The holidays are probably the last thing you want to think about right now. But, it will be here before you know it. The more prepared you are for it, the better your ecommerce business will perform during the critical holiday season.
For most ecommerce retailers, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. Selling on Amazon can get downright crazy, even when it’s not your first go around. There is a lot of advice out there about how much inventory to have on hand for the holidays and more. The focus of this post is to remind you of the items that are often overlooked during the busyness of the season – items you can start thinking about now, while the weather is still warm.
Amazon Selling Tips to Prepare for the Holidays
- Check your product listings. August and September are great months to check the information on your Amazon listings for accuracy, before the mad dash to the end of the year. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your listings throughout the holiday season. Check them once a week, if possible, during October through December. There are a couple of Amazon reports that can help:
- Listings Quality and Suppressed Listings Report. This report will tell you if there are any data omissions or errors on your listings. While many errors on this report are not critical, it is still worth checking to make sure you have the best product data available to your customers.
- Category Listing Report. Most Amazon sellers don’t look at this report because it has to be “turned on” for your viewing by Amazon seller support. But the information that is contained in the report is worth you contacting seller support to see it. The report details all of the data you have entered in your listings, including tax collection codes. It allows you to see every detail so you can adjust or correct as needed.
- Manage your FBA inventory levels. This tip is especially important for sellers who are planning to use Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) for the first time. Last year, Amazon stopped accepting new FBA sellers in mid-October. So, if you are planning to use Amazon FBA as your fulfillment option this holiday season, send your first shipment of merchandise to Amazon by the second week of October. They also have deadlines for inventory for certain categories before Black Friday and Christmas for current FBA sellers. Keep your eye out for Amazon’s 2017 deadline announcement and plan your purchase orders accordingly.
Late September or early October is a good time to make sure that you have a plan in place for inventory replenishment. If you use an amazon inventory management solution to run your business, you should check your inventory alerts and forecasting reports to accurately estimate inventory needs. If you don’t have a software solution, you can use Amazon’s “Set Replenishment Alerts” option in the Inventory section. Adjusting these settings before the holiday rush will save you a lot of time and help prevent overselling.
- Clear out stale inventory. If you have slow-moving stock taking up room on the shelves at Amazon, clearing it out before Black Friday will give you more room to stock your best-sellers during the holiday season. Now is the time to cut prices, bundle old inventory with top-sellers, or decide to remove your slow-movers from your FBA inventory. That way, by mid-October, you will have plenty of room for your quick-moving products.
- Adjust your pricing. Not only should you reduce prices on your slow-moving items, but you should also review your pricing strategy. Amazon has strict rules about price gauging, and the enforcement of those rules tend to kick into high gear during the holiday season. If Amazon catches you charging more than 10% to 15% over the stated list price, they may prevent you from capitalizing on the Featured Merchant status for those products – even if you are using FBA.
- Prepare for returns. The unpredictability of customer demand may leave you with extra inventory after the holidays. When you are ordering more inventory throughout the holidays, make sure you review the suppliers’ return policies. Hopefully, you won’t need to return any, but it’s better to be prepared if you do.
It’s tempting to take it easy during these hot summer months. But, if you take the time to get ready for the holiday season early, you will be prepared for a successful Black Friday.