Are You Ready For Q4?

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For many of us, quarter four (Q4) exuberates joy, prosperity and love. In this time we relish the festivities of Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Halloween.

A commonality that these holidays have is their dependence on giving to others – whether that be presents, food or a terrifying scare. Conveniently, this means sellers on all mediums often see a boom in their sales through an increase in traffic, especially online, as consumers are able to purchase a range of products in one location.

This influx of traffic happens to coincide with the time when sellers are all trying to reach business and sales yearly goals, if they haven’t already. For Amazon businesses, the likelihood of success is heavily dependent on how well optimized their listings are as well as the quality of their Amazon advertising campaigns.

Falling to prepare is preparing to fail!

There are numerous ways in which Amazon sellers can implement creative strategies ahead of Q4 in order to achieve the best results. Preparation is key in all stages of the selling process.

This also includes mental preparation, as you and your team need to be ready for a busy period and what this might entail. In a more practical sense, at Clear Ads we would recommend prioritizing the factors highlighted in this blog.

Optimizing Listings

Whilst there will inevitably be an increase in traffic in Q4, without a fully optimized product range, you are unlikely to see an increase in conversions. Retail readiness subconsciously takes precedence over almost anything else in a shopper’s mind.

Listing optimization can be aided using blogs, videos and software like Helium 10, alongside potentially seeking an agency’s expertise. Whether you look externally or rely on your own resources to optimize listings, it is important in this period that you audit your listings and make any necessary amendments. 

At Clear Ads, we recommend using Helium 10’s listing optimization tool which allows you to get a rating for each of your products and gives a breakdown of what you could be missing. Some categories that are analysed on Helium 10 are: length of title, description, number of images, size of image, rating, price etc.

Inventory management

In this time period, delivery delays are inevitable. Whether it be Christmas, New Years or even COVID related, these can cause dilemmas within supply chains that will impact inventory.

It is essential to monitor your inventory levels closely and utilize metrics like the inventory performance index (IPI) to gauge when items are likely to go out of stock. If/when you find your products going out of stock it is essential to prioritise products based on their performance and seasonality and ensure these are still being shipped.

  • It can also be useful, especially if your account has been running for over a year, to download inventory reports to see a rough estimate of how much inventory was sold in this period in the last few years and hence can make educated guesses about how much you will need this year
  • If you do not have this data it can also be useful to know that generally, Q4 sees sales increases of about 30-50% and hence you can plan stock around this.

Some fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) sellers may decide to  switch to a merchant fulfilled network (MFN) in order to manage their own stock. While MFN gives you the flexibility to package and ship your own products, FBA provides the opportunity to claim prime delivery, a big deciding factor when looking at listings for many customers. FBA, however, tends to increase the overall cost to a company in Q4 due to higher demand. 

If you continue with FBA, it is crucial that you forecast the issues that can occur with inventory and hence how to proactively prevent your products from running out of stock. No matter your approach to inventory management, budget allocation for stock is a vital step in preparing for Q4 and we would recommend spending time on this prior to the busy period.

You can find more information about inventory management in our designated inventory ebook which you can find here.

Pricing and promotions

Although there is unarguably more traffic and products sold in the Q4 holiday period, there is also more competition, with more sellers also planning ahead in order to rank well and leverage more sales in this season. In turn, many sellers may opt to decrease prices or employ promotions on their products to make them stand out from the crowd. In order to do this effectively, promotions need to be meticulously planned with margins and ROI being factored into every decision.

3 examples of deals you may want to consider implementing are:

  • Lightning deals: These deals only last for four to six hours and appear on the deal of the day page. The eligibility criteria for these deals is that:
    • Your product must have at least a 3 star rating
    • You must be eligible for Prime.
    • The categories banned for advertising are not welcome in these promotions.
  • Percentage off: Being the most popular deal type, percentage off offers consumers a certain proportion of money off the initial price of the product. This is beneficial for an abundance of reasons. Firstly, price reductions generally attract more customers to your product which typically converts to increased sales. Not only this, but saving money adds to the customer experience and means they are more likely to remember your brand and the pleasant interaction they have had with you. Ranking is also heavily enhanced, leading to long term gain for the seller.
  • Buy one get one free (BOGOF): In this promotion, sellers offer the buyers to pay for only one unit and get two instead. While it seems counterintuitive to offer this in terms of ROI, BOGOF can make a massive difference in attracting large audiences and creating brand loyalty. This is as a result of the concept that when a consumer has more than one of a specific product, they are more likely to depend on it and get accustomed to using it and hence repeat purchase. With this likely comes good reviews and ratings and brand halo conversions.  Additionally, it can be a good tool if you have inventory which is stuck as you can quickly move stock.

Amazon PPC strategy

Whilst the previously stated methods will go a long way in preparing you for Q4, Amazon PPC can be a supercharger when it comes to increasing sales and driving brand awareness in this period. It is pivotal that you have a PPC strategy in place for Q4, whether that be getting it started or building new campaigns. It may be helpful to think about who your target audience is this season and tap into the type and targets they are likely to convert with.

Here are some tips if you aren’t familiar with building campaigns on Seller/Vendor Central:

  • Create auto campaigns, these will automatically target highly specific keywords and ASINs and are vital in account health as they churn out targets. 
  • Once autos have been running for a few weeks, use a product search term report to migrate high performing targets into manual keyword targeting campaigns for each of your products. This should give you a good foundation to work with in regards to your ads and will help you rank and increase sales in this period.
  • Make sure keywords targeted are relevant as the more you spend on the most relevant and close-to-line keywords, the more you get promoted and the higher your ranking goes.
  • You might also opt to create sponsored brand campaigns which will boost your brand awareness and can be used to show product ranges which may relate to one another.
  • To help with optimization, you may use this blog here which runs through when and how to optimize PPC campaigns.

Top tips for Q4 if you have experience with PPC:

  • Q4 is definitely a time to experiment with ranking campaigns. Ranking campaigns are solely dedicated to improving your ranking by having high ‘top of page’ percentages and high bids. Place your best and most relevant targets in these, especially those that you know work best in this season.
  • You can also create hero campaigns which capitalise on the search term reports and have displayed good conversion rates. A guide on how to do this is here. 
  • It is important to optimize as always however, in this busy period it may be worth increasing your bids and budgets as – with higher traffic – you are likely to spend more on campaigns in this period with more people clicking shopping and clicking on your ads.
  • To prevent burning through budgets, you can utilize negative targeting which is essential in preventing wasted spend.

Final thoughts

With all things considered, Q4 is an exciting time for sellers to seize the opportunity of a larger audience with generally more intent to purchase. Whilst it would be ideal for this to be a blessing with no curse, with over 120 million products listed on Amazon, there is lots of competition to outsell in this period. Using the strategies outlined above, you can begin to prepare yourself for this influx.

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