Begin Thinking About Q1 and Beyond in Q4

by David T. Griffith

Even though we’re in the early days of Q4, the holiday season will rush by and you’ll suddenly find yourself celebrating New Year’s Eve. Just as the calendar perpetually moves forward, your Amazon business will continue to operate and you must plan ahead for the next quarter as well as develop a framework through the end of the next year.

Plan Inventory Clearance

It’s commonplace to offer post-Christmas and New Year’s clearance sales with deep discounts and the like, so why not take advantage of it? Chances are any of the inventory build-up you planned for Q4 must be reduced if it hasn’t all sold off before December 25th in order to reduce storage overhead and other associated costs. Plus, this time serves as an opportunity to clear out older products that haven’t seen much movement in the past year. You should bring your overall inventory down to a healthy level while making space for your next season’s newness.

This is a great opportunity to put Best Deal and Lightning Deal promotions to work for you to move that inventory quickly. Keep in mind that you don’t want to run a clearance price on an item you plan to continue selling for the next 12 months. Considering you might want to run a Best Deal on one of these same ASINs later in the year, you will need to beat your post-Christmas clearance price, which would drive down any margin that is left to practically zero.

Each New Year Is a Good Time to Refresh

End of winter and early spring is always a great time to launch a new batch of products. With the advent of spring consumers have newness on their minds. If you sell soft lines like clothing and accessories, your company will undoubtedly have your spring line already in development.

Beyond the new item setup process for spring, look at refreshing your Amazon brand store with appropriate imagery and messaging, as well as changing the focus of featured products to fit the season. Similarly, look at refreshing product pages and A+ content where it makes sense to capture the seasonal vibe.

Take Advantage of Q1 Retail Trends and Moods

Depending on the type of products you develop and sell, you might want to take advantage of the physical fitness and wellness trend that occurs each year as a result of countless New Year’s resolutions. If this is a market for you, you should absolutely have your inventory forecasts and advertising prepared against it now. This opportunity kicks off on New Year's Day and lasts until about mid-February when the fitness hype dwindles.

As winter weather winds down and conditions improve, many consumers will be bursting to get out of their homes and back to their outdoor activities. Focus your product launches and promotions to capture this opportunity too. And of course, don’t overlook the most prominent holiday of the mid-quarter – Valentine’s Day.

Study your retail calendar for correlations with your sales history so you can plan for any niche opportunities that might stand out. These small opportunities can be turned into big retail moments when you meet customers’ needs that you didn’t realize existed.

Develop a Framework for the Next Full Year

Now is the time you should be planning your annual advertising and promotional budgets. Break them down by month and look at key retail peaks to allocate more funds to, like Mother’s Day, new product launches and Amazon Prime Day. Plan your inventory forecasts around these retail peaks with consideration to potential halo effects as well as your normal sales periods. Work with your creative team to establish corresponding messaging and imagery for the full year and have January and February’s creative assets ready to release by December 1.

Even though every thing you plan might not occur exactly as anticipated, this 12-month framework will enable you to keep on track through the end of the next fourth quarter. As a precaution, build into your plans the ability to address unexpected variances, such as potential supply constraints, change in material costs or a sudden increase in customer demand. The ability to react quickly to any changes or obstacles will ensure your business doesn't experience any significant disruptions over the course of the year.

Originally published on October 31, 2018, updated August 12, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.