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Your Holiday Season 2020 Preorder Guide

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Preorders are, typically, one of the best ways to guarantee that you get a new product on launch day. Preordering the latest video game consoles, smart phones and tablets has been something we’ve been doing for years now. With the creation of so many smart home devices, laptops, video cards and other hot gadgets, preordering is something we almost feel compelled to do for fear of missing out on that hot item.

Retailers and manufacturers use that fear to assure massive sales prelaunch of some of the hottest tech and toys each year. Retailers often find creative ways to entice preorders, like offering exclusive gift cards, promotional merchandise or even free products. The holiday season is no stranger to preorder bonuses and some of the best deals you can get prior to Black Friday can come from preordering.

Keep these features and tips in mind when preordering products during the 2020 holiday season. Plus, we have a list of items to put on your preorder list.

Utilize “Notify Me” features

It isn’t often, but there are a variety of products that can easily sell out even with preorders. This is due to the retailer knowing how many items they are going to receive from the distributor and having to cap purchases to that amount. When it comes to items like toys and video games, these quantities are typically quite high and easily fulfilled. But when it comes to more expensive items, like cellphones, projectors or various Nintendo products, the quantity the retailer is expecting can be quite low, which leads to these preorders selling out quickly.

Many retailers have added ways for customers to follow along with preordering options by offering up a simple “Notify Me” button on “Coming Soon” products. These buttons allow the shopper to enter an email address that will receive a notification email that the item is available for purchase. It’s highly recommended that, when it comes to hotly sought-after products, shoppers use any Notify Me or notification system a retailer offers to make certain they’re immediately aware once the product becomes available to order.

Be ready for notification woes

While we highly recommend utilizing any form of preorder notification, shoppers should be aware that they don’t always work as advertised. It’s possible for a shopper to change email addresses and forget to update their Notify Me options. It’s possible for the retailer’s system to glitch and not send out notifications as soon as the product is live in their system. It’s also possible that internet users employing bots to search for availability are faster than the retailer’s own notification system.

The launch of preorders for the PlayStation 5 is a prime example of how everything can go wrong. The preorders weren’t supposed to take place until Friday, Sept. 16, but Walmart opted to jump the gun and unleashed their preorders on Thursday, Sept 15. When they did so, they announced the move via Twitter and failed to activate any email notifications for customers who were awaiting the news. The fear of missing out on preorders prompted both Target and Best Buy to open up their preorders as well. Only Best Buy’s notification system worked that night, with many users still finding themselves too late to preorder as shoppers who had missed Walmart’s opening were eagerly awaiting other retailers’ preorders.

Even with these kinds of events occurring, we still highly recommend using the notification system offered by a retailer to score preorders. The system may have its warts, but it is worth suffering through if it means not missing out on that coveted item you want so badly.

Know your retailer preorder options

Several retailers have options for notifications and preordering. These are some of the best and easiest retailers to secure your orders:

Amazon preordering: Preordering from Amazon is exceptionally easy. The retailer treats most preorders like typical purchases, allowing a shopper to add the item to their cart. On the item page, a release date is mentioned so the shopper can see when the product will release. Once it’s in the shopper’s cart, that date will remain there noted in orange so shoppers can see it’s a preorder. Upon checking out, the cart will notify you of the expected arrival date. If that date changes after you’ve placed your order, Amazon will notify you via email of the change. If the product is not in stock at the time, Amazon will traditionally show shoppers a button to be notified when it comes back in stock. It should be noted that if Amazon has no expected date of restock, they will recommend other sellers to purchase from instead.

Apple preordering: Preordering from Apple is very easy, with shoppers being able to preorder directly from Apple’s website or from any Apple store. Apple brands are carried at major retailers as well, so it’s often possible for shoppers to preorder from their favorite stores. Apple products related to the cellphone industry are also available from phone carriers for preorders. Apple’s website will walk shoppers through every aspect of preordering and will inform shoppers of when the product should ship and arrive.

Best Buy preordering: Best Buy has carried preorders for shoppers for more than a decade. They originally started out with preordering Apple products or video games, but have expanded their preorder options in the last several years to include a variety of products, like tablets, laptops, video game accessories and more. Best Buy offers shoppers the ability to be notified when a product is in stock via the Notify Me button on their website listings. If the item is available for preorder, the shopper will complete the checkout like normal and will have their product mailed out to them upon release. If the item is something that can be picked up in stores, shoppers will be able to choose which store they’d like to pick up from instead. Due to COVID, most Best Buy locations are allowing for preorders to be picked up via curbside pickup, making it exceptionally easy for shoppers to snag the latest tech without ever stepping foot in the store. It should be noted that Best Buy’s app also allows for the preordering of items, meaning you can preorder almost any device very easily.

Target: Similar to Best Buy, Target offers preorders on a wide list of products. Target’s app and website allow shoppers to add items to their cart and proceed with checkout as if they were ordering something currently in stock. The preordered item will be shipped or available for pickup on the day of its release. Target does offer a “Check Stores” option for items currently unavailable via their website. Target also offers Registry options for all items carried in their store, allowing shoppers to add any upcoming release to a Registry they’ve created.

Walmart: Walmart, like Target and Best Buy, allows for preordering via their website. Preordering works just the same: Check out as if the item were currently available, and Walmart will ship it when its release day arrives. Walmart does also offer an in-stock alert if you submit your email address on any items currently not in stock. It should be noted that Walmart’s website utilizes dozens upon dozens of third-party sellers who are not Walmart and are free to sell their products at any price point they choose. Smart shoppers will want to pay careful attention to whom they are ordering from when using Walmart’s website, as buying from third-party sellers is not the same as buying from Walmart.

Products to put on your preorder list for the 2020 holiday season

There are a handful of hot products that will be released in November that many shoppers are anticipating for the holidays. Here’s a list of which items we think will be the hottest for the holidays and where we recommend preordering from:

iPhone 12: Two versions of the iPhone 12 became available on Oct. 23; the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro. The Mini and Pro Max versions will not be available for preorder until Nov. 6. Many retailers are offering trade-in bonuses that require a new line activation. The two best trade-in offers are at AT&T and T-Mobile, with both carriers offering up to $800 off depending on the device being traded in. Verizon is only offering $550 off and requires that you enlist in their Unlimited plan (which will throttle usage after going over a certain amount each month).

Echo Show 10: Amazon is almost always the best place to score the latest Amazon tech. The Echo Show 10 seems like a huge step up from the previous Echo Show devices and shoppers wanting to get their hands on the new model will definitely want to order directly from Amazon. Amazon hasn’t yet announced preorder dates for the unit and is instead offering shoppers the option to be notified via email when it it’s available. Amazon branded products can come and go, in terms of preorders, so we highly recommend signing up to be notified if you’re interested in the new Echo Show.

Apple HomePod Mini: The newest version of the HomePod, the Mini, will have its preorders open on Nov. 6. The official release date for the product will be Nov. 16 and it’s highly predicted that the device will not sell out prior to launch (due to lackluster sales of the original HomePod). Still, any shopper wanting the Mini version should go ahead and preorder as a just-in-case option. All retailers are offering the device for the same price, so shoppers should snag a preorder at whichever retailer they currently receive shopping rewards, whether they use Best Buy’s My Rewards program or Target’s RedCard benefits.

PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X: These are two of the hottest products to buy during the holiday season and both of their preorder windows came and went in September. It’s possible that retailers might open more preorders prior to their release date, but that could be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. No retailers have notifications set up for these items currently, which means it is up to shoppers to track if preorders open up again. Almost all retailers have confirmed that no preorders will take place in stores. The one caveat to this is that both Microsoft and Sony have confirmed that they intend for units to be available in stores on release day, though it is unclear how many units each store may be receiving. Shoppers looking to score one of these consoles this holiday season will want to be extra vigilant in tracking one down, especially as we get closer to their official release dates (PlayStation 5: Nov. 12, Xbox Series: Nov. 10).