For most retail brands January 2017 is going to be a smaller month (in terms of sales volume) than December 2016. But for some categories it could be the second biggest month of the year or could turn out to be the top selling month for all of 2017.
“Across the board it does still tend to be a strong month,” Jeff Coleman, VP, Marketplace Channels at CPC Strategy said. “People will still be spending money on items that they want but didn’t buy or receive during the holidays.”
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Although it’s tempting to take a step back after the rush of the peak shopping days, it’s absolutely in your best interest as an Amazon seller to “keep your foot on the gas” throughout January.
That being said, success in Q1 is very category dependent.
For example, if you’re selling snowboards (in season) you’ll want to keep pushing sales through February vs. if you’re selling kid’s toys, you can probably start to ease off in the fourth week of January.
“You’ll want to maintain a pretty strong presence because conversion rates are still going to be high (on average),” Coleman said.
Sellers should keep in mind February has fewer days – it’s a shorter month which can translate to less volume. As we transition into February and March, that’s really when your baseline starts to kick in.
“To see month over month decline in Q1 is not abnormal, in fact – it’s expected. So don’t freak out and try to rework your entire business strategy because February was slower than January or January was slower than December.”
Q1 2017 Amazon Strategy & Tips
As we approach the new year, Coleman offers up several tips on how Amazon Vendors & Sellers can prepare for Q1.
Implement Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) & A+ Content:
Amazon A+ Content is an extended version of the basic product description for Vendors (1P). This elevated content includes scannable text that explains the features and benefits of a product. A+ content is effective in exposing customers to more of your product line & your brand messaging, and can be a better overall customer experience.
As seen in the example below, vendors have the option to sign up for the content program that promises to deliver enhanced product descriptions which feature rich content for images, charts and narrative copy to help customers make informed buying decisions.
Now, Amazon is offering Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), a version of A+ detail pages for Third Party Sellers (3P). The feature enables Brand Owner sellers to modify the product description field of their branded ASINs. EBC allows 3Ps to describe their product features in a different way by including a unique brand story , enhanced images, and text placements.
“Amazon has always had A+ Content for Vendors so that’s not necessarily anything new, but for Sellers they have recently released Enhanced Brand Content (EBC)- which is similar to A+ Content,” Coleman said.
“EBC is Amazon’s way of offering Sellers branding opportunities that a vendor might have. I think it’s an important to pay attention to EBC & A+ content in the upcoming year.”
Build Up Your Organic Reviews:
Amazon recently implemented a new review policy to stop counterfeit reviewers from saturating the Marketplace and prevent sellers from incentivizing reviews (or paying for reviews). And it’s not to just to clean up past reviews but to abolish the practice altogether.
So why are the recent review changes important and how does that tie into a seller’s brand voice?
“It’s harder now to get reviews on Amazon, which means if a brand previously benefited from an incentized review service, they are now going to have to find a way to get those reviews organically,” Coleman said.
“Theoretically, as Amazon gets better at cleaning this up – your competitors should have fewer fake reviews. They should all be organic. If you can take advantage of your loyalists and get them to buy product(s) on Amazon and leave a review on the Marketplace, that’s going to stand out a lot more.”
Utilize your Facebook pages or Customer Email lists to promote reviews because those are already your followers and your customers. Tell them about a new product or an existing product they might be interested in. You can ask your loyal customers to shift their behavior to Amazon to leave a review & help boost your products.
Be Proactive About Brand Protection:
One of Amazon’s biggest initiatives in 2016 was brand protection. They are taking major steps to prevent counterfeits and to help brands protect themselves on Amazon through brand gating.
“Brand protection has always been something that’s important on Amazon but historically it’s been difficult or nearly impossible to deal with. My anticipation and prediction is that Amazon is going to staff more resources against brand protection to make it easier for brands.”
If you haven’t already, it’s important for Amazon sellers to start documenting counterfeiters & test buys (as seen in the TRX Pro Suspension Training Kit example below).
“Accumulating all of that evidence now is going to help you later on when you submit your brand gate request case. In order to complete the application process to “Gate a Brand”, Amazon is going to want to see evidence of why your brand is at risk right now,” Coleman said.
Take Advantage of Amazon’s Advertising Platforms:
“As an agency, we’ve seen first hand that Amazon is investing a lot of resources into their advertising platforms. So, if you haven’t started using any of them – please do so in 2017,” Coleman said.
“Specifically with Amazon Media Group (AMG), we’ve seen an increase in the number of success stories. They are improving the capabilities of that tool and it’s getting better and more effective every day,” Coleman said.
“We’ve seen improvement in both functionality and effectiveness. But in general, all of Amazon’s advertising platforms have been improving and will continue to improve because Amazons sees them as big drivers of revenue in the future.”