We've found that the pre order system that comes with our e-commerce solution was less than ideal. It does not allow for a reservation style pre order. This functionality is great for some types of business, but in model railroading the pre orders can take months to produce and arrive. COVID only increased production and delivery time. After some reflection we stopped adding newly announced products for a guaranteed pre order window and attempted to make some assumptions about what products customers might want. We've assumed the risk of adding product to our inventory but still feel like we were missing out on the items that customers really want.
This is why we've changed the template of our site to no longer allow pre orders to be purchased directly through the platform. We'll list the items as they are announced and a customer can fill out a custom form on each product page that should help us know what to order from the manufacturer. Once the product arrives several months later, we'll setup an order in our platform and send it to the customer. If they cancel or neglect to complete the transaction, we'll put the item back in inventory for any shopper to buy.
No more upfront risk for the customer and hopefully we can add more variety of products to the site.