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Peoplevox Updates

Is Presales Fulfilment For You?

Louisa Hopper
  • 14 August 2017
  • 5 min read

Capture a slice of that celeb fashion action with presales fulfilment

Presales fulfilment is all about selling the goods before they’re actually in the warehouse. This can bring a number of potential benefits; unforeseen addressable sales opportunities, speed to market, and cost savings clearly among them. It’s a common practice used by online retailers perhaps looking to steal a march on larger competitors, or when particular types of products are suddenly in big demand.

Presales fulfilment is particularly suited to the world of ‘fast fashion’ with a growing number of retailers having specific presales sectors on their websites.

Through the power of the press and social media, consumers can immediately see or hear all about a new design that’s ‘for the moment’, perhaps following its launch at a fashion show or because it’s being worn by a celeb. As a result, consumers are likely to want it or something that looks an awful lot like it, incredibly quickly. Sites such as this can make it easy for consumers and retailers to keep abreast of what celebrities are wearing. 

However, helping that ‘to die for’ dress or pair of designer trainers on their journey from catwalk or celeb wardrobe into the shopping carts of an eager public doesn’t happen by magic. It relies on strong entrepreneurial spirit and belief on the part of the retailer.  

Fast fashion is largely influenced by what celebrities are saying about, doing in, or with, the designs and accessories they wear. Often these are manufactured situations triggered by fashion houses, brands and retailers seeking the limelight for their latest lines. Take Missguided, for example, who teamed up with Nicole Scherzinger a while back to create Nicole x Missguided. Sales soared 35 per cent month-on-month following the first launch of the collection. 

Then there are celebrity inspired creations where a brand or retailer teams up with famous faces who’ve  ‘designed’ new collections. A celebrity inspired example would be Beyonce’s collection with Topshop, and of course Kanye West for Adidas. But there are countless others. See this article for more on why consumers are so captivated by celebrity fashion collaborations.

Pay and display

In many cases, celebs may well have been paid to wear selected items, perhaps for a one-off high profile red carpet event, or to be ‘seen’ somewhere such as the airport, club, anywhere that’s glam. They will also most likely have agreed to make number of posts about said items on Instagram, the Fashionistas favourite. This article provides a useful overview of the various ways of getting a celebrity on board and typical compensation structures offered. Of course, there is also a reasonable chance celebs will simply chose to pick things out for themselves from the many freebies they receive, then just like/comment about them on social media! 

Pulling power  

Without a doubt, social media combined with ‘Star Power’ carries a lot of pull, be they Hollywood A-listers, soap stars, pop divas, royalty, even politicians. 

Of course, capturing a slice of all this sales action is down to the fast fashion retailers who stand to make considerable returns. It can also increase ongoing retention as customers may keep returning to a retailer site just to check on availability of further presales opportunities and other celebrity inspired items.

Call it serendipity, luck, or clever marketing, potential customers won’t mind, provided their hearts desire is available now, in the right shade, size, and at the right price.  Naturally, this requires selling what they want while it’s still wanted, and quite possibly before it’s actually in your warehouse, or even before it’s been made.

Getting to the thick of it

This is where presales fulfilment comes in, putting you, the e-commerce retailer, in the thick of the action, allowing you to promote availability via social media and on the website, test the waters on the most popular variations (such as sizes and colours), and gauge just how far a celeb-inspired range, or endorsement, will actually translate into real demand and worthwhile sales.

Then, having seen a steady flow of orders over a day or two, and all without tying up significant capital or storage space, the next logical step is taking the plunge, ordering sufficient quantities from suppliers for keeping pace with the actual demand you’re creating, and increasing volumes as and when necessary.  

Going a step further, to keep lead times to the bare minimum, some retailers may even consider back to back ordering where customer sales orders are fulfilled directly from supplier warehouses, so they don’t have to handle the goods at all.

As with all things in the fast-paced and often fickle world of e-commerce retailing, carefully consider the pros and cons of presales fulfilment before jumping in with both feet.

Presales Upside:

  • Presales lets you see what demand is like before ordering high quantities of stock from suppliers
  • Stay ahead of the competition by being the first to offer hot new pieces
  • Quickly capitalise on demand created by star power / social media by using your own promotions for same or similar items


  • Overselling could be a potential issue if your supply chain can’t keep pace with faster/higher than anticipated demand 
  • Quality issues: Saleable stock being lower than expected if number of defects in delivered stock is higher than estimated
  • Delay in product shipments to warehouse causing delay in delivery to customers: bad reviews and missed sales opportunities  
  • Product takes too long to make and you miss out on that sweet spot of peak demand

A lot to consider, but the rewards can be high if you get it right. 

 Attention all Fashionistas! Try our fashion & apparel Fulfilment Scorecard to see how your warehouse management and fulfilment strategy stacks up against your competitors.

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