You may still be recovering from the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping period, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the run up to Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year. With order cut-offs as late as December 23 for Prime One-Day shipping, the season starts to feel longer with every new logistics advancement and passing year. But it’s never too early to have a post-mortem on your Q4. With a range of clients from small to large, and in multiple different countries, we are in a unique position at eCommerce Nurse to provide tips and learnings. Hopefully this review helps you take stock of your own Q4 position and adjust for the future.
Learnings from Q4
First off, as a seller or vendor, you have to know your market. Q4 isn’t going to be every business or every product’s busiest time. Perhaps you sell fitness equipment or weight loss supplements, and January is when your sales really take off. Obviously, preparation may be different. But these key points should help you guide your run up to your busy season.
- Get started before Q4: Set up new products and be sure they are launched well in advance of October (the start of Q4). This allows time to establish pricing, especially if you want to add was/now pricing changes. This also allows you time to get your products through the Vine or Early Reviewer programs so that you can get reviews added before the busy period. Our product managers also recommend using something like FeedbackFive to optimize all review opportunities.
- Optimize your listings: In addition to setting up new product, all existing product updates and amends should be done before October. This means making sure that you have 100% Complete Detail Pages (CDP). This includes your titles, feature bullets, product descriptions, and images. Images are one of the first things customers notice, and are responsible for bringing traffic from glance views. Make sure these are high quality well before Q4. All of these should be fully optimized for customers and keywords. Also, we recommend that your top 20% (if not all your products) have A+ content added. Utilize the A+ comparison chart widget to showcase your brand or business’ entire range. We like to use this as the final module in our A+ pages.
- Consider the holiday shopping period: You may want to revise keywords and ad campaigns to include gifting related words, think outside the box – don’t just use words like “gift,” make it specific to your product e.g. “unique gin lovers gift.” Consider updating your Brand Store to be Christmas-themed. Perhaps swap out photography to showcase more gift-type products, or use a holiday treatment logo, etc. Similarly, tailor your Amazon Ads to the holiday period and set these up in advance.
- Plan your Amazon Ads: Again, Q4 is not the time to be testing what works as far as ads. Do your testing in Q3 (leverage learnings from Prime Day or previous years’ Q4 data). Take a good, hard look at your advertising budget and allocate funds appropriately and get everything loaded and running prior to October. Definitely run ad campaigns during this peak time, but be prepared for higher aCos during this period as search terms become competitive. Budget for this and be prepared.
- Lock it down: After October is not the time to be testing any content, from keywords to ads or enhanced brand content. Plus, Amazon is under pressure and lots of traffic during this time, so A+ approvals can take 2 or 3 weeks, instead of 1 to 7 days. (Although Vendor Central is normally better than Seller Central).
- Assume Amazon will take 2 weeks to receive your products once they land at the warehouse – work at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance for FBA stock shipments.
- Over forecast: Plan well and watch your forecasts. You can never really have too much stock during this period, and you never know what might start selling well. Proper forecasting will also be essential if you plan to run promotions. Have forecasts in place for stock down to the SKU level. You should monitor stock daily during Q4, Amazon will take longer to get stock booked in and you don’t want to run out. Use the 80/20 rule if your catalogue is too large.
- Plan your promotions: Map out your promotions and plan them well in advance. The deadlines for submitting for Black Friday and other deal periods (especially in key pages that Amazon markets site-wide) are as early as September. Submit for Best Deals. This is great for products where you aren’t likely to see everyone buying it cheaply to resell. It is great for brand awareness, increased traffic, and quick sales. Amazon suggests these for sellers and vendors, but not everything or everyone is eligible
- Use coupons: If you aren’t on sitewide deal pages, start running coupons during key times. Having a coupon live (of any value) increased sales for our clients versus having no coupon, or using “promotions.” Keep in mind that products with running coupons will display with a badge in search results. This may draw in more customers and result in more clicks and higher conversion.
- Drive traffic: If you have an external website or social media, drive traffic to your Amazon listings. A lot of your customers will already have an Amazon account and will also likely have Prime membership. Allow them to take advantage of Amazon’s speedy and free shipping offers by encouraging them to purchase your product from Amazon. If you have a grocery item, the Subscribe & Save functionality is a good way to lock them into repeat purchases.
- Watch the competition: Monitor everything during Q4. Just because your content is locked down, doesn’t mean your pricing has to be. Make sure you remain competitive. We have had clients start dropping in sales over Black Friday because their competitor knocked $10 off their pricing. You do not want to lose the Buy Box if you can help it. Monitoring during this whole period is important.
- Double-check: Sort out and monitor all facets of your business closely. Especially stock and inventory. Don’t leave it to December to realize you don’t have your product with the correct expiry date and Amazon removes it because they notice it’s not labelled correctly.
Post-mortem and understanding your results
In Amazon’s complex ecosystem, things take time. Ads won’t immediately get traction. A+ pages may be rejected 5 times before they are properly edited to get through Amazon’s systems.
Preparation is the key to success on Amazon at any time of the year, but especially during Q4. It may be tempting to relax now that it’s Q1, because of course next October is far away. But it’s important for businesses to have a post-mortem to adequately prepare and plan for 2020. You can leverage your findings from high-traffic times to be even more competitive during peak selling periods this year. Prime Day, for instance, is right around the corner! Review your forecasts vs. actuals; keep track and take a look at any reactionary changes you had to make during the holiday period; and start thinking about next year.
Get professional help
All of this can be a bit overwhelming. Especially if you are a new seller or you had a worse-than-expected Q4. This is where eCommerce Nurse comes in. There’s no time like the present to start getting your ducks in a row. If you need help with content optimization or creation, images, A+ pages or Brand Stores, Amazon Ads, translations/international support, forecasts and planning, or an overall account audit, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation and reach your goals in 2020.