December 2, 2015, 5:25 PM

Answers to Amazon marketplace sellers’ top 5 burning holiday season questions

The best ways to promote holiday deals, attract shoppers to a new listing and more.

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Just recently, Feedvisor hosted the first in a series of Ask the Amazon Experts webinars with former Amazonians, Peter Kearns and Chris McCabe. Hundreds of sellers attended, and benefitted from inside Amazon expertise related to selling on Amazon for the holidays.

Here are the top 5 questions and answers: 

Q1: How much of an increase in sales should we expect during the holiday season? How much extra stock should we carry?

If you've been through the holiday sales season before then the best way to anticipate sales increase is to use historical data based on last year's sales as well as trends you've been seeing in the trailing 3, 6 and 9 months. If it's your first holiday season, then there is no way to anticipate sales increase.

Last year on Cyber Monday, there were more than 16 million units ordered worldwide from Amazon sellers, and units sold by Amazon sellers during holiday deals grew more than 400% year-over-year. I would anticipate similar growth this year, based on the ever increasing popularity of Amazon Prime, the success of Prime Day back in July, and the fact that Amazon has already launched Black Friday deals in its Countdown to Black Friday store.

The best way to ensure enough inventory through the holidays is by using historical sales data from the past 90-180 days. If you can, calculate sales curves and project outwards with the same model to have an idea of what you can expect. If this is your first holiday sales season then a good rule is to make sure you're carrying at least 45-60 days of coverage in FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon—Amazon stores products and fulfills order on behalf of the seller]. You can also run the Recommended FBA Inbound Quantities report from the Amazon Seller Coach.

It's better to have a little too much then not enough. The additional inventory coverage should help with sales spikes but make sure you're setting replenishment alerts in your Seller Central account and have shipments pre-built so you can expedite shipments. There's really no way to anticipate sales increases because each year Amazon continues to show increases in sales especially for marketplace sellers. 

Q2: Is there a way to predict how much demand there will be for a specific item? 


No, there isn't really a way to predict demand and popularity but there are clues. Almost all common household brands have search history on Amazon so if you're creating a new listing with a well-known brand, you can anticipate organic search to surface your ASIN.

However, if it's a brand new ASIN [Amazon Standard Identification Number] with no sales history or glance views it might take a while for the ASIN to be discovered. Monitor your catalog traffic by reviewing the Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item report in Seller Central on a weekly basis. Another thing to keep in mind is the hot or trendy products for the season. Keep an eye on advertisements from Target, Walmart and other big-box stores as the products featured are usually the hottest items of the season which have strong demand.

Q3: How do you convey holiday specials to buyers?

The best way to convey holiday specials is to utilize the "promotions" feature in Seller Central. From the promotions tab you can create four types of promotions: free shipping, money off, buy-one get-one, and external benefit. 

Free Shipping allows you to offer free shipping on a portion of your catalog or your entire catalog. Money Off will give you the option to offer a percentage or dollar discount on your entire catalog or a subset of your catalog. Buy One Get One is exactly as it sounds and you can apply it to your entire catalog or a specific portion. External Benefits allows you to offer a post-order benefit on qualifying purchases from your entire catalog or a subset of your catalog. For example, spend $100 and receive 10 loyalty points.

Here's a link to Seller Central for more information on promotions and how to create a promotion. Also, it's always a good idea to use social media to drive attention to your promotions. Make sure to have additional inventory in stock if you're planning to run promotions.

Q4: Besides reviews, what techniques are best to quickly get traffic to a new listing and build the listing strength?

The best solution in this situation is to use Sponsored Products to help drive traffic to the ASIN. Sponsored Products is a pay-per-click advertising service that helps you promote the products in your catalog. It's a great strategy for new products as you can start with a strong campaign and then scale back as your traffic and sales ranking increases.

Amazon is always updating Sponsored Products and they recently added a bulk uploading feature so you can manager your campaigns via flat file instead of individually. 


Q5: Our Amazon sales are always about the same no matter what we do, and I think it’s due to sales velocity limitations. How do sales velocity limitations work? Does repricing impact velocity and how can we grow sales?

Sales velocity should not limit your overall sales growth. Velocity is triggered by a sudden increase in sales and should be adjusted accordingly as orders are shipped. No, repricing doesn't trigger velocity. The best way to see sales growth is to win the Buy Box more, since 92% of all orders are awarded through the Buy Box.

My recommendation is to evaluate your catalog and look for opportunities to increase your Buy Box percentage. Here are a couple of suggestions: If you're not in FBA, start transitioning products to FBA immediately. You should see a minimum 20% increase in sales almost immediately. Second, evaluate your Buy Box percentages to determine which products have low Buy Box and consider repricing those ASINs to be more competitive. It's important to realize that prices and profitability should be a range, not a specific number. And remember, repricing doesn't have to be a race to the bottom if done correctly. Feedvisor can help with all this and more!

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