Planning for the Amazon Holiday Rush: Everything an Amazon Seller Needs to Know for a Successful Q4
Believe it or not, the holiday season is around the corner, which means your busiest and most profitable days as an Amazon seller are almost here. But not without some careful planning.
Have you started to map out your Amazon holiday and Q4 strategy yet? Chances are, the answer is no. After all, you are busy sourcing and managing inventory, fulfilling orders, managing customer service questions, and so on. With all that it takes to run a successful Amazon business, it can be hard to step back from your day-to-day operations to think ahead to Q4.
That’s where we come in. Here is a simple 6-point plan of Amazon Seller holiday tips to help you maximize your Q4 sales and have the strongest year yet.
1: Save the Date(s)
The holiday shopping season spikes in November and December, but there are some key dates during, before, and after these months that you should keep top of mind:
- Thanksgiving: November 23, 2017
- Black Friday: November 24, 2017
- Cyber Monday: November 27, 2017
- Hanukkah: December 12 – 20 , 2017
- Christmas: December 25, 2017
- Boxing Day: December 26, 2017
- Kwanzaa: December 26, 2017 – January 1, 2018
- New Year’s Eve: December 31, 2017
- Returns, Credits and Gift Cards! The entire month of January
- Chinese New Year: February 15 – 21, 2018
- Amazon’s Long-Term Storage Fee Day: February 15, 2018
To ensure that any overseas orders arrive before Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and to allow for any customs-related issues), keep these two dates from FBA Forward in mind — these are the latest that your shipments should leave their point of origin:
- Sea Freight: September 29, 2017
- Air Freight: October 27, 2017
Pro Tip: Holiday shopping fever tends to start earlier and earlier every year, with retailers launching Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals well before their calendar dates, so expect to see a spike in sales before Thanksgiving. And don’t forget to buy your inventory in September/October and plan for holiday returns in January (more on returns in #5 below).
2: Evaluate Current Inventory
Do any of your products have a high return rate or yield the most negative reviews? Do you have a lot of stale inventory that just won’t sell? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to not sell them during the holiday season. Here’s why:
First, if you continue selling products that are often returned or negatively-reviewed, you could put your Seller Performance rating at risk during a time when you can’t afford to lose rank or have your account suspended. Second, if you’re sitting on inventory, you’re obviously not making any money and could be losing money due to inventory storage fees.
It goes without saying that you should be focused on selling high volume, high margin goods. Stick with the products that are already selling (and performing) well for you, and if you want to expand your product offering, check out a service like Jungle Scout or these tips from The Selling Family to get started. Consider what’s trending for gifts as well — for example, toys and merchandise from a hit TV show or movie, or apparel and other swag from this year’s World Series and Super Bowl champs.
3: Consider FBA
Letting Amazon fulfill your orders and manage customer service questions/issues/returns will give you more time to evaluate your holiday progress, make any necessary adjustments, and even plan ahead for your Q1 2018 strategy.
FBA sellers also benefit from Amazon’s “Item will arrive in time for December 25” message, which appears on relevant product listings for the many online shoppers who wait until the last minute to buy gifts. Having this message could make or break a sale for you.
Pro Tip:Beyond order fulfillment, consider other areas of your day-to-day operations that you could outsource or automate. Not sure where to start? Check out these tips from Appeagle.
4: Prepare/Update Your Listings
Are all of your listings up to date and accurate? Have any product details changed since you first created your listing? Do you have any new photos to add? Your listings will convert better if the information is clear and accurate and if you have a variety of high quality product photos, so make sure to do a listing audit — at least of your most popular items.
Pro Tip: Another important component to your listings is price. Be careful about going too far above list price, because if it’s too high, Amazon will take note and your SEO rank could suffer. After all, they don’t let third party sellers price gouge Amazon shoppers. To maximize the sales price of your products, consult a repricing service like Xsellco, Seller Engine or Feedvisor.
5: Prepare for January Product Returns (Including With Your Suppliers)
Product returns are inevitable after the holidays, so come up with a plan now for how you’ll process them. For example, will you need to hire an employee? Or, assuming some items won’t be returned in their original packaging, will you need to resell them in Used or Like New condition, either on Amazon or other ecommerce sites like eBay? Think now about how you’ll handle returns so you’re not scrambling once January hits.
Pro Tip: Did you know that your suppliers may have return policies on surplus inventory? In other words, if you overestimate how much you need and order too much, you may be able to return what’s left. Talk to your suppliers now about what their return policy is — or if one even exists.
6: Maximize Your Cash Flow
The holiday season brings in a lot of income, but it also requires a lot of investment — be it in inventory, employees, FBA, etc. Needless to say, you’ll need cash to get through all that the holiday season requires.
Going back to #2 above, if you have stale inventory, you may want to liquidate it. If you’ve been sitting on it long enough, your best option might be to slash the price then advertise the sale on your social media channels or through Amazon. Not only will you increase your chances of making sales, but you’ll free up your shelves in the process.
Pro Tip: Another way to increase cash flow in Q4 is with a service like Payability that pays out your Amazon sales one business day after making a sale. Imagine having access to your holiday income in real-time. Call us today at (646) 494-8675 to see how we could help your business make the most of the holiday season.