Idea Validation: Market demand, Willingness to pay

Collect Pre-orders

Allow users to place an order for an item which has not yet been released

Illustration of Collect Pre-orders
Run a Collect Pre-orders play

Also called: Pre-order page, Pre-sales

Difficulty: Intermediate

Requires existing audience or product

Evidence strength

Relevant metrics: Conversions, Email signups

Validates: Viability, Desirability

How: Set up a one-page website, product page, or Kickstarter campaign where customers can pre-order your product before you have spent any time developing it or hiring people to make it happen. Nobody likes a scam, so explain and build trust that you will deliver the product you promise or return the money if the project is scrapped.

Why: Gauge demand for a product before building it and hence also the size of initial product runs.

This experiment is part of the Validation Patterns printed card deck

A collection of 60 product experiments that will validate your idea in a matter of days, not months. They are regularly used by product builders at companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and Amazon.

Get your deck!

Before the experiment

The first thing to do when planning any kind of test or experiment, is to figure out what you want to test. To make critical assumptions explicit, fill out an experiment sheet as you prepare your test. We created a sample sheet for you to get started. Download the Experiment Sheet.

Postpone production

As an experiment, it is quick and easy to set up a pre-order landing page and start asking for money for your product. In this way, you can test whether users are willing to put skin in the game and draw into their own pockets for the product you’re offering. Proving willingness to pay, it is almost as good as it gets.

As it’s so quick and easy to set up a pre-order experiment, this experiment is a great way to probe demand of a product – even before there is one. Once you see the pre-orders flowing in a tempo you are comfortable with, you can make the decision to set the actual production in motion. If you don’t see orders coming in as you like, you can repay the money to the hopeful early adapoters.

Be honest and up-front with the premise

Be very explicit about the nature of your experiment: that if not enough demand is shown, the project won’t be realised. After having paied for a pre-order, customers should at all times know that there is a chance that what they just paid for won’t be – but that they will then get their money back. Consider using a crowdfunding platform for this rather than brewing your own setup, as this has all the relevant communication built-in.

After the experiment

To make sure you move forward, it is a good idea to systematically record your the insights you learned and what actions or decisions follow. We created a sample Learning Sheet, that will help you capture insights in the process of turning your product ideas successful. Download the Learning Sheet.

Popular tools

The tools below will help you with the Collect Pre-orders play.

  • PayPal

    PayPal makes it easy and effortless to accept payment

  • Stripe

    Set up internet payment on your page in minutes


Oculus Rift

VR company, Oculus Rift, launched a pre-order page for its development kit before they began production.

Source: 15 ways to test your minimum viable product


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