It all comes down to preparation.
Planning in advance is essential for success as an Amazon seller, yet a surprising number of sellers ‘prepare to fail’ because they ‘fail to prepare.’
Q4 represents the busiest and most lucrative time of the year for the majority of Amazon sellers.
The holiday season brings with it a frenzied energy in which shoppers spend money around the clock, on themselves as well as family members, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances.
Sellers must be prepared to take full advantage of this environment by developing and strategically executing tactics designed to proactively…
Preparing for the future means looking back to the past.
By analyzing data from the previous Q4, sellers can gain valuable and actionable insights that are critical for effective decision making and for developing new competitive strategies.
Data analysis from last year can help sellers to make cost saving and profit increasing course corrections in areas such as PPC bidding decisions, prioritizing product listings, or zeroing in on their most responsive audiences by having a better understanding of the attributes of those audiences.
Sellers should analyze their previous Q4 data to help answer the following questions:
Successful data mining starts with sellers establishing their most important Q4 objectives, so that they can laser-focus on the data that will help them to achieve those goals.
Pro Tip: Sellers should also gather and assess data from the current year to track any new trends or changes. The key is to start early (at least two months before the start of Q4), because it takes time to collect data from ad campaigns.
Sellers should seek answers to the following questions:
Setting goals helps sellers to organize their processes, creating a clear structure in which their marketing budget can be segmented.
Sellers should keep in mind that their sales during the holiday Q4 period will ebb and flow. Once they have developed and implemented a plan for the Q4 period, it’s critical for sellers to trust in the process and adhere to it.
There is a difference between being flexible in order to make small tweaks and swinging the pendulum from one extreme to the other in reaction to periods of low (or even high) sales.
Sellers also need to be aware of what types of data are available and how it’s delivered and displayed.
Brand Registered sellers, for example, can use the information provided by the Search Query Performance Dashboard to determine the performance of the top search terms associated with their brand, based on shopper search behavior.
To use the Search Query Performance Dashboard, go to Brands > Brand Analytics > Search Query Performance.
Once there, sellers can see metrics for search displays, clicks, add-to-carts, and purchases, and how searches are being performed (PPC ads versus organically), in order to fine-tune their Q4 marketing strategies.
Pro Tip: Sellers should keep in mind that the sales totals may not match the total count from their sales reports because these sales totals only include those originating from the search results page and don’t reflect any sales that were generated through widgets or detail pages.
In order to maximize every dollar of the marketing budget for Q4 and ensure that it aligns with Q4 business goals, sellers should answer these questions:
Once this information has been gathered, sellers are equipped to decide how to best allocate budget funds according to the appropriate advertising strategy.
Once again, looking back at the previous year’s Q4 data is one of the best means for predicting when inventory may be sold out, in order to implement an appropriate inventory strategy for the current Q4 year.
Some newer sellers might not have the cash flow to significantly increase their inventories, possibly leading to them selling out of some or all of their products. Running out of inventory will not only cause new sellers to miss out on sales but will also affect their organic product rankings on Amazon.
Newer sellers running low on budget should consider Dayparting.
Dayparting allows sellers to maximize the visibility and results of their Amazon PPC ads by scheduling and showing these ads only during certain times of the day or certain days of the week, conserving daily budgets by more effectively targeting relevant audiences.
Reminder: FBA storage fees are not fixed and will vary depending on demand.
While veteran sellers are more adept at dialing-in their inventory and are likely to have inventory after the Q4 selling season, they should keep in mind that during Q4, storage fees are at their highest. Sellers should factor in Amazon’s variable fees around November and December when analyzing their budgets for Q4 because those fees can dramatically reduce or increase profit margins.
Hefty FBA storage fees can be avoided by sellers sending in their inventory to fulfillment warehouses before the dates when Amazon assesses long-term storage fees (15th of February and the 15th of August).
Sellers can expect Amazon’s fulfillment warehouses to become increasingly sluggish in receiving products starting in October as sellers prepare for the onslaught of holiday sales in Q4.
Also, it is nearly impossible to predict to what degree Amazon will restrict storage space, ASIN limits and other operational logistics for many sellers. Sellers should keep a close eye on company announcements/news.
Finally, for many sellers, January can be almost as intense and profitable as December because shoppers are using Amazon gift cards to get what they truly want as a holiday gift. Therefore, January sales are an important part of the retail calendar. Sellers should make sure that they have enough inventory to meet this demand in the new year.
The key to nailing a Q4 sales strategy is to manage inventory correctly. Fail to stock enough of a product and sellers miss out on potential sales. Order too much stock and the seller may be left with obsolete inventory and high storage fees.
Amazon sellers can cease to worry about over/under ordering inventory and ditch spreadsheets forever, with SoStocked, an inventory management software, that automatically factors in sale spikes (e.g., Prime Day, Black Friday, seasonality), and sends alerts.
Sellers should create a holiday campaign allocating a small budget, in order to research and evaluate holiday themed search terms.
However, these research campaigns should be limited because the amount of traffic during the Q4 holiday period is substantially higher, while research campaigns tend to yield lower profits (higher ACoS).
During the holiday shopping season, shopper behavior is primarily focused upon looking for and purchasing a specific gift, rather than researching a line of products.
Sellers should limit research based campaigns in favor of targeted campaigns that target shoppers who are considering their options and who are eager to buy (Consideration & Decision Phases of the Customer Buying Cycle).
Sellers should use search terms that combine ‘gift’ + their product.’ This will aid in narrowing their target audience, measure search volume and allow ranking to begin.
Listings should target the right keywords that have relevant shopper search intent behind them. Sellers should include these relevant keywords in their product titles, bullet points, and descriptions.
All images should be professional high-quality photos that leave little to the shopper’s imagination, and clearly show how the product will solve a problem/pain-point, fulfill a desire, and add value to their life.
Brand owners enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry can use Amazon Premium A+ Content to gain access to ‘next-level’ features such as multiple video modules, interactive comparison charts, rich text editor, and other features to truly stand apart from the sea of competitors during Q4 .
Branding is an essential way to differentiate a seller’s products and stay top of mind with potential customers during Q4. Sellers should…
Amazon sellers who design detailed plans and who execute them carefully, will reap the rewards of having wider brand awareness, shoppers who are eager to buy from them, higher profits with less headaches, and loyal customers that return again and again throughout the new year.
Entourage: Software to Scale Amazon Ads and Results Driven Management.
He is the owner and founder of PPC Entourage, one of the original amazon ad software and management companies. Mike started off as a physical therapist in 2015 and just knew there had to be a better way so he started his ecommerce journey. Using the power of Amazon Ads, he built a 7 figure brand in less than one year. Now he helps other sellers do the same with free valuable education, PPC Entourage software and the ad agency. He is also the author of the Amazon Ads Playbook series.
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