5 Ideas to Bolster Your Amazon Q4 2016 Sales
By Tina Marie Bueno | September 28th, 2016
It’s that time of the year (already!) when scheduling and preparations take on a new level of anticipation that requires a honed focus: Amazon Q4 2016 sales. Like Prime Day (Amazon’s annual largest shopping event), you need a plan to make 2016 holidays a success. You know it’s time to gear up when a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 51% plan to do most of their online shopping at Amazon this holiday season, compared to 16% at Wal-Mart, 3% at Target and 2% at Macy’s. There are reasons that warrant those stats: Amazon offers a seemingly endless product selection at generally lower prices and that free two-day shipping for Prime members is simply irresistible.
How are you getting ready for all of those holiday shoppers who prefer Amazon? What’s your course of action to increase your Amazon Q4 2016 prosperity? We offer 5 enterprising actions to support Amazon business holiday plans.
Align Your Schedule With
Amazon Q4 2016 Dates
Mark your calendars and plan everything around Amazon’s calendar for November/December 2016.
This year Black Friday falls on November 25th and Cyber Monday is November 28th which means making certain that your FBA inventory is stocked in Amazon’s fulfillment centers by November 9th.
Here are motivating tidbits about Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
- According to Tech Crunch, Amazon accounted for 36% of ALL Black Friday sales this past year; and,
- Investment research company Zachs said that Amazon sold over $3 billion in goods on just one day (Cyber Monday), setting a record for the single biggest day of online sales.
More Q4 2016 Dates to Memorize
December 2nd inventory is due for delivery by Christmas. This is the way Amazon meets these order delivery deadlines:
December 14 – Last day non-FBA Sellers and non-Prime shoppers can get free shipping for delivery by Christmas.
December 19 – Last day for standard shipping for delivery by Christmas
December 21 – Last day for Prime two-day shipping for delivery by Christmas
December 22 – Last day for one-day shipping for delivery by Christmas
December 23 – Last day for next-day shipping for delivery by Christmas
Take Full Control Of
Your Order Fulfillment
Look at your Business Reports to determine which products are most popular to avoid locking up valuable cash flow in slow moving inventory. Nothing says “Bring it!” like being fully stocked with your fast moving products.
If you source from China (or anywhere overseas) but you’ve missed the boat (pun intended) for getting products into the U.S. on time and they aren’t heavy; then research the cost of using airfreight. Can your profit margins handle the additional costs? Or, can your product handle a price increase to cover the costs?
Also, if you are selling on multiple platforms such as ebay, Jet.com, or even your own website, let Amazon handle all of those orders with Multi-Channel Fulfillment. Even if it’s just for the holidays, Amazon can manage order and shipping using your FBA inventory. This is one excellent way to beat any holiday stress, take time off and still make money.
There are many valid reasons why some Sellers chose to fulfill orders in-house. But perhaps there is no better time than now to give Amazon the responsibility of meeting the holiday ordering rush.
- Forbes reported that 30% of online shoppers in the U.S. have a Prime membership.
- Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimates that Amazon counts 63 million Prime members among its shoppers—an increase of 19 million from June of this year.
- Prime members now make up more than half of Amazon’s customer base.
The odds are in your favor if you use FBA.
Competing with FBA
If shipping FBA just isn’t an option for your business there are still ways to tap into the vast reservoir of holiday shoppers:
- Offer free 2-day shipping until December 21st
- Change your product detail page to include Gift Wrapping and Gift Message options
- Update Production Time (formerly known as Handling Time). Make sure orders ship out as quickly as it would if FBA.
- Hire temporary extra staff (or solicit capable friends and family members) to keep up with handling orders, shipping and any incoming customer queries during the rush. Keep in mind that your Account Health doesn’t get turned off during the holidays…or ever for that matter.
All of these options only have positive effects if you can deliver on them. Don’t promise if you can’t make them happen.
Choose Sensible Product
In a 2015 study conducted by Bloomreach and Survata, 44% of shoppers start their product search on Amazon. That compares to 34% who use Google, Bing and Yahoo combined. Getting buyers’ attention means making sure you’re front and center as often as possible during their searches.
Just for Q4 2016, consider changing the keywords on product listings to include phrases which are relevant, common search terms that reflect buyer mentality during the holidays. Think about it, if you have been shopping forever for family and friends, you may need a few helpful ideas, right? Well, that’s also true for your prospective customers. So put yourself in their frame of mind.
A few examples could be:
- unusual gifts for dad
- gift ideas for sister
- holiday ideas for mom
- best gifts for male friend
- unique gifts for grandma
- new gadget ideas for gifts
- gifts for him (or her or kids)
- fun gifts for grandpa
Try Holiday Promotions
Now is a great time to run multiple promotions simultaneously if it’s feasible. Feedvisor says that 82% of Amazon website sales today go through the Buy Box. However, even that doesn’t guarantee shoppers will actually find you if you’re on page 2 and beyond. So how can you get in front of prospective customers’ eyes? How about…
- Sponsored Ads. Assuming you actually are in the Buy Box, test some of the keyword phrases mentioned above. Monitor activity every few days and switch out the ones that aren’t working. Also, consider augmenting your bid budget to increase your impression rate.
- Product Reviews. Fortunately, you don’t have to be in the Buy Box to run these campaigns. Moreover, more Reviews build your social proof. Indubitably the opinions and feedback from other consumers play a major role in purchasing decisions. In fact, survey results from Dimensional Research, 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. I always read them before making a first-time product purchase on Amazon.
- Lightning Deals. If your products are in the Buy Box some of them may qualify to participate. There isn’t much of a strategy when it comes to competing for first and second page featuring on Lightning Deals. Amazon selects the most appealing deals (top sellers with plenty of Reviews) at the deepest discount (at least 15%, sometimes 20%+ off of the Buy Box selling price). Important to know: Deals change positions in real-time so your product(s) may start on page 3 but move to page 1 due to sales momentum.
How do you know which, if any products qualify? When they are listed under Recommendations on your Lightning Deals Dashboard.
If no products qualify for Lightning Deals, you could consider any of these
Shoppers increasingly use online media and mobile apps as an essential part of their path to purchase. Amazon stated that almost 70% of its customers last holiday season shopped via a mobile device and the number of Amazon app shoppers more than doubled in the same period. This is a tougher space to play in since buyers have to scroll down to see more than 2-3 listings at a time.
A few key points to take notice of:
- Prime products have the advantage. I had to scroll past 30 listings before I found a non-Prime item. There is a Filter on the right that shoppers can specify multiple factors such as Prime only, brand, baby gender, baby age range and more.
- The initial search results display~
It’s equaling important to optimize your listing for both desktop and app displays. But when it comes to Amazon’s app, shoppers will initially only see the above-displayed information. Getting them to click on your particular listing means making sure your title, photo, pricing, and the number of reviews and average star rating is appealing enough to capture their attention. And it definitely needs to be Prime eligible to be on this playground.
Automate: The New
Way to Delegate
With so many new automating services available to Sellers today, whether you are managing tons of orders or just want to have even more time to play during holiday vacation; consider automating.
In a previous article about Seller tools, I wrote that Amazon currently offers a free automatic repricing tool. It is not an indefinite set-it-and-forget-it option; however, it could provide a welcomed temporary respite while you’re on a ski slope or making snowballs or sunning on a tropical beach. Auto pricing adjusts your price in response to other Seller’s price changes. That said, this isn’t about getting into a pricing war so set the ceiling and the bottom level parameters to ensure continued acceptable profit margins.
This is one of the best tools around. You can write content for every email you want to send to customers such as an order thank you, your order on it’s way, asking about their satisfaction with product condition and delivery time (Seller Feedback rating), and inviting them to share their product usage experience (Product Review). The great thing about these automated emails is that the customer’s name, order number, product name can be encoded accordingly for each customer. Automating emails is a significant time saver…all year round.
Set Your Amazon Q4 2016 Plan In Motion
Even though there are a few months until Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday rush, now is precisely the time to set yourself up for success. Create a solid plan, set it in motion and may your Amazon Q4 2016 sales be your best year yet.
Tina Marie Bueno is a global citizen with an MBA in Int’l Business plus over 20 years of content marketing experience both in the U.S. and overseas. As iLoveToReview’s Marketing Director, she strives to deliver relevant content to serve Amazon businesses of all sizes.