While the sun hasn’t quite set on summer, Prime Day is behind us and the busiest time of the year is almost upon us. The fourth quarter of the year begins in October and runs three months, encompassing the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and pre-Christmas period. It also includes post-Christmas sales, Boxing Day in the UK, and year-end deals leading up to New Year’s. The rush is only getting more competitive, so if you’re an Amazon seller or vendor, now is the time to prepare. Here are our top tips for a smooth Q4 in 2021.
The 2021 eCommerce landscape
The global pandemic has altered our existence, spelling doom for certain brick and mortar stores and changing the way business is done. eCommerce is booming, with sales from online expected to account for more than 21% of retail sales overall by 2024. As an indicator, Prime Day continues to grow every year, and Prime Day 2021 sales were strong. Though results have not officially been announced, estimates from the June event totaled more than $11.1 billion.
Tips for Q4 2021
Preparation is the key to success for Q4, so it will pay to get your listings, promotions, inventory, and Amazon Advertising properly planned and up and running.
Prepare and optimise your listings
You’ll want to ensure your titles, feature bullets, and product descriptions are in great shape for Q4. If you don’t provide optimised listings for your customers, your competition will. Pay attention to common listing errors and correct them now. Don’t neglect your product images. You still have time to create and upload optimised images before the peak period.
Before Q4 hits, you’ll want to check over all of your listings and refresh keywords using an SEO-based approach. We recommend using external tools to research your products and take advantage of your hidden keywords field. Customers usually find products by search, and Q4 will have customers combing the site for deals. Optimise your keywords accordingly to take advantage of your options.
Use all your Brand Registry benefits for enhanced content
Once you’ve optimised your product listings, you’ll want to take advantage of enhanced content, such as A+ Content, Brand Stores, and Brand Stories. You don’t want to head into the most high-traffic time of the year without utilising all of your Brand Registry benefits. Presenting a cohesive brand presence with well-designed images, well-written copy, and a nice landing page for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals with a Brand Store can be very useful during Q4.
Test your content
There’s still enough time to implement A/B testing on your A+ Content and images and to implement your learnings for this key selling period. A/B testing options can be accessed through Seller Central.
We recommend running tests at least two weeks before analysing results. We also recommend testing several different versions to determine which works best (and not just one simple test). This might mean testing images with multipacks included, trying A+ with more or less text, or other layouts. These results can be especially useful for increasing conversion during the holiday season.
Plan and prepare your promotions
If you’re planning to capitalise on promotion opportunities during Q4, you’ll want to prepare a pricing strategy that is in line with your goals. This may mean you need to end current promotions to give your pricing structure enough time in between to be able to drop them again for Black Friday. For instance, Prime Exclusive Deals must be at least 10% off the non-promotional price.
The window for submitting Lightning Deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals week is currently open in Seller Central. Amazon is also accepting submissions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Vendor Central, with a consideration deadline set as October 8.
In Seller Central, your eligible ASINs will display on the “Deals” tab under “Advertising” in Seller Central. To be eligible for deals, items will need a sales history and at least a 3.5-star rating. You’ll be charged a fee based on when you run your deals, with high-traffic periods (such as Black Friday) requiring a higher fee.
In Vendor Central, you should navigate to the “Merchandising” tab and see your “Promotions” available.
Plan accordingly and learn about different deal types available to you. For some businesses, it may not make sense to pay the fee for Lightning Deals when you can run a Prime Exclusive Deal (submissions not open for this, currently) as we get closer to the promotion dates. Regardless, we recommend getting your deals planned and submitted by mid-September, as this gives you enough time to prepare and fulfil stock and inventory requirements.
Competition is fierce during the Q4 shopping season. A well-executed advertising strategy can be the difference between success and failure. We recommend running auto and manual PPC campaigns now to determine what keywords are working for your brand and particular products. It takes a bit of time investment, but once you know what works, you can increase bids and narrow your focus during Q4 to optimise your spending and lower your ACoS.
Staying agile during the Q4 season is also important. Be prepared to check in on your advertising frequently so you can react. For instance, removing underperforming keywords, or advertising your deals. Learn more about Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products.
Off-Amazon advertising can also be your friend. Use your website, social media, and Amazon Posts to drive traffic and optimise your unpaid channels to work for you during this peak period.
Forecast, plan and prep your inventory
Running out of stock during Q4 can be a nightmare. Inventory issues can cause you to lose sales and momentum during a blast of shopping traffic. Because Amazon FCs are running at capacity, it can be hard to replenish. Expect long lead times for replenishment and plan accordingly. You also don't want to be sitting on excess stock and incur large storage fees come January. Holiday sales can run right up to Christmas Eve, with many locales offering fast, same-day deliveries. Be sure your forecasts have covered this crucial period.
If done correctly, your stock should arrive at Amazon in October, with plenty of time to check it in. Looking at last year's numbers can be helpful, or even using tools such as RestockPro to more accurately plan your inventory.
As a general rule, we recommend anticipating stock to take twice as long as usual for your FBA orders to arrive and be checked in. You should also pay attention to changing storage limits and performance threshold changes. For instance, in 2020, Amazon changed the Inventory Performance Index (IPI) minimum to 500. If your score was below this, you were subject to storage limits during Q4. Just in case, it’s a good idea to improve your IPI score right now, by clearing up stranded inventory or improving sell-through.
Along with inventory, sellers will want to implement a pricing strategy to benefit them during Q4. Your pricing strategy should provide for decent sell-through, sustainable margins, and planning so you don’t end up with excess inventory after sales dates. Your strategy may incorporate deals and pricing fluctuations, which you will need to play carefully for. Tighter margins could benefit you in the long run if you end up avoiding long-term storage fees or costly removals.
Need more assistance?
Q4 can be an exciting time to be selling online, especially with consumers searching for deals and being eager to purchase from Amazon. With a little preparation and agility, you can be on your way to a great holiday season. If you have questions about your account, need more help managing your marketing or overall account strategy, or need to work on tasks like Brand Stores and A+ Content, contact us for more assistance.