With the busy 2019 holiday shopping season fast approaching and preparation well underway already for Black Friday and Cyber Monday there are things Amazon Sellers can do to be ready to take full advantage of the massive sales opportunities.
In this article we outline our top 5 tips to be ready.
Tip 1) Get Inventory Ready
Amazon’s official cutoff to guaranteed items in stock and available on Prime for Black Friday and Cyber Monday was November 6 don’t let that stop you from sending in inventory as soon as possible. Amazon is continually improving how the received inventory and they make extensive use of data to understand how to prioritize receiving. This means that if your items have shown a track record of selling well, with good conversion rate or they are in a fast-selling category where there are few sellers, Amazon is likely to still make process your shipment for the holiday. Amazon will also make items available on Prime with a future “available by” date for items that are not new. Finally any inventory you get in now will be in place for the rest of the busy holiday shopping season so we advise sending at least 2 x whatever you sell in an off-peak month and then make adjustments to additional shipment plans in the coming weeks.
For your best items (new or bestseller) consider selling the item as seller-fulfilled. You can create new offers for the same ASIN (Amazon product identifier) by creating a new SKU and setting the fulfillment format to “seller-fulfilled”. Make sure you offer free shipping and have an automatic order import setup to pull order data from Amazon into your eCommerce backend for fulfillment. Most important of all is that you ship within 1-2 days or you will run afoul of Amazon shipping policies and risk being kicked restricted from seller-fulfillment in the future.
Tip 2) Know Amazon Advertising
Advertising for the Holiday Shopping season is a crucial component to success on the channel. Let’s boil it down into some high level areas of focus and then call out the most important factors in each.
- BUDGET: Budget requires an understanding of your product margin, a goal for the timeframe during which you are advertising, and knowledge about the cost of advertising within your category on your products.
- Don’t Run Out: Once you have established targets and built advertising campaigns in appropriate structures ,budget is of crucial import. Campaigns need to be monitored consistently with budgets set such that campaigns will run throughout the day without pause due to budget exhaustion. Don’t leave sales/$ on the table!! Know that this time of year brings increased shopper intent to purchase AND an increase in demand for ads – in short there will be conflicting performance trends that need to be managed – IE know you may sell at a lower margin but offset with volume.
- Know vs Guess: When possible have an informed perspective on this overlaying your eComm data or historical trends on your business on Amazon. Ask yourself as a brand manager – am I positioned as aggressively as I want or need to be to capture or exploit Holiday shopping potential across channels and per the business goals I have set?
- How am I spending? Am I using all of the advertising products available to me, effectively? Promotions? Sponsored Products? Sponsored Brands? Deals? Coupons?
- TARGETING: Sounds simple but it’s not….Understand Holiday impacts for your business and target accordingly.
- Goal: Are you protecting your brand’s turf on the marketplace? Trying to grab new market share with new-to-brand buyers? Do you need to look at what targets you have set for generic vs branded search? Do you need to be more aggressive against competitor search terms? Watch these things real-time.
- Freshness vs Relevance: Think through whether turning over creative assets in your advertising for seasonally relevant assets makes sense (most of the time – yes!!). Run Holiday themed Sponsored Brand/ads?
- TEST AND LEARN: Test and learn. Test and learn. Test and…you got it…learn. Oh AND MEASURE.
- Amazon’s promotional tools and newer advertising tools are many and perform with dynamic differences.
- Try to gain an understanding of how certain advertising products and promotional tools work for your brand BEFORE Holiday shopping season and understand their impact to your business and your margins. Prime Day or other Seasonal shopping days for your business are great test beds. Use that knowledge and collect data to prepare your advertising for the Holidays.
Tip 3) Know Amazon Promotions
A big advantage of Amazon promotions, especially coupons and multi-item discounts, is that they can be enabled and go live within a few hours unlike some of the deals that had a submission deadline in September and were available only to select brands and sellers.
Promotions can also help increase organic sales vs ad sales and because they positively impact conversion rate they can help (substantially) improve advertising performance metrics.
Because coupons show a banner next to your item on the Amazon category pages and search pages, they standout and increase click-through rate. Because customers are getting or are at least perceived to be getting a better price (people love a deal) they increase conversion rate. Unlike advertising you don’t pay for click on your item if it is running a coupon, you just pay $.60 if the coupon is redeemed. One small downside of coupons is reporting. Amazon shows the number of times a coupon is “clipped” which means the customer added the item to their cart and applied the coupon but did not checkout. Amazon also shows the number of redemptions. We expect reporting on coupons to improve over time.
Giving customers an incentive to buy more than 1 item from your catalog is a great strategy that can help improve channel margin and increase order conversion. You can configure the discount to give customers a discount on just the additional item or off the entire order and both are a great way to drive-up average order value.
Tip 4) Improve Your Product Photos
Because customers shop visually, especially on mobile (the fastest growing segment of Amazon sales), the importance of good product photos that show off the uniqueness and quality of your products cannot be overstated. Too many good products fail to compete simply because they aren’t represented well by their product photos.
Here a few quick tips:
- Quality is king! Beyond ensuring a white background on your main photo and ensuring the product fills 85% of the image, you should have a minimum of 1000 pixels on each side, ideally 4K x 4K, up to 10MB per photo
- 5 or more photos is ideal – provide your customer as much visual information as possible.
- Show multiple angles like front and back that give customers a good idea of about product features.
- Since photos are the main product page viewed by the customer consider different ways of using product photos such an infographic with product features or a size chart.
Tip 5) Update Your Amazon Store
Keep your store up-to-date with a seasonal store banner for the holidays to let customers know that your brand and product are relevant. If you sell seasonal items or items that could be organized into a gift guide or holiday page add new navigation or new pages for the holiday season and employ advertising products to drive traffic to those seasonal pages.
A bestsellers page that uses the best sellers setting OR is manually curated per what you want to push with up-to-date bestsellers that are in-stock will help store visitors who land directly on your store from Amazon search and quickly find your best products.