Learn new product strategy from 10 DTC marketing legends


Why DTC brands should launch new products


The secret’s out that the direct to consumer (DTC) model is a great business strategy, allowing brands to bypass traditional middlemen and connect directly with consumers. Also, social media advertising, which is arguably the primary DTC marketing strategy for DTC/ecommerce brands isn’t what it once was. Whether that’s due to increased iOS/browser privacy inhibiting efficacy or heightened competition and ad bidding.

…but in the dynamic world of DTC, there’s always room to innovate and redefine the game. This could mean introducing a complementary product or branching out into a new domain altogether. A list of product strategies from some of the greatest names in DTC has been put together, detailing 10 standout DTC marketing strategies.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established brand, hopefully these mini case studies offer a fresh perspective and perhaps even spark the inspiration you need to revolutionise your next product strategy.

Native had success with deodorant, then moved into similar self-care categories where they could also apply their brands philosophy.
Native had success with deodorant, then moved into similar self-care categories where they could also apply their brand’s philosophy.

Why new product development strategies are so important for DTC brands

In the fast-evolving world of Direct to Consumer business, staying ahead of the curve is not just a luxury – it’s a necessity. Escaping the gate keepers of retail is great, but it also puts more responsibility on the brand to generate customer hype, build brand awareness and raise demand. Here’s why introducing new products can be so powerful for a DTC brand:

Maintaining relevance

As consumer preferences shift, so too must a brand’s offerings. By regularly introducing new products, DTC brands can stay attuned to the latest market trends and consumer demands; ensuring they continue to delight customers.

Diversifying revenue streams

Relying on a single product or a narrow range can put a brand in a vulnerable position. New product lines mean diversification, which can safeguard a company from economic fluctuations and changing market attitudes.

Increasing customer lifetime value

With each new product introduced, DTC brands stand to gain a competitive advantage and an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to their target market. This not only boosts revenue but increases the average lifetime value of each customer.

Strengthening brand identity

Launching new products can reinforce a brand personality and reputation, further solidifying that ephemeral idea of your “brand” in people’s minds. This can set a label apart in a crowded market, making it more memorable and trusted.

Exploiting the power of social media advertising

With social media, there’s the eternal question of “what to post about”? Launching a fresh product gives you a whole new platform to build buzz around and renew target audience engagement. Whether that’s via influencer marketing, posts/stories/reals or Youtube content.

Incorporating customer feedback

Every time you start the new product development process, it’s an opportunity to pull from social media users, focus groups and loyal customers. This can be digested by a talented product development team to bolster idea generation, resulting in new additions to your product line that boost sales and brand loyalty for years to come.

Away "luggage" founder explains inspiration behind the new range: "we were inspired by the nostalgia associated with some of our favourite iconic mountain towns"
Away “luggage” founder explains inspiration behind the new range: “We were inspired by the nostalgia associated with some of our favourite iconic mountain towns”.

How to pick a new product development strategy for your DTC brand

Before diving into the new product development strategies of 10 successful DTC brands, let’s quickly cover some factors to keep in mind. Ensuring that your selection and filtering criteria is on point is important when putting together an effective strategy for new product creation.

Know your audience

Use DTC marketing research and insights from social media users to understand your target market’s needs and preferences.

Analyse current successes

Assess your existing products to inform new product offerings. What’s resonated with your target market before? Can you do more of it?

Leverage digital engagement

Embrace digital channels like social media marketing and email marketing to obtain real-time feedback and engage users. This might be more indirect, like a general sense of a gap or need in the existing market. Or it could be something very specific like “our customers keep on asking for a dental floss product to compliment our charcoal toothpaste range”.

Consider non-comital pre-orders

Of course I’m going to sneak pre-orders into the list! Taking capture-only or 100% charge-later pre-orders can be a great way to gauge a successful product before committing to tooling and stock. Using a tool like PreProduct you can take pre-orders that don’t charge customers a cent until you trigger charges.

Iterative testing

Consider testing product concepts with real market testing. Whilst traditionally this is done with focus groups, mocking up a few examples of the product and driving traffic to them via Meta ads is much more appropriate for the digital era.

Explore DTC marketing avenues

Consider future distribution channels and your marketing mix. How is this product going to be marketed? What could future examples of SMS marketing look like? What would other examples from different marketing channels look like? Working backwards like this can keep you on track and ensure you don’t start diverging from reality.

Risk appetite

Can you leverage existing tooling and partners for this new product concept or will it require more expensive and elaborate setup? And hand-in-hand with this: an incremental product idea based on existing products will carry less risk of not selling than a brand new product range. The Basecamp “Shape Up” methodology has a similar idea called “Setting the appetite”, is this product concept worthy of its foreseeable risk and time needed?

In essence, a well-chosen product development strategy should balance your learned insights in the market, innovation, risk appetite and authentic brand image. Considering these points before committing to a product development strategy or process helps DTC brands be aware of risks, whilst giving themselves the best chance of success.

DTC marketing case studies

1. Release a pro-grade product at a casual consumer price point (Great Jones)

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 high 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 there products in your industry usually reserved for professionals that you can now sell 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.

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Great Jones cookware
Great Jones cookware makes professional standard cookware accessible to home cooks

2. Target a narrow niche, then expand to the rest of the category (Native deodorant)

Natural deodorant brand, Native (acquired by P&G in 2017) kickstarted the ‘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 their communications and DTC marketing.

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 word of mouth marketing, 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.

Ref 1

3. Expands your online offering by selling partner products (Brooklinen)

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 mean future customers recognize you from within your partner’s following.

Ref 1Ref 2

4. Niche down by locale (BarkBox)

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 with your DTC marketing via different smaller markets, whilst keeping your brand and product fundamentals intact.

BarkBox product shots

5. Launch products behind a pay wall (Beauty Pie)

High-end DTC beauty brand, Beauty Pie launched by serial entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore, operates on a paid membership basis. You need to buy a monthly or yearly subscription to get access to the products.

The concept is based around the fact that most premium beauty brands use the same outsourced labs and manufacturers, Beauty Pie’s innovation is to be upfront with customers about this and offer their lines at ‘factory prices’, thus saving money without sacrificing on quality.

The company’s messaging and PR all point towards the subscription cost being how the brand makes their money. They’ve even been dubbed the ’Netflix of Beauty’ and go to the extent of offering different membership tiers with caps on how much customers are allowed to spend on the site.

Beauty Pie are affectively running a ‘recurring revenue’ style business model. With a subscription business, customers are charged every month whether they receive goods for not. Whilst basing a whole business around this concept may be hard to do, is there a way you could put certain areas of your brand behind a paywall or membership program? Maybe in return for exclusives, early access or even annual product refurbs? This could potentially add to your monthly revenue, without increasing unit sales or even having to acquire new customers.

Ref 1, Ref 2

6. Double-down on sustainability (Act + Acre)

To launch a sustainable haircare range, Act + Acre engineered their product and packaging to be as recyclable and green as possible. Instead of settling for the guides set by government recycling certifications, they pushed further and created their own gold standard; “Reavey and Mackin developed a now-patented process that uses cold water and high pressure—while it takes a lot longer, it saves 90% energy”. Not only is this good for the planet, but it’s also a great talking point in their marketing material.

Sustainability has been reported as heavily influencing Millennial and Gen Z buying decisions, ’72 percent of Gen Z would spend more money on a service if it was sustainably produced’, alongside a tendency to switch to brands who take sustainable initiatives.

Is there a way you could refactor your existing products in a more sustainable way? Whether it’s the packaging, the freight or the product itself? Whilst you’re looking into your processes and supply chain, maybe you could put together a content series featuring the individuals and stages that are involved along the way. Giving your customers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your brand.

Ref 1Ref 2

Act + Acre sustainable haircare

7. Apply your opinionated philosophy to a new market (Allbirds)

Sustainable footwear brand, Allbirds has grown a loyal customer base thanks to their environment-conscious ethos and signature shoe style. Their latest piece of footwear innovation expanded into the huge performance/running market; “The Dasher pushes Allbirds into athletics territory, to compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas and Lululemon”.

This new shoe will allow their fanbase to start buying another essential item from them, whilst staying true to their mission of footwear and the environment. “The Dasher emits 9kg of carbon dioxide per pair in their lifetime, which is nearly 30% lower than the average running shoe.”

If your customer base already buys one set of products from you, what else might they buy from you? The power of this strategy is a higher ‘average customer value’ and the potential for growth.

However, companies in the past have ‘watered down’ their strong brand identity by trying to sell too much to too many different types of people and projected a ‘master of none’ impression to the market. What new product types could you launch that are 100% aligned with your company and audience? Is there a way to have visual similarities or themes throughout your products, so they all feel cohesive with each other?

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Allbirds shoes launching into a new sub market, professional runners.

8. Release many smaller products to target micro-niches (Stance)

DTC sock brand, Stance specialise in socks and due to the low MOQ/new-product-development costs has launched a lot of them. They spotted an opportunity to create new product lines designed for specific sports niches. Starting with running, Stance redesigned a sock to suit players as much as possible, they then teamed up with influencers in the sport. Once that worked, they moved onto cycling, basketball, golf and more.

Creating new versions of an existing product positioned for a specific audience could help you recruit new customers. This could be as simple as changing your positioning through marketing and website copy. Or you could start developing new versions of your existing products to better serve specific niches. Have you heard from customers who are part of a specific sport, hobby or profession? This could be a good place to start.

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Stance socks

9. Refreshes a best selling favourite (Outdoor Voices)

Outdoor voices decided to re-release their original hero product; the exercise dress. Doubling-down on the product that launched their company. But this time with new features requested by their customers, such as a phone pocket and inbuilt shorts.

The activewear brand used the marketing campaign as an opportunity to celebrate their company values and customers.

Rallying customers around this perennial and proven product seems like the closest Outdoor voices could come to a ’sure thing’. Is there an original range or product that represents your company more than any other? You have more than likely had bags of feedback over the years on possible ways to improve that product. This could be a good opportunity to celebrate everything that you, your team and your customer have built together.

Outdoor voices re-releasing a best seller

10. Use a nostalgic era or theme to inspire a new product range (Away)

Luggage company Away used an iconic golden era from the past to design a new product range around. Co-founder Jen Rubiio explains “we were inspired by the nostalgia associated with some of our favourite iconic mountain towns, capturing the styles and colours found in retro postcards of places like Aspen or Verbier”.

This theme for the new line inspired everything from the product design to the marketing material. The desire for these new products was super-charged by the fact that it was a limited edition; creating a feeling of urgency with customers to make the purchase or miss out.

Is there an important time-period or place that is special to your industry or brand? If you developed a new product based around this theme, what story could you tell with the product and DTC marketing? Could it be used to break into new cohorts of the market or allow you to leverage a new set of influencers in your social media strategy?

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Bonus. Expand the scope of your companies mission. Then launch new products that apply to this bigger ambition (Casper)

Direct to consumer brand Casper expanded their company vision from just mattresses to tackling a larger question: ‘how to have a good night sleep?’. They have since launched sleep aiding products such as a humidity-fighting duvet and a smart bedside lamp.

The broader company scope has allowed them to diversify from the saturated market they were in, whilst still leveraging their strong brand equity and existing customers.

Expanding your company vision by asking a new question could unlock fresh product ideas for your company. What if you weren’t just ’that kind of product’ business and instead tackled the larger area of your customer’s lives you currently just partially address. Using that line of thinking, what new products could you launch?

Ref1, Ref2

Caspa sleeping aid

DTC new product strategy FAQ

Absolutely! Your marketing strategy and new product development strategy should go hand-in-hand. The insights from market research, social media marketing, and understanding of your target audience that you gather in your marketing efforts can be invaluable in shaping your product development process. By aligning these strategies, you can ensure that your product offerings resonate with your audience and fit seamlessly into your broader marketing campaigns and brand image.

Should your DTC marketing strategy inform your new product strategy?

Yes, alongside offline marketing, online channels like influencer marketing can be a powerful tool when launching new products. By partnering with the right influencers, you can introduce your new product to a wider audience, obtain genuine reviews, and gain user-generated content, which can further enhance your marketing mix.

Can I use influencer marketing when launching new products?

A new product strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines how a business intends to introduce a new product to the market. It encompasses everything from initial product idea generation, market research, product development, to marketing strategies and distribution channels. This strategy aims to ensure the product meets the needs of the target market and aligns with the brand’s business model and objectives.

What is New product strategy?

DTC stands for “Direct to Consumer.” It’s a business model where brands sell directly to customers, bypassing traditional middlemen like retail stores or third-party retailers. This direct approach allows for a closer relationship between brands and consumers, often leading to more personalised marketing strategies and product offerings.

What does DTC mean?

DTC marketing refers to direct to consumer marketing, the marketing strategies employed by Direct to Consumer brands to promote their products or services directly to end consumers. This often involves leveraging digital channels, social media advertising, email marketing, and other online platforms. DTC marketing strategies prioritise understanding and engaging the target audience to build brand loyalty and drive sales without the interference of intermediaries.

What is DTC marketing?

An example of DTC marketing might be a brand launching a new product exclusively on its website and promoting it through targeted social media ads, influencer partnerships, and email marketing campaigns. A footwear brand, for instance, could release a limited-edition sneaker and use Instagram stories, posts from influencers wearing the shoe, and an email blast.

What is an example of DTC marketing?

B2C, or Business to Consumer, refers to the sale of products or services from businesses to individual consumers. DTC, or Direct to Consumer, is a subset of B2C where brands sell products or services directly to consumers without any intermediaries like retailers or wholesalers.

What is the difference between B2C and DTC?


The Direct to Consumer (DTC) model has transformed the way brands connect with their audiences, eliminating the need for traditional retail intermediaries. However, this dynamic landscape demands that brands offer innovation and exciting new offerings to convince customers to part with their hard-earned cash.

Hopefully this article and the mini case studies have provided some insights into choosing the right product development strategy. Factoring in creativity, original thinking, audience understanding, digital engagement, risk appetite, and market insights.

Oli Woods

Co-founder @PreProduct

Pre-sell With PreProduct

7 day free trial with all plans

Shopify pre-orders vs Kickstarter 

1. Introduction

The following guide is going to look at the very important debate between Shopify pre-orders vs Kickstarter and choosing which is best for launching a new product.

The Rising Importance of Pre-orders in E-Commerce

Pre-orders are increasingly becoming more important in e-commerce, this is due to several factors; some are listed below;

  • Revenue generation – Pre-orders contribute to revenue generation before the product’s official release. Customers typically pay in advance when placing a pre-order, providing businesses with a steady cash flow even before the product is available for shipment.
  • Production Planning and Inventory Management – Pre-orders help businesses forecast demand and plan production accordingly. By analysing pre-order data, companies can make informed decisions about manufacturing, supply chain management, and inventory allocation. This reduces the risk of overproduction or under-stocking, thus optimizing operational efficiency.

rolls of fabric, factory, material

  • Anticipation and Exclusivity: Pre-orders allow customers to secure a product before its official release date, creating a sense of anticipation and exclusivity. By placing a pre-order, customers can ensure they will be among the first to receive the item, giving them a feeling of being ahead of the curve.

The power of pre-selling a new product:

Utilising pre-orders for e-commerce can offer lots of benefits, some of these include;

  • Marketing and Promotion: Pre-orders can serve as a marketing and promotional tool for companies. They generate buzz and excitement around a product before its release, creating a sense of urgency to secure a reservation. E-commerce platforms can leverage pre-orders to build anticipation through targeted advertising, social media campaigns, and influencer collaborations.

social, media, social media

  • Customer Engagement and Loyalty: Pre-orders provide an opportunity for e-commerce companies to engage with customers and build loyalty. By allowing customers to secure a product in advance, businesses demonstrate that they value their customers’ preferences and trust. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat purchases in the future.

What to Expect from This Comparison Guide?

This comparison guide will look at the Shopify vs Kickstarter debate, analysing the main differences between using Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms vs offering Pre-orders on your e-commerce platform (i.e. Shopify) for releasing a new product.

2. Understanding Shopify and Pre-Orders

The Basics of Shopify Pre-orders:

Pre-selling on Shopify allows you to sell products that are not currently in stock or available for immediate purchase directly from your own website/e-commerce platform. Here are the basic aspects of Shopify pre-orders:

  1. Availability: With pre-selling, you can list products on your Shopify store even if they are out of stock or not yet released. This enables customers to place orders in advance, securing their purchase for when the product becomes available.
  2. Product visibility: Pre-order products are displayed on your Shopify store like any other product, with the option to indicate their availability status as “pre-order” or “coming soon.” This helps customers understand that the product is not currently in stock but can be ordered in advance.
  3. Order placement: Customers can add pre-order items to their cart and proceed to checkout just like regular purchases. The checkout process remains the same, allowing customers to provide their shipping information and select their preferred payment method.
  4. Payment options: Shopify offers flexibility in terms of payment collection for pre-orders. You can choose to collect full payment, partial payment, or no payment upfront at the time of order placement, depending on your business strategy and product availability.

By leveraging Shopify pre-orders, you can gauge demand for new products, generate customer excitement, and secure sales before the items are physically in stock.

Key Benefits of Using an advanced Shopify Pre-order App like PreProduct:

  • PreProduct allows you to charge in a way that makes sense for you: later, upfront, deposit etc

  • A Fully customisable set of customer communication tools to keep customers in the loop: product-page messaging, email campaign and customer portal.
  • Manage pre-orders in their own system until paid, whilst closely integrating with Shopify so you have the power of both systems.

How do Shopify pre-orders work:

In order to utilize pre-orders, you must first install a pre-order app from the Shopify App Store and then go on to handle pre-orders within the Shopify admin interface or within the application itself.

To enable an item for pre-order, you will need to finalize app setup (any snippets/blocks that need adding), then list the Shopify product in question via the app.

Once pre-orders are configured, your customers gain the ability to pre-order (depending on the type of pre-order you set-up) for products before they are ready for shipment.

To access details pertaining to your pre-orders, it is essential to have a pre-order app in use. If a pre-order app is installed, you should also be able to see pre-order specific information in the Product and Orders screens of your Shopify admin, as well as within your specific Pre-order App.

As mentioned above, apps will offer multiple ways to offer pre-orders. The three main pre-order types are:

  1. Charge upfront pre-orders – this allows you to charge the customer for the pre-order when they place the pre-order
  2. Charge later pre-orders – the customer goes through the checkout at the time of placing the order, but is not charged, instead they agree to a deferred charge, and Shopify vaults their card details until the store is ready to trigger the payment at a later stage.
  3. Deposit based pre-orders – allows the store to charge a portion of the transaction up-front, the customers card details are vaulted by Shopify, allowing you to charge the outstanding amount at a later stage.

3. Understanding Kickstarter and Crowdfunding platforms

What is Kickstarter and How Does It Work?

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals, groups, and organizations to raise funds for creative projects and ideas. It allows the creator to set a backing goal within a specified timeframe. Video game and board game developers particularly like releasing crowdfunding projects.

People interested in supporting the project, known as backers, can contribute money to help raise money and bring the ideas to life. In return for their support, backers often receive rewards or early access to the project.

crowdfunding, idea, bulb

The Unique Advantages of Using Kickstarter for Crowdfunding:

Kickstarter offers several unique advantages for crowdfunding campaigns:

  1. Broad Audience: Kickstarter has a large and diverse community of backers who actively browse and support projects. This provides creators with a built-in audience and increases the visibility of their projects to a wide range of potential supporters.
  2. All-or-Nothing Funding Model: Kickstarter operates on an all-or-nothing funding model. This means that if a project fails to reach its backing goal within the specified timeframe, no money is collected from backers, and the project does not move forward. This model creates a sense of urgency and encourages backers to rally behind the project to raise money and ensure its success.
  3. Backer Engagement: Kickstarter emphasises the importance of building a community around projects. Creators can actively engage with their backers through project updates, comments, and rewards. This fosters a sense of involvement and connection, creating a dedicated group of supporters who are invested in the project’s success.
  4. Pre-Selling and Validation: Kickstarter allows creators to pre-sell their products or offer exclusive rewards to backers. This not only helps generate funds but also serves as a validation of the market demand for the project.

Noteworthy Kickstarter Success Stories

  • Exploding Kittens: Exploding Kittens is a card game that became a massive success on Kickstarter in 2015. The campaign broke records by raising over $8 million in just 30 days. The game’s unique and humorous concept, coupled with effective marketing, contributed to its phenomenal success. Exploding Kittens went on to become one of the most successful tabletop games in recent years.

  • Oculus VR: Oculus VR, the company behind the popular virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, launched its groundbreaking successful campaign on Kickstarter in 2012. The campaign raised more than $2 million, sparking significant interest in virtual reality technology. Oculus VR was later acquired by Facebook, further propelling the development of virtual reality.

  • Pebble: Pebble is a smartwatch company that gained widespread recognition through its Kickstarter campaign in 2012. It raised over $10 million, making it one of the most successful Kickstarter projects at the time. Pebble went on to become a prominent player in the smartwatch industry before being acquired by Fitbit in 2016.

4. Comparison between Shopify Pre-orders and Kickstarter

Project Types and Scope: Shopify Pre-Orders vs Kickstarter

Kickstarter only offers the one format. An All-or-Nothing Funding Model, that is where a backing goal is set to be achieved within a specified timeframe, or backers don’t get charged.

Shopify pre-orders on the other hand allow you to offer different charging options, therefore which allows for flexible funding. In the case of PreProduct: charge upfront pre-orders, charge later pre-orders or deposit based pre-orders.

Funding Mechanism: The Contrast Between Shopify Pre-orders and Kickstarter

Shopify pre-orders gives you the choice as to when you would like to receive revenue. You have the option to charge upfront with charge upfront pre-orders, collect a deposit upfront then charge the outstanding amount at a later time or charge the full amount at a later time with charge later pre-orders.

In contrast with Kickstarter you will only receive revenue if and when the project meets the goal and is successfully funded. There is a 14 calendar day window following your project’s deadline where Kickstarter will collect and process the pledges, and then the funding is then released.

Audience Reach and Marketing: Exploring the Differences

Crowdfunding platforms have a built-in audience of backers, whom are people who generally love the platform and pledge on projects regularly.

However, this audience tends towards certain industries like gaming and early adopter hardware gadgets/fashion. It also wouldn’t be advisable to rely on for your first bunch of sales, as the Kickstarter algorithm and social proof won’t kick in at the beginning.

Shopify on the other hand is your own store/website, which means you’re solely responsible for driving traffic to your website.

Although both Shopify and Ecommerce crowdfunding campaigns in general often heavily rely on paid social media ads for traction and sales, but at least with Shopify you’re driving customers to your own domain.

Because of this, existing brands usually opt for Shopify/their own website over Kickstarter, even if their first product launched via crowdfunding.

Timeframe: Getting Your Idea to Market

Kickstarter allows campaigns to run for 1 to 60 days maximum, and it is generally recommended to use a 30 day time frame.

This means that even if you are very close to your funding goal on the last day of the campaign, you can not extend it, and the project will not go ahead, no backers will be charged.

With Shopify pre-orders you are completely in control of the time frame. You can set the shipping time that suits you, and there is also no financial goal to be met.

Fees: Comparing the Costs

For crowdfunding platforms if your project is successfully funded, there are two main types of fees that will be collected from your project total: A platform for for example Kickstarter’s is a 5% fee, and payment processing fees (between 3% and 5%). If your project isn’t successful, there are no fees.

For a Shopify app, we will look at PreProduct (our Shopify app), fees start from $19.99 per month (plus a usage charge of 0.5% of paid pre-order revenue).

justice, scales, balance

Evaluating the two platforms

Kickstarter is for a short set time period, and this can not be extended, so there is high pressure to ensure you reach your goal in the set time period. You are also driving traffic (via your chosen marketing methods) to another platform rather than your own.

A favourable aspect of Kickstarter is that it has an in-built audience, so without any marketing effort your project can be exposed to the inbuilt Kickstarter audience.

When using a Shopify pre-order app, you are in control of how long you offer pre-orders for, and you can extend or shorten this time period it is completely up to you.

Another benefit of using a pre-order app like PreProduct, is that you are sending all traffic to your website, rather than to another companies website ie Kickstarter.

hong kong, city, traffic

5. How to Choose: Shopify Pre-Orders or Kickstarter?

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Platform, Making the Right Choice for Your Business:

Is it just a one hit product you are planning to launch and fulfil, or are you planning to make a business out of the initial product launch?

  • If you are at the early stage of your business and just wanting to launch your product with no business plans, Kickstarter will probably meet your needs just fine.
  • If you are wanting to make a business out of your product launch, then using Shopify combined with a pre-order app may be more beneficial as you are not confined to Kickstarters time-frames and rules + you can start building up marketing channels to your site
  • Are you wanting to launch and pre-sell more than one product?
  • You are able to run more than one Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, but instead running multiple pre-order campaigns on the one site may be easier to manage, customers may also be interested in ordering more than one pre-order product.

space, startup, laptop

What kind of time frame are you wanting to run the campaign for? Do you want to be able to make changes to the time frame?

  • A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign requires you to set a specific timeframe, that is between 1 and 60 days. Once the campaign is created and begins this timeframe can not be edited.
  • Pre-order apps allow you to run the pre-order campaign for as short or as long as you like, and often do not require a timeframe to be set when the pre-order is launched.

Do you need an inbuilt audience?

  • Kickstarter has a large in-built audience and will also choose some projects to be featured or given the ‘Project We Love’ designation. If you have not undertaken any marketing, and have no existing audience, Kickstarter may be beneficial to get your project in front of a large audience. Although please note, you will need to ‘seed’ the campaign with at least a handful or orders to have a chance of organic sales from the platform.
  • Using Shopify and a pre-order app will not provide an in-built audience, but you will be driving all traffic towards your own site.

Fee structure

  • Kickstarter collects a 5% fee from the funds collected for creators. Stripe, the payments processor, will also collect a payment processing fee (roughly 3-5%).
  • All Shopify pre-order apps vary in the fees they charge. PreProduct our Shopify app, offers 3 different plans each with varying fees. Our cheapest plan is $19.99 per month, and then a 0.5% of paid pre-order revenue.

Using Kickstarter first, then transitioning to Shopify + PreProduct

  • An option that allows you to benefit from the advantages of both Crowdfunding and Shopify pre-orders, is to first use a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to launch your initial product and campaign, then after the campaign finishes, direct traffic to your own site and start running pre-orders.

7. Comparison chart

FeatureShopify + PreProductKickstarter
Host on your domain
Complete control of product page
Inbuilt audience
Campaign can exceed 30 days
Can control when you trigger charge
Can charge a deposit upfront
Can charge full amount upfront
Deferred charge
Can send emails to customers on demand
Mandatory fees
Google analytics tracking
Offer early bird discount
Shows an up to date funds raised bar

8. Conclusion

  • Reflecting on the Shopify Pre-orders vs Kickstarter Debate

As you can see from this article, there are a lot of points to consider when deciding whether it is best to use either Shopify pre-orders or Kickstarter to launch a new product or variant, and it is important to evaluate and think through all of these points.

Kickstarter has the benefit of an inbuilt audience, which may be important for some new businesses, but Shopify pre-orders gives you full control.

You can choose when to charge customers, when to end or extend a pre-order campaign, and you are also directing all traffic to your own business site.

You also have the option to use a hybrid model, launching your campaign on Kickstarter and then transition to Shopify pre-orders afterwards.

  • Future Trends and Developments to Watch in Pre-orders and Crowdfunding

The pre-order and crowdfunding landscape is constantly developing.

One of the interesting developments happening in the pre-order/crowd funding space is the evolution of artificial intelligence and improved data analytics which can help campaign creators optimize their marketing strategy, predict demand, and set more accurate funding goals.

artificial intelligence, brain, think

Another trend is the use of social media such as Instagram, Facebook & TikTok. For marketing to direct customers to your campaign, as well as for social proof and reviews, integrating customer reviews and social proof (e.g., user-generated content) into pre-order pages to build trust and credibility among potential buyers.

internet, whatsapp, smartphone

Hopefully this guide has been helpful and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Happy pre-selling!

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How to do pre orders on Shopify

1. Introduction

Pre orders are advance orders placed by consumers for a product or service that is scheduled for future release.

They are a marketing strategy used by e-commerce businesses to enable customers to purchase a product before it is officially released or available for purchase as well as for out of stock products.

Understanding how to do pre-orders on Shopify can be very valuable & useful for your business.

1.1 Pre-order benefits for both businesses and consumers

Customer Commitment: It allows businesses to gauge the level of interest in their product before production or release.

The number of pre-orders can indicate the potential success of the product, and will allow you to make sure you can meet customer demand.

Guaranteed Sales: Firms can secure a certain number of sales even before the product is officially available, helping with revenue generation/cash flow and to manage inventory, which can be very important for smaller or newer businesses.

Marketing and Hype: Pre-orders generate buzz and anticipation around a product, helping to build excitement and anticipation among consumers, as well gauging demand and ensuring there is sufficient interest in a new product before investing in production.

Incentives: Many companies offer incentives to encourage pre-orders, such as exclusive content, discounts, or limited-edition items, to reward early supporters, this also assist in nurturing customer loyalty.

2. How pre orders work

2.1 Announcement

Companies announce their upcoming product or service, providing details about its features, release date, and pricing.

2.2 Pre-Order Period

A specific pre-order period is set during which customers can place their orders. This period typically begins well before the official release date.

2.3 Reservation

Customers interested in the product can place an order, usually through various channels, including online platforms, physical stores, or official websites.

shopping, online, ecommerce

2.4 Payment:

In most cases, customers are required to pay for the product upfront, either in full or a partial payment as a deposit.

2.5 Confirmation:

Customers receive a confirmation of their pre-order, often in the form of an email or a receipt, with details of the purchase.

2.6 Release Date:

On the scheduled release date, the product is officially launched, and customers who pre-ordered it receive their orders. This can be delivered physically or digitally, depending on the nature of the product.

2.7 Additional Benefits

Some companies may offer additional perks to pre-order customers, such as early access, exclusive content, or priority shipping.

3.0 Types of pre orders on Shopify

There are 4 main types of pre orders you can offer on Shopify; Capture only pre orders, charge later pre orders, deposit pre orders, charge upfront pre orders.

3.1 Capture only pre orders

Capture only pre-order involves changing the buy now/add-to-cart button to a pre order button, and capturing the customers details/order in the pre-order system.

3.2 Charge later pre orders

This type of pre-order involves changing the buy now/add-to-cart button to a pre order button, the customer goes through the check-out at the time of placing the pre order and authorises a deferred charge. Shopify vaults the card details, and then the store triggers the deferred charge at a later stage.

3.3 Deposit pre orders

Deposit pre order allows you to utilise partial payments, charging the customer for a portion of the purchase price up-front, and then the remaining outstanding amount at a later stage via a deferred charge.

3.4 Charge upfront pre orders

For charge upfront pre order the payment is taken upfront.

4. Setting up Pre Orders on Shopify

4.1 Enabling pre orders in your Shopify online store

Shopify allows businesses to offer pre-orders via a pre-order app. You will need to download and install a pre order app from the Shopify app store.

There are many types of Shopify pre order apps to choose from, and pre order apps offer many different options so make sure you check which will suit your business best.

You will then need to integrate the app within your Shopify store. There are normally two different ways to do this depending on whether you have a Shopify 1.0 theme or a Shopify 2.0 theme. Both are outlined below:

  • Shopify 1.0 theme integration – you will need to find the Shopify theme file that has the buy button within it, and then adding the app’s snippet. Often this will be in the product template file.
  • Shopify 2.0 theme integration – you will need to drag and drop the app block, from the theme customizer in Shopify admin.

4.2 Setting up Pre Order products

Once you have added the snippet or app block to your store you will be ready to list pre-orders on your Shopify store.

You will need to list any products you wish to have on pre-order, in your chosen app. You will also be able to choose, what variants to list for pre-order, whether or not to offer an early bird discount along with pre-order limits and estimated delivery date.

Some apps like our app PreProduct, will allow for pre-ordering for specific variants on Shopify, instead of listing all variants for pre-order. This allows you to just list those variants that may be out of stock, or new variants for pre-order, whilst either still offering other variants for buy now or have them appear as sold out, depending on your business situation.

Early bird discounts, also known as early bird pricing or early bird specials, are promotional offers that businesses use to encourage customers to make purchases or bookings well in advance of a product’s release or an event’s date. These discounts are typically offered for a limited time and are designed to incentivise early action.

PreProduct also allows you to set pre-order limits. Meaning that if you will only able to acquire a certain stock level, or wish to have limited stock available (possibly to create a scarcity mindset) you can set this up.

It is important to set an accurate estimated delivery date, you should also be able to edit the date, if things change, to ensure you are meeting customer expectations.

5. Best Practices for Pre Orders on Shopify

5.1 Promoting pre orders effectively

There are several different e-commerce marketing options that can help to promote and assist in having a successful pre order campaign. These are listed below;

  • Social media content both organic and paid
  • Press coverage
  • SEO
  • Collaborations
  • Email campaigns

Alongside these marketing options, there are some other strategies that can work really well with pre orders.

  • Targeting early adopters for new releases, new products etc
  • Generate an urgency for purchase by offering an early bird discount that is only on offer for pre order
  • Only offering a certain number of items, this will create a sense of scarcity

urgent, business, document

5.2 Setting realistic pre order timelines and delivery dates

It is important to ensure pre order customers are aware of approximate shipping timelines and that there may be some delay. With pre orders, shipping times are never certain, due to potential manufacturing and freight delays, which is often out of your control.

Pre order apps should allow you to regularly communicate via email with your pre order customers, so you can ensure they are kept up to date with shipping timeframes.

5.3 Communicating with pre order customers

A multi pronged approach is the best way to communicate effectively with pre order customers.

This can include the following methods:

  • Front end wording; this communicates to the customers pre order details/shipping time frames etc on the store front/on page cart
  • Email campaign; this can be used to keep customers updated
  • Customer portals; allows customers to check on the progress of their order, and can communicate shipping updates etc.

5.4 Managing refunds and cancellations of pre orders

Pre orders can be cancelled in Shopify in the same manner normal orders can be cancelled. Some pre order apps that feature a customer portal, also allow customers to cancel their pre order via the portal.

Refunding customers is at your discretion and can done as per the usual process in Shopify.

cash register, drawer, cash

6. Conclusion

Pre orders, are a great tool that can be used by businesses to generate excitement for a new product, line, or sold-out products along with giving a business access to revenue sooner than may normally be possible.

There are a few different types of pre orders, and there will be one that best suits and aligns with your business model and goals. Alongside your chosen pre order type, there are many different techniques you can use to promote your pre order campaign and ensure it is successful.

This article was written by the team at PreProduct. PreProduct is a next generation Pre Order app, that specialises in helping stores run successful Pre Order campaigns.

If you would like to run a successful Pre Order campaign, then we recommend starting a free trial of PreProduct, to see if it is a good fit for your business.

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Unbounce Pre-orders

1. Unbounce pre-orders with Shopify & PreProduct

Unbounce offers a super powerful and intuitive way to create and manage landing pages for new product launches.
However, what if you wanted to start taking pre-orders from one of your landing pages?

For selling physical products, Shopify has been establishing itself as a market leader for quite some time now.
PreProduct is a pre-order app that plugs into Shopify and enables you to launch new products via different kinds of pre-sale.
In the below guide, I’ll show you a quick and easy way to set up Unbounce pre-orders.

Although ordinarily confined to the Shopify store itself, in this guide I’ll show you how to run PreProduct in a ‘headless’ way from your Unbounce page. Enabling easy communication and capture of Shopify / Unbounce pre-orders.
Essentially you’ll be adding a ‘custom HTML block’ to your Unbounce landing page and populating it with a couple of lines of code that PreProduct will automatically generate for you.

Each of the below steps is fairly straightforward, but feel free to get in touch if you run into any issues.
I’ve also recorded a quick video here in case that’s your preferred tutorial format.


*Each of the above apps have fully functional free trials that you can take advantage of.

2. Step-by-step guide


  • For this tutorial we’ll be using Unbounce’s classic builder. If you don’t have an existing page set up, click the ‘create new’ button in the top right corner of Unbounce.
stage 1


  • Now click on the triple-dot symbol to the far right of your page’s card area. Then click ‘Edit champion variant’.
stage 2


  • You’ll now be taken to your page’s editor. Click and drag the ‘custom HTML’ block from the left-side menu onto the page.
    You should be greeted by a text input modal.
stage 3


  • Now we just need to generate a snippet in PreProduct to paste into the modal. Start by opening up PreProduct.


  • If you haven’t already created a pre-order listing in PreProduct, create one now by clicking the ‘New listing’ menu item.
    Then select it from the main dashboard.


  • Now click the ‘Generate headless code’ button on the left-hand side of the dashboard. A modal should pop up with your snippet in a grey text area. Highlight and copy the snippet.


  • Now, back in Unbounce; paste the snippet into the ‘custom HTML code’ modal and click ‘save code’. You can now position the block where you’d like on the page. We generally recommend making the block no smaller than 40% of the desktop page width. Then on mobile, it should be used at around 100% width.
stage 7
stage 7.5


  • The pre-order front-end won’t show properly until you click ‘preview’. Let’s do that now. You should see the pre-order button appear, along with an on-page pre-order cart when clicked. Listing details and styling are controlled from within PreProduct’s dashboard.
stage 8

3. Summary

Congratulations, you’ve just enabled Unbounce pre-orders  from your landing page. Through PreProduct, you’ll now be able to take advantage of Unbounce’s optimisation and design, alongside Shopify’s powerful e-commerce engine.

Pre-orders will flow from your Unbounce page into PreProduct and then at some point, Shopify. Depending on the kind of pre-order listing: ‘pay later’, ‘deposit-based’, or ‘pay now’.
For example; pay later’ pre-orders will just be in PreProduct until you send out payment link emails. Where as ‘pay now’ pre-orders will redirect to your Shopify checkout straight away and flow directly into the Shopify order system. 

What kind of pre-order listing to choose is a whole other article in itself. However, ‘time until ship’ is a good point to benchmark against. Is your new product going to be in customer’s hands next month? Well ‘pay now’ pre-orders is probably a good fit.
Or is it more like 6 months with potential delays? Then pay later or deposit-based pre-orders will give you more flexibility and customer goodwill.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or to let us know how your pre-order campaign is going.
We’re always happy to talk ‘pre-orders’ and ‘new product launches’.

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Offering Shopify deposit payments

1. Why should you offer partial payments/deposits?

1.1 What are Shopify deposit payments?

Offering Shopify deposit payments as an option allows the store to charge a portion of the sale up-front, basically the customer pays a required partial payment of the cost of the goods/services they purchase to secure the pre-order.

1.2 Benefits of deposit based pre-orders

  • Increases the window of time that you can acquire orders.
  • Accepting deposits means you can pre-sell and start receiving cash-flow before the product is available.
  • Customers have a stronger commitment to the pre-order as they have paid a deposit.
  • Split payments can make the financial outlay easier for customers.

1.3 Deposits in the real world

An example of Shopify deposit payments from the real world is the Holochain Foundation. They harnessed the power of deposits and split payments in their rollout of a new decentralised Web 3 platform. Charging an upfront amount to pay for the HoloPort hardware from their audience ahead of the final shipping date. This meant they were in complete control of when to charge the remaining payment and ship out the HoloPorts. Flexibility like this can come in extra handy with more ambitious product launches like this one.


2. Adding Shopify deposit payments manually

2.1 Intro

It is possible to start collecting deposit pre-orders manually without installing any apps or paying a developer to modify your theme, through a very bare-bones approach.

This would not be our recommended approach for a few reasons; both pros and cons are highlighted below. If you do want to go ahead with adding Shopify deposit payments manually the steps are also outlined below.

2.2 Pros and Cons of manual deposits (split payments via multiple products)


  • Free of charge.
  • Stays within Shopify’s admin.


  • Bad customer experience due to lack of communication touch points.
  • Bad customer experience due to email instructions at payment step as opposed to one click link.
  • A lot of time consuming manual work in Shopify, meaning staff expense and possible room for error.
  • Can only safely support purchases of 1 with a deposit (due to discount code).
  • No dedicated analytics on who’s paid a deposit and who’s paid in full.
  • No tagging or deposit specific segmenting in Shopify.

2.3 Steps for setting up manual Shopify deposits

  • Create a new Shopify product that will be your ‘deposit’. For example, call it ‘A test product – deposit’ (in the description explain your deposit process and terms).
  • Make sure the product isn’t marked as a ‘physical product’ in Shopify’s product admin. This is so shipping isn’t charged by default.
  • Collect payments and orders of this deposit product.
  • Now list your main product in Shopify with its full price.
  • When you’re ready to charge customers the outstanding amount. Create a Shopify deposit code for the price of your deposit product, it’s important to make it only applicable to the main product that you’ll be charging for. Also, look at limiting the usage to 1 use per product per customer, so it’s not abused.
  • Now go into the ‘orders’ section of Shopify and filter by the deposit product. You can now click on each of these orders, copy the customer’s name and email into a third-party email provider, along with the discount code from step 5 and a link to your main product.

3. Adding Shopify deposit payments via Shopify deposit apps

3.1 Intro

There are a few different Shopify apps available that will allow your store to take deposits. Both a deposit management app or a pre-order app like PreProduct will allow you to take deposits, with each app offering a variety of features and options.

It’s essential to carefully assess which one aligns best with your business needs.

We believe one of the best Shopify deposit apps is our app PreProduct (surprised?), which has a holistic deposit system that works through your existing Shopify checkout via Shopify payments or PayPal. It allows you to accept partial payments (based on the amount or percentage you setup when creating the listing), and gives you full control as to when you trigger the remaining payment amount. It also allows you to charge the remaining payment automatically, via our auto charge automation.

3.2 Pros and Cons of running deposits through PreProduct


  • Ensure customers are committed to their pre-orders.
  • Receive some money paid upfront, to assist with cash flow.
  • Email campaigns to keep customers in the loop and engaged throughout the pre-order process.
  • Great customer experience with email communication and deferred charges or one click payment links.
  • More automated process so less manual work and room for error.
  • Products on pre-order will automatically gain the Shopify tag ‘pre-order’ and deposit products will gain the tag ‘deposit’ to help with filtering in your Shopify admin.
  • A user interface to choose which of your products/variants will be on pre-order and when.
  • A designated dashboard for your pre-orders, without regular orders being mixed in and analytics to show number of orders received, and number who have paid.
  • Third-party customer support, both technical and strategic.


  • PreProduct is a paid app.
  • Has to work within the e-commerce platforms constraints.

3.3 Functionality of PreProduct

PreProduct utilises a secure system for your Shopify store so that customers card information is vaulted with your payment processor. Basically when the customer places their pre-order Shopify will vault customers card details. This allows you to initiate payment collection manually on a specified date or automate it as inventory is added to your platform. This feature is a game-changer, particularly for an ecommerce business extensive product catalogs.

3.4 Steps for setting up a PreProduct deposit listing

We have a dedicated doc for how to create deposit listings here.

Dashboard (PreProduct app interface)

Navigate to the ‘New Listing’ screen in PreProduct and select/search-for the Shopify product you would like to list.

Under ‘What kind of listing are you creating?’, select ‘Deposit upfront’.

Now enter the deposit amount or percentage, which customers will have to pay upfront per item and click ‘create listing’. The amount entered defaults to your store’s primary currency.

choosing deposit pre-order

You can also offer a discount with deposit based pre-order sales. You can utilize both general discount codes and discounts tailored for pre-orders. However, it’s important to note that as of September 5th, 2023, ‘buy X, get Y’ Shopify discounts are not currently supported.


The PreProduct pre-order front-end will explain that a deposit is required, how much it is and then an incentive phrase afterwards.

A product set to use shopify deposit payments

The wording can all be edited via the ‘customise wording’ screen in PreProduct. Just make sure to select ‘deposit based pre-order’ before editing.

customising deposit pre-order wording


Pre-orders will populate in the PreProduct dashboards, allowing you to view and interact with them.

A solution like PreProduct allows you to ensure customers stay informed throughout the entire process, starting from the product page to shipping, using customized front-end messages, dedicated customer portals, and email campaigns. By entrusting PreProduct to handle communication for deposit pre-orders as soon as orders are made, you not only relieve your customer support team but also maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

The PreProduct dashboard is also where you trigger the deferred charges. You can either select and charge separate product for specific customers, or you can choose to charge all customers at once.

pre-order campaign to take shopify deposit payments

4. Summary

Offering Shopify deposit payments gives many benefits to Shopify businesses when selling upcoming or out of stock products.

Whether it’s increasing cash flow and gross sales or improving forecasting ability, using PreProduct to offer deposit based pre-orders can help super-charge the above and improve the customer experience, all whilst saving you time in the process.

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