order
{%- elsif product.selected_or_first_available_variant.available -%}
  {{ 'products.product.add_to_cart' | t }}
{%- else -%}
  {{ 'products.product.sold_out' | t }}
{%- endif -%}

*where ‘pre-order’ is the name for pre-order in your store’s primary language. This will mean any 0 stock product with the ‘continue selling…’ box will display ‘pre-order’ as the buy button text.

  • Finally, navigate back to the ‘online store’ screen in Shopify and click ‘Customize’, click through the store preview until you’re looking at your product page. Then click ‘Buy buttons’ from the list of ‘product information’ blocks and uncheck the ‘Show dynamic checkout buttons’ option so that only your main buy button shows up.
On top of the fact that this option hardcodes a change into your store’s theme and doesn’t localize to the user’s language, it also will mean:

  • Muddled up ‘pre-orders’ and ‘buy-now’ orders in your Shopify order section, leading to mistakes and laborious admin.
  • No efficient control of what’s a pre-order and what’s a ‘buy now’ listing in your store.
  • Your store front-end won’t tell customers when they should hope to receive their pre-order.
  • You have no way of communicating with customers during the pre-order process. e.g. ‘Your Red Sneakers are two weeks away from shipping’.
  • Pre-order payment has to be upfront.
  • No way to place limits or any advanced pre-order features on your listing.

All of these drawbacks can very quickly add up to a bad customer experience with a lot of work on your end to stay afloat and in control. Luckily Shopify’s app ecosystem has apps listed by companies who spend their whole time solving these issues and figuring out the best way to increase your pre-orders. The best bit is… thanks to ‘Store 2.0’s new features, you won’t need to write a line of code to integrate one.

Adding a pre-order app

Like I just mentioned, Shopify’s Appstore is home to many pre-order apps that will help you find success with your pre-sales.
PreProduct offers the below benefits, as well as a customisable pre-order cart. However, there are many other good options on the Shopify AppStore. After selecting a pre-order app from the AppStore, simply click ‘install app’ from the top of the page and Shopify will take you through a quick install process.
Pre-order app features can include:

  • A user interface to choose which of your product/variants will be on pre-order and when.
  • A designated dashboard for your pre-orders, without regular orders being mixed in.
  • Customisation of the visual design/messaging of the pre-order button and front-end, including real-time variables like shipping time.
  • Email campaigns to keep customers in the loop and engaged throughout the pre-order process.
  • Different pre-order payment options like; ‘pay later’, ‘deposit’ and ‘pay now’ meaning you can list pre-orders earlier and with more flexibility (and in some countries, conform to necessary legal requirements).
  • Analytics and dashboard for reporting/interacting with the individual pre-orders.

Pre ‘Store 2.0’, permanent code had to be added to your store theme to add a pre-order app, resulting in increased setup time while a developer made the integration, as well as the potential for your theme to acquire more and more third-party code as you installed/uninstalled various kinds of apps.
Now Shopify gives store owners the ability to add something called an ‘app block’. Instead of having a developer add permanent code to your theme, you can simply drag and drop a block into your product page. Meaning you’re in complete control of where the pre-order section goes in your storefront, as well as when to take it out.

How to add a pre-order app block to your product page with Dawn

Once you have a pre-order app installed from the Shopify app store, as long as it supports ‘Store 2.0’, you’ll be able to drag it’s block into your product page exactly where you want it. Here’s how:

    • Navigate to the ‘Online store’ section of your Shopify dashboard.
    • Click ‘Customize’
    • You will now be greeted with Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor. It will currently be set to your home page. Click ‘catalogue’ to go to a collection page and then click on any product to select your product page.
    • Notice the different areas of your product page in the left-hand side bar, signified by the tag icon and name in bold. We want to add to your ‘Product Information’ section, so click the blue ‘Add block’ link at the bottom of that list.
    • A pop-up should appear with a list of blocks under the ‘APPS’ heading. Click the pre-order app’s block.
    • The app’s block has now been added to the ‘Product information’ section. To choose it’s position, click the little back arrow to the left of the apps name so you can see all of the product page blocks again. Then hover over the app’s name in the ‘Product information’ section and drag it up or down until you’re happy with its position.
  • That’s it, you should be all good to go. Don’t forget to save! (Top right corner of the page).
Now that you have pre-orders set up on your store, you can start listing new products straight away and promoting them. Whilst there are specific pre-order marketing tactics, we generally find the usual suspects work well. For example, conversion and abandonment optimisation through an app like Tada, organic/paid social media, influencer partnerships, email marketing etc.

Summary

Once you have finished adding pre-order functionality to Shopify Dawn, you can start taking pre-sales straight away for your future and out of stock products. Now that Shopify’s clever ‘sections everywhere’ app blocks have been released, integrating exciting new features into your store has never been easier.

DTC brand, Brooklinen was birthed from the frustration that a husband and wife had with the high prices of luxury-grade linen. Six years later and they run a highly successful online brand with passionate customers and have raised sixty million dollars in venture funding. After a while, customers were looking to Brooklinen for advice and curation not only for sheets, but for the rest of the bedroom as well. A privileged position to be in, but with a core competency in fabrics and a high standard for the products they put out; going too wide with their product offering didn’t seem wise. Instead, they did something unexpected… Spaces by Brooklinen launched nearly a year ago and is a user-friendly marketplace concept offering a highly curated assortment of home goods from like-minded partner brands, as well as independent designers and artisans. Selling partner products isn’t typical for a DTC brand, but the high calibre products chosen are completely on-brand for Brooklinen. Plus, they can now sell more to customers who are asking for products outside of their portfolio.

 

Opening a partner marketplace is obviously very ambitious and probably requires a large customer base. However, maybe you could partner with a handful of companies instead? Are there brands with a similar ethos, selling in your industry, but with non-competing products? This could increase your average order value and also introduce you to your partner’s following.

Ref1, Ref2

Brooklinen

Image Credit: Brooklinen

Direct-to-consumer cookware brand Great Jones, sells great looking chef-grade products at affordable prices. Co-founder, Sierra Tishgart, explains their cookware innovation strategy; “My pots and pans are highly visible design pieces in my home”, this insight of bringing great design to a fairly drab category, combined with lower pricing for professional quality has helped catapult Great Jones into the industry. Their range centres around Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens and chef-grade skillets, using the same materials as high-end brands to ensure even distribution of heat during cooking. Instead of basing their market research on consumers, they focused their efforts on chefs. This approach helped them release a serious quality product and not just appear to be one.

 

Making an unattainable product affordable, whilst driving credibility through design is a strategy put to great effect by D2C brands such as Brooklinen and Away. Are their products in your industry usually reserved for professionals that you can now be sold at an accessible price point? With the ability to sell directly to consumers through your online store and avoid retailer margins, some of these traditionally higher-priced products may now be commercially viable at lower price points.

Ref1, Ref2

Great Jones

Image Credit: Grace Jones

Natural deodorant brand, Native (acquired by P&G in 2017) kickstarted ‘cleaner’ deodorant market trends, with the goal of making it easier to consume less harmful ingredients. “The personal care industry has been lazy in making sure its products are safe, and we’re not having it”. Native started out with a highly successful deodorant range, that manages to balance ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’ whilst still managing to capture the premium cues of an upmarket health product. With a passionate customer-base and authority in the space, they set their sights on expanding their offering to other items in the bathroom essentials space. Charcoal as an ingredient and process (charcoal filtering) has experienced huge growth in the past 5 years, with google search volume for ‘charcoal toothpaste’ increasing 1300% from 2016 to 2017. Native used this trend to supercharge their foray into the toothpaste category. By offering a new range of charcoal toothpaste to an existing customer base, they were able to stack the deck in their favour.

 

Finding an emerging trend that is congruent with your brand could help catapult your next product into the market. With the spoils being, easier press coverage, large volumes of search traffic and other early mover advantages. Are there products that are used in the same customer ritual that you currently cater to? You could research possible opportunities through influential blogs, Google trends or customer interviews. As long as the new product fits in with your brand, this process could open up a whole new market for your business.

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Native Toothpaste

Image Credit: Native

Dog-care brand, Bark has developed a new purpose-lead product range of dog food. Not only do Bark give partial proceeds to dog charities (a cause that is near certain to be close to their customer’s hearts). They have also centred each variant around an American city or state, with proceeds going to that area’s dog charity. Not only is this an opportunity to speak to customers in a more focused way, it also offers great inspiration for flavours and packaging design.

 

Letting a customer support local, whilst giving to a cause close to their hearts is very compelling. Is there an opportunity for you to release multiple variants of a new product, each centred on a geographical region or city? Variants could be inspired by local cuisine, a famous figure or a stereotypical design-style. This method might even be used as a customer recruitment tool, effectively being a way to niche down to multiple different smaller markets, whilst keeping your brand and product fundamentals intact.

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Bark snacks

Image Credit: Bark