Q4 really is out there on its own. It’s different, especially for Amazon sellers.
From January to September, perhaps the most common shared aim amongst Amazon sellers is to engage with audiences and build a brand. In fact, it’s reported that Amazon is now the leading e-commerce platform to boost brand awareness.
In Q4, however, everything shifts. For many sellers, building awareness isn’t quite as critical as driving direct sales. With the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend not only being a major shopping event in itself but also the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, Amazon shoppers behave differently at this time of year. This means Amazon sellers need to adapt to get the most value from Q4.
2021 Consolidated E-Commerce as the New Way of Shopping
If you’re a long term Amazon seller who has already seen impressive results by adopting the same approach for Q4 as used through the rest of the year, then you might be feeling confident that your existing processes will help you navigate the upcoming holiday season waters… But don’t be too sure.
As we saw in 2020, Q4 is like nothing sellers have ever experienced before. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Amazon sellers are now not only trying to win the hearts of experienced online buyers, but they’re also competing with more sellers than ever for custom from those newer to digital purchasing; those who would traditionally spend their money on the high street or at local independent stores.
It’s predicted that Q4 will top another year of impressive growth for e-commerce. This means that 2021 could be an incredible opportunity for Amazon sellers to make more sales than in any other holiday period, but there are a few changes that you’ll need to make if you really want to guarantee the 2021 shopping season works for you.
Here are four small yet highly effective changes Amazon sellers should be considering:
1. Ramp up advertising… Quickly
If you’re thinking of waiting until the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend to invest more in your advertising campaigns, then you could be leaving it too late. This year, in an effort to minimise crowds in their bricks and mortar stores, many retailers are launching holiday season advertising campaigns early, generating a longer term effect that encourages shoppers to make purchases over a period of a few weeks, rather than just two days. While this is for the benefit of physical stores, the act naturally extends to digital sales, too.
So where exactly should you be driving your advertising budget? In Q4, there is a notable trend for Amazon sellers to pour more resources into Sponsored Products. That’s because, in previous years, many shoppers have arrived on the Amazon platform already knowing what they want. Reports show that 66% of shoppers start their product search on Amazon, making Sponsored Products the ideal way to showcase in-demand items.
This year, things are different. Without having visited bricks and mortar stores, it is anticipated that a larger number of Amazon shoppers will be looking to discover new products through the platform, rather than simply to compare deals. A beneficial change that Amazon sellers can make in Q4 is to shift their focus from Sponsored Products to interest-based Display Ads and Sponsored Brands as part of a new product discovery strategy, attracting and engaging with those seeking inspiration for holiday gifts.
2. Register for Seller Fulfilled Prime
The last two years have been some of the worst for Logistics, due to world supply shortages affecting both product production and shipping. Amazon even had to prioritise 2-day shipping for essential items in 2020.
What’s even more worrying for Amazon sellers this year is that many have had their available storage cut following the prioritisation of essential items during the height of the pandemic, and may have had their inventory limited to 200 units maximum. If you currently use the ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ service, then it may be a good idea to look into the ‘Fulfilled by Merchant’ alternative, or even signing up for Seller Fulfilled Prime.
Seller Fulfilled Prime allows you to combine Prime offers with the ability to take control of your own deliveries. If you have a professional Amazon seller account and a UK-based warehouse, the service allows you to store your own inventory, process your own orders, print your own labels, and arrange pick up by an Amazon carrier.
While this won’t do anything to minimise weather-related transport delays, what it can do is put you in control of the remainder of the process, giving you peace of mind that your orders are being processed and sent out to customers in a timely fashion, boosting satisfaction.
Both Fulfilled by Merchant and Seller Fulfilled Prime options also ensure that you have control over your inventory levels,
3. Optimise Your Titles and Content
During Q4, many Amazon shoppers are actively searching for Christmas presents, which means that a very simple yet effective change that can be made is to optimise both titles and content to include common seasonal terms such as ‘gift’ or ‘present’. This can be taken further if necessary, adding in terms such as ‘for him’ or ‘for her’ in response to typical search behaviours that are exhibited by shoppers at this particular time of year.
However, during Q4, optimising listings doesn’t just mean incorporating new keywords into your content. It also means taking the opportunity to refine your content and boost its impact at a time when more people than ever will be checking out your offerings.
Last year, Amazon noted a record-breaking worldwide holiday shopping season. In 2020, during the pandemic, Amazon welcomed 50 million new Prime subscribers, a growth of 33%, to exceed over 200 million in total.
It’s clear that Amazon sees more traffic during Q4 than any other time of year, which means your listings are more visible than ever. And first impressions count. When there’s more eyes on you, it’s always a good idea to ensure the message you’re putting out there, and the content you’re publishing, is placing your brand in the very best light.
Perhaps the most important thing of all when it comes to optimisation is not to leave anything to chance. You can use the Amazon sales and traffic report – alongside its A/B testing function – to track the impact of the changes you’ve made and ensure they’re helping to draw potential customers to your listings, and encouraging them to convert, rather than the other way around! Remember… Great SEO is never a one-time thing.
4. Monitor Your Health
The health of your Amazon seller account, that is. While a healthy seller account won’t exactly help you to boost sales during the Q4 holiday season, it will ensure that you don’t end up losing valuable sales through account suspension or deactivation.
During peak times especially, Amazon is keen to ensure that it’s offering the highest quality service to its users by carefully vetting its third party sellers, and those that are found to be in breach of selling rules can have their accounts closed, opened again only following an appeal and investigation into the account which can take months.
You can see how you’re doing by checking out the Account Health option in Seller Central’s Performance tab. Amazon takes into account a huge range of data, including customer feedback, shopper experience, order defect rate, and more, to determine seller account health.
Of course, for some of these aspects, there’s really not much you can do. Customer feedback, for example, can’t be changed. However, Amazon does note that these are simply ‘nice to haves’, with just three indicators proving to be critical: order defect rate, cancellation rate, and late despatch rate.
These three indicators are things that you CAN do something about. As the main holiday season approaches, it’s worth striving to meet Amazon’s seller objectives, reducing the risk of account suspension and ensuring your Amazon store remains active during what could prove to be the most profitable time of year for third party sellers.
It Pays to be Prepared
Q4 is always different; it’s always the big one. But sellers need to acknowledge that this year especially, things are more different than ever before. Adapting to meet the post-COVID holiday shoppers’ needs, expectations, and preferences is vital for boosting sales at this all-important time of year, and successfully doing so could help to increase revenue, giving you more to drive into building your Amazon business in the future.