Tis the Season for Amazon Holiday Prep
Looking to do your Amazon Holiday Prep? During the holiday seasons (Christmas in particular), Amazon sellers can expect a gift-giving surge and the last thing you want is to run out of inventory. You also don’t want to get stuck with too much inventory after the holiday passes.
Follow these suggestions for Amazon Holiday Prep to ensure your own holidays are happy ones.:
- Place orders with your suppliers based on forecasted inventory needs
- Optimize your Amazon listings
- Up your ad spend
- Offer holiday deals
- Review Amazon holiday fulfillment expectations
- Expect and prepare for returns (because not everyone likes their gifts)
Order Based on Inventory Forecasts
Accurate inventory forecasting ensures you have sufficient stock to satisfy demand, but not so much stock you paid for sits stagnant accumulating storage fees. This is particularly important during the holiday season when you can anticipate high demand. But, anticipating higher than actual demand can put a damper on your holiday spirits.
While inventory forecasting isn’t a perfect science, here’s what to do to help ensure your Amazon Holiday Prep doesn’t overestimate or underestimate seasonal demand.
Look Back to Look Forward
Selling the same products as last year? Then last year’s holiday sales are a fair indicator of what to expect this year. Keep in mind that if your overall sales are up this year by, say, 10 percent, then you might want to assume a similar 10 percent uptick for the holiday. Conversely, if your YTD sales overall to date are down 10 percent, you might want to anticipate a slight decline in upcoming holiday sales.
To take some of the Amazon Holiday Prep guesswork out of this, we recommend using Inventory Management software. However, even with the best software and guesswork based on last year’s holiday sales, there are other factors to consider.
Do a Keyword Search
Use any one of a number of keyword search tools to see historical trends of when products are similar to your peak. For example, if the keywords for “ornamental wreaths” peak in November, you want to start stocking your wreaths in October or even September, not after Thanksgiving when the Christmas season traditionally starts. By the same token, you’re not going to keep ordering wreaths after Thanksgiving or else get stuck with inventory for next year.
Trade publications and consumer research sites are chock full of predictions on upcoming trends for the holiday season. If your product(s) are trending for seasonal shopping, consider ordering higher supplies than just based on last year’s sales. This gets trickier if you have perishable items, but, again, this is reasoned risk-taking. Just don’t bet the entire farm on a predicted trend that could fall short of expectations.
Optimize Your Amazon Product Listings
Optimizing your listings is key to Amazon Holiday Prep. Traffic peaks during holiday shopping, and you want your listings to stand out from the competition. Impulse buys occur more often during busy holidays shopping seasons, so higher search rankings are more likely to convert.
To optimize your product listings for Amazon Holiday Prep:
- Update your images with holiday themes. A product portrayed in a holiday spirit is all the more likely to trigger a holiday gift giving response.
- Conduct keyword research to ensure your keywords are at the top of the search list. Add holiday-related keywords, such as “Christmas candles” or “last minute gift.”
- Check to make sure your product listings contain all relevant information. Color, size, or any details you can think of that not only distinguishes your products from competitors, but also decreases the likelihood of returns when something isn’t exactly what the buyer expected.
Up Your Ad Spend
The adage that you need to “spend money to make money” is never more true as part of Amazon Holiday Prep. The more holiday ad placements you make both on Amazon and other social media platforms, the more traffic (which means more possibility of conversions) you’ll get for your listings.
Money spent to keep your PPC campaigns running throughout the holiday season is money well spent. More ads mean more clicks mean more you’ll have to pay, but more clicks mean more traffic to your listings and more likely conversions. Keep an eye on your daily budget, and if you find the budget is depleted before the day is over, it’s time to add more to the budget.
If you really want the holiday PPC campaign to pay off, up to your keyword bids, the maximum price you are willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad. Pay more for high competition keywords, less for low competition keywords. If you don’t want to pay more for keywords consumers are using most often, your competition will. But don’t waste your budget on keywords that don’t generate high traffic. There are a variety of keyword search tools that can help you determine this.
Consider using Amazon Seller Central’s Campaign Manager to automate your bidding strategy. Select “Dynamic bids – up and down” to automatically adjust keywords bids by up to 100 percent when your ad is likely to convert. Conversely, your bid is lowered if conversion seems unlikely. Whether you want to do keyword bidding on your own or let Amazon do it for you depends on whether you trust your instincts more than Amazon’s algorithms.
If you aren’t already enrolled in Brand Registry, Amazon Holiday Prep is a good time. Brand Registry offers.
- Sponsored brand ads. When customers click on the ad, they go to your customized Amazon storefront to learn more about your products. This provides brand differentiation and a custom experience for shoppers that can make them more inclined to buy.
- Sponsored display ads. These ads are placed on competitor listings. An additional benefit is you can retarget shoppers who have previously visited your listings but did not purchase.
- Sponsored brand videos. Another great way to differentiate your brand. Consumers in the YouTube era are more likely swayed by an impressive video of your product than just text descriptions from your competitors.
Offer Holiday Deals
Deals underpin Amazon Holiday Prep. Shoppers love deals, and they love deals even more during holiday shopping.
You can create deals through Brand Registry; if you’re not brand registered, you can still create deals within Seller Central.
Don’t wait to offer deals when the holiday is near, because shoppers are looking for deals well in advance. For example, Black Friday deals traditionally occur the day after Thanksgiving. This year, however, online retailers are offering Black Friday deals at the beginning of November. If you see your competitors are offering holiday deals way ahead of the actual holiday, you need to as well.
Review Amazon Holiday Fulfillment Schedules
Nothing frustrates shoppers more than not receiving products when expected. When a product fails to arrive in time for holiday gift-giving, it’s that much more of an issue.
Amazon posts guidelines for when a product needs to arrive at its fulfillment centers to satisfy holiday demand. Your Amazon Holiday Prep requires following these guidelines.
Given the supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, it might be wise to ship even earlier than Amazon recommends. Even if you are an Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) seller, a good backup is to also open an FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant) account. You don’t lose your FBA account, but with FBM added you can use your own warehouse or a third-party warehouse to stock inventory. That way, if competitor FBA sellers run out of inventory, you have a backup resource to continue to fulfill demand. And if you are eligible for Self-Fulfilled Prime, you can still display the Prime badge even if you fulfill the orders and not Amazon.
Expect and Prepare for Returns
A final Amazon Holiday Prep tip: Not everyone likes the gifts they receive, so expect higher than normal returns.
Amazon typically offers an Extended Holiday Return Policy during the Christmas season, so even purchases that date back to October can be returned as late as the end of January. Amazon sellers are generally not thrilled about the policy, but consider it a cost of doing business on Amazon.
Consequently, you may want to consider a New Year’s clearance type of sale to clear out both overstocks as well as higher than normal returns.
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