October is just a few weeks away, and in truth, you should have already started your Amazon Q4 prep.
Many sellers begin to place wholesale orders as early as July and August to avoid long lead times that affect their ability to make FBA cutoff dates. Other sellers start plotting their “hot items” list in the early weeks of summer.
But don't fret: It’s not too late to start getting ready for the holidays in other vital ways. Keep reading to see if you’ve got all the boxes checked off on your Amazon Q4 prep list.
Research popular products and start sourcing ASAP
To shift the odds of Q4 success in your favor, pay attention to what’s trending among different age demographics.
→ Is there a blockbuster children’s movie set to hit theaters this fall? If so, stock up on related toys and merch.
→ Which teams played in this year’s Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, and World Series? Find out and start sourcing apparel.
You know what to do!
Just make sure to check to see if you need approval from Amazon before listing in certain product categories.
Crucial Amazon Q4 Prep Step: Make sure you qualify to sell in the Toys & Games category
During peak holiday season, Amazon typically limits which sellers can list items in the Toys & Games category. In the first part of an email sent out by Amazon to third-party sellers last July, Amazon wrote the following:
To maintain a great customer experience this holiday season, we have established holiday selling guidelines for the Toys & Games store.Only sellers who meet the criteria listed below will be eligible to sell in the Toys & Games store from November 17, 2017 through January 5, 2018:
• Your first sales on Amazon must occur prior to September 15, 2017. The sale does not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
• You must process and ship at least 25 orders from September 1 through October 31, 2017. The orders do not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
• Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2017 must not be greater than 1.75%.
• Your late shipment rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2017 must not be greater than 4%.
• Your order defect rate must not be greater than 1% short term as of November 1, 2017.
Orders that use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) will not be subject to the above criteria provided your account is in good standing.
The last line contains the most important information: FBA orders will not be subject to the bulleted criteria.
So, if you’re not using FBA for most of your listings, it may be to your advantage to shift strategies. Just make sure you’re aware of the Amazon FBA inventory storage and weight handling fee changes that start in Q4. They have the potential to seriously impact your sourcing plans.
If, however, you still plan on fulfilling some orders yourself, make sure you meet the requirement of making your first sale before September 19th, 2016 and shipping at least 25 orders between September and October so you qualify for listing in the highly popular Toys & Games category.
Don’t forget to focus on products in other categories, too
A major regret of novice sellers during Q4 is focusing too much on toys and games. Not to say you shouldn’t invest in stocking plenty of kids products, but that you should also consider what other categories can generate an abundance of holiday sales.
One category that sellers should focus on in Q4 is clothing.
While it’s not a kid-favorite to receive sweaters or socks as a present, the reality is that people spend a fortune on clothes during Q4. Pay attention to what brands and items are trending by flipping through a few magazines or watching TV so you know what’s worth sourcing.
If you already sell clothing and have some steady sellers in your inventory, it’s smart to anticipate high demand for these items during the holidays. Make sure to stock up on these items enough to meet higher-than-expected demand. If you don't, you risk leaving sales on the table.
Lastly, don’t overlook groceries.
Because so many people will be spending long hours online shopping at home, they’ll be more inclined to add everyday household items to their Amazon carts. You can add a nice boost to your bottom line this year by slinging on in-demand grocery items.
Outsource tedious household tasks to other people
Because Q4 is the make-or-break quarter for sellers, it’s no time to work harder when working smarter is an option. What is “working smarter,” you ask? It’s simple: Outsourcing as many tasks as possible to other people.
First, think about the things you know you need to do, but that don’t fit into your hectic Q4 schedule. Things like eating. Walking your dog. Taking out the trash.
To keep your life in balance, consider hiring a housekeeper, dog walker, or personal chef. Or, think about signing up for a nutritious meal delivery service.
You can’t afford to let your health erode because you’re focusing so much on selling.
And, while these services may seem like big investments, having someone else take care of these tasks will allow you to focus on aspects of your Amazon Q4 prep that require you to be present.
Plus, you'll likely make better decisions if you feel less stressed and more focused. So think of these services as investments that pay for themselves by boosting your business-running performance.
Then outsource time-consuming tasks to automation
Outsourcing business tasks that automation software can perform more effectively than humans is always vital → but especially in Q4.
Consider the manual management of your prices. During the holidays, people often base their buying decisions on impulses related to price.
An automated repricer with built-in price intelligence can constantly adjust and optimize your prices to get your listings into the Buy Box when it counts the most.
Buy Box exposure is a major factor in Amazon consumer psychology, so it’s no surprise that it’s directly related to sales. Approximately 90% of customers purchase items from the Buy Box as opposed to searching further for a better price.
That’s why it’s wise to invest in intelligent automated repricing software before Q4 starts. Beyond changing your prices 24/7 in relation to your competitors’ prices, automated repricers eliminate the time-consuming task of manual repricing.
This helps you regain hours to focus on sourcing the hottest holiday items before and throughout the season.
You can also find time to add a personal touch to your customer touchpoints, brainstorm strategic holiday product bundles, and other factors that can elevate you above the average Amazon seller.
You may also want to automate your inventory management, feedback and reviews, and any other areas of your business that a third-party can handle more effectively.
The cost of these services is nothing compared to the benefits of getting your time back by not having to perform the same tasks yourself. Plus, automation tools are made to help boost your sales and profits, and when used properly, they pay for themselves.
Automation will make everything else you have to do for Amazon Q4 prep less stressful, and during Q4, there’s no time for headaches.