As a brand manufacturer selling on Amazon, your approach to the holiday season may be tried and true. However, Amazon and the competitive landscape continue to evolve – and a basic refresh of last year’s approach may not yield the results you’re projecting. Therefore, it’s important to consider lessons from Prime Day in planning for Holiday on Amazon.
The holiday season has many things in common with Prime week. Amazon puts significant efforts into sourcing deals and driving traffic to the site. As the marketplace becomes crowded and more competitive, driving success and sustainable growth require a laser focus on the correct strategy for your business. At Ideoclick, we have distilled several critical Amazon Prime Day (July 15th & 16th) takeaways into applicable strategies to help prepare your brand for the holiday shopping season:
1. You must have a winning and coherent strategy
This is not the time to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. The difference between client success and failure during highly promotional times depends on the effectiveness of the strategy. Identifying goals and setting tactics to meet them is critical, as is ensuring that your approach addresses other eCommerce players and their reactions, pricing or otherwise.
For example, a robust promotional calendar isn’t effective if downstream pricing implications aren’t considered, and products end up back on Amazon in third party, creating pricing compression and headaches for months. A strategic Amazon Advertising plan won’t be successful if demand forecasts aren’t addressed and Amazon runs out of stock. An ad campaign focused on differentiation is less effective if your competition is focused on the same message. Work with your team, agencies, and/or solutions providers to create a plan that incorporates a cross-functional and cross-retailer approach.
2. Ensure rock-solid inputs (boring but essential!)
Your products must be retail-ready to have a chance at success: Properly and accurately set-up, financially viable for both you and Amazon, and in-stock and buyable. Regardless of the promotions you run, if your products will not be adequately in-stock, for example, your ASIN will be suppressed and sales will suffer.
- Products in-stock
- Search optimized titles in product listings
- Optimized bullets, listed in order of most important product features
- Robust images that highlight selling points and product variations, including a hero image that calls out the core differentiator of your product –
- Large number of product reviews with favorable ratings
- Ensuring products are profitable for Amazon, so they can be advertised
3. Get your marketing budgets approved early to cover pre-holiday, during-holiday, and post-holiday season advertising
- Use share of search data to develop a cohesive strategy. What keywords do you need to win, and how often? What role will DSP play in your strategy? Other Amazon media?
- Create an Amazon Advertising Pro-forma to assist in budget planning
- Create buzz and interest in your products before the holiday season. This is when people are putting together their wish lists and when competition for ads is lower
- Ensure your items show up in search (both on Amazon and in search engines) during crucial holiday shopping dates
- Continue increased spend levels well after the promotional period. Other advertisers begin to dial down spend so the inventory can be less expensive
4. Remember that deals create sales growth and juice the Amazon flywheel
The most successful products selling on Amazon during the Prime Day period were those that sold via Lightning Deals, Vendor Powered Coupons, and Deals with a significant discount. By significant, we mean over 20%. It’s not a surprise that the 41 – 50% discount range created the best boost in unit sales during Prime Day. Also, bigger budget items with discounts sold better than smaller ticket items with discounts.
In deciding the items most likely to succeed in this environment, start with products that are already top sellers (unless you plan to launch a new product, see below). We observe that regardless of the discount, if an item is less desirable, it just won’t move as well on Amazon. Essentially shoppers want their choice items, but at a discount.
Speaking of discount, a key observation of Prime Day activity is that shoppers will look both on and off Amazon for the best deals on items they want. Which leads us to:
5. Leverage the off-channel stratosphere to direct traffic to your deals
Inspire and capture your shopper regardless of where they’re shopping or spending their time online. Many of our clients saw increased success with this strategy. Also, this approach is likely less expensive!
Leveraging off-channel traffic and bringing those shoppers to your deals on Amazon can improve your sales velocity – and you won’t be competing (or paying the price tag) for the finite traffic on Amazon. Consider Google sponsored products, temporary campaigns on your branded web sites, and advertising on social media – all directing customers to your Amazon deals.
Prior to Prime Day, many of the top-selling products participated in affiliate programs with the “Products you Don’t Want to Miss During Prime Day This Year” type articles. Affiliate marketing with influencers also created steady traffic on Amazon during Prime week. At the least, consider social media and Google ads that will lead people to Amazon for the likely conversion.
Amazon’s DSP (Demand Side Platform) campaigns prove to be a highly successful approach as well, targeting shoppers that have shown previous interest and bringing them back to your product detail pages.
6. Get creative
During Prime Day, those brands that had new product launches (Lady Gaga’s HAUS Labs, for example) or unique stories and offers (LifeStraw gifted a year of clean water to a student in need for every LifeStraw purchase) experienced impressive sales. Consider an exclusive offer, a new product bundle or launch, or tell a story associated with how your product is the ideal gift.
This is the time to consider your products’ differentiators and fully promote them. And, if your product does not have a “hang your hat” worthy differentiator, you will want to develop one or create a product-adjacent activity or lifestyle angle that enables your brand to stand apart.
As an Amazon managed services firm advising over 200 clients on Amazon strategies, operations, and marketing, we are here to help. Reach out to your client success manager to discuss holiday planning. Or, if you are not already an Ideoclick client, contact our business development folks to discuss how we can help.