Guide to Amazon’s 2021 Holiday Season
In eCommerce, we’ve been considering Amazon’s holiday season for months now. Planning inventory, strategizing sales and discounts, staffing…the list goes on. While there’s a lot that you need to do far in advance, you can prepare for the 2021 holiday season with this simple checklist. Everything here is still attainable, regardless of the fact that we’ve already kicked off Q4.
- September 17, 2021: Last day to create 7-Day Deals, Lightning Deals, and Best Deals for Cyber 5 (US and AUS).
- October 8, 2021: Last day to create 7-Day Deals, Lightning Deals, and Best Deals for Cyber 5 (All remaining marketplaces).
- October 21, 2021: Last day for vendors to ship inventory for Cyber 5 deals. Inventory must be in transit.
- November 3, 2021: Deadline to have stock at Amazon for Cyber 5 availability.
- November 29, 2021: Coupon submission deadline.
- December 2, 2021: Deadline for inventory arrival for Christmas sales.
For more dates and to check for any variation in your active marketplaces, be sure to review Amazon’s Holiday Guide.
It’s also important to take note of the important holidays during this time as they can affect a lot, from shopping trends to customer service availability.
- Wednesday, November 3: Culture Day in Japan
- Thursday, November 4: Diwali in Singapore and India
- Tuesday, November 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan
- Thursday, November 25: Thanksgiving in United States (Start of Cyber 5)
- Friday, November 26: Black Friday in the U.S.
- Monday, November 29: Cyber Monday in the U.S.
Now that your calendar is planned, let’s get into some tactics and strategies for making the most of your business for the 2021 holiday season.
Holiday Clean Up
Consumers are buying earlier and earlier for the holidays. The more they can spread out the shopping, the less of a financial burden it is at one single time. Thus, you need to make sure your account is optimized from top to bottom as soon as Q4.
A regular account clean up should be part of your healthy habits, but now is the time to do it if you’ve been neglecting this step.
To get the most of the holiday sales spike, you want to focus on cleaning up a few parts of your account:
This should come as no surprise to you. Listings need to be optimized for the holidays. This does not mean that you should be optimizing for keywords like “Christmas” or “Black Friday”. It means that you should adapt to the change in shopper behaviors.
The holiday shopping season is when people are more likely to shop for others rather than themselves. They’re looking for “gift ideas”. Pepper in seasonal or holiday-related keywords to your bullet points and description (but don’t try to win these keywords).
Pro Tip: Look at your competitors’ listings. Find common threads in their one- and five- star reviews to target in your listings.
Spruce up your A+ Content! We have seen brands take advantage of this space, talking about how the product makes a perfect gift idea or stocking stuffer. However, don’t forfeit the quality or your brand just to make the A+ Content look seasonal and festive.
Make sure your A+ Content is different from the images you’ve used at the top of your listing. Reusing the same images will not do you any favors. This is an additional opportunity to show off your product and use lifestyle images. Don’t waste the space with content you’ve already shared.
Much like your A+ Content, get creative with your Store! Much like a bricks and mortar store might put up lights or tinsel or a menorah, you can “decorate” your Store to welcome shoppers in!
Need help creating your A+ Content or Amazon Storefront?
Our Managed Services team can do it! There’s still time to get seasonal content up and running before the holidays, but don’t wait much longer. Talk to one of our reps today!
We’ll get into some strategic planning in just a bit, but you also want to make sure your advertising campaigns are cleaned up and cleaned out before the holiday season. Take the time to purge keywords that aren’t serving you.
If you’re creating new campaigns specific to particular holidays or products, take advantage of Seller Labs PRO’s Campaign Groups. You can easily see how well your holiday campaigns are performing.
Now that your account is nice and cleaned up, it’s time to make sure your inventory is ready. We know that there will be supply chain issues this quarter, so you need to be prepared early.
If you don’t already, consider adding a Merchant-Fulfilled option to your listing. Amazon is increasing the minimum IPI scores, which can decrease your number of available inventory slots to submit. Don’t let Amazon dictate how many products you can sell.
As you’re leading up to the holidays, offload some lower-performing inventory with flash sales to make more room for your top-performing products. You can also implement auto-pricing to slow the sales between restocks as things get settled at different fulfillment centers.
Need help managing your inventory? Start a free 30-day trial of Seller Labs PRO today to stay on top of your product catalog at all times.
In case you didn’t know it, now is not really the time to launch a new product. However, if it’s part of your business strategy, ensure that you are getting product reviews! Shoppers need that social proof (yes, even from strangers) to know whether or not they should buy your product.
Additionally, don’t get complacent with old reviews. Amazon defaults the sorting of product reviews to “Top Reviews.” However, it’s becoming more common for shoppers to switch to “Recent Reviews.” If you don’t have recent reviews, or a large portion of your recent reviews are negative, that does not look good to buyers. Keep a steady stream of positive reviews coming in with automated messaging from Seller Labs PRO.
The deadline for submitting Cyber 5 promotional deals may have passed, but there is still so much that you can do. Coupons and Promotions can still be created, almost all the way up to Thanksgiving Day.
Make sure your deal strategies extend beyond Amazon. You should be using the power of your social networks or email lists to drive traffic and increase conversions on your listings. Additionally, coupons to a community that already knows you will help build loyalty and increase your number of repeat buyers.
Amazon advertising is getting more expensive, so sellers have to be more strategic with how they allocate their budget. It’s fun to try the new placements, but it’s also very easy to throw money away when you do that. Be strategic in how you invest and test with your advertising budget.
Within reason, maybe try some festive Sponsored Brand Ads. These ad campaigns can’t be overtly festive and do have to end on the respective holiday, but it’s a fun way to try and get some more eyeballs on your brand during the peak search period.
One piece of advice we always give to our clients: Don’t try to advertise on words or phrases like “Christmas gift”. It will be expensive, and it’s likely to yield less than desirable results. Focus your campaigns on unique selling points of your products and how people might come across them naturally. Use the ASINs in your search term reports to discover new keywords or products for your targeting ads.
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Advice from Amazon Experts
As part of our goal to get you prepared for the 2021 Amazon holiday season, we asked the experts in our Managed Services team to share one piece of advice for brands. Remember, these experts work with brands each and every day, providing strategic advice and keeping a thumb on all of Amazon’s updates. This is a gold mine of advice.
What is one piece of advice you would give to Amazon sellers going into the 2021 holiday season?
- Check your listings to make sure they have all of the important information needed, and look neat! – Ally L.
- Expect more competition in general, but especially in advertising. – Bret D.
- Have realistic expectations and keep in mind that previous Q4s are going to be different from this upcoming Q4. More bricks-and-mortar businesses are open this holiday season, and there are more sellers online compared to last holiday season, so expect to have even more competition this go around. – Sarah D.
- Get your items into FBA now, ASAP. Make sure you have FBM backups for your top sellers in there as well. When you are advertising, put the FBA and FBM product in the same ad group so that when FBA runs out, your ad is still running. – Alexi B.
- Avoid making changes to bullet points and titles in Q4. Have listings optimized going into the fourth quarter so there is history and ranking behind the keywords you are indexing for. – Rachel H.
- Amplify your Amazon business for the 2021 holiday season by advertising your Amazon promotions (coupons, lightning deals, etc) off of Amazon. Drive users from your organic Facebook page to your Amazon listing, and utilize other organic/paid platforms to promote your holiday products or promotions. – Julia K.
- Don’t wait until the season you are preparing for is already underway or is imminent. Your bigger push should start a few weeks before so you can ride out that traffic that has ramped up once the season begins. – Elizabeth
- Update your ads for the different holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Even if you are not offering any discounts during the holidays, you can refresh and dress up your ads to remind people of the holidays this season and why they should buy your product. – Anh N.
- Identify your supply chain issues now, and have a plan. Low stock? Have a plan to raise prices to buffer low sales with higher profits. More stock than you can inbound to Amazon? Have a plan for alternate fulfillment. The seller with stock is winning this season. – Jessica W.
- Make sure your inventory is ready for the holiday season. No matter what plans/strategy you have going into the holiday season, if you don’t have inventory you can’t advertise (or sell). – Aileen S.
- Make sure your inventory is prepared for increased traffic, especially on top sellers. With the increased traffic on Amazon, make sure that your price point is competitive with the competition. Coupons and discounts can put you a step ahead of your competitors. Cost per click tends to rise this time of the year, so it’s also a great idea to check your campaign budgets to make sure you are advertising throughout the day. – Chase C.
- Beyond making sure that you have enough inventory and optimized listings, make sure you take advantage of your Storefront or A+ Content to get into the holiday spirit! – Olga Z.
- View historical years’ data with a grain of salt, on the up and downside. Things are tumultuous of late and all categories end up being affected eventually. If you are brand registered, you may need to spend more on defensive campaigns than usual. Almost all sellers are advertising (and using the newest ad types), and everyone is trying to make up for lost sales in 2020-21. Aim for velocity over efficiency if you can afford to watch your ACoS rise. – Ryan W.
- Make sure your best-selling products are well-stocked, with fulfillment backups in case of an FBA stockout. – Karina K.
- Amazon sellers should use their social media channels in order to let their clients know which gift ideas they can offer, and they need to make sure their clients realize why their products would make wonderful gifts! – Elena S.
- Make sure that your listings are optimized, up to date, and retail ready well in advance! – Jen B.
- If an item is not selling outside of the busiest time of year, do not expect it to move faster in Q4. Sellers should focus on their top products and double down on the items that normally convert well throughout the rest of the year. Q4 is not necessarily a time to clear out slow movers or products that do not convert as frequently via advertising. Follow the data and push the campaigns that are leading to sales. Do not stress yourself out by trying to move products that do not have a strong sales history! – Edward R.
Caroline is an Event Manager, Partner Specialist,and Marketing Expert at DISQO. When she's not offering excellent customer support she's doing pirouettes and cheering on the UGA Bulldogs.