Big-name brands usually knock the small fish right out of the water when it comes to the product launch. After watching thousands of product launches, Donald Brewer noticed that if companies could assess their products contextually within the marketplace and gauge consumer desire early on, they would have more of a fighting chance to survive in the vast sea of e-commerce.
So he went to the drawing board to reconceptualize the pre-order method and out came Prelaunch.
During the website's development, Brewer, Prelaunch's president, made an executive decision. "We borrowed some elements from crowdfunding sites," says Brewer. As he was creating the pre-order platform he said that, "It started to be a mashup of crowdfunding meets flash sales sites meets sort of a direct customer solution, [and] that I ultimately think is brand building."
By taking cues from the Kickstarter business model and blending them with direct-to-consumer solutions and analytics, the Prelaunch team has built a platform that less established brands can use to build names for themselves.
Small outfits can't cover ghastly expenses like market analysis, hiring a PR firm, or exploring several options for a launch. But on Prelaunch, they can offer exclusive incentivized deals and build customer loyalty early in the product's lifecycle, which can lead to higher profits.
Brewer exploited the popularity of crowdfunding, using it as a roadmap for how to shift an archetypal e-commerce exchange into something more reflective of current trends. Even more so, he aggrandized the experience by looking at how established brands constantly build hype with a pre-order option, which can oftentimes become a marketing tool. Prelaunch offers that same experience to companies tying in with their crowdfunding-like component.
Prelaunch users get perks like limited-edition offers and brand-sponsored contests, in addition to the ability to pre-order a product. There is also the opportunity to contact the behind-the-scenes creators, which ascribes to that sense of personal participation that is a successful motivator for many crowdfunded-site backers.
"I worked with major brands Fossil, Epson, Microsoft, et cetera, and if you look at each of their e-commerce spaces obviously they're [each] an amazing company, but [their site is] not a brand-building kind of site. They allow anyone to market a product in their space and that can negatively affect," promising companies sales, sometimes even leading to their demise, Brewer says.
The simple way to understand this is to think about every time you go on Amazon to buy something. "Amazon is going to market competitive products," on your user page Brewer noted, which ends up impacting brand loyalty. For established brands this may not be an issue, but smaller companies suffer from this type of mixed-marketing messaging.
Through the analytics provided by Prelaunch, brands have the opportunity to create product pages that are fine-tuned to customers, another potential leg up for tiny startups.
Brewer says that oftentimes the copy on small business' product page is written by bottom-feeder retail people who don't know the first thing about analytics or marketing strategies. That "webpage becomes permanent for the next 12-24 months that that product lives on," so if it is executed poorly patrons will likely not return to your e-commerce site.
Brewer added that he created Prelaunch because after years of watching product launches, he believes "there's a better way."
"We believe [Prelaunch is] an opportunity to sell a hundred unit pre-orders and do multi-varied analysis with optimized tools, not just surveys, and figure out exactly the kind of tactic for the kind of people who purchase this. Then our belief is that their launch may not be a thousand units, maybe it's fourteen hundred units."
Ultimately, small brands are in a much better place to market products against their competitors. So the small fish can confidently swim right alongside the bigger ones.