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Top 5 Selling Questions This Holiday Season

By Tami Ben-David December 2, 2015
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About the Author

A British ex-pat, Tami been writing and content-strategizing for Israeli tech start-ups for the last 5 years. When she's not writing nerdy content, you can find Tami on open water charity swims or traveling to far-flung countries.

Last week, Feedvisor hosted the first in a series of Ask the Amazon Experts webinars with former Amazonians Peter Kearns and Christ McCabe. Hundreds of sellers attended, and benefited from insider Amazon expertise related to selling on Amazon for the holidays. Click below to listen to the full webinar.


Top 5 Holiday Selling Questions, Answered:

1. 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 three, six and nine 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. 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.

2. 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 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 box stores as the products featured are usually the hottest items of the season which have strong demand.

3. How do you convey holiday specials to buyers?

The best way to convey holiday specials is to use 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.

It’s also 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 range, not specific number. And remember, using an Amazon repricer won’t necessarily lead to a race to the bottom if done correctly. Feedvisor can help with all this and more!

To hear the answers to many more hot questions about Amazon holiday selling, listen to Feedvisor’s Ask the Experts webinar recording.

About the Amazon Experts

Peter Kearns is a Strategic Account Manager at Feedvisor, managing more than $250 million in annual gross merchant sales. Peter has more than 15 years of experience working with businesses in advertising, marketing, and eCommerce, specifically the Amazon Marketplace. Prior to that, he was with Amazon where he held positions in strategic sales and sales leadership on the Seller Services team. During his time at Amazon, he collaborated with hundreds of sellers helping them successfully launch on Amazon generating more than $165 million (and counting) in gross merchant sales. He has extensive knowledge and expertise of the Amazon environment and strategies to drive success. He draws from this experience and inside knowledge to help drive the success of hundreds of Feedvisor’s customers.

Chris McCabe is a tireless advocate and support source for Amazon merchants with selling pain points. He spent seven years evaluating seller account performance for Amazon’s merchant assessment teams. Now he uses those skills to help merchants work with Amazon.

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