In 2012 I wrote a Forbes article entitled "Pre-Tail, E-Tail, to Retail: The New Commerce Pipeline," in which I highlighted trends around online platforms allowing merchants to test consumer demand prior to large-scale manufacturing. Companies like Quirky, Kickstarter, ModaOperandi, and others allow manufacturers, big-box and long-tail, to pre-test demand through pre-sales. I called this part of the commerce pipeline the "Pre-Tailing" that came before online retailing, known as "E-Tailing," and then traditional offline "Retail." Companies like Storefront, the Airbnb for commercial real estate that allows online-first merchants to A/B test physical real estate before entering into long-term leases, is also a form of "Pre-Tailing." Pre-Tailing is data driven commerce, using early demand to kick the tires on the scalability of a product or an idea.
Based on this article and concept, the Financial Times has officially recognized this term, "Pretail," as part of the new Lexicon.