10 Steps To Prep For Amazon’s Black Friday And Cyber Monday
Black Friday weekend (November 24) is quickly approaching, which means it’s Q4 crunch time for online retailers. National Retail Federation reports that November and December account for nearly 30% of all annual sales for most retailers, with the majority of those numbers kicked off the weekend of Thanksgiving.
In fact, Best Black Friday projects that the 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend will draw 156 million shoppers for a total revenue of $9.38 billion. They estimate that Cyber Monday alone will be worth $3.81 billion, with mobile shoppers accounting for $1.24 billion of that number.
Moreover, Amazon is expected to be among the top three online stores, followed closely by Walmart and Target.
Altogether, this means that selling on Amazon can be highly lucrative this 2017 season… but it’s also highly competitive. This means you as an Amazon seller need to be adequately prepared in order to optimize on this sale period.
Amazon has been prepping for Black Friday for months. They’ve made two major changes for the 2017 Black Friday weekend. Amazon has improved the usability of its mobile app since so many promotional shoppers have moved to mobile shopping. They’ve also expanded their assortment of barcodes so shoppers can compare in-store prices to Amazon prices. This means that a Black Friday shopper could be standing in Target, scan an item on the Amazon app, and find a better deal on Amazon. That better deal could be your product.
Both of Amazon’s changes are going to make significant strides in putting Amazon sellers at the forefront of the Black Friday competition. Don’t forget that you’re not only competing with other sellers on Amazon… you’re competing with huge retailers like Walmart and Target who are severely cutting prices to gain customers.
Amazon is getting prepared… Will you be ready to utilize Amazon’s Black Friday features to your advantage?
How should you get prepared to sell on Amazon for Thanksgiving sales?
1. Use your LY and Prime Day data.
Start by looking at your most recent big-day promotions. Amazon’s 2017 Prime Day was the biggest global shopping event in Amazon history. It grew 60% from last year and even surpassed the sales of 2016’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If your business partook in Amazon’s Prime Day, you already have a strong advantage for understanding your upcoming Black Friday shoppers.
Look at data points to analyze strong and weak performance:
- What products did you offer at a discount?
- Which products sold the most?
- What discounts performed the best?
- Which keywords did you optimize for that saw the strongest return?
- How did you handle your inventory? Were you over or understocked?
- Which products were returned most often?
- What did the majority of your negative feedback say? How will you address this?
All of this data will help you determine what products to sell, what discounts to offer, and how to solve any customer service issues. You don’t need to offer the same discounts or promotions as Prime Day, but it gives you an opportunity to take an analytic look at why certain products, promotions, and keywords performed better than others.
Do the same with your Black Friday sales last year, if applicable. Note that trending products may differ, but the consumer behaviors are likely similar.
Not sure how to interpret your data? Contact Seller’s Choice for a personalized consultation of your strengths and opportunities to set a strategic goal for this Thanksgiving weekend.
2. Choose your products.
Sell products that your customer wants to buy. You don’t necessarily need to be selling the hottest items trending this season because those will have high competition and low margins. Instead, sell products trending in your specific industry.
If you haven’t started sourcing and ordering your products for Black Friday, right now is the time to do so to ensure you aren’t behind. Contact Seller’s Choice now for a product consultation to get products in your inventory by Black Friday.
P.S. Create product bundles. Product bundling will help you win the Buy Box, boost exposure, and grow your sales. Moreover, bundles have their own UPC, so competitors can’t mooch on your listings. Learn more about product bundling here.
3. Offer the best promotions.
Pricing and promotions are the number one factor for Black Friday success. You’ll need to price your products accordingly in order to remain competitive. With the right price, you can even be placed in Amazon’s Featured Merchant Status, which will boost your visibility and ability to win the Buy Box.
Keep up to date with Amazon’s re-pricing software and take a serious look at your margins. At Seller’s Choice, we often find that our sellers are consistently calculating their margins incorrectly. If you want to ensure you’re making money and having the strongest possible margins, request a free consultation.
You’ll also want to offer free shipping for Thanksgiving weekend. Often, Black Friday shoppers are impulse buyers who are turned off by paying for shipping. They’re looking for deals, and so they immediately click away if they see that they’ll have to pay an additional cost for shipping. This is especially true as Target, Best Buy, and other Amazon sellers will be offering free shipping. In this way, you’ll need to also offer free shipping and additional deals in order to remain competitive. The goal is to make up the costs of free shipping with an increase in the number of customers and sales.
4. Order the right amount of inventory.
Thanksgiving weekend can have a sales volume 2-3 times the normal daily volume. You’ll want to order extra inventory to ensure you don’t run out of units and miss an opportunity with the Black Friday frenzy. Order enough to get you through mid-January.
You should already have sales projections on hand to ensure you get the right amount of inventory by Thanksgiving. If you haven’t yet ordered inventory, there could be heavy backups in your supplier backups. Contact Seller’s Choice now to work through a solution to get product in your warehouses by the time of the sale.
5. Get familiar with FBM.
In case you do run out of product, you’ll want to switch to FBM (if you’re an FBA seller). Fulfilled By Merchant basically says that you will send out the goods yourself. If you run out of inventory, switching to FBM can help you have an additional 30 days to get your products to your consumer.
This means that you have some time to contact your factory, order more inventory, and have it sent right to your home or business. You’ll then prep and send the inventory yourself, which is faster than sending it through FBA last minute. This can be a strong backup if you have a good partnership with your supplier and know you can get your inventory in within 30 days.
This allows your customers to basically create “pending orders” of your product. Three keys to this strategy:
- Ensure your product arrives within 30 days
- Ensure the product reaches the consumer by the holidays
- Reach out to the customer to explain any delays and offer a discount for their trouble
Keep in mind that this is a last-ditch strategy if you are in a bind. It’s always better to overstock than order and send late shipments.
6. Get your inventory to FBA.
The moment you receive and prep your inventory, get it to FBA (if you’re an FBA seller). Amazon warehouses are already turning people away because they don’t have the room for all the goods. You need to get your units to your FBA warehouse ASAP. Moreover, consumers are already shopping holiday sales, so you should have inventory prepped and ready for purchase in FBA.
If you’re not sure how to manage your inventory appropriately, we recommend a service like Skubana. Skubana will streamline your inventory across all channels and automate your inventory processes for you. It can even help you eliminate your losses and increase profits during such a hectic holiday time.
7. Start your sales early.
Customers begin looking for holiday deals the first week of November. If you offer a minor early season sale, you’ll start to grow visibility and gain the interest of customers. Consumer psychology says: “If they’re offering a discount now, imagine what their Black Friday discount will be. I’ll have to bookmark this product and buy it then.” You will instantly be added to their shopping list.
This increased visibility early in the season can help give you a competitive advantage when promotions and deals all start to look the same later in the month. Plus, some customers may actually buy during the early sale instead to avoid missing out on the product during Thanksgiving weekend.
8. Update your product listings.
Optimization rules are constantly changing. You need to ensure your listings are fully up-to-date in order to show up on search results and win the Buy Box. This includes adding in back-end keywords related to the sale with terms like “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” or “Christmas.”
If you want to enhance your optimization and branding in your listings, contact Seller’s Choice for a listing service consultation.
9. Clean up your performance metrics.
In order to win the Buy Box, you need a low return rate and high level of positive feedback. Do whatever you can in this final month to prepare your listings to look as beautiful and shiny as possible. This especially includes positive, recent reviews. Your Black Friday shoppers are in a rush, so they will only look at the first few reviews before making their decision. If you’ve had bad reviews recently, this could damage your ability to sell.
You want good recent reviews to show off to your customers. You can try to obtain these by going on your Seller Feedback and reaching out to certain customers. Do not incentivize them or you will be penalized. Instead, just ask if they wouldn’t mind submitting a review about their experience.
If one of your product listings has low metrics and isn’t salvageable by Black Friday, it’s best to remove it for the weekend. Don’t let one listing pull down your whole business for the promotional period.
10. Create a customer service process.
Black Friday is hectic. Something is bound to go wrong. Create a set process for each possible problem. How will you handle late orders? inventory concerns? customer complaints? Everyone on your team should be briefed and trained in these customer service procedures to ensure a smooth promotion.
The Bottom Line
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in just a few short weeks… will your Amazon business be ready? A profitable Thanksgiving sale will determine how you finish Q4 and initiate next year’s business growth.
Are you feeling ready and prepared to take on the hectic Thanksgiving weekend rush? If not, that’s okay!