Amazon’s 2020 holiday sales were record-breaking. In fact, Amazon itself states that it was the ‘biggest holiday season yet’, reporting that more than 71,000 small and medium sized sellers earned more than $100,000 during the period, together selling 9.500 items per minute on average.
Of course, the global health crisis certainly accelerated Amazon’s growth, with more people shopping online rather than in-store.
Indeed, for many Amazon sellers, Q4 has been exceptional. However, the most important thing that you can do right now is to ensure you’re not blinded by the holiday season success. Especially this year. The post-Christmas shopping season is challenging at the best of times. And this year, following widespread job losses all across the world, shoppers may be tightening their belts even more than usual.
A study by The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that 85% of people were suffering from some level of financial stress as a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
But it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. But by adapting your Amazon sales approach, it’s possible to minimise the effects of the Q1 slump through better audience engagement, and by taking measures to attract the right people, at the right time.
Here are 10 top tips for improving Amazon sales during January:
1. Optimize product listings
One of the best tips for selling during the holiday season is to optimize listings with holiday-related keywords, such as ‘gift’.
However, these keywords may not be quite as effective in January so it’s important to swap them out for terms more relevant to the season.
Another aspect to think closely about here is whether your target audience may have shifted from Q4 to Q1. For example, if you sell cosmetics, you may have been targeting men over the holiday season who were looking to buy gifts for their wives or girlfriends. Come January, women may be looking to spend gift cards on themselves.
2. Leverage the power of social proof
If you’ve been fortunate enough to generate a huge number of sales during the holiday season, it makes sense to use these sales to your advantage and leverage the power of social proof.
January is a great time to reach out to customers who have purchased your products over the holidays, and ask if they’d be willing to leave a review.
Reports suggest that having just a single positive review can increase the chance of a sale by as much as 65%. Reviews are often much more effective than you may think, acting as a bottom-of-the-funnel differentiator to boost conversion rates.
3. Focus on customer service
As you’ll probably already know, Amazon sellers were subjected to an ‘Extended Holiday Return Policy’ in 2021, stipulating that most items purchased between 1st November and 31st December could be returned any time up until 31st January.
This policy was put in place for both orders fulfilled by Amazon, and for orders fulfilled by the merchant.
Obviously returns aren’t great, but what matters most is how you deal with them. If you take the time to put a proper returns process in place, this is an opportunity to demonstrate excellent customer service and build up a more loyal customer base.
4. Sell returns for a discount
One of the biggest issues with returns is that returned items take up valuable space in your already limited inventory centre, which can limit your opportunities for introducing new in-demand, best selling products for January and beyond.
Therefore, a good tip for Q1 is to sell off returned inventory for a discounted price… it’s the ideal alternative to arranging for removals, especially for items that are free from flaws and defects.
By logging into your Seller Central account and clicking on the returns report (Reports > Fulfillment > Customer Concessions > Returns), it’s easy to see the reason for the return.
5. Optimize titles for speech
The way that shoppers search for items on Amazon is changing. And these changes take place even faster following the annual holiday season. In 2020, Amazon sold 16.5 million smart speakers in Q4, with many purchasing Echo and Alexa devices as gifts.
Through these devices, shoppers can use voice input to search for products on Amazon, and can even add them to their basket – and make a purchase – all using their voice.
This means that it’s important to ensure that product titles are optimized to ensure they match common speech patterns, rather than just on textual patterns.
6. Tailor inventory
If you’ve been thinking about launching new products and expanding your inventory, then January is the perfect time to do it.
While December and January fall under the same meteorological season, the shopping seasons are very different, and shoppers are looking for different things.
Rather than gifts and large purchases, Amazon reports that self-care items, comforting products, and ‘nesting at home’ goods are popular in January as people recuperate from the hectic holiday season and focus more on themselves. These types of products are often in high demand at this time of the year.
7. Keep the promotions
It’s easy to think that there’s less demand in January… but is that really true? Of course, it’s natural that people will be spending less, but they’re definitely not spending nothing at all.
Especially this year. A report by PYMNTS.com suggests that sales of digital gift cards – including Amazon gift cards – will have burgeoned in Q4, as shoppers chose to gift digital products rather than physical items during the pandemic, due to the ongoing supply issues.
Amazon shoppers have vouchers to spend, and extending your holiday season promotions is a great way to attract an audience that is ready and willing to buy. Don’t stop working to promote just yet.
8. Make the most of Q1 holidays
Just because the main holiday shopping season is over for another year doesn’t mean that there aren’t smaller occasions just around the corner.
In 2021, Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday 1st February, followed by Valentine’s Day on Monday 14th. After that, there’s St Patrick’s Day on 17th March and Easter on 17th April.
There are multiple product categories that are likely to be in demand across these events, including toys, clothing, books, decorations, beauty products, and consumables. Work to promote these relevant items especially, and plan early to get a good start on the competition.
9. Make a noise
After the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, many Amazon merchants are quieter in January, perhaps taking some time off, or spending more time handling returns.
This is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make a noise and stand out in what is typically a highly competitive and busy marketplace. Slacking off means you could be missing out on some easy wins.
There are many different ways to make a noise at this time of year, including clearance sales, free delivery offers, bulk buy discounts, free gifts, product bundles, or even simply new ad campaigns for improved online visibility.
10. Reinvest Q4 profits
Great Q4 sales mean great Q4 profits (if you’re pricing optimally, of course). And at this time of year, one of the most effective uses for these profits is to reinvest them back into your Amazon business.
By giving yourself a bigger budget, you’ll have the option to make more use of Amazon’s huge range of integrated marketing campaigns, including Sponsored Products ads, Sponsored Brands ads, and Sponsored Display ads.
By launching new, optimized campaigns, you can boost the visibility of your products and extend your reach, helping to improve sales even during this notoriously quiet month.
What NOT to do
While the 10 tips above can help you to boost post-holiday sales during January, it’s also important to know what you shouldn’t be doing. And that’s miscalculating demand.
While Q4 is exciting for many Amazon sellers, it can also be dangerous. A spike in sales can mask underlying trends, and misrepresent longer-term realities.
The two primary concerns here are overestimating what you’ll need to meet demand over the coming months, and overestimating the long term potential of a particular product or product category.
At this time of year, it’s important to stay firmly rooted in reality. Be sure to carefully analyse your 12-month sales figures (Amazon’s built-in reports are great for this), and don’t make any assumptions or spur-of-the-moment decisions.
January can be a very fruitful month… but be sure to adjust your expectations. Remember that, in the post-holiday shopping season, it’s normal to have slow days, and it’s completely natural to sell less at this time of year.
It’s also normal to have days where you don’t make any sales at all!
Instead of spending time worrying about it, it’s much more beneficial to drive your energy into something more productive, such as building a long term plan to boost sales throughout the year.
Don’t compare Q1 to Q4. Instead, use Q1 as an opportunity to adapt, grow, and build solid foundations that will drive you towards yet another successful holiday shopping season next year.