Magento Pre-Orders vs Backorders – What is the difference?

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The world has dramatically changed since the beginning of the 21st century. Magento’s Pre-ordering and back ordering have opened the considerable opportunities for e-merchants and even the bigger ones for software providers in such fields, for instance, inventory, order or the warehouse management and the drop shipping.


A pre-order is for the item that has not been released till now and will be released in the future or after some time. Backorder is an item that was once in stock, but currently out of stock and will be available in future.

Let’s take a closer look at both of these 2 terms.

Let’s say, you can’t wait for the release date of the product whether it is an electronic device, an interesting book, pair of Jordans, or a computer game, you just want to get it as soon as possible. In this case, laying a pre-order works as a way to be sure that you’ll be the first in a line to get it.

As for the e-retailers, pre-orders make it possible to accept customer orders before the official for sale date comes. This function is only meant to accumulate sales, generate a buzz or introduce the product for a greater number of people.

Pre-order is a comprehensive Magento extension that allows the customers to either pre-book an upcoming product or back order an out of stock product. Sell products which are not available for immediate delivery. The Magento Pre-Order is a complete back order solution that helps to sell out of stock. Unavailable products, or upcoming products on your Magento store. The Magento Pre-Order is #1 in comprehensiveness as it helps the store owners retain customers looking for a specific product which is out of stock, cross-sell an upcoming product, analyze customers demand, restock based on analyzed demand, launch effective pre-booking campaigns and manage back order notes per products to notify customers when the product will be available there for shipment.

The Pre-orders functionality is basically not available in Magento out of the box, so you would need an extension or a customization to make it available. By using the pre-orders for Magento, you can do the following-

  • Swap Add to Cart button to pre-order on the front end.
  • Specify the number of products, items available for pre-order.
  • Add a custom message for the product. For example, arrives January 5.
  • Sort order by pending pre-order and processing pre-order statuses.

Pre-orders, custom stock status should be used to sell the soon to be released items. If you choose this option, you should set the Stock availability to In stock, and also specify the number of items available for pre-order in quantity. The pre-order for the out of stock, custom stock status should be used to sell the out of stock products. Its Add to cart button will change to Pre-order automatically when the product will go out of stock.

To be able to sell out of stock items as pre-orders, allow out of stock products for pre-order should be set to yes in system->configuration->catalog-> inventory->pre-orders. In both the cases, add to cart button will be replaced by pre-order on the front end.

Pre-order extension also allows you to leave a custom note that will be displayed on the product page and also in the shopping cart. For example, you can write something like the arrival date of the product or temporarily out of stock for the products that are out of stock. In order to create a note, go to the product editing mode and open the Inventory tab. There you can specify the message under the pre-order note.

Magento pre-order extension also efficiently handles Magento back orders by allowing the customers to quickly add simple, virtual, downloadable, grouped, or configurable products to cart. It comes packed with the engaging notification feature that creates custom notes for each product. Specifying of the expected delivery, shipment data helps you to sell more and with an ease. Almost, all the major shopping stores are using some sort of pre-ordering mechanism to sell more, this makes it a must have revenue multiplier extension for a Magento store.

You can also notify the customers by email when the product they pre-ordered becomes available. Go to the System->configuration->catalog->inventory->pre-orders and set the send alerts to yes.

Customers can even mix the pre-orders and regular items in the shopping cart. Sometimes, you may want to prevent the shoppers from doing that for easier order management.

If you wish to prevent the shoppers from mixing two types of items, set restrict adding pre-order and regular products to cart.

On the other hand, the Magento back order is a feature that is used to sell the products which are currently out of stock and can be available in the future. It depends on the manager of the store how to display the product on your site in stock or with the specific availability message like back order availability or currently, the product is out of stock and will be available within one week.

Popular items may get sold out quickly, so in order not to lose sales, disappoint the customers or drive them into the arms of the competitors, some e-retailers use the handy title trick called back ordering. It allows selling goods, even when there is a shortage of stock. Ordering an item that is currently on back order is a way that ensures that the item has been ordered and will be sent out to the customer as soon as the vendor replenishes the stock.

Popular items may get sold out quickly, so in order not to lose sales, disappoint the customers or drive them into the arms of the competitors, some e-retailers use the handy title trick called back ordering. It allows selling goods, even when there is a shortage of stock. Ordering an item that is currently on back order is a way that ensures that the item has been ordered and will be sent out to the customer as soon as the vendor replenishes the stock.

Magento gives you 3 options in Backorder.

  • No back orders- once the quantity reaches 0 for a product, it becomes out of stock and cannot be ordered.
  • Allow quantity below 0-once the quantity reaches 0, it remains in stock and customers can order the product despite its negative quantity.
  • Allow quantity below 0 and notify customer-the point is identical to allow quantity below 0, the only difference is that the customers get notified about their product being a back order in the shopping cart.

To enable the Backorder feature from Magento admin panel, follow the steps-

  • To allow the customers to purchase out of the stock products, this can be done as a global setting from Magento admin panel, Go to system-> configuration-> catalog tab-> inventory-> product stock options->backorders-> allow quantity below 0 and notify the customers.
  • Go to catalog-> manage product-> inventory tab, and set out of stock to in stock which you want to show as a back order on the front end.
  • Magento uses caching, so to reflect the change in front end application, clear the cache. Do not forget to clear cache from var/cache folder.

Magento Backorder extension features-

  • Customers can order out of the stock products.
  • Customers can order an upcoming product.
  • Customers can back order specifically unavailable products.
  • It supports all Magento product types- simple, downloadable, virtual, bundle, grouped, and configurable.
  • Let the customers order much-anticipated items in advance.
  • Backorder button is totally visible on the products, category, and search results.
  • Global backorder note that will appear for all products can be managed per product as well.
  • Replace Add to cart button with Pre-order. Prebook button on the product pages.
  • Customize the stock status on the product page.
  • Analyze the customer’s demands and restock accordingly.
  • Leave a note for back order products.
  • Ability to enable and disable product types.

With each day, the number of e-Commerce vendors realizing the advantages of back orders and pre-orders is raising. Because they are in the list of key features, customers want to see the Web stores as more stores offered these options as bigger demand for the help of such software providers as an inventory, order or warehouse management, and drop shipping. They exclude the need for e-retailers to control processes related to back and pre-orders, help to ship products on time and provide proper fulfillment. So they allow the merchants to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The problem that is been waiting for the software providers is that to be able to help an e-retailer, they need to be more integrated with the shopping cart the e-merchants have their stores based on. Without being connected to the platform, they can’t retrieve the information on back orders and pre-orders as well as products and customers details to provide the merchants with first class service.

The number of shopping carts that is presented on the market is huge. Getting integrated with many of them is very difficult because they all have a specific way of data storage. So the providers would need to integrate the module for each platform separately by hiring magento developer that would cost them a lot and require much time spendings and great effort.

Author Bio
Shara J, mid-level programmer working for magento website development company, Pattronize InfoTech. My favourite playground happens to be Magento but i do like others as well. I write some technical topics in my free time. You can contact me on Facebook.

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