Today we're going to talk about some big news from Amazon and the types of messages you can directly send to your customers. We'll also talk about how you can prepare for Q4 sales. I've invited Jeff Cohen from Seller Labs on the show today because he's in the trenches and has a close connection directly with Amazon.
Amazon's Ever-Changing Policies
There always seems to be a flood of updates every year as Q4 approaches. If you sell on Amazon, keep in mind that change is always coming, and you need to be prepared to digest that change and have ways ready to put the new processes into place.
Recently there has been a big change to the IPI score and how much inventory you can send to Amazon. In turn, there are major logistical impacts coming in Q4.
The Logistics to Selling on Amazon in Q4
This year, many shoppers will make their holiday purchases early to avoid shipping delays and low stock. As a seller, you'll need to be prepared earlier than in years past. You'll need to have a backup plan and another way that you can ship and sell your products if Amazon can't deliver on time throughout the duration of the holiday season.
I always recommend that your core products should have duplicate MSK's. This allows you to sell both through FBA and fulfill orders on your own if needed. There are also plenty of 3PL's out there if you're looking for another backup solution.
Mid-tier companies are expecting a 75% growth for GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) in Q4 2020. This means it's going to be very difficult to ship and deliver all of the products to customers on time because demand is going to be so high.
Normally during Q4, companies have a couple of months to take advantage of selling online during the holiday season. However, this year the window is going to be much more limited because of the high demand mentioned above.
Over the years it's become much more complex to sell on Amazon although the core of selling on the platform has remained the same. Even brick and mortar stores have gotten more complex because many more people are ordering online and doing curbside pickup, so businesses have been forced to adjust their marketing plan to meet their customers' needs.
Plan Ahead to See The Most Success on Amazon
If your inventory is low and you won't be able to restock for a while, I recommend continuing to sell your product and let it run out of stock. Amazon has a few new features to allow you to control your inventory.
Typically, if you run out of inventory once or twice, they give you a grace period. However, if it keeps happening, it's much harder to get back in good standing with Amazon.
It's important to make better investments and take bigger risks, so you don't run out of inventory. The brands that are able to forecast demand and then invest in growth that matches the demand are the ones who do the best and can sustain the growth for a longer period of time.
When you get into the physical product business, it's going to be much riskier, and you'll almost always need to have a suite of products to see success.
How to Plan for Black Friday
Start by building out a promotion calendar. What is your brand value? Do you need to be completely dependent on Amazon, or do you have an email list and other channels you can rely on? It's essential to have the steps written out and know how you're going to move forward. You also need to know your brand's weaknesses and how you can improve those for the best chance of reaching your holiday goals.
How to Create Lifetime Customers from Amazon
The key is to think past the first sale. Every person purchasing from you during the holiday season will be added to your ecosystem. Stay in touch with them so you can sell to them again in the future.
At the beginning of September 2020, Amazon updated its communication policy. You can now use an approved third-party tool (it has to be in the app store). You can also directly ask for a review and seller feedback. It's critical to understand that messaging your clients is within customer policy.
You cannot blatantly drive people from Amazon to your website. However, if you build a good brand, people will be able to find your website and hopefully start to purchase directly from you in the future. Good branding is the best way to grow your list.
Amazon's new policy also includes new rules on including attachments. They have to be specific to how the product works or warranty information. You can no longer direct people to your site. If you have an attachment, make sure it's directly related to the product that the customer has purchased. It also needs to be attached to the email they receive as a pdf attachment.
Amazon is serious about its new regulations, and if you violent them, you'll get a 30-day restriction in sending messages to your customers. If you continue to avoid following their guidelines, you won't be able to directly reach out to your customers anymore.
Avoid Being Flagged By Reviewing Your Current Communications
The value of your email list on Amazon is mainly driven around reinforcing your brand and getting reviews. Reviewers are still the lifeblood of your continued success on Amazon, which has become more difficult over the years. Your action item from this podcast is to review your current emails to make sure that you're only sending out one email asking for a review to make sure that your account is not flagged.
There you have it. Jeff Cohen is always bringing the heat and always has the most up-to-date information on Amazon. Building your strategy and how you're going to get there is key to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
“Remember, I'm here for you, I believe in you, and I'm rooting for you! Now it's time for you to take action and go rock your brand”!
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Take-Aways From Today's Episode
- Amazon's Ever-Changing Policies (3:05)
- The Logistics to Selling on Amazon in Q4 (5:44)
- Plan Ahead to See The Most Success on Amazon (15:38)
- How to Plan for Black Friday (21:00)
- How to Create Lifetime Customers from Amazon (24:44)
- Avoid Being Flagged By Reviewing Your Current Communications (42:43)
Sellar Labs: Brandcreators.com/sellerlabs
- “It's important to make better investments and take bigger risks, so you don't run out of inventory. The brands that are able to forecast demand and then invest in growth that matches the demand are the ones who do the best and can sustain the growth for a longer period of time”.
- “The value of your email list on Amazon is mainly driven around reinforcing your brand and getting reviews.