On-Demand Webinar: 30 Tips in 45 Minutes
Prepare for Peak Season with Expert Advice from Leading Brands
Hear 30 tips on peak season success from leaders at top brands, so you can be prepared to navigate the upcoming holiday surge with confidence.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar. You can also find the full transcript of the webinar below for you to read!
Identify Creative Strategies For Marketing and Promotions
A lot of our panelists shared really creative, unorthodox marketing strategies they’ve used over the years during peak season. Here’s some of them:
- Identify non-obvious moments perfect for marketing. For example, bad weather forces a lot of customers to stay at home, which drives up online shopping. The next time there’s a snowstorm in peak season, you can have your marketing team ready to go and dial up your PPC budget.
- Running promotions in the days leading up to Black Friday might actually be a better strategy than running discounts on the day itself! You can run promotions more cost-effectively in the days leading up to BFCM, which boosts your organic search rank and discoverability on Amazon. You can then drive higher sales during BFCM without having to run expensive paid advertising or offering deep discounts that squeeze your margins.
- Do not run campaigns that are auto or broad-keyword focused. There will be a lot of people shopping on Amazon during this time of the year, and if your campaign is too generic, then you will attract too much traffic that is not going to convert. Avoid breaking the bank by running campaigns for keywords where you have the best chance of converting customers.
Take Advantage of The Different Tools Amazon Has
Many of our panelists shared different features available on Amazon that sellers can use to grow sales during peak season. Here’s a few of their recommendations:
- If you’re looking to grow sales with compliant reviews, check out Amazon Vine. Amazon has reviewers called Vine Voices who can provide accurate and detailed reviews about your products, boosting sales by up to 30%.
- You can use the Tailored Audiences feature to send targeted email marketing campaigns to different cohorts of customers.
- Using Brand Referral Bonus, you can get credit from Amazon by referring customers from pages on your Shopify store to Amazon listings. This reduces the cost of customer acquisition, improving margins.
Find Creative Ways to Offload Inventory
Peak season is the perfect time to manage inventory wisely and clear out products that have been sitting unsold for a while. Our panelists shared a few strategies to do that:
- Identify leftover stock from previous shopping periods, say Halloween. You can offer those as free gifts to customers. They aren’t going to complain – and you could get customer shoutouts on social media!
- Identify SKUs on hand that did not sell very well through the course of the year. Offering these items as ‘mystery boxes / mystery gifts’ can add a nice touch to the experience customers have, while allowing you to offload inventory.
Don't Forget The Essentials
Panelists spoke about how peak season is a blur, and it can be easy to forget many of the basic, but essential things that go into running an eCommerce business. Some of their tips included:
- Make sure that your listing is active. Keep a watch out for listing hijacking or Buy Box suppression every day.
- You can’t afford to have listings go inactive. With many FBA fulfillment centers being backed up, consider having a backup FBM listing so that you can keep making sales through peak season.
- Don’t forget holiday shipping deadlines – make sure that your packages are received by the carriers in time to be delivered. You’ll need to ensure they receive them in enough time to avoid upgrading services to Air or Express.
Those were some of our panelists key takeaways. For a deep-dive into these tips, and more killer recommendations that can move the needle for your brand this Q4, you can watch the on-demand webinar.
We’ve also got the full transcript of the webinar below for you to read!
Good morning and good afternoon, everyone, wherever you’re tuning in from. Thank you again for joining this exciting webinar – 30 Tips in 45 Minutes. We have a star-studded line of speakers and experts for you – just some housekeeping tips. We are recording this webinar. So, you don’t need to take any notes, we will be sending a copy of this recording a couple of days after the webinar ends. We are going to be taking in a lot of questions.
We’re going to keep it very interactive and very lively throughout the presentation. So don’t forget to put your questions in the Q and a box, anytime during the presentation, you don’t need to wait until the end. Very happy to introduce to you today’s speakers. We’ve got myself, Manish Chowdhary, founder and CEO of Cahoot. We’ve got Jeff Campbell from AI Commerce, Joe Zalta from Riverbend Consulting, Colleen Quattlebaum from eComEngine, Scott Needham from SmartScout, Kevin Lee from Didit, Phillip Akhzar from Arka. Matt Holman with QPilot, Wyatt Whaley with Shipsurance, and last but not least, Reed O’Brien with Empire Flippers.
So, we’ve got very diverse content for you, and we’re going to move very fast, so we want to end on time, and we’ll keep those questions coming. And panelists, please feel free to answer those questions as they come in, feel free to interject, so let’s get started. We’re going to start off with myself.
My 1st tip is about pricing with the peak season surcharges in mind. As some of you may know that Amazon and carriers typically implement a peak season surcharge, and these charges can add up very quickly. Fortunately, this year, because of the incredible GRI – General rate increases that USPS, UPS and FedEx had implemented earlier in the year, the economy being somewhat softer. They have chosen not to implement any surcharges during this peak season and including DHL, which is also one of the carriers that has not implemented surcharges. However, FBA, if you’re shipping your products to FBA, you will see these surcharges and they can add up quickly. And these surcharges vary by Amazon size tiers, and they can add up very quickly. Up to 13 percent of your shipping cost or your FBA fees. So, if you’re not paying attention to these surcharges, your profitability would suffer. With the rising PPC costs during Q4 and during the peak season, you must take into consideration these surcharges so you’re adjusting for profitability while you’re discounting your products.
So that’s my first tip. The second tip is about planning your promotions. We all know that the Turkey Five, you know, the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day – then Friday through all the way to Cyber Monday are typically the highest shopping season. However, more than half the shopping happens after Turkey Five. And this year, consumers are going to be looking for deals, so they are going to probably hold out a little bit. And there’s good, solid three weeks after Turkey Five when the shopping is going to happen, so don’t exhaust all your marketing budget during Turkey Five – don’t exhaust all your inventory –plan it, pace it. There’s a good three weeks to take advantage of after Turkey Five.
My other tip is about keeping a close eye on shipping deadlines. Christmas this year will fall on Monday Which is the 25th of December. However, all the carriers, if you want to get your gifts in time, or the consumers want to get the gifts on time – they will want to expect that delivery to happen latest by Friday the 22nd. Some carriers do deliver on Saturday, the 23rd. However, carriers like FedEx have pulled back on Saturday delivery. So, I wouldn’t be counting on those. So technically, December 20th is probably your last day to get your products in into consumers’ hands. So, you want to keep those in mind, plan your promotions according to the shipping deadlines and carrier deadlines in mind. Otherwise, you would be paying exorbitant amounts and upgrading those shipping methods to express because the consumers may be frustrated. So you want to keep those in mind and also align your promotion calendar to allow enough time for your customers to place the orders and get those products out the door. So you want to certainly keep these in mind.
And my last tip for today is about bad weather. This is a real opportunity that many marketers may not be taking advantage of, but data proves that when there is rain or snow or bad weather outside, consumers stay indoors and they shop online, and it is directly proportional to the amount of precipitation – as the rain or the weather gets worse, the online shopping tends to be higher for the most part, and then you see a decline. You can expect up to 6-7% increase in shopping. So the agile marketers will take advantage of this. You know, they’ll use flash sales, they’ll be ready to send out those email campaigns, ready to pounce on increasing their PPC budget, as opposed to following the traditional time parting or day parting.
So, this is a real opportunity to keep this in mind as part of your promotion calendar. Thank you.
Our next set of tips will be brought to you by Jeff Campbell of aiCommerce. Jeff is the president of aiCommerce, which is a digital marketing agency with a focus on eCommerce and retail marketplaces. They help you grow revenues efficiently on retail marketplaces through constraint identification and reduction. They’ve helped dozens of brands with full-service platform management, retail media, advertising. Website optimization, 3PL fulfillment opportunities.
My first tip is to embrace and balance the sales equation. If you are an old school retailer, you understand this old standard, but many newer entrants were never exposed to the sales equation. Simply put, traffic times conversion rate times AOV equals revenue. Those are your three main levers, all with compounding impact to revenue outcomes. Traffic, especially paid advertising, seems to get the lion’s share of attention in conversations. But no matter how low your CPCs are, or if you’re on the coolest new TikTok shop, conversion rate and AOV are equal parts of the battle. If you have quality traffic but can double your conversion rate with better content or stronger views, you’ve just doubled your revenue, right? Measure and embrace all three to drive revenue. And when all three improve, returns are exponential.
Second, TikTok shop launched in October. If there’s one overall main eCommerce tip to leave you with, it’s channel diversification. There are more than 40 different retail media networks in operation, with the majority being less than 3 years old. The Association of National Advertisers released a study earlier this year that 56 percent of brands use more than 5 retail media networks. So, specifically, launched in September, TikTok Shop is the newest and arguably the hottest eCommerce channel to hit this year. Retail, social commerce sales are forecasted to grow at over 20 percent in the next five years. And they account for nearly 8% or they will account for nearly 8 percent of eCommerce sales come 20. The number of consumers starting their product searches with Amazon is down year over year, still number one, but Walmart and the social commerce channels, Instagram, are all up. The biggest Tik Tok will gain nearly 10 million social buyers in 2023. And that’s more than the net increase of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest combined. 40 percent of Tik Tok users will make a purchase on the platform this year. Currently sales commissions for TikTok shop are only 2 percent versus 15 percent industry standards say on Amazon and Walmart and CPCs are really less than a third, probably around 30 cents compared to some other channels. So back to that sales equation, if you can find cheaper, high-quality traffic that converts, TikTok shop is definitely something to give a hard look at and launch and advertise through shop ads and influencers and affiliates ASAP.
Third, and this might be more of a 2024 tip, but B2B2C, right? Driven by younger digital first buyers. The B2B marketplaces are enjoying triple digit sales percentage growth while Amazon B2B has a 32% share. There’s over 500 US commercial and vertical specific marketplaces expected to grow over 50 percent in the next few years. B2B wholesale drives physical growth and brick and mortar retail continues to grow, and it represents over 80 percent of US purchases. Mixing D2C and wholesale channels, online and offline, is really the best mix to prevail. In this profit strained economy, you’ll have wider reach, more products, increase your footprint, stronger brand recognition. Keep in mind, sellers must have a centralized strategy for repricing product data, optimization, syndication, advertising, analytics, and connections to your fulfillment, your shipping partners, and then make sure you have a tight reseller policy. So wholesale buyers don’t just pop up as direct competition in your DTC channels. For one of our own brands, LiPets, we saw a 100 percent year over year revenue growth using a mix of physical retail expense expansion and B2B marketplaces like FAIR, Connections through Range. me, and we’re now selling products in over a thousand locations.
In conclusion, the fragmentation and the complexity will continue.
All right, great tips. The next set of tips are brought to you by Joe Zalta, cofounder of Riverbend Consulting. Riverbend Consulting specializes in Amazon seller account reinstatement and seller, sellers requiring appeals, challenges, and account protection. They work with both 1P And 3P sellers and their team is packed with subject matter experts from ex Amazon employees to longtime sellers and brand owners.
Hi, how are you? This is Joe Zolta from Riverbend Consulting. I’m here today to talk to you about how to prepare for peak season. So we have a ton to talk about today. This is a super important time for everyone selling on Amazon, especially FBA sellers and especially sellers that either have their own brand or are pushing wholesale. It’s a time that really you have to make up for a lot of the mistakes that you made throughout the year or certain times that maybe you didn’t maximize your sales or you ran out of stock or things like that. This is the time where you can make it up. There will be a ton of traffic, a ton of intent to buy, and this is where you can make it up. So I’m going to share a few things with you guys. Now, 1 of them is perfect your pricing. So a tactic that I’ve used in the past throughout the last few holidays, and it’s really done a lot of good for me, is that really before the actual peak season, which, in my opinion, is probably like November 15th, that you start to see the really big spike, then it slows down for a few days, then you get the Black Friday and Cyber Monday push, and then really all of December is awesome. What I like to do before November 15th is start promoting it early, so some discounts, some maybe some heavier ads coupons. If you have any deals available lightning or best deal, I would run those really what we’re trying to do is that we are trying to help and improve our organic rank leading up to the big season. And what that does is that you get your positioning better that when there is major traffic and major intent to buy, in the true holiday season that you’re in a great spot that you do a ton of sales. So that’s a, you know, that’s a huge trick that I’ve used and it’s really worked out well for me over the years. And then something else I think is important to know is that a lot of people get very excited or drawn in by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But really understand what your margin capabilities are, meaning. How much can you lose? Or how much can you afford to lose by discounting your product? So, like, for example, I’m exclusive deals. These make you discount the product about 20 to 25%. If you don’t have that type of margin built into your product, you’re really just moving units but not making any money. Now I think it’s a great idea for overstock. I think it’s a great idea for an out-of-season product, but in season product I don’t love the idea because you’re really just giving away your valuable inventory that you will likely sell in the next 30 to 45 days. So keep that in mind, you know, make sure that you’re not doing too much discounting and promoting on Black Friday, where you can’t afford to do it. So that’s my first tip.
My next tip is around making sure that you have your product listed. This is just an old trick. That especially if you have a hard time getting product into FBA after a certain date, like, I think right now things are getting a little backed up at FBA fulfillment centers. And if you’re worried or concerned that your goods won’t get there, I think this is a good time to basically create an additional offer on your listing and have another SKU listed as an FBM offer. If you could obviously fulfill FBM from your warehouse or from your 3PL. It’s a very smart idea. You should make sure that your FBM price is slightly higher than your FBA price as to not win the buy box over yourself. You definitely want your FBA offer as the buy box winner and then just to have a backup as an FBM offer in case you get low on stock or anything like that. So, that’s my tip two.
Tip three is making sure that you’re not running too many catchable or broad or auto campaigns during Q4. I know it’s a great time to advertise. It’s a great time to really get your product in front of customers. But if you’re running too many casual campaigns, you’re going to get a ton of unnecessary or, or really just uninterested people clicking, just because there’s so much traffic on the site. And that can really hurt your profitability. So, I’m a big fan of being very specific, especially during Q4 because there is so much intent to buy. I’d rather you spend 50 cents or a dollar more per click on a super specific term than spending, you know, a dollar or $2 on just autos or or broad manuals on, you know, very generic terms. Really this is a time where you need to make sure that you’re profitable on every SKU. And it kind of speaks to my last point of making sure that you’re profitable even after all of the Amazon fees. Some of which I know all too well, which hurt, but we have to be aware of them are long term storage fees, which are, I think, any inventory that’s been in your FBA warehouse for more than 180 days, that just keeps racking up.
And then the killer of all is the FBA storage fees that are, I think four and a half times regular months during October, November and December. So even if you’re moving product. And moving it quickly is still going to have your product in FBA fulfillment centers, and they’re charging you for that time, even if it’s 5 days, 10 days, 20 days. So, I know that’s killed people’s businesses in the years past. It could potentially kill your business this year. So make sure that you’re as profitable as you can be, including all of those fees.
So that’s really all I have for today and good luck, happy selling, and I hope you have a great holiday season. Thank you.
Thank you, Joe. That was some amazing tips. Our next tips are brought to you by none other than Colleen Quattlebaum, who is the Director of Marketing at eComEngine. eComEngine software is designed to make it easier to manage your Amazon business, whether you’re just getting started. Or managing a multinational brand. eComEngine software helps you automate review requests, which we know how important they are, monitor your listings, which is absolutely critical, and manage FBA inventory.
The first tip that I want to share with you today is regarding Amazon Vine. I recently sat down with Ami Pandya. She is the head of Amazon Vine, and I was in Seattle for Amazon Accelerate back in September, and she shared some exciting news about the Amazon Vine program. So if you aren’t familiar with Amazon Vine, look it up. It’s a great way to generate reviews in a compliant way through Amazon’s top reviewers called Vine Voices. But first, you must be brand registered and your product must have less than 30 ratings. So, it’s great for those of you who are launching a new product. You simply enroll in the Amazon Vine program and you send your products to the Vine Voices to review. And up until recently, this program cost 200 just to participate. But now, or as of October 19th, there are new pricing tiers, starting with a free tier, completely free to enroll up to two units per ASIN. So there’s nothing to lose. You can enroll up to 10 units per ASIN for 75 and 30 units per ASIN for 200. So the way that this works, you are not guaranteed positive reviews. So you must make sure that your product and your packaging and your listing is optimized before you enroll in the program. So that you are more likely to get strong reviews. But the good thing is the Vine voices tend to give very detailed reviews often with photos and videos, and they tend to carry more weight in the Amazon search algorithm. And Ami actually shared with me that Amazon’s data shows that Vine can help you boost sales by up to 30%. So especially with the free tier, you have nothing to lose. So there’s my plug to give Amazon Vine a try this holiday season.
What I want to share is important all year round, but even more so in Q4 when you’re at your peak season. Thank you. So it’s crucial that you monitor your Amazon listings daily in order to protect your sales and your listings on Amazon. There’s always a risk out there of potential threats. That are just lurking, such as listing hijacking, suppressed listings, buy box changes, and listing changes. But keeping track of all this manually is nearly impossible – so that’s why at eComEngine, we created a tool called Seller Pulse, which helps sellers save time and money by monitoring your products 24/7 and alerting you to these potential threats. So the way it works is Seller Pulse sends email alerts with important details and recommendations to help you solve the issues right away. So if your listing is hijacked, Seller Pulse will send you an alert right away, as well as a cease and desist template that you can send directly to the unauthorized seller and the process or detailed steps to file a claim with Amazon. If your item is buy box suppressed, then Seller Pulse will give you the tools that you need to get that unsuppressed. So, it’s a great way to make sure that you don’t miss out on holiday sales when you’re at your peak – you can lose a lot of revenue if there’s a listing issue or something, you know, buy box suppression just in a few hours, much less than a full day. So make sure you’re protecting your sales on Amazon by monitoring your listings every single day.
And my next tip is about a tool in Seller Central called Amazon’s Tailored Audiences. If you have not used it yet, you’re in for a treat. This is a great tool to boost sales on Amazon by sending targeted emails to specific audiences, such as repeat customers, your highest spending customers, and your most recent customers. So it’s a great way to build your brand and improve customer loyalty. And this program offers really detailed reporting on the email campaigns that can give you some great data to help you learn more about your customers and help you grow your business. So don’t just use the email campaigns, make sure that you take a look at the data behind those email campaigns as well. And this tool is found in Seller Central, just go to Brands and it’s under Customer Engagement. And then my last mention about this is just in August, Amazon launched Brand Tailored Promotions, which is an extension of this that allows brands to send promotional discounts up to 50 percent to their highest intent customers. So take a look at this program, start using it now to boost your Q4 sales, but it’s also a great way to make some post holiday sales in January. So someone who may have purchased your item as a gift – maybe if you send that targeted email that will entice them to buy the product for themselves after the holidays.
All right. And then my next tip is about your review management process. If you don’t have a process in place, now is the time to do that. First of all, it’s important to request reviews on every order. Everyone has more orders during the holiday season, so more orders translates to more reviews. But to really maximize your reviews, you need to make sure you’re asking for them. I also highly recommend A/B testing your review request to see what converts best. Is the request a review button working better for you or a more personalized custom email? Just make sure that you’re always compliant with Amazon’s policies. And if you need help, I’m happy to take a look at your email. But again, A/B test, see what works best. Also monitor the reviews on your products as well as your competition – you can learn a lot from reviews. See if you can identify trends – that might signal a change that you need to make to your listing or your product or packaging. Or maybe you’ll get some ideas on how to bundle your products with other items to try to increase your sales.
And then lastly, negative reviews. Make sure you familiarize yourself with what to do with negative reviews. Brand registered sellers can contact the buyer using the templates found in Seller Central. And if the review is against Amazon’s community guidelines, you can submit a claim to Amazon to have it removed. And lastly, I wanted to point out that you should consider using Amazon’s gift options to offer gift wrapping and gift messaging to customers. This can help increase your sales conversion rates by offering enhanced buying experience, especially during the holiday season. So as long as your items are eligible, it’s at no extra cost for FBA sellers, and you have two options. You can either choose Amazon Gift Message or Amazon Gift Wrap, or both.
But again, this is not automatically enabled, but it is free. So you just need to take the time to go through the steps to enable this, and the steps are super simple. Just go to your main settings menu in seller central up in the top right corner where it says gift options, select that and then use the slider button to enable the services that you want to do whether it’s the gift message or gift wrap and make your adjustments. So again, no extra costs for FBA offers. So just take a few moments and set this up in time for the gift giving season. But it’s great to offer all year round as well for birthday gifts and other things all throughout the year.
So wishing you all a great Q4, and thank you for letting me share these tips with you today.
Those are some amazing tips, Colleen. Folks, if you haven’t taken advantage of many of those so called not so common features, you definitely want to check out brand tailored audiences, Amazon Vine. Our next tip, a set of tips, are brought to you by Scott Needham. Scott is the founder of SmartScout. SmartScout helps you find product opportunities on Amazon. Their software collects millions of data points that no other tool can provide you, helping you make decisions that increase revenue, improve ad efficiency, which we know is so critical, especially in the peak season and find new opportunities.
All right. The first tip that I want to share with you today is when you’re building out PPC campaigns to think like a customer, it’s very easy just to look at words, keywords, clicks, but at the end of the day, someone is typing something in. And they’re looking for something and what I’ve done with one of our private label accounts is we broke out a separate campaign that we really just understood like, okay, where are we going to convert the absolute highest? And yeah. For this product, it was pickleball paddles. And we had a few different color ones. And we found that if we created just an exact match on the keyword that like, we know we’re going to convert the best for, we have the gold, we have a gold pickleball paddle, no one else does, we’re going to convert the highest. For just this keyword. And so, you know, thinking like, like if a customer is typing in a gold key, gold pick, well, paddle, like we’re exactly what they’re looking for, it really is no competition. So break that campaign out and it doesn’t just have to be the color, but anything that you know, that you designed in your product, just break that out in its own campaign. So you can have, you know, a 10 percent ACOS campaign. So that’s, I kind of consider when you find these things, where you find things that you are going to convert better than anyone else – it’s an asset to your business. It will live forever and you will get a few free sales or many sales in that instance.
The second tip that I want to share with you is around coupons and Prime exclusive discounts. , I’ve been a big fan of these. While they’ve changed over the last year. So I would say actually Prime exclusive discount in the last year. I’ve understood where they’re best used. So coupons are that green tag right there. That is a coupon. And now Amazon has made it easy to upload many at a time. And the minimum value is 5 percent and there’s multiple ways to use them. One, like you should never discount your product like by lowering the price. You should discount with a coupon. That way the customer knows, hey, this used to be a 30 item. I’m now getting it for 25 and so really think about that in your strategy. You can run these for a few months at a time, and not every customer actually uses the coupon. You actually have to check a box to apply a coupon to your transaction, and not everyone’s using that. So, an additional reason coupons have like crazy boost. They boost your click through rate, because right here it is, you can see, below there, like, Hey, green badge, go for it. And then the Prime exclusive discounts really are awesome during the shopping holidays, because if you have one, you are going to get a lot more impressions because people will be turning on show me the deals. And so as they browse with other keywords, like whatever they search, you know, whatever category they’re in, just if you use a prime exclusive discount, they will find you more likely. And so we find that this boosts sales considerably because it boosts your discoverability. So these are some tips that you really want to use in Q4.
And there you have it.
Awesome. That is incredible, taking advantage. If you’re not taking advantage of those Prime coupons that 50 percent of the customers don’t even click, it can’t be better than that. So thanks again. Our next set of tips are brought to you by Kevin Lee. Kevin Lee is the executive chairman at Didit. Didit is a full-service marketing company built to reach today’s audience across modern media channels, Within real world budgets, their big approach delivers big agency results, resources and reach with the flexible personal touch of a sophisticated cost effective boutique firm that handles everything in house.
So folks, please stick around. We have another bunch of amazing tips coming. You don’t want to miss the remainder of the tips, so please stick around.
So I’m super excited to share some tips for you for the holiday season unless we have a third world war the economy melts down all the signals point to a strong Q4, but I want you to grab the majority of Profitable revenue that you can.
So let’s start off with brand referral bonus strategies that maybe bleed over into your own site. Let the consumer pick where they choose to convert. Some people prefer to shop on Amazon. So there are interesting ways you could potentially add brand referral bonus links with attribution to your own site. However, if you’re going to send the clicks over to Amazon and check to see whether they convert better, they’re generate more revenue for you there. There’s risk because there’s competitive conquest. So you’ll need to run the AB split test, but one of the ways you can use the brand referral bonus is that, but you also have obviously your social media. You have potentially other media assets that you’re buying. And if the consumer can self-select which platform they check out on, you can take advantage of that 10%. That might be super powerful for you.
So, in addition to brand referral bonuses, consider variety packs. Customers love variety packs. It’s a huge psychological button that gets pushed for them. Like, oh, let me check it out. Let me check it out. Square that way. So flavor variety packs or variety packs that include a SKU that is complimentary to the primary SKU. Those are super powerful. One other thing that’s very similar to creating variety pack that could really delight your customer is if you have sample packs, include those in your fulfillment. That’s easier to do when you’re fulfilling directly than it is to do with Amazon – you can have your 3PL, throw in sample packs and it really delights the customer, so it gives them an opportunity to try something new. If you’re going to do obviously variety packs – you’ll get the increased AOV and you’ll have potential trial of a new ASIN which is powerful.
The other way, you can use a brand referral bonus as an alternative to the Associates Program or influencer links in the case of your own site would be with influencers. Influencers obviously have a lot of audience they bring to the table. You can give them the choice between associate or affiliate links or a brand referral bonus and consider layering in coupon codes as well. Coupon codes are really annoying, with Amazon, especially single use coupon codes, which expire really quickly, but for a holiday season, you could do limited time single use coupon codes with an influencer that they could distribute as long as the amount that you could create would match up with the amount that they need.
So use these strategies together and crush it this holiday season and set yourself up for an even better 2024. Thanks so much.
Our next set of tips are brought to you by Phillip Akhzar. Phillip is the founder and CEO of ARKA with 16 years of experience in packaging and supply chain logistics. Phil Is a San Francisco native attending Cal Poly as an industrial engineer before graduating from both Y Combinator W15 and 500 startups (Batch 16). He’s also the host of Shopify’s course on packaging and shipping your products sustainably.
Here’s some quick tips coming at you from Philip Akhzar, founder and CEO of Arca. All right, first things first. You should be sampling. Sample your packaging leading up to the holidays. You don’t want to be this guy. Have something misspelled. Using old brand design or old logos. Not having the configuration proper, whether it’s structure, labeling, something might be missed, something might be off. That would have been avoided with the sampling.
Have a plan for excess inventory. You are making such a missed opportunity, if you’re not able to send stuff in addition to whatever is being purchased from your customers during the holidays. Send them the stuff that you had left over from Halloween. In the coming months, send them stuff that’s left over from Christmas. Either way, this segment of time is meant to just push stuff out the door. And, are you going to complain as a customer if you got a bunch of extra free stuff? No, absolutely not. You might even share about it. You might post about it. You might gift some things to your friends and let them know, Hey, I got an extra XYZ from company ABC that I purchased from. So, take advantage of this. This is actually a year round positive thing you can do, but everybody loves gifts, and something a little extra around the holidays.
Last but not least, where’s your QR code? Where’s your physical call to action that can just like open up in a completely new world? For your customers when you’re sending packages out, especially during the holidays, they’ll be able to scan something and it’ll push them to a review, it’ll push them to a reward, it’ll push them to socials, it’ll push them to some sort of promo, something, either way, the experience doesn’t end when they receive the package, the package is where your customers have a 100 percent open rate, right? And why not take advantage of that by being able to layer what they’re opening by sending them down a path to explore and take them down a journey even further. This is through Arka dot com. We hope to be seeing you soon.
Thank you, Philip. That was some amazing tips. Folks, as Philip said, Q4, the peak season is the time to get rid of the excess inventory. No customer is likely to complain when they get a gift free of charge. So great time to get that excess inventory out the door. Our next set of tips are brought to you by Matt Holman. Matt is the head of partnerships at QPilot. QPilot unleashes scheduled shopping like subscribe and save or automated replenishment to work with any platform and any customer experience, enabling customers to manage their delivery timing.
I’m happy to share some of my tips for you. So the first one that I’d like to dive into, use your inventory wisely. And what I mean by this is you’re typically going to have some products for your brand that sell very, very well. And if you’re emphasizing sales of those products, you want to ensure that you have inventory for those SKUs. One of the worst things that you can do is start to sell out on something you’re expecting to arrive. But because it’s late or really late, you end up with some really angry customers. So try to make sure you’re aligning your marketing efforts with what you’re trying to sell. The second half of this is actually looking at what inventory you have that is not sold well during the year. So these are going to be your less popular SKUs. These are going to be things that are sitting up, taking up inventory space. And one of the ways you can actually kind of make the most of these is go to your marketing team and tell them, Hey, I’ve got 10, 000 of these blue widgets. We should include them as a mystery gift, or as a free gift that we’re including with all shipments. So it takes a little bit of time just tweaking that to the website so the offer’s available. But the point is, is you can actually leverage unpopular inventory as a gift, as an add on to increase the value of what you’re selling, especially if you just call it a mystery item, mystery gifts, mystery boxes have been performing really, really well the last two years and something I would highly recommend you use, again, undersold inventory for, for mystery gifts.
The second thing is if you have subscription orders and subscription customers, I would definitely look at getting those out early. There’s a couple of reasons why you want to do this. The 1st is, if you want to let customers know that you’re going to be doing this, you can actually send out an email campaign, asking them if they’d like to opt in to get it early. You could add an extra incentive, like free shipping or 1 of these mystery items. You could also just say, hey, avoid the peak shipping times and slower shipping delivery times by getting your order early. You could actually do this without having to notify any of your customers by just doing it. So, when you do send out shipments early, it’s good to include some kind of insert or explaining why and you can do a couple of things with this. The first is just explaining to people that in order to avoid some of the peak holiday shipping costs, or slower delivery times, you wanted to make sure that they got their shipment before the holiday season happened. So people feel like you’re kind of doing them a favor. The second part is that you can include upsells as a part of that. So if you have subscription customers, you have these people that are getting recurring orders from you, you can include upsells into some of the best specials or offers you have going. Or including, hey, redeem this QR code for a mystery gift for those undersold items. The idea here is you have this audience, you should be marketing to them in a way that they can’t miss it. So you include that as an insert into their gift.
Finally, as something you should be thinking about is prioritize new customer orders. So when we’re looking at the holiday season, when people have ordered from you before, whether that’s a subscription customer or a repeat customer, the expectation around delivery is not going to be as critical as it is for new customers. So if it’s possible within your fulfillment system to look at prioritizing new customers first time orders so that those go out first, those go out fastest, those get there fastest, and make sure that they’re getting a great unboxing experience.
Get your subscription orders out early folks. Our next set of tips and please keep those questions coming. Our panelists are standing by and we will be sharing a copy of this webinar. And our next set of tips is brought to you by Wyatt Whaley of Shipsurance a shipping insurance provider that helps you save up to 90 percent on shipping insurance and covers your packages in transit.
Hello, and thank you so much for having me today that we’ve got a couple of tips for you. They might be a bit obvious, but it’s still good to go over them. You know, especially as you and your teams are heading into the peak shipping season. I’m going to run through them somewhat quickly here so that we do have some time at the end for a quick Q&A thanks.
1st off, you’re going to want to revisit your shipping settings. We want to verify the complete shipping address and also add any room or suite numbers. We suggest adding the signature required service on just about all shipments but definitely for shipments containing highly valuable merchandise, porch piracy is unfortunately highly rampant especially around the holidays here. Know your carrier schedules and holiday shipping deadlines, to ensure that shipments do get out on time.
Our next tip is that holiday shipping mishaps do unfortunately happen. So be ready, be sure to double box any fragile or breakable items, they should be able to survive a drop of about six feet. We also suggest that you do not use any descriptive labeling that may allude to the contents, branded box, branded tape, your company logo, et cetera. We found that shipping in a nondescript package definitely lowers the risk of theft for your shipments. Also, by adding insurance coverage this way, they’ll be covered against any loss or damages that happened while in transit. Please note that there are always huge, huge increases in volume during the peak season. For example, the USPS accepted 11. 7 billion shipments between November 26th and December 30th last year. And this huge increase in volume is really the main reason why today’s tips are going to be beneficial to both yourself and your teams.
So, again, be sure to revisit your shipping settings and be ready for those holiday shipping mishaps. Thank you.
Thank you, Wyatt. Those tips really make sense, especially during the holidays. The damages from the carriers do go up significantly. So, folks, if you’re working with the 3PL or shipping a product yourself, you definitely want to pay attention to package insurance. Next set of tips these are, there’s a last set of tips here, so please stick around. We will have a little bit of time for questions. The last set of tips are brought to you by none other than Reid O’Brien of Empire Flippers. Reid is in charge of strategic partnerships at Empire Flippers, and if you follow all the great tips that we’ve just learned, you’ll be in a position to hopefully sell your business someday.
And Empire Flippers is the number one curated online business marketplace. They’ve helped people buy and sell over 450 million worth of online businesses on any platform. So without further ado, Reid.
Hi, my name is Reid O’Brien. I’m the strategic partnerships manager at Empire Flippers. And I want to walk you through the peak season tips, in context of an exit for your e commerce or Amazon.
So the number one tip is to plan ahead. It is never too early to start thinking about an exit, whether you think that might be in a year, in two years, right after the peak season, whatever it may be, and there’s a few key things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about that exit. So the number one thing is to figure out your why for the sale. Why are you anticipating exiting your business? This motivation is easily going to be the most important piece of your plan to exit because that’s going to dictate your negotiation terms. It’s going to dictate how you interact with your business and kind of what steps you take in the short, medium and long term and whether it’s, you know, you want to sell your business to buy a house, to retire, to start a new business venture. There’s no wrong reason. It’s just important that you understand what your base motivation is when you’re thinking about an exit. It’s also important to note that a business exit is going to take between four to six months from the day you start and you are ready to go until the day you’ve got your first payment in the bank. Now, if you’re interested in kind of what payment terms look like and what deal structures look like, we can discuss. But for the most part, the important thing to know is that it’s going to take four to six months, so it’s worthwhile to plan ahead and have that in mind when you think about the timing. It’s no secret that Q4, this peak season, tends to be the busiest part of the year. And a lot of sellers want to exit day one of January once they’ve had a big windfall of cash. But again, it’s just important to know that it’s not going to be that quick, and we can help you kind of get prepared for that.
Now, tip number two, keep your books as spotless as possible. Of course, this is something that maybe people know intuitively, but it’s important to realize that when you’re going through a business exit, Finances are probably one of the top two things considered by a prospective buyer. So having a really clear outlook on your business’s finances is of the utmost importance. You need to have a clean P and L, and you need to understand what your cost per SKU is – you need to understand what your fixed costs are, what’s variable, what could be added back. And ultimately most buyers are going to be looking for that P and L be presented in an accrual format instead of on a cash basis. Now we’re by no means saying that you should redo your books to be all accrual instead of cash because cash basis is by far the most common type of bookkeeping that we see with direct to consumer sellers. However, you need to be prepared to make that conversion and if it’s something that can easily be incorporated into your business without affecting your tax structure or other finances, I would go ahead and have that ready to go. So when in doubt on that, when in doubt on your finances or how to convert them into an accrual versus a cash basis, consult with a professional bookkeeper. It’s best if you can find someone that is within the e commerce space who has done bookkeeping for other e commerce sellers, you’re going to have the best success there, but having those books in a spotless condition is the number one thing that I can recommend when it comes to that plan of having a successful sale.
So the last point here works into both your plan and a bit of your finances as well. And that tip is to balance your profitability and your growth. One of the top things that buyers are going to look for when it comes to your exit is that your company is growing. They want to see that there’s an upward trajectory that they can then come over or come take over and continue with that success. Now, growth oftentimes comes with a lot of advertising spend, and that is by no means a bad thing, especially in the holidays. Like we’ve mentioned, you want to get your product in front of as many people as possible and get those sales up as much as you can. But it’s important to note that if you’re spending a significant amount on advertising that say is not normal, or it’s only for the purpose of growth, that is going to have a direct effect on your profitability of the business. Of course, a business that’s doing 30, 000 a month with a 10, 000 net profit is much different than a business that’s doing 30, 000 a month with a 15, Of course, those figures may not be completely realistic, but just for the sake of the example, it’s important to understand that balance of profitability and growth, or at least an understanding of that balance, is going to set you up for success when you do look to exit. Thank you. Tends to be that if you’re looking to exit within the next 12 months, maybe you want to focus a little bit more on that profitability to maximize the amount you can get off out of a sale. Whereas if you’re over one year or beyond the exit process, maybe you can focus a little bit more on aggressive growth and, and spending to get that business to where you want it to be in.
Thank you so much for listening to the Empire Flippers tips on peak season and how to prepare. And if you have any questions, just let me know.
Thank you, Reed. Thank you very much. And I want to thank all our panelists for sticking around, for producing this amazing content and sharing them with you. I also want to thank my team, the Cahoot team that has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and putting this content together.
We have a few minutes left for questions. I want to make sure we end on time, as we promised. So one question I’ll open it up to the panel, the entire panel. Anybody who wants to chip in, if you want to give your 30 second perspective – if you have used any unique or clever strategy that you would like to cover that is, not often used by marketers or by operators on the fulfillment side or any other, anyone who would like to add anything that’s quite clever, especially in the peak season Q4, please go for it. Go Colleen. Anyone wants to chip in?
Yeah, I’ll chip in with 1 thing it’s little bit tricky because it’d be kind of last minute for right now. But if you have any orders, a lot of brands are running multiple black Fridays and black Friday specials. So if you’re running anything right now. I would look at what you can do to include as insert or gifts or upsells in the package so that if somebody’s getting the product before the regular Black Friday happens, you’ll be able to upsell or sell on further to those types of customers.
Anyone else would like to add?
All right. I also read just recently, a couple of days ago that Klarna, one of the biggest buy now, pay later company, , announced or said that, , they are seeing consumers pulling back on spending and I’d love to get your perspective, the panel, on if you are seeing that, in your businesses. And if you have any strategies, if you believe that the holiday season will be a little bit different than the pandemic fueled boom that we’ve had. And if you have any tips on how to adapt for that, or if you’re not seeing that at all. So perhaps Joe, if you want to take that – I’d love to hear because I know you deal with large brands and I’d love to hear your thoughts and anybody else who wants to join in.
Thank you. Sure. So I’m not really seeing a huge pullback. I mean, it’s hard sometimes when you compare year over year and week over week. There are certain times where weather plays a big factor where if it’s called a certain weekend or I mean, I definitely saw a spike overall November 1st but it kind of always you get you know, first of the month checks and things like that, and people start to spend, it happened to be very cold that weekend. And then I saw a little bit of a dip over the last I would say five to seven days, but now slowly starting to see things pick back up. I think it’s a little tough to kind of judge right now if spending is going to be weighed down. All the signs to me pointed to a huge online selling season with all the problems that brick and mortar retailer having with theft and looting and people closing stores or locking things behind counters or in, you know, locked cases. I think the in store shopping experience overall is just getting, I think, weaker – listen, there are some outliers. There are still good shopping experiences out there with better retailers. But I think the everyday pickup items, the 30 and under items, the 40 and under items, I think people are getting very accustomed to shopping online. I can’t really imagine a major pullback this year.
Sorry, I was on mute – Jeff, I wanted to call you out. And if you’d like to add anything to that, I know you deal with lots of large advertisers as well. Yeah, you know, I think it’s, it’s certainly not blown away last year and last year was a little softer. So I think there’s some trepidation. I think we’re seeing with the Amazon Prime days, like, kind of the 2 highs.
So we are in the the trough between the black Friday weekend coming up. So I think there’s a lot of people that are deal seeking and waiting for that. From an AOV, that’s something where we really see kind of the coupons and discounts helping a little bit. I think consumers are buying more of the lower cost, which is somewhat surprisingly the importance of, of building a brand and the quality and all the different associations you can have with the brand is a big advantage, is a recommendation I’d certainly make versus just trying to win on a single point of purchase. You know, outbidding somebody on a keyword and having a stronger conversion rate. So I think brands need to balance kind of the penny pinchers, that the deals and discounts, and then, you know, look at that lifetime value and repeat customer value that you would get from building a brand and maybe even a premium price associated with that. So, you know, I think we’re TBD. It was a, it was a strong summer prime day. I think maybe it was an okay Prime day and we’ll see how Black Friday weekend does.
Well, thank you, Jeff. Thank you for the amazing tips. Once again, it’s 3 p. m. right on the dot. So we’ll close this webinar. Thank you again, everybody for joining. Look out for the recording, which will include contact information for our panelists. Have a wonderful day. Have a happy and successful holiday season. And we’ll check back with you hopefully not too long from now. Thank you again. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
Thank you, Manish. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.