It may “only” be October, but for Amazon marketplace retailers, the holiday sales season is already well underway. Black Friday is quickly approaching and your business needs to have a solid plan in place. To have a successful holiday season, you need to get ready for early sales promotions, adjust your inventory to make sure you have enough of your top-selling items, and prepare your pricing strategy for optimum sales momentum at each stage of the holiday shopping season.
One of Kabbage’s partners, Teikametrics, has developed a comprehensive “survival guide” for how to sell on Amazon during the holiday season. You can download the free Teikometrics “Amazon Seller’s Holiday Survival Guide & Checklist” that offers actionable guidance and detailed strategic insights to help Amazon marketplace retailers navigate the challenges of the holiday season.
Here are a few high-level tips and insights from Teikometrics (and their partner, Marketplace Accelerator – a leading consultancy for Amazon marketplace retailers) on selling strategies on Amazon so you can make the most of the holiday sales season:
Don’t Bet Too Heavily on Black Friday
Even though Black Friday (and its online counterpart, Cyber Monday) get a lot of media attention, the truth is that more consumers are starting their holiday shopping season even earlier. Teikametrics recommends increasing your inventory levels to 50% higher than October as of November 10 – if your inventory is higher earlier in the shopping season, you won’t miss out on early sales.
Be Meticulous with Your Listings
Many Amazon marketplace retailers get listings suppressed by Amazon due to minor errors such as incomplete product descriptions, missing images, or incorrect categorization. The Teikametrics’ Holiday Survival Guide offers easy instructions on how to pull up your business’s Suppressed Listings report to make sure that all of your products are actually visible to buyers. Don’t let minor listing violations keep you from making major holiday sales!
Stop Selling Your Low-Performing Products
One important aspect of running a successful small business, especially for Amazon marketplace retailers, is deciding which products to stop selling. In addition to being proactive about choosing products that you’re passionate about selling and that offer a good chance of success, it’s also crucial that you learn how to prune out the bad products. Stop losing time, money, and energy on products that have high rates of returns or that tend to get bad customer reviews. Not only will this help you make bigger profits and improve your efficiency, but it will also help you maintain your Featured Merchant status, which keeps you eligible for Amazon’s coveted Buy Box (where 90% of Amazon sales occur). Even if your lower-performing products are still profitable, it’s not worth the risk of damaging your account’s overall credibility.
The Teikametrics Holiday Survival Guide offers a detailed example of how a retailer could lose eligibility for Featured Merchant status with only a modest increase in the number of returns. Don’t let this happen to you!
Don’t Overprice (Too Much)
Sometimes overpricing can be a good strategy for selling on Amazon – especially if you have a highly in-demand product. But mostly, if you price your products more than 10-15% higher than the list price, you’ll lose eligibility for that product to be included in the Buy Box. If your product is no longer available from the manufacturer, and you can prove it to Amazon Seller Support, you can get the “list price” removed from your listing – which means you can price your product at whatever level the market will bear.
Unload Stale Inventory
One of the challenges of running an Amazon marketplace retail business is when you have inventory that won’t sell. Stale inventory that sits too long creates cost and cash flow problems for your business. Fortunately, the holiday shopping season can be a surprisingly good time to unload slow-selling products because people aren’t just shopping for themselves, they’re shopping for gifts for other people! This means that even if you have clothes in colors or styles that are a bit extreme, or items that are a bit odd or unusual, you might find a buyer who wants to give a quirky present, or who needs a White Elephant gift.
Teikametrics has analytics tools that can help you evaluate your stale inventory and figure out which products need to have an adjustment in price to get them moving off of the warehouse shelves.
Prepare for Lower Profit Margins
The holiday sales season offers the promise of significantly higher sales volumes, but it’s also more competitive. This time of year, lots of retailers are trying to unload stale inventory and other retailers are offering products that they wouldn’t normally sell, trying to cash in on the holiday sales bonanza. This means that you should be prepared to accept lower profit margins on each item sold.
However, the massive influx of sales volume should hopefully more than make up for any small decrease in average profit margin. According to stats from Teikametrics, sales volume of discretionary items on Amazon increases 2 times in November and 3 times in December (compared with October sales). The sales volume increases are even higher for toys!
Sign Up for Fulfillment By Amazon
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service for Amazon sellers that lets Amazon fulfill your customer’s purchase orders. With FBA, Amazon stores, picks, packs, ships, and provides customer service for the products you sell. With FBA, your products are eligible for Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, which tends to be a faster, more dependable shipping option than most independent retailers can provide. Amazon now has more than 10 million Prime customers, and 50% of new Amazon sellers are immediately adopting FBA for at least some of their products.
But if you do sign up for FBA, keep in mind that you need to allow longer lead times for product fulfillment. During November and December, it might take 4-5 days for products to be received in FBA (compared to the usual time of 1-2 days).
For more information on how to use Fulfillment by Amazon to maximize your Amazon retail business, check out Teikametrics’ free downloadable eBook, “Mastering Fulfillment By Amazon.” This eBook will give you ideas and actionable insights on how to find the brands and suppliers that generate 80% of your profits, how to decide which products to buy and which to stop selling, how to set your prices, and how to use Amazon’s services to put more money in your pocket!
Lower Prices at the Right Time
Lowering your prices for what Teikametrics calls “the downhill sprint to Christmas” is a good strategy for selling on Amazon, because it gives you a chance to clear out as much inventory as possible before it’s too late. Teikametrics recommends cutting prices after December 12-15, and says that the biggest selling days are December 10-12. Clearing out your inventory before Christmas is especially important if you sell toys, which are particularly “seasonal” in nature. Don’t get stuck holding onto stale inventory for another year!
Do you have more questions? Check out the Teikametrics Holiday Survival Guide for more information on how to sell on Amazon. This free eBook offers an easy-to-use checklist that will take you through every step of holiday sales season preparations, as well as insightful statistics, analysis, and detailed sales scenarios that can help you get better at selling on Amazon. If you are looking for small business funding, you can also check out our inventory loans, which will help you be prepared for the holiday season.
Let us know what you think of Teikametrics’ eBook in the comment section below!