BONUS: Q4 Part I Optimizing your Listing (Follow the Data Ep. 2)

Follow the Data Episode 2: BONUS Q4 Part I Optimizing Your Listing

The holiday season begins in October for Amazon sellers, but it’s not all fun and gifts. Being aware of fee changes, having crucial deadlines circled on your calendar, and optimizing your listing to move sales is just part of the diligent work it takes to beat out the competition and increase profits during the biggest shopping event of the year. Listen in as Casey and Cameron detail how to prepare for success in Amazon Q4.

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Follow the Data Show Notes:

  • Check out this Amazon press release for more cool and crazy stats about Q4 2016 like those featured at the opening of the show.
  • Important Dates
    • Oct. 1 – Reduced Fulfillment and Increased Storage fees
      • Fulfillment Fees will be reduced and will now be consistent with Fulfillment Fees in November and December. With the reduction in Fulfillment Fees, if you reduce the storage space you use in October, you have the opportunity to pay lower total FBA fees in October.
      • The monthly inventory storage fee for October will be increased for standard-size and oversize items to be consistent with the monthly inventory storage fees for November and December.
    • Mid-October – FBA Cutoff for new FBA Seller Accounts
      • This one is for those who have not sent a product into FBA through their seller account. On October 10, 2016, Amazon denied new FBA sellers in anticipation for full warehouses. This year, watch for the same cutoff in mid-October. As confirmed by an Amazon rep, this restriction is account-based, not ASINbased. So if you’re planning to start selling later this fall, send in a few products to FBA now to ensure your eligibility for the 2017 holiday season
    • Nov. 7 – FBA Inventory Deadline for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
      • This one is crucial. Make sure you plan to have your Black Friday and Cyber Monday inventory arrive at Amazon before early November (or even well before then, just to be safe).
    • Nov. 24 – Black Friday
      • The day after Thanksgiving, regarded as the first day of the traditional shopping season will set the holiday shopping in motion. From now until Christmas, FBA sellers must be on top of their game to capitalize on the immense sales potential.
    • Nov. 27 – Cyber Monday
      • comScore reported Amazon ranked #1 among online retailers in Cyber Monday traffic for 2016, and this year will likely follow suit. Gear up for massive sales on November 27th.
    • Dec. 1 – FBA Inventory Deadline for Sending in Inventory to be Delivered by Christmas
      • The peak worldwide shipping day during the 2016 holiday season was December 19th. Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over doesn’t mean you should pump the breaks. Make sure your Christmas inventory is in Amazon’s warehouses by the December 1, if not earlier.
  • Optimizing your Listing
  • For more helpful tips about preparing for Q4, download the Viral Launch Q4 Guide.
  • Check out our How to Launch YouTube Course
  • A Viral Launch Review: 3 Amazon Product Launch Case Studies
  • Want to be on the show? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590

 

Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:
In just three months during 2016 Amazon generated almost a third of its yearly revenue, and with growth projections pointing skyward, we’re expecting an even bigger holiday season for Amazon this year.

Cameron Yoder:
Q4 is almost here, and if you’re not already preparing, it’s time to start. Competition is fierce around this time of year, and only those who meet the season head-on will truly benefit from the extraordinary amount of traffic Amazon is likely to see. I’m Cameron Yoder.

Casey Gauss:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we’ll leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 20,000 product launches and our experience working with 5500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

Cameron Yoder:
We’re taking a break right now from our four-part series on dispelling myths to help you start preparing for the most important sales quarter of the year, yes, Q4. In this episode we’ll run through all of the must-know dates and all the vital prep that will set you up for success for this holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
By the time the episode is over hopefully you’ll have your work cut out for you and a proven prep strategy that will help you take advantage of the crazy Amazon Q4 sales coming your way.

Cameron Yoder:
Q4 2016 on Amazon was an event like the US economy has never seen. In the course of three months Amazon delivered enough men’s jeans – men’s jeans – to fill an Olympic -sized swimming pool. That’s crazy. Customers purchased enough 4K TVs to reach the peak of Mount Everest more than nine times, and 2.5 million watches were purchased. That is a watch sale every 1.5 seconds.

Casey Gauss:
I heard they had to actually go to an Olympic pool to measure the jeans there.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, I think you’re right actually.

Casey Gauss:
It’s pretty interesting.

Cameron Yoder:
You know, out of all those TVs I still don’t have a 4K TV.

Casey Gauss:
Missing out man.

Cameron Yoder:
I know.

Casey Gauss:
Viral Launch needs to pay you more.

Cameron Yoder:
Ah, geez.

Casey Gauss:
So Q4 was huge in 2016, and it’s going to be even bigger this year. If you want to claim your share of Q4 sales you need to make sure your business is set up to succeed. Let’s get started.

Cameron Yoder:
Yep. So we’re talking about important dates right now. I would encourage you, if you’re in a spot to be able to write them down or type them out, then follow through with us. But if not, then you can just go back and listen to the podcast and get those dates.

Casey Gauss:
We’ll also have some show notes.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, oh yeah, right. Well, I guess that helps, too. So the first date we’re going to talk about is October 1st. Now this is coming up. It’s soon. October 1st is the date where fulfillment fees will reduce and inventory and storage fees will increase.

Casey Gauss:
Amazon does not want to be a warehouse, but they do want to ship your goods when sales are happening, and they want to make sure that they are the warehouse to do that. So definitely make sure that you mark this down. Make sure that you have inventory moving, and ideally, if possible, don’t use Amazon as a storage facility.

Cameron Yoder:
This is – we’ll go through some of this later, but really having your inventory planned and numbers planned kind of goes into account here. Now these numbers, the reductions in fulfillment fees and increase in inventory and storage fees, will go into effect in October, but they’ll last through November and December, so again, throughout that holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
In mid-October last year in 2016 we saw a cut off for new FBA seller accounts.

Cameron Yoder:
Now this was actually kind of crazy for new sellers because Amazon did not announce it beforehand.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, so if you had $500,000 of inventory that you purchased because you thought you were going to get rich in Amazon Q4 but you hadn’t created your seller account and sent inventory in, like you were just completely screwed. So Cam has got the trick for you.

Cameron Yoder:
I’ve got the trick. Here’s a trick that should work. Again, we’re not claiming that it’s going to work indefinitely for every single person. However, however, we have seen this work for others. So if you are a new FBA seller and you have not sent in inventory yet, here is something you can do to ensure, or hopefully ensure, that you will be able to send in inventory if you plan on getting your inventory in after mid-October, which you should get it in as soon as you can. But if you haven’t created an order yet you should go to the store. You should buy something, and you should send it in to Amazon FBA. Basically you should do what’s called retail arbitrage. So you’re going to go to the store, you’re going to buy something, and you’re going to flip it basically and sell it on Amazon. You’re going create a separate shipping order. If you need instructions on how to do that just Google Amazon retail arbitrage or how to ship retail arbitrage stuff into Amazon, and it will take you through it. But basically by doing this you are creating a shipping order for Amazon which will basically get that one, that one or that first shipping order out of the way, and Amazon will then allow you to create another shipping order once your inventory gets in or is on its way.

Casey Gauss:
Next date is November 7th. This is the inventory deadline for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this does not mean send your last shipment on November 6th at midnight. It takes time to get your stuff checked into FBA, and during the holiday season Amazon is definitely ramping up staff to make sure that they can process all the inventory and all the orders. But sometimes there’s major delays, and you know we’ve definitely had friends that their inventory gets stuck in customs, or it gets stuck in FBA going through the check-in process. So the earlier you can get your inventory in in preparation for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the better, and the more likely it is that you are able to guarantee that you’ll have the inventory you want to sell.

Cameron Yoder:
So if you want to make some crazy good sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have your inventory in before November 7th. Again, in Amazon. Now as for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Black Friday is on the 24th of November, and Cyber Monday is on the 27th. So again, November 7th, 24th, 27th. Cyber Monday was – this is just a little fact — but Amazon reportedly ranked number one among online retailers for Cyber Monday traffic in 2016. We’re assuming it’s the same thing for 2017.

Casey Gauss:
Yep, and then final date just to be aware of, December 1st is the deadline to send inventory in to be delivered by Christmas. Again, please expect delays. Do not expect things to go quickly. Make sure that you have your inventory in as quick as possible. Another interesting little fact is the peak worldwide shipping day in 2016 was December 19th.

Cameron Yoder:
Geez. I want to reiterate the deadlines. Again, mid-October is at — unconfirmed, again unconfirmed cut off for new FBA sellers. November 7th is the deadline to have your stuff in for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. December 1st is that Christmas inventory deadline.

Casey Gauss:
So next we want to talk about optimizing your listings in preparation for Q4. You know, really at the end of the day this should go without saying, but we kind of want to dive in a little bit. You need to have your ducks in a row for Q4 because this is the biggest shopping season – not single-day; that’s Prime Day assumedly – this is the biggest shopping season of your career. Like it’s not worth cutting the corners or, you know, being lazy and just expecting the money to roll in. Will some money role in? For sure. But if you could be making tens of thousands of dollars more by taking an extra day or two extra days, it’s totally worth it.

Cameron Yoder:
And all this stuff, I mean this advice for optimizing the quality of your product, should be taken into account every single day for the rest of the year.

Casey Gauss:
For sure.

Cameron Yoder:
But it’s going to matter probably the most around this time of the year.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, everything is just amplified. Cam, let’s talk about photography.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about photos, yo. With photography, honestly, the most important thing is to have high-quality, a high-quality professional hero image that stands out to accentuate all product features. It tells a story, or your photos in general tell a story, and establish and build an emotional connection with whoever is seeing it. What do people see when they search for products? Your photo. They see your photos. They see your listing. So having something that’s really well done in that realm, in the realm of photography, is going to be important. I think, from what I’ve seen after talking with a lot of sellers, people get lost in their own photography. And personally I think they need to – I think sellers need to get the opinion of other people that they trust to tell them what they think about their photos. It could be going to like five people and asking them, hey, what do you think of these photos? Are they good, or are they not?

Casey Gauss:
And don’t even tell them that they’re your photos. And you become emotionally attached to your product and whatever materials are surrounding it. And so you are obviously biased that your photos are good, or your photos are better than the competition, and you would just not believe the photos that we have seen where sellers, you know, asking us to optimize their listing or help them increase sales. And you know we just see the images, and it’s absolutely insane that these guys think they’re great. You know it’s hard for us. We want to be nice –

Cameron Yoder:
Of course, of course.

Casey Gauss:
– and say hey, you know, we think you should maybe consider getting or improving your images. And then, you know, they’re like oh no, I’ve had professionals do that.

Cameron Yoder:
They’re good. They’re good to go.

Casey Gauss:
And it’s like it’s just absolutely laughable. And so you know, you’re probably not a creative. You’re probably not the best judge to say whether or not your photos are as optimized as possible. Definitely using split testing to get some data around, you know, what is the best image, what is the best main image, what is the best photo set, what is the best order of my photo set? These are all things that we’re constantly split testing because we want to understand what makes the best photo sets possible. How can we improve sales as best as possible? Definitely, like Cam was saying, having a high-quality main image is important. If you’re having someone shoot photos, have them shoot three or four different potential hero images so that you can identify this one is driving the most clicks; this one is driving the most sessions. Typically it’s not the main image. The main image is just driving clicks. Definitely invest in some high-quality lifestyle shots so customers can really build an emotional connection to your product so you can really tell that story. See much better conversion rates when we have high-quality lifestyle photos. You just cannot supplement those with some Photoshopped who knows what.

Cameron Yoder:
Let’s move on. Let’s move on to listing. Casey, what you got?

Casey Gauss:
You cannot have temporary language, or you’re not supposed to have temporary language in your listings. I have a friend; they’re doing like 150 K a day, and they had their entire account suspended because they had the term “holiday sale” in the title of one of their listings, just one of their listings. Their entire 150 K-a-day operation was suspended for a little over a week, which is pretty insane. So please do not use holiday type language. Some of your competitors will get away with it. Some of your competitors will not. So if that’s a gamble you want to play, I mean –

Cameron Yoder:
It’s not worth it, in my opinion.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, I mean yeah, that’s completely your call. Definitely make sure that, again, everything is as optimized as possible. Make sure that your language is tailored to the holiday shopper, but again, don’t use that temporary language like sale, holiday, unless holiday is very descriptive of what the product is. Backend keywords, really backend search terms just don’t matter very much. I mean, at the end of the day you only need to include a word one time in your listing. Keywords in your title are much more heavily ranked than anywhere else in the listing. So if you should be worrying about anything, it’s your title. You should be keyword stuffing as much as possible, as much as possible while still giving like a cohesive title so you can maximize the number of keywords and the total views possible for your listing.

Cameron Yoder:
There is a confirmed limit on – basically byte limits for the backend keywords. In the United States it’s 250, but again, that’s 250 without – or characters without spaces for indexing from the backend, 500 in Japan, 200 in India.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, and, you know, at the end of the day, again, you should not be repeating those backend search terms. So everybody’s like all up in the air about backend search terms, and in reality that’s only 250 characters. There’s so many – I don’t remember of the top of my head anymore – but you have, you know, 100 characters in the title, 100 characters in the five bullet points on your listing and then 2000 characters in your description. So why are you so, you know, worked up over this portion of your listing that’s not even 10% of your listing’s content? Anyways, basically use backend search terms. Don’t repeat any words that you’ve repeated or already put in the front end of the listing. Just don’t worry about them.

Cameron Yoder:
Hey, thank you so much for joining us for part one of our Q4 episode. Feel free to join Casey and I for part two where we’ll talk about the role of enhanced brand content in optimizing your listing, as well as inventory planning and the best way to perfectly time a product promotion to make it big this Q4. I promise you won’t want to miss it.

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

Viral Launch CEO, Casey Gauss, and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder bring data-driven insights to the Seller community in their weekly discussions.

On the show you’ll get the latest Amazon selling strategies and best practices based on the company’s experience launching over 22,000 products and working with over 5,500 brands. Casey and Cam will bring you up to speed on the latest Amazon news, share stories of success and failure, explore the difficulties of entrepreneurship, and discuss the way Amazon is changing retail.

At the center of the show is the Viral Launch commitment to offering reliable information to today’s entrepreneurs.

 

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