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Prepping for Amazon Holiday Sales: The 2021 Seller’s Guide for Q4

MarketplaceOps September 15, 2021 0 Comments

Q4’s fast approaching and it’s time to gear up for what’s to come amidst the craze of Amazon holiday sales. With Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Thanksgiving being the top 3 holiday season shopping days in the US last year (collectively bringing in over $24.98 billion), 2021 is set to top it off through a mix of early holiday shoppers wanting to avoid delayed shipping and last-minute shoppers looking to score on holiday deals.

Amazon Holiday Sales: How to Prepare for the Q4 Rush

1. Plan and send inventory on time

Determining how much inventory to send and when to send them is important during Amazon holiday sales. You wouldn’t want to overstock and end up paying high storage fees but you also wouldn’t want to understock and miss out on potential sales. That said, having an efficient inventory planning system in place is a must.

You can use Amazon’s own Inventory Management tool or use third-party tools like Skubana, SoStocked, and Brightpearl.

To maximize your storage limit, you can also use the Pareto Principle which leverages your products that have historically high sales (especially during Q4) while minimizing unnecessary storage costs for SKUs that would have a difficult time depleting by Q1 2022.

To avoid running out of stock, make sure your inventory arrives at fulfillment centers by the following dates:

  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: November 15, with inventory ready to ship by mid-October
  • Christmas: December 11, with inventory ready to ship by early November

Be sure to factor in enough lead time for your suppliers and/or carriers. Ensure your carrier comes in on time for their appointment unless you want your goods to be rejected.

Additional Tip: If there’s still inventory or inbound inventory in your FBA listing, you can opt to add a second SKU with the same ASIN Instead of converting it to FBM. Doing the latter when you still have inventory may tag it as ‘stranded inventory,’ and might unnecessarily impact your IPI score.

2. Explore alternative fulfillment channels

Regardless of whether you’re availing of third-party logistics services or not, always be proactive when it comes to fulfilling orders and communicating shipments during Amazon holiday sales. Know your fulfillment provider’s cut-offs and work with regional carriers to avoid limits and to get your items as fast as possible to customers.

If you’ve been accepted into the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) program, now would be a great time to convert your listings from FBA to FBM so you can fulfill orders on your own or via a 3PL company.

If you want to minimize the delays on your Amazon holiday sales orders, diversify carriers and don’t solely rely on major players such as Amazon, UPS, or FedEx. Popular alternatives to FBA fulfillment include Deliverr, Red Stag Fulfillment, and ShipBob.

You can also take after brick-and-mortar stores by taking advantage of self-pick-ups. If you can, give your customers the option to pick up their orders themselves – either at your physical store or curbside. eCommerce platforms like Shopify offer this feature to store owners.

3. Run Amazon holiday sales deals

With Amazon Cyber Monday expected to be more competitive than Prime Day, deals can be key to directing customers to your product detail page vs. your competitors’.

For US sellers, remember to submit your 7-Day Deals, Best Deals, and Lightning Deals by September 17 and coupons for Event Placements by November 29. Amazon will display the type of deal your products are eligible for in the ‘Deals’ page under the ‘Advertising’ tab on Seller Central.

If you’re unsure of what type of Amazon holiday sale deal to run, check out the table below:

Note that Amazon charges you a fee for running promotions. Fees on Lightning and 7-Day Deals vary depending on the date your deal runs. $0.60 is charged for every coupon redeemed.

4. Optimize your listings

Optimizing your listings involves updating your listing copy, images, and EBC to be more relevant during Amazon holiday sales. An example would be adding keywords like “Christmas gifts,” “thanksgiving,” and “last-minute gift for,” in the front and back-end of your listing. You can also add holiday-themed graphics to your images to make shopping more festive for your customers.

Don’t forget to update your storefront as well with holiday-themed content consistent with your product detail pages. Make it an easy and immersive experience by including shoppable modules and videos that showcase your product lines as a must-have for holiday shopping lists.

Note, however, that Q4 might not be the best time to do A/B testing or make major changes to your listing content.

Only optimize for seasonal searchability and don’t make any content updates that can put your listing at risk for restrictions. An example of this is mistakenly adding promotional keywords like “holiday sale,” “best Christmas deal,” and the like in your copy.

5. Adjust your advertising campaigns

Adjusting your Q4 advertising campaigns is a crucial step in preparing for the incoming traffic and intense competition during the Amazon holiday sales craze.

For starters, you’ll have to adjust your ad budget and consider allocating most of it to November and the beginning of December. Though late December may not yield as much demand, you’ll also need to reserve some of your budget for last-minute shoppers.

For PPC, leverage your Prime Day average CPC and category data and increase your bids the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Afterward, lower bids post-event to prevent overspending. Manually stay on top of your bidding strategy or let Amazon automatically adjust it for you with dynamic bidding.

Delve into new ad formats such as Sponsored Display ads that target your competitor’s listings and allows your brand to engage with shoppers off Amazon. For Sponsored Brands, test out holiday-themed, product-focused videos to further capture customer attention and increase both click-through and conversion rates.

Additional Tip: Before creating and adjusting your advertising campaigns, remember to get your inventory, listings, deals, and everything else in order first.

6. Drive external traffic to your Amazon store during Amazon holiday sales events

Work on driving external traffic to your store prior to and during Amazon holiday sales events. Amazon’s algorithm rewards sellers who gain conversions from off-site traffic, so take advantage of your social media followings and build excitement with countdowns, exclusive announcements, or loyalty programs. Customers love getting first dibs on deals, and while you can’t advertise promotions on your own Amazon product detail pages, you can do so instead outside of Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for the Q4 Amazon holiday sales rush can be an overwhelming task, but you can get on top of the craze (and competition) by leveraging your historical and competitor data especially from Prime Day.

It’s important to be flexible and to act early when it comes to planning and sending inventory, having alternative fulfillment channels in place, submitting holiday deals, optimizing and driving traffic to listings, and adjusting your advertising campaigns.

If your brand needs additional support to prepare for Amazon Q4 and post-holiday events, MarketplaceOps is here to help. Through fully integrated launch plans, proprietary technology, and closed-network access, your brand is sure to thrive and survive the most crucial eCommerce events of the year. Contact us today to get a free consultation.

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