How to have a record Q4 season on Amazon: best practices for sellers

holiday sales

The majority of product-based businesses make the largest part of their annual revenue in the last few weeks of the year during the holiday season. Selling on the Amazon is no exception: 2017 Q4 was another record selling holiday season for the largest e-commerce platform.

There is no reason not to anticipate record growth and revenues from Amazon’s holiday shopping in Q4 2018 Q4. It is critical to be well prepared. And it is not too late to make sure your business is ready capitalize on Q4 sales.

Brand Presence

Whether your customers are familiar with your brand or not, your product pages, images, reviews, easiness of navigating your catalog all contribute to traffic and conversions.

Having a well-optimized listing is one of the first musts for an Amazon seller to ensure ranking and visibility in Amazon search results. Listings with rich product descriptions, bullet points, inclusion of customer search terms and Amazon-compliant images will help sellers take advantage of the higher sales velocity on the platform. Additionally, making sure that your listing complies with Amazon’s guidelines will help prevent unpleasant surprises, such as having your listing suppressed  by Amazon in the middle of a busy holiday season.

Actionable steps:

– Review any quality alerts and suppressed or failed-to-load (if using file uploads) listings. A lot of times sellers do not realize they have a number of listings that are not visible to buyers due to listing quality issues.

– Review and optimize listings with a holiday perspective in mind: can you add holiday themed lifestyle photo? Can your products be positioned as gifts? if any of your products can be gifts include that in product description or search terms (e.g. ‘gift’ or ‘present’ keywords) in order to highlight gifting or seasonal opportunities.

– Have a solid feedback and product review strategy in place. Since Q4 is the busiest time of the year with the most order volume, capitalize on that by sending out post-purchase email asking for product reviews or feedback. Consider customizing your emails with holiday templates or messages as well.

Inventory Management

When it come to In inventory management the main goal is to not run out of stock. Importance of inventory forecasting during November-January, can not be stressed enough.

Actionable steps:

– Assess your slow-moving inventory trends and storage fees costs (if you use FBA). Q4 can be an opportunity to move your slow-moving inventory, but also can carry higher costs due to higher monthly storage fees

– Do not commit the holiday deadly sin of inventory management: running out stock in November-January. We suggest to combine data your historical trends in Q4, your YoY growth rate, and your advertising and promotion plan (budget, SKUs, etc.) to come up with Q4 sales projections.  to assess - Add buffer to FBA transit and processing times. During Q4 Amazon warehouses processing time slows down, sometimes significantly. Additionally, confirm any lead times with your main vendors to ensure any potential delays are configured in your inventory planning.

- Leverage pricing and advertising to support your inventory level. Maximizing sales in Q4 pricing is a great objective, but running out of stock is a worst-case scenario in holiday season. If your sales in Q4 are increasing faster than your inventory levels can support, consider temporarily raise prices, as well as turning advertising down, to slow demand until you can replenish your inventory.

Promotions and Advertising

Leveraging promotion opportunities in Q4 is critical to propel your sales even further during the biggest shopping season. Getting in front of customers through promotions is great ROI, since intent to buy in Q4 is higher than usual.

Actionable steps:

Here are some of our suggestions to make sure you are leveraging different promotions channels:

  • Let your overall business goal for Q4 drive decisions on promotions and advertising. Is your goal hitting certain sales numbers? Or a successful product launch? Something else? Your ad budget should be allocated according to your main business goal for Q4

  • Review last year Q4 campaigns. Did you run Lightning Deals, coupons, only PPC? If specific campaigns worked last year there is no reason to do them again in Q4 2018. Often best decisions are rooted in data

– Review and optimize your Sponsored Ad campaigns to ensure that you are including relevant keywords for your items in your manual campaigns, as well as to capture any search terms customers use specifically during holiday season. (Similar to product-listing optimization, gifting or seasonal opportunities are great examples!)

– If your brand has off-Amazon presence in social media, or your own email list, leverage those channels to drive traffic to your Amazon listings.

- Pay a lot closer eye to daily budgets on your campaigns to ensure you don’t run out of stock. Having your campaigns run through the end of each day is a lot better than  blowing through your ad budget by afternoon

Q4 is an exciting time for any brand, and being prepared for the holiday season through planning and analysis means healthier margins for your business. Implementing our Actionable Steps will position you for your own record holiday sales season on Amazon.

How do you feel about Q4 sales you will have on Amazon? Let’s get you ready for the perfect storm:

Irina Balyurko