Preparing for Q4 2019

It’s that time of year again for brands to start revving up their operational engines and priming their e-commerce channels for big volume sales. Amazon has become an integral part of the Holiday shopping tradition, so investing time and advertising dollars into your Amazon marketing strategies is critical for the retail quarter that encompasses Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the frenzied rush before Christmas. Many brands earn the bulk of their yearly profits during Q4, so plan now to perform at your best and keep up with the competition.


An issue specific to this year is the on-going and ever-changing tariff stand-off happening between the U.S. and China. If your products originate in China, you might have to reassess your pricing strategies or factor in potential delays in shipping.


Tariff drama aside, your preparation for Q4 should begin now if it hasn’t already. Much like that jolly purveyor of toys, make your list and check it twice to ensure all the boys and girls will be landing on your product pages and clicking that Buy Now button. Here’s a broad overview of things to factor in when preparing for Q4:  


Inventory

Stocking your inventory early and appropriately is the most important thing on your Q4 to-do list. Hopefully by now you have your inventory orders in, because Amazon Fulfillment Centers will be very busy handling a tremendous amount of incoming goods. Plan to give them twice as much time to process your incoming products. Though Amazon hasn’t yet released their inventory deadlines, getting your Black Friday/Cyber Monday inventory in by October 21st is a prudent goal to shoot for. 


Forecasting your inventory needs is undoubtedly a careful balancing act: too much, and you might incur increased FBA storage fees for sitting on a lot of inventory (not forgetting that all storage fees will be higher during Q4). Run out of inventory, and you’ll lose ad-campaign momentum. Plan for your inventory needs by reviewing the demands of past Q4s and your Prime Day performance from earlier in the year, and by considering your own marketing initiatives.  


Advertising

Don’t wait till the week before Black Friday or Cyber Monday to optimize your advertising. We suggest doing this at least 4 weeks beforehand to get your best performing advertising strategies queued up. 


  • Curate/research your keywords so you bid on the right ones.
  • Adjust bids on your PPC campaigns depending on your marketing initiatives.
  • Plan your standard advertising budget, but allow yourself about 5-10% in wiggle room for experimentation. 
  • Take advantage of social media to drive traffic to your product pages and alert customers of your promotions/deals.
  • Create a campaign for each SKU/ASIN for better visibility and a better understanding of how each product is performing. Be sure to label your campaigns in a way that makes the strategy behind it clear so you’ll know whether or not it’s meeting your goals. 
  • Leverage product variations to get more bang for your advertising buck where appropriate.



Promotions/Coupons

Amazon offers a multitude of sitewide promotions that can increase sales and visibility for your brand during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and all through-out December too—but you’ll want to enroll for these promotions early. You can always cancel if you change your mind later, but leave your options open by securing yourself a spot in advance. There are Price Discounts, Coupons, Lightning Deals, Best Deals, Promo Codes, Prime Exclusive Deals and 7-day deals. The deadline for sellers to sign-up for 7-Day or Lightning Deals over Black Friday/Cyber Monday is September 26th. 


Product Images & Copy

A complete and optimized product listing should include 5 product images that abide by Amazon’s image requirements. Use the basic product image first then follow it up with infographics, lifestyle images, and pictures that otherwise highlight the feature benefits of your product. If you’re Brand Registered, you should definitely add a video, which can improve conversion rates. 


And don’t forget to check your product copy; your titles, bullet points, and product descriptions should be clear, accurate, and rich with high-performing keywords. 


Utilize A+ Content & Storefront

If you’re using Seller Central and are Brand Registered, be sure to utilize A+ Content (formerly known as EBC) and Amazon’s Storefront. Besides inspiring confidence in on-line shoppers, A+ improves your page ranking and gives you more space for keyword usage. And for an up-tick in sales and better brand awareness, get your Storefront set up if you haven’t already. Storefronts create a curated, mom-and-pop style shopping experience for the customer, and can lift sales for other products in your catalog. If you’re already using these features, consider fine-tuning them specifically for the holiday season and your brand’s Q4 initiatives.


Holiday Pricing Strategy

In Buy Box battles, resellers and brands will have different priorities. Resellers have to consider whether to maintain their price point and let competitors blow through their inventory, or be aggressive in lowering their price in order to keep the Buy Box. In contrast, 3P brands have to be careful that their other sales channels off Amazon aren’t undercutting them, leading to a loss of the Buy Box. As a brand, don’t sacrifice margins just because volume is higher. 


Are you Q4 Ready?


During Q4, your customers are out there, looking for that perfect, unique gift that only you can offer, and they know they’re more likely to find it on Amazon’s diverse marketplace. Help them find you by securing your inventory, making your product pages shine, and advertising smartly. 


Keep in mind that January is just around the corner too, so watch for Amazon’s 2020 FBA inventory ship dates. Depending on how your brand typically performs in January, you may need to restock your inventory, or drop your prices to clear leftover inventory and avoid increased storage fees. If you have questions and concerns about optimizing your Amazon marketing strategies for Q4 and beyond, contact Egility for a free 30-minute account review. For even more tips and advice, listen to Egility’s founder, Liz Adamson, discuss how to prepare your Amazon business for Q4 along with Kiri Masters.


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