What is Pretail? Your Guide to Pretail Sales

A complete Pretail definition

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As online shopping practices continue to evolve, ecommerce tools are constantly changing. Companies are forever searching for efficient ways to deliver excellent experiences to consumers. Pretail is one such example of the new solutions that have emerged in ecommerce lately.

The concept of Pretail started with experimentation among brands and entrepreneurs trying to build hype for their upcoming products. Pretail, or pre-launch solutions found popularity on common platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Today, the idea is working its way across a wider selection of ecommerce tools and experiences.

Instead of creating prototypes of products, then launching that item for customers on a limited testing run, Pretail offers a different approach. With Pretail, you take the premise of a crowdfunding website and adapt it to full-blown ecommerce.

What is Pretail?

If you’ve heard of crowdfunding, you’ll feel comfortable with Pretail. This concept takes the premise of crowdfunding and brings it to a more straightforward retail environment. Kickstarter, for instance, is one example of a crowdfunding site. With Kickstarter, individuals and groups can create an online account and present a kind of “pitch” to gain money for an idea.

Kickstarter allows creatives to reach a wide audience of people who might share their passion for a concept and input their money for the creation of the item. Donors and designers can be found within the Kickstarter environment to help bring a concept to life.

Pretail works in a similar way, by allowing retailers to upload ideas and designs of new potential products, so consumers can bid to access them.

Pretail is all about crowds. Beyond crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, pretailing is suitable for any environment where large numbers of potential customers are available. By tapping into online groups, retailers can get insights into which products are likely to be the most successful. At the heart of pretailing is a company’s ability to engage with their customers.

If you want people to invest in your product before it’s been launched or created, then you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting customers excited as early as possible. Pretailing means accessing the wisdom of crowds and extracting product opportunities from the marketplace before your competition. It’s not just a matter of product development, but of understanding the customer too.

Why is Pretail So Popular Today?

Pretailing has been gaining a lot of stop recently. There are a few reasons for this.

In the west, traditional retail consumption has almost reached its saturation point, and more people are becoming unhappy with their position as just “passive customers” in the retail environment. People are sick of being bombarded with advertisements telling them what they should be buying. Instead, your customers want to have a say not just in what they buy, but in how items are created too.

Pretail supports customers in buying something original and unusual that might never be produced using traditional manufacturing systems. Demand for such solutions would have been too low in the past, and costs would have been far too high. However, with Pretail, products can be displayed online in the form of sketches and imagery, allowing the customer to offer their feedback and thoughts as they become more involved in the design process. The customer isn’t just a passive person, but someone deeply involved in the design.

Giving customers the ability to influence the designs created in their preferred industry is an important part of building a positive relationship between customers and manufacturers that makes sense to everyone. Items are only manufactured when the right quota of buyers is accounted for. The retailer is never at risk at creating something that isn’t going to sell, so they can be more original and experimental in choosing new products.

The great thing about this strategy is that if there isn’t enough interest in new products, the retailer can still give up on the idea or try something different. Pretail also inspires brand loyalty in a retail landscape, where it’s increasingly difficult to get the attention of your target customer. Shoppers are increasingly technologically savvy, and people are constantly shopping around to get the best deal or find what they really want.

Retailers need to offer something original and unique to secure sales, allowing shoppers to bid on items to see it brought to life creates a genuine connection where consumers can feel truly engaged and proactive. These customers are really involved in the design process.

Who’s Investing in Pretail?

There are tons of people experimenting with Pretail today. ZAOZAO is a Chinese Pretailer with excellent service. The company sells all kinds of jewellery, accessories, and bags, giving a platform to designers who haven’t got their name out there yet. The company allows customers to bid money on an item to determine which products will be manufactured for them next.

Quirky is another site taking a similar approach to Pretail. This platform gives small companies a chance to promote their product while maintaining their own brand. The website splits into three sections, where you can shop, influence, and invent. The influence section gives members the chance to affect the design of a product, while the invent section is for exploring designs.

Manufacturers in each section can select from a list of elements they want help with, from the generation of product names to suggestions on style, color, price points, and more. This gives everyone a more fun and interactive experience.

The Benefits of Testing the Waters with Pretail

If you’re a startup company and you’re not ready to jump into things like selling on Amazon, eBay, or your own store, then pretail could be the perfect solution. In the past, new e-tailers had to guess at what customers would probably want, leading to a lot of financial loss. With pretail, companies can simply assess consumer demand at the concept stage and get backers to guarantee success.

Pretail is particularly beneficial because it offers a new level of customer involvement. Users buy into a vision when investing in crowdfunding platforms, which makes them feel like innovators too. When a customer makes a pre-order for an item still in the concept stage, they’re buying into something that they believe in. This is much more likely to lead to long-term relationships for retailers.

The outcome of crowdfunding and pretail can be incredible. It’s the perfect way to develop money for crowd supply, and simultaneously check that your product ideas are profitable. You can even put different pricing strategies to the test before opening your retail store officially.

Why is Pretail a Good Idea?

When Kickstarter and similar solutions started offering opportunities for people to begin funding their ideas so they could make them into commercial products, the idea of pretail was still new. However, over the years, pretail has become increasingly attractive as a sales solution for all kinds of business leaders. Pretail has a huge impact on the ability of businesses of all sizes to unlock new opportunities.

These idea incubators offer major opportunities for both the consumer and inventor, with minimal red tape to worry about. Pretail offers advantages like:

· Reduced costs for launching new products: Since pretail products don’t launch until specific thresholds are met, owners have less capital to worry about. You don’t need to invest in long-term studies of your target market, because you know you have a market if you reach your threshold. The marketing, distribution, warehousing, and production costs are all handled by the people who fund your product.

· Decreased risk of unusual products: It used to be much harder for true innovators to get new concepts into the market. Finding manufacturers and investors willing to get involved with the risk of selling a new concept wasn’t easy. Fortunately, pretail eliminates this issue. With this kind of selling, you can explore all the benefits of new and quirky products with as little risk as possible.

· Virtually eliminate long-term warehousing risk: Since products are built only after specific donation thresholds are met, they’re expected to ship all at the same time. This is a massive advantage if you’re testing the waters. Instead of finding yourself stuck with thousands of products to store, you only need to pay for warehousing for a very limited time.

How to Use Pretail

Pretail is a simple enough process. You can open an online site or social media profile in extension to your current website. Allow your design team to upload image boards and concept art, and provide as much background information about your products, potential supply chain, and more as you can.

Share your vision after a trend briefing session with your team. The whole company can engage in trendwatching strategies to see what kind of e-tail solutions are getting the most attention from incubation marketplaces. Once you’re ready, you can encourage your customers to become an early adopter through advertising and allow them to pre-order their products.

Collect feedback as often as you can, and even if it’s your first time with pretailing, you should be able to compete with many major online stores. To succeed in pretail, you’ll need:

· An idea: You can use various websites and trendwatching.com sites online to determine what kind of unique products are gaining the most attention in your marketplace. Make sure you collect as much information as possible on each idea, so you can give your items a story when you bring them to market. You may want to test multiple ideas at once.

· A shopping destination: Your customers need a location where they can learn about your products and make pre-order purchases in advance. There are plenty of great platforms out there for pretailers to get started on. The key to success is finding something that allows you to showcase your brand and product at the same time.

· Marketing: It’s important to have a way of developing hype when you’re a pretailer. You want people to get excited about the concept you have to offer, which means providing as much insight and storytelling as possible. Post blog content and videos, share marketing campaigns on social media and get involved with influencers.

· Email list: Make sure that you keep your investors up to date on all the developments in your product roadmap. The last thing you need is for your customers to lose interest in whatever you’re selling.

Should You Try Pretail?

Pretail is an exciting opportunity for the right retailer. It’s an opportunity to bring your ideas into the market without taking on as much risk as you usually would with a standard launch. You’ll still need to do your research and find the kind of products most likely to have a direct impact on your target audience. However, with Pretail, there’s less of a worry that you might end up with tons of products that you simply can’t sell.

The more people believe in your product or idea, the more they’ll invest, which gives you unlimited opportunities to grow and develop your brand. At the same time, because your customers are investing in your items when they’re still in the design stage, there’s a far greater chance that you’ll end up with a loyal audience of people who genuinely believe in what you have to sell.

All you need to do is find the right pretailing sight where you can launch your idea, and start marketing your products to potential customers. In no time, you should have the funding you need to start putting your concept into production. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store your goods for very long. By the time you’re ready to get manufacturing, you only need to store the items until they’re ready to reach their new homes.


Bogdan Rancea

Bogdan is a founding member of Inspired Mag, having accumulated almost 6 years of experience over this period. In his spare time he likes to study classical music and explore visual arts. He’s quite obsessed with fixies as well. He owns 5 already.

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