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Amazon Q4 Boot Camp: Stay In Stock and On Budget

by Liz Fickenscher

In this webinar, Liz Fickenscher and Robin Yarow of eComEngine discuss inventory management strategies for Q4 and Aaron Gooden of CPC Strategy delivers insight about managing your advertising during one of the most profitable times of the year.

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Here is the webinar recap, written by Jeanne Croteau

Finding success on Amazon takes hard work year round. To truly take your business to the next level, however, you’ll have to take full advantage of Q4. Do you have a strategy for staying in stock and making the most of the busy holiday season?

In this webinar, CPC Strategy’s Anson Han and Aaron Gooden hosted eComEngine’s Liz Fickenscher and Robin Yarow for a conversation about preparing for Q4, staying in stock, considering your Inventory Performance Index (IPI) and more!

The Importance of Q4 on Amazon

It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of Q4 for Amazon sellers. According to Han, the retail giant is “the largest converting shopping engine out there. It’s part of a largest strategy for sellers to focus on Q4” because they understand the potential.

With consumers gearing up for holiday gift-giving, it’s no surprise that the biggest uptick in sales and spending happens in Q4. Meanwhile, out of all eCommerce sites, Amazon is responsible for the most transactions in Q4. In fact, in 2017, Amazon accounted for 45% of orders on Thanksgiving and 55% of transactions on Black Friday. “If you’re going to see success,” explained Han, “it’s definitely going to be on Amazon.”

Yarow stressed the importance of being prepared for demand by saying, “There are over 100 million Prime members now, so it’s a huge advantage if you sell FBA or seller-fulfilled prime — but only if you stay in stock! It can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales. With the high demand in Q4, you need to pay really close attention to your inventory level.”

Looking to the Past to Predict Future Results

Han explained that reviewing how much inventory was pushed in the previous year can help you predict your inventory needs, but it’s important to remember that this is not an exact science. As Yarow added, “A product that you couldn’t keep on the shelves in 2017, might not move much in 2018 — or it could be really popular again.”

Fickenscher used fidget spinners as an example. While they were an incredibly hot item almost two years ago, they aren’t selling nearly as much right now. “It’s really important to know the product, know the market, know the trend and project the sales outlook for each product that you can sell,” said Yarow.

Amazon Q4 Tips - Advertising + Inventory Management

One of the worst things you can do is wait until you’re in that busy season to start testing out marketing strategies. Begin preparing your Q4 campaigns months in advance so that they are ready and running smoothly when you need them. Since ad copy must go through an approval process, it’s recommended to have it reviewed well in advance. That way, if it needs to be edited, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute.

Also, Yarow explained that it’s really important in Q4 to keep your inventory flowing. "Keep your supply chain moving smoothly. Be prepared for kinks and have a backup plan to smooth out any issues that come up. Take some time to draw out your supply chain so that you are really understanding your lead times, which can get longer in Q4. You want to make things more efficient.”

At the same time, Fickenscher warned that Amazon doesn’t want to be your warehouse. You want to maintain an IPI score of 350 or less. If you do find yourself with extra inventory, consider using repricing strategies to kick start slow moving items and avoid added FBA and storage fees.

Start Preparing for Q4 Now!

Are you ready to jump start the biggest selling season of the year? Definitely watch the webinar for a more in-depth discussion, but in the meantime consider this checklist:

  • Look at your sales during last year’s Q4 and make note of trends and inventory needs.
  • Audit listings and address slow movers with pricing and ad spend.
  • Watch margins - avoid higher FBA/storage fees.
  • Forecast demand increases with advertising.
  • Consider direct fulfillment as a backup plan.
  • Solicit and act quickly on feedback.
  • Get ad copy approved ASAP and pause the ad until you need it.
  • Maintain sales history and velocity on products that you plan on running coupons.
  • Get coupons approved and Lightning Deals submitted on time.

As an invested Amazon business owner, you already know how much hard work it takes to keep things going year round. Don’t miss out on your chance to take your sales to the next level during Q4. A little extra planning can go a long way!

Originally published on August 16, 2018, updated October 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.

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