For the first time, major retailers are embracing “Black November” – an assortment of Black Friday-worthy promotions spread throughout the entire month to capture the momentum of customers who began their holiday shopping more than a month ahead of schedule. Despite this early start, all eyes are on Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Colloquially known as Cyber Week or Cyber Five, this extended holiday weekend is expected to generate record-shattering sales this year. Adobe Analytics predicts Black Friday sales will grow by 39% to reach $10.3 billion, while Cyber Monday sales are expected to top $12 billion, up from $7.9 billion in 2019. With this much at stake, brands need to prepare for the most competitive shopping season in history. Below Channel Key outlines vital information that will help your brand stand out, generate traffic, and convert sales during Cyber Week and the rest of the holiday season.
Key FBA Inventory Deadlines for Amazon Sellers
One of the most important components to a successful Cyber Week is inventory management. Brands should pay close attention to what products they anticipate selling the most, including organically driven sales and those resulting from paid promotions. Be sure to keep these items in stock by shipping inventory to Amazon well in advance of key shopping dates. FBA inventory should arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by the deadlines listed below to ensure your products are available for customers during this peak season.
- Inventory for Black Friday and Cyber Monday should arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by November 6, 2020. If you miss this deadline, don’t panic, but do hurry. The more quickly you ship your Cyber Week inventory to fulfillment centers, the more likely your products will be available for customers.
- Inventory for Christmas shopping should arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by December 1, 2020.
- Inventory for 2021 should be sent to Amazon fulfillment centers no earlier than December 17, 2020. Until then, Amazon is requesting sellers to only ship items that will sell in 2020.
Marketing and Promotion Strategies for Cyber Week and the Holidays
This holiday season will likely see record search traffic on Amazon, which means competition for these sales will be fierce. The brands that capture the most sales will be the ones who utilize the most effective combinations of marketing promotions and advertising campaigns. This year, Amazon provides better merchandising for brands that run Sales Pricing and calls out the discount from the last 30-day price. Another new advertising tool this holiday season is Sponsored Brands Videos, introduced earlier in the year, which provides a video ad format option to its Sponsored Brands program. This season, sellers are also able to enhance Sponsored Display Ads with additional creative including text and a logo.
Channel Key advises brands to focus on using Coupons and Lightning Deals to promote hot ticket items, and using Sponsored Display Ads, Sponsored Brands Ads, and Sponsored Brands Videos to drive search traffic. For example, you might consider creating a Sponsored Product Ad that utilizes product targeting, and then bid aggressively on relevant brands for the products being advertised. You can also target the entire product category instead of specific ASINs and brands. The most effective approach for your brand will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including the products you are promoting, the search volume, the amount of competition, and how aggressively your competitors are marketing and promoting similar items.
Brands should also take appropriate steps to ensure their brand store and item listings are retail ready and holiday optimized. Every listing and product ad should include optimized copy, imagery, and colors that are both brand consistent and holiday themed. Using A+ Content, Videos, and Brand Stores will help strengthen your brand and make the customer experience more attractive, engaging, and interactive for holiday shoppers.
New Beta Amazon Metrics to Measure Holiday Campaign Performance
Occasionally Amazon releases new performance metrics that brands can use to better analyze their campaigns. Sometimes these updates are available to all sellers, but often they are beta releases available to only selected brands. This holiday shopping season, sellers may have access to a new Search Term Impression Share Report for Sponsored Brands, which will provide insight into the share of total impressions you are getting for the search term you’re bidding on. The Brand Category Benchmark Report is another new metric that marks a brand’s performance to other brands in their respective categories. Regarding support updates, it appears Amazon has created a new case type option for Climate Pledge issues, as well as a case type for the Link to Newer Models feature. Sellers with these options in their dashboard can submit case tickets for these issues that are directly linked to their account rather than contacting Amazon support by email. Since Amazon often releases these updates without announcements, Channel Key advises brands to monitor their dashboards in both Seller Central and Vendor Central for new tools they can use to better optimize their promotions and advertising strategies.
Harnessing the Amazon Prime Day Halo Effect
One of the differences about this year’s holiday shopping season is that it started early thanks to Amazon Prime Day, which took place in October instead of July. If your brand participated in Prime Day, the data from your marketing and advertising campaigns can provide key insights into consumer shopping interests and habits throughout the holiday shopping season. Channel Key advises businesses that participated in Prime Day to analyze their campaign performance metrics; not only sales figures and marketing costs, but what worked and what didn’t. For example, your promotions may have increased organic searches and sales for certain non-promoted products, which might be amplified with Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaigns. Your Prime Day promotions data can also help you understand what type of campaigns, ad formats, keywords, and other targeting parameters resonated most with shoppers. All this important data will give you valuable insight that you can use to better harness the purchasing power of Prime Day throughout November and December.
New Holiday Selling Requirements in Certain Amazon Categories
Last but certainly not least, brands need to remain up to date about any changes or additions to requirements that affect them. For example, Amazon implemented holiday selling requirements for Toys and Games this season, which applies to Seller-Fulfilled Prime orders. Sellers must meet the following performance criteria to be eligible to sell in Toys & Games through seller fulfillment from November 2, 2020 through January 3, 2021:
- Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to September 1, 2020 and does not need to be specific to Toys & Games
- You must have processed and shipped at least 25 seller-fulfilled orders from August 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020
- Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be no greater than 1.75% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020
- Your late shipment rate must be no greater than 4% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020
- Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% as of October 14, 2020
CHANNEL KEY TAKEAWAY
In 2019, online sales in the U.S. totaled $142.5 billion. This year, the number will skyrocket. According to Adobe Analytics, the online holiday season is forecast to break all its past growth records to top $189 billion, a 33% YoY spike. All this is great news for retail companies that have shifted their marketing strategies to e-commerce platforms. That said, not everyone will reap an equal share of holiday sales proceeds – especially on competitive marketplaces like Amazon. Brands will need to sharpen and elevate their presence in every way possible to cut through the competition. This includes meeting important FBA deadlines, taking advantage of powerful new marketing and advertising levers, utilizing every available performance metric to monitor and optimize campaigns, and staying up to date about changes in Amazon requirements that may impact their account. These brands will be uniquely positioned over their competitors to perform well this holiday season and finish a challenging year on a high note.
About Channel Key
Channel Key is a full-service channel management marketplace consulting agency that has helped generate $250M in Amazon sales for retail brands around the world. Complete 360-degree services include marketplace strategies, content development, marketing and advertising, catalog management, marketplace and fulfillment setup, ongoing consulting, and much more. To learn about how Channel Key can help increase sales for your business, contact us today for a free consultation.