8 Strategies to Prepare for Amazon Q4 Success

by Carina McLeod

Prime Day has just passed and Q4 is just around the corner, but are you prepared? The fourth quarter (October to December) is the biggest and most important time for Amazon sellers when it comes to driving sales. With major traffic for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday season, this is the quarter when sellers make most of their annual sales.

With this peak in demand, sellers must be prepared months in advance. Now is the time to start planning. To help you prepare, I have put together the following list of things to consider.

1) Managing Amazon Q4 Inventory

Many sellers I speak with run out of stock during Q4 and never get to reap the rewards 100%. On the other hand, some sellers end up with too much in stock come January because the inventory arrived late and gave them a shorter selling window. It is vital that sellers forecast their inventory months in advance and ensure inventory is available to ship into Amazon by October. Forecasting should factor in previous demand, sales uplift and marketing initiatives. It can be tough, especially if this is your first Q4 or you have a new product. There are tools available that can help you forecast such as RestockPro.

2) Increased FBA Storage Fees

If you work with Amazon via FBA, remember that Amazon’s storage fees increase dramatically in Q4. Therefore, it is important you are not sitting on large quantities of inventory. Ideally you will be making more frequent and smaller FBA shipments throughout the quarter as opposed to one large drop. Save your money to invest in initiatives that will drive incremental sales such as advertising and promotions.

3) Longer Lead Time

It is Amazon’s busiest time of the year, and the Fulfillment Centers are at maximum capacity. Sellers need to take this into consideration and plan in longer lead times. It can take Amazon twice as long to receive shipments and process any issues that may arise when receiving the stock. If it currently takes two weeks to send inventory and for Amazon to receive it, plan for that process to take four weeks during Q4.

4) Determine Your Pricing Strategy

You need to have a clear pricing strategy to ensure you are not sitting on any overstocks in January when sales dramatically slow down. Have a timeline when you plan to drop the price if you haven’t cleared through a certain percentage of inventory. Even if the margin is tighter, that may be more profitable than having too much inventory sitting there in January with potential costs from long term storage fees or product removal.

Also, be prepared for price wars with short term opportunists that manage to get hold of your product and will fight to win the Buy Box. There are third-party tools available where you can monitor Buy Box activity and receive notifications if you lose it. Know what your approach is when it comes to winning the Buy Box. How aggressive do you want to be? Do you compete on a race to the bottom or do you take a step back, let them clear through their inventory and maintain your current price?

5) Optimize Your Amazon Product Listings

Make sure your listings have all the bells and whistles and are fully optimized. Q4 is not the time to be optimizing your product pages, nor is it the time to be running A/B tests. The rest of the year is your time to learn and understand what strategies work best for your products and brand. You will have different priorities and need your team focusing on areas such as sponsored ads, customer orders, product reviews, seller feedback and maintaining the Buy Box.

6) Consider Your Advertising Strategy

Similar to the product listings, Q4 is not a time to start creating new ads and running A/B tests. Get your ads set up and tested in Q3 and start getting that momentum on your ads. Amazon’s systems work off of data and results: without this they won’t run to their fullest. Q4 is the time when you should be optimizing ads; adjusting bids, identifying new keywords, reviewing performing and under-performing keywords.

7) Have a Backup Inventory Strategy

If you are selling FBA and you did not send in enough inventory, be ready to shift over to Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) while you send in another shipment to avoid any missed sales. If you are eligible for Seller Fulfilled Prime, apply for this now and if you get approved, manage a few slower selling products on this program to get the team familiar with the requirements in case that big day comes in Q4. If you completely run out of stock on any item, look to redirect your focus to the most equivalent product.

8) Expect the Unexpected

While you can have the most detailed forecast, solid marketing plan and spend months planning for Q4, you still need to be flexible. Expect the unexpected and continually monitor your sales and product listings. Be ready to shift a gear or change direction at any time. It is not a time to wait and review, it is a time to take action. If you don’t, your competitors will.

Originally published on July 31, 2019, updated July 31, 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.