Archive for November, 2020

Last-Minute Preparations for Cyber Week Success on Amazon

Last-Minute Preparations for Cyber Week Success on Amazon

Cyber Week is finally upon us – and it’s going to be big. By all accounts, the shopping momentum between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is expected to generate record sales this year as online shopping continues to spike. Ideally, brands should have their Cyber Week marketing and advertising strategies in place by now. If not, there are still things you can do to better prepare for what is forecast to be the highest-grossing Black Friday and Cyber Monday in history.

Assuming you have inventory to fulfill orders, Channel Key recommends promoting hot ticket items with coupons and Lightning Deals. Sponsored Display Ads, Sponsored Brands Ads, and Sponsored Brands Videos are all effective advertising tools you can use to drive traffic to these listings. Of course, 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.

This year, brands have access to several new tools that weren’t available during the 2020 holiday shopping season. Sponsored Brands Videos, introduced earlier in the year, 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. Amazon also released several new beta metrics to help brands better analyze the performance of their campaigns. 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 compared to other brands in their respective categories.

Sellers should also take appropriate steps to ensure their brand store and product listings are retail ready and holiday optimized. It’s not too late to audit your current listings to make sure product titles contain the right keywords, key features include the most appealing benefits, and product images are fully optimized to attract and convert holiday shoppers.

According to Adobe Analytics, the 2020 online holiday season is forecast to break all its past growth records to top $189 billion, a 33% YoY spike. Taking extra steps to prepare for Cyber Week on Amazon – even this close to the actual event – will help position your brand for success during one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year. Visit the links below for more in-depth insights into what to expect during this year’s holiday shopping season including how your brand can strengthen its online presence to capture the most sales.


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.

How Amazon Sellers Can Prepare for Potential Shipping Challenges this Holiday Season

How Amazon Sellers Can Prepare for Potential Shipping Challenges this Holiday Season

Online shopping is expected to hit an all-time high this holiday season. Market research company eMarketer forecasts that American consumers will spend more than $192 billion on e-commerce platforms like Amazon. While this is great news at first glance, it also presents possible challenges for both shoppers and sellers. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Amazon is recommending that shoppers place holiday orders as early as possible to avoid shipping delays. For sellers, increased demand means potential issues with FBA fulfillment – especially as COVID-19 cases surge in many parts of the U.S. You may remember back in March when Amazon abruptly suspended inbound shipments to its fulfillment centers for non-essential items. All of this underscores the importance for brands to prepare for potential Amazon fulfillment challenges during the busiest shopping season of the year.

The Benefits of Securing a FBM or 3PL Backup Strategy

Channel Key recommends that brands consider a Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) backup strategy that will ensure you don’t lose sales due to FBA inventory challenges. This will enable you to continue selling ASINs that are unavailable in FBA by fulfilling these orders yourselves. High-volume retailers with their own warehouse and logistics network can rely on themselves, but smaller companies or those that depend solely on FBA might need to consider partnering with a 3rd party logistics (3PL) provider.

For a quick overview, 3PL providers offer logistics services such as transportation, warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, packaging, and freight forwarding. Keep in mind, there are many types of 3PL providers. Some provide only basic warehousing and distribution, others offer additional value-added services like branded packaging, while turnkey providers essentially serve as the logistics arm of your company.

Choosing the right 3PL provider for a long-term partnership depends on a lot of factors and warrants its own discussion. For the purposes of securing a backup fulfillment option for the holiday season, the most important factor is the ability to streamline orders so that you meet Amazon delivery and tracking requirements. If your brand has a lot of volume, Channel Key recommends partnering with a 3PL provider that utilizes an Application Programming Interface (API) that can connect directly to your Amazon account. This will automate the process of updating inventory, sending orders, and updating tracking. Without an API, you may have to send orders manually to your 3PL provider, which requires more work and increases the opportunity for mistakes. Too many violations of Amazon’s shipping and tracking protocols can lead to your account being shut down.

Channel Key Takeaway | Preparing for Uncertainty

By all accounts, this holiday shopping season will be lucrative for brands with strong e-commerce strategies on platforms like Amazon. That said, the surge in online shopping along with the spike in COVID-19 cases across the country present potential shipping and inventory challenges that could impact sales. Developing a backup FBM strategy will serve as a safeguard against these possible setbacks and prevent your brand from missing out on holiday sales. To learn more about implementing an FBM backup plan, including the pros and cons of the different types of 3PL providers, contact us today for a free consultation.


REFERENCES:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-17/amazon-once-encouraged-holiday-procrastinators-not-this-year

New Amazon Tools, Performance Metrics, and Seller Requirements for Cyber Week

New Amazon Tools, Performance Metrics, and Seller Requirements for Cyber Week

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.

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