#189 – 13 E-Commerce Pros Give Their Top Strategies for Q4
When you’re selling on Amazon, every single day is important. But there are specific parts of the calendar year that can entirely affect an Amazon seller’s ability to be profitable. Q4 is one of those times.
In this episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Brand Evangelist, Bradley Sutton presents a recap of our recent eight-hour mega-webinar that focused on the upcoming Q4 Amazon selling season.
In it, Bradley interviews 13 different Amazon selling pros about what they’re doing to get ready for this all-important part of the e-commerce calendar.
Maybe you should have started acting on a few of these tips already, but you can take advantage of most of them right now to give yourself the best possible chance of a great Q4.
Listen in and find out how.
In episode 189 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley presents a recap of Helium 10’s eight-hour Q4 mega-webinar.
- 03:00 – Kian Golzari – Forecast Orders for Q4
- 07:30 – Tim Jordan – Top Q4 Tips
- 11:30 – Nick Katz – Q4 on Amazon in Japan and Germany
- 15:30 – Dan Meadors – Alternate Channels Like 3PLs are Crucial in Q4
- 20:00 – Anne Ferris – Working with Affiliates and Rating Sites
- 24:00 – Sean Chang – A Stable Inventory Plan Comes First
- 28:00 – Schrone Hardeman – Using Helium 10’s Tools to Help with Variations
- 31:15 – Justin Chen – How Are Amazon Sellers Getting Ready?
- 32:00 – Jana Krekic – COVID and Keywords
- 36:00 – Verun Rastogii – Optimization is More Important Now than Ever
- 41:00 – Refael Elbaz – Shipping During the Pandemic
- 45:00 – Alina Vlaic – You Have to Look Back at Your Product’s Q4 History
- 47:00 – Kevin King – You Need Both FBA and FBM
- 55:00 – Kevin King – You’ve Got to Know Your Margins
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
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- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
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Bradley Sutton: Today, we’ve got top experts in fields such as shipping, translation, foreign marketplaces, sourcing, and all-around experts like Kevin King himself on the show giving their top advice for Q4 on Amazon. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of this Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10, I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS-free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the e-commerce world. We’ve got a special episode today because we’ve got tons of people who have come and given us their top strategies for what you Amazon sellers need to do for Q4, October, November, December, what are the things that you guys should be doing? What shouldn’t you be doing? I’ve brought in top experts such as Kian, who’s going to talk about suppliers. We’ve got Tim Jordan who’s going to talk about finance. We’ve got Nick Katz. Who’s going to talk about Amazon Japan. Dan Meadors who’s talking about the wholesale method Anne Ferris is going to tell her story. Sean Chang is going to talk about using 3PLs and warehouses and his best advice for Q4. We’ve got Schrone with his advice. We’ve got Justin from PickFu to talk about split-testing for Q4. We’ve got Jana who’s going to talk about translating your listings for foreign marketplaces. Verun is going to talk about Q4 strategy for Amazon India. Refael is going to talk about a very important thing. What about shipping times and the whole logistics thing during Q4? How do you manage that? Alina, we’ve got from AZ rank who’s going to talk about ranking keywords in Q4, and also we’ve got Kevin King. This was part of an actually an eight hour broadcast I did just a couple of weeks ago where I went live for eight hours, but we’re not going to have this for eight hours. What myself and Barcus Patty did, we took the top advice about Q4 specifically from that whole eight hour megathon. And we compiled it and narrowed it down to the best advice here in this episode, there’ll be about like less than an hour. I think you guys will have here. So without further ado, I’m just going to go ahead and cut to these different clips and guys make sure you got your notepad out because there is some really, really golden information here that can help you guys crush it in this Q4.
Bradley Sutton: What should people Amazon sellers out there have in mind as we get into October, November, December for about ordering from suppliers?
Kian: Yeah. I mean, Q4 is a really special time for the obvious reasons that that’s going to be like a big sales periods, but also bear in mind that like Chinese new year is end of January as well. So January, February, like factory is going to be shut down for a month. So you need to get your orders in, in advance. Like not only because it’s a busy period, but also cause factory is shut down for a month. So I’ve got some orders on placing right now in factories. We can’t do any more orders. We’re full for Q4. And then now your next supplier is going to be like March, April next year. And that’s like six months away and that’s crazy, but it bulks up. So, the way you can get around that is by giving like forecast starters. And like when you place your orders in March or April, you don’t know when you’re going to be placing your orders right, Q4. But what you can say is like, Hey, we normally place orders of 2000 or 3000 units a month for every like two months. But you can say over the course of the year, we’re going to order like 10,000 units or like 15,000 units. So, I want you to order the raw materials for 15,000 units. So you have all our materials in stock. So whenever we place an order, everything’s going to be there available. And then you guys are like ready to go. And if it’s a supplier that you have a long term relationship with, then they can actually like finish all those 15,000 units, keep it in storage for you. And then when you need it, you just ship it and you pay for it as they ship it. But that’s only when you have a long-term business relationship. And you’ve like done many orders before, but if you’re just getting started, now is the time to build those relationships and to give your forecast orders for the year. So, when you come to like Q4 that you’re not stuck basically.
Bradley Sutton: Can you tell us about Q4 that Amazon sellers need to keep in mind?
Kian: But you know, like also Q4, but not only Q4, but this week, is golden week in China. So, for 1st of October, until the 8th of October, it’s the one week holiday. So all airfreight, QCs, inspections, all that sort of stuff is like shutdown for this week. So, if you’re trying to contact your suppliers or like factories are still open, factors are still running. But like, if you’re trying to get air freight, like this first week in October is like, it’s shutdown and as well, Q4, October, November was a critical time for the Canton unfair. It was like a prime, like buying periods and like where you get to meet all your suppliers and all that sort of stuff. But we can’t go to China right now. So the Canton Fair is going virtual and the second virtual or a second online fair starting on the 15th of October. And that’s going to be super exciting because I feel that like the Canton fair made a lot of mistakes. The first time around they took it. They didn’t really know the, like the amount of audience that we’re going to pull and they didn’t have the online platform like Alibaba does. So, right now you should be focusing on like, okay, you should probably put your orders in for Q4 if you haven’t done already. But if you wouldn’t be developing items for next year, you should start putting your attention towards the online Canton fair, which starts on the 15th of October. And, get to that fair because like Alibaba has got very good suppliers and they’re improving as a platform. They’re improving with suppliers there. But in my opinion, the best suppliers in the world are the ones which go to the Canton fair, the real Canton fair. And then now those suppliers are available online. So it’s the biggest opportunity for Amazon sellers to get in touch with the absolute best manufacturers. If you just register for that online Canton fair.
Bradley Sutton: Is there any possible way to have it manufactured and shipped where it can still make it by like the first week of December, do you think?
Kian: And like some things I was asking my manufacturers, is it like, okay, this is product I want to do. And normally the lead time is like 60 days. So you’re going to be out with that period. But I always ask the manufacturers, what materials are you holding in stock? And what products are you holding in stock? Because right now, or you know when the Corona first hit, suppliers got a lot of canceled orders because Corona first hit in China. And a lot of people don’t think it hit the rest of the world. And then it hit the rest of the world and all these big orders that people placed to China. They tried to cancel because retail stores were shut down or their online stores were shut down or their products for an in demand. So there was a lot of canceled orders going to China, but it already manufactured the stuff, they’d already manufactured, a forecast stuff, which people aren’t taking stock anymore. So, if you contact your manufacturers and see what products are you holding in stock, there are products right now, good to go where you just need to apply custom packaging and then it’s good to ship. So, if you have an idea for a product, it might already be sitting in a warehouse somewhere in China. So, when you go into Alibaba and you’re trying to develop a product, forget seeing like, Hey, I need this custom reds, Pantone color. Just say, this is a product I’m interested in. Are you holding any stock? And they’ll tell you, yep, we’ve got some stock at your packaging and it’s shipped. So, that’s something you can get in fast.
Bradley Sutton: What are some of your best tips? It doesn’t have to be restricted to the financial. No, what’s that new where you taught me FinTech or I mean, supply chain, sourcing, keyword research. What’s your best Q4 tips for everybody out there right now?
Tim Jordan: I think my best Q4 tip now is to sleep on every decision you’re making. I was just talking to a good friend of mine and she called and she’s like, Tim, I need your advice. I need your advice on this is what I’m thinking. And I said, Whoa, take a step back. If we make decisions based on emotion, they’re not always the best systems for our business. And right now our Amazon outlook is very emotional. Amazon just dumped on us Prime days in two weeks. Oh my gosh, we have to respond to Prime day. It’s coming. What are we going to do? Like nothing don’t do anything. Right now, the e-commerce potential this year is massive. But honestly, we’re being hit with so many different ideas, options, shiny object syndrome on a fairly volatile platform. We don’t know tomorrow if Amazon’s going to start restricting the amount shipments. They’re already restricted. What if they start restricting more? So if right now we’re starting in Q1, it’s probably too late to make a big change in what you’re doing. Keep on carrying on, think long term, your e-commerce business is not going to just be defined by the next three months. It’s going to be defined by the next three, six, nine years, hopefully. Right. And right now we’re seeing so many things like for instance, Amazon is going to come out 10 times over the next three months and say, Hey, Q4 is coming or a prime day’s coming. Hey, Black Friday, Cyber Monday is coming. You need to increase your PPC bids. In my Mastermind group, I’ve been telling everybody don’t touch your PPC bids. The only person that benefits from raising your PPC bids is Amazon, right? And right now everybody does this crazy reactionary stuff. Because we think we have to respond. If you’ve already got your business set up, like keep calm and carry on. And if you think a decision needs to be made, wait till tomorrow, sleep on it. Make sure this is not like a fearful decision or one based on like excitement for shiny object syndrome, right? Q4 this year is going to be crazy for a lot of people. Sales are going to be awesome, but you can’t change on a dime right now and decide, Oh, I need to invest more money. I’m going to order a shipment from China. Get it in before December 12th, it’s not going to happen, guys. The logistics chain is already extremely slow. The supply chain is extremely slow and it’s going to become more volatile every day. I wake up expecting to see some crazy announcement from Amazon and it’s going to happen. The next three months are going to be nuts. My thought is don’t freak out. Don’t panic. Don’t make crazy decisions that could cost you a lot of money or wreck what you already have. If your listing has been up for a year and you’ve got a fairly optimized, don’t wake up tomorrow and go, Oh my gosh, this Q3, I need to re optimize my listing. Because you go around and screw with too much stuff. And all of a sudden you realize, Oh crap, ID index for 20 keywords. I was on object to my PPC listings because I need three months to react. Keep calm, take a deep breath, do a little yoga. Right? I know it’s exciting. We’re being hit by a lot of data and we’re being hit by a lot of people on YouTube videos and people on Facebook trying to offer advice. And Amazon frankly, is hitting us with a lot of information advice, take all of it with a grain of salt and do your thing. Remember that this is a three-year plan, not a three month plan. We’re all holding on for the ride because every day we don’t know what’s going to happen. So, I guess that’s my advice is take a deep breath, calm down and make logical decisions.
Bradley Sutton: In your experience for Amazon, Japan. Do you do any– how is Q4 in? I mean, is it, do you see similar increases in sales as you do with like for example, your Amazon Germany business?
Nick Katz: Okay. Okay. I’ll try. And okay. So Amazon, so Q4 in Japan is different from Q4 everywhere else. It has made that happen. A few changes over the last two years. So, going back three years, the Q4 has been very, very light. There was no prime day. There was no Cyber Monday, two years ago, Amazon for the first time did it, it was a bit weird the way they did it though. It wasn’t, it was like a one day event. And it was about a week after the usual prime day inside Monday, actually, maybe even more than that. So obviously Amazon is trying to start this kind of festival of prime day in Japan because it’s never traditionally had it, but coincidentally, that same year other companies started picking up on this and it started to become a thing. So last year I think it was the first year Amazon brought prime day Cyber Monday to the traditional, the days they are worldwide and also loads of other stores, online stores, regular retail, brick and mortar stores also started. So only in the last two years, it’s officially become a thing in Japan. So, this year it will probably be bigger than usual for obvious reasons, especially online. So I’m expecting to be good. It’s nothing like you get, like I sell in Europe. We do considerably more sales over winter over Q4 in Japan, the sales are up, but they aren’t bananas. So don’t expect it to go absolutely nuts unless you’re doing toys and games. But one thing I will add is that January, February, March is really good in Japan. So, it tends to go up. Sales tend to go up in kind of November, especially December. And then they stay pretty even all the way through until early spring. So you may not get, you may not go nuts Q4, but it doesn’t drop off either. There’s no straight up and straight down. It goes up and stays fairly high for a while. Obviously that is category dependent. That is a very broad thing I’ve given you there, but I’ve been selling on Amazon Japan in winter. I’ve had about five winters in the row now, so across a number of categories. So, that’s kind of what I’ve seen.
Bradley Sutton: How has Amazon Germany, Q4 been in the past for you?
Nick Katz: Amazon Germany is actually really, really good. Amazon Europe is good because they have the tradition of not only Christmas sales, but also cute things like prime day. I should probably add the thing about Japan. Another problem with Japan is that they don’t traditionally have Christmas. It’s not a Christian country. That’s obviously a place like Germany is a Christian country, or there are lots of Christians there. So, and they do celebrate Christmas, even if they’re not Christian and they give more gifts. Germany has always been good. So, I focus a lot more on things like prime day sales actually, Oh, I’m not going to do it as much as cause I do hate prime day. I think it’s a stupid system, but I do kind of focus more on making sure the listings do show boxes and present worthy and really stress that a lot more.
Bradley Sutton: Now for you and your community. What all, if anything, are you guys doing differently, for October, November, December now that we’re in the Q4?
Dan Meadors: Well, I don’t think that this is unique to wholesale really. Honestly. I really believe that the logistics challenges in quarter four are going to be, they’re not going to discriminate no matter how you buy your product, whether it’s wholesale or arbitrage, or private label. So, one of the things that we’ve really done is we expect a massive log jam in quarter four. My expectation is that you’ve already started to see limitations going into place. You’ve already started seeing a lot of those preventative actions. And what they’re doing is they’re trying to build capacity for core to be able to fulfill and receive quarter four orders. So, our expectation is that the window, like typically, you know, what we try to do is mid-October, we started to really try to push the kind of that last bit of remaining inventory in. We’re moving that back to the beginning of October to make sure that everything is received and have you now another challenging component is whenever you are like for a lot of people who are launching SKUs or stuff like that, there are the quantity limits in some cases where you’re only allowed to send in 200 of a unit or whatever. And one of the things that we’re really doing, and I think this is, again, applies whether you are retail arbitrage, wholesale or private label, like it doesn’t really matter. We are running a lot of concurrent offers with the products that we carry. And what I mean by that is we’re selling FBA. We’re also selling merchant fulfilled. Now my expectation is that I think that right now, if you’re selling products on Amazon and you’re especially really wanting to have a good quarter four, I think it’s a really good time for you to go out and start making connections with prep centers or third-party logistics companies that can ship orders directly, because if FBA does become a log jam, having the ability to kind of have that alternate channel to ship and fulfill is going to be huge. And we saw that early in COVID, like early on in that COVID crisis where they kind of stopped receiving the stock for saving inventory and slowed it down drastically. We were able to– with our prep center, we were able to run our concurrent offers then. And a lot of our competition slowed were sold out. And some of the categories like particularly one category and I’m referencing like just comes to mind. But whenever they sold out, we gained so much market share during that stretch, they were gone that it was just important. And we were able to do that because we were fulfilling those orders, merchant fulfilled. So it’s like, it’s not the sexiest thing to have to do, but it is very, very effective. And I think it’s going to be necessary quarter four for pretty much anybody.
Bradley Sutton: This is like your second, third, fourth Q4 as an Amazon seller, what has worked for you in the past and what has not worked like what can you tell us that, like, I am never doing that again. I did that last year.
Anne Ferris: Well actually Q4 is not a huge, huge time for me because my products are kind of things that people buy for themselves that women buy for themselves. And it’s more expensive. Actually January is way better for me because people are using gift cards. I think number one, it’s really important to know your market and know who’s buying from you. And for what purpose, because for me, for example, my first December, and actually in December, I went to Peru and my sales had been going down and I was expecting them to go up and I’m in Peru. And I actually, I was freaking out. I thought that was my first year. And I thought, this is it. The bubble has burst and my Amazon sales life is over and that’s it. And I was totally freaking out. And then, I hit a hundred K in sales in February for the first time ever. So I think it’s really important if your product is not super giftable. Specifically if it’s something that people tend to buy more for themselves, don’t– then make sure that you know that and don’t freak out if people do not– that if your sales go down and then, a strategy for that, if it’s something that people tend to buy for themselves is that you want to hit it really hard right after Christmas and in January. And you can do sales then and promote on your social media about using your gift cards, like, Hey, who got Amazon gift cards for Christmas, and that they can use their gift cards to celebrate, to buy something for themselves, to treat themselves. For example, if you sell products that are like kind of spa type of bath bombs, sort of a thing that might be, you’re probably sell well at Christmas too with that, but you can also hit it really hard asking for the gift cards. Another thing that I’m doing this year to try and promote, and I was actually just meeting with a girl who works for me and saying, can you– let’s start trying to get on holiday gift guides. So, this is something that you can do with social media. So there’s actually, I was talking to her about two ways to do it. So number one was bloggers in your niche. You can look on Instagram or just on Google and look for bloggers. And I’ve had bloggers message me asking if I want to be on their gift guides. So, some people will want payment for that. I tend to be really cautious about paying for influencers, because I haven’t personally seen a huge rate of return from that. If someone wants me to pay them $500 for a couple of Instagram posts or a blog post, unless they’re a celebrity where people are really wanting to do everything that they do, I think you might get extra interests. You might get a few more followers, but to get $500 in profit. I mean, you’re going to have to be selling at least 1500 units. So I think that it’s good to be careful with that, but a lot of people will do it for free. They just want to be– they want to have good products to promote. And a lot of people have, they promote like their Amazon affiliates, which means they have, it’s like a blogger. So, they might have their own Amazon store, which is not selling their own products, but they it’s like, Hey, check out my recommendations. And Amazon gives them a kickback for everything they sell. So for me, a lot of my products are $60 plus. So people really want to recommend those because they get a higher percentage from Amazon than if they were selling like a 20 or 30, if they were promoting a 20 or $30 product. So, you can do it with bloggers, but you can also reach out to sites that are like rating sites. And this is actually something that I learned from someone else in the Amazon space. I didn’t know I’m listed on some like baby registry sites, for example, as in different niches of things that I sell within the baby space, but they’ve just done that based on, they look on Amazon sales and who’s got reviews, but you can actually reach out to them as well and say, Hey, I see you’re rating this. Or I know you did an amazing holiday gift guide last year. I would love to be included on that. These are my products. This is why they’re awesome. If you’d like me to send one for you to test, if you’d like to do a giveaway, that’s a great thing you can do with influencers too. And that’s a way to kind of ask them to do it for you for free is by saying that you’ll host a giveaway, or you can give a discount code specifically for their followers, and then they’re giving their followers some kind of advantage. So they’re less likely to expect to get a lot back from you in that regard,
Bradley Sutton: Just in general, for the Q4 months, October, November, December, does your team do anything differently, like to really take advantage of the season? Are a lot of your products giftable? Do you do any special PPC campaigns? Do you do lightning deals or what do you guys do if anything differently?
Sean Chang: Because of this COVID virus situation, Amazon is now sending a lot of essential goods and food. Yeah. So because of that it’s good for Amazon that they took the category because of this COVID situation, but same time for you use it. Other category, Amazon is all locating or less space comparing to last year. So, the COVID situation also the what is it, or Amazon prime day. And this two new factor are making a lot of seller or issue like inventory supplier issue now. So, while we’ve been focusing for now is inventory, FBA plan. Now Amazon set up the inventory limit. So, and it’s been taking slow, so many like good sellers, we planned for end of year sales forecast. So I think, like maximizing, selling opportunity with a current, I mean, with a stable inventory, FBA inventory plan will enlist. I mean, you will cover a lot of– it will be best investment at this region comparing to any type of marketing. So, I think that’s the very basic thing we need to do it. And second thing is the holiday season is coming, so promotions and lighten your, and also connecting social media or decide to Amazon or those things, those activity also, or we are working on it too.
Bradley Sutton: When people start selling, how long does it take for to open up? In my experience, this was like a month ago, like after 10 to 14 days, as long as they’re selling consistently a few units a day, now that limit gets higher. Right?
Sean Chang: It’s really different. I think it’s more like case by case. Cause you know, we are selling some food product to, and certain products, the new listing, they have like 15 unit limit maximum, not 200 or so they are trying, they are getting– allowing us to receive our 90 days selling limits. I think that’s just larger than Amazon display on the planet. But when they lifted, so far our team is kept checking in tasks, but I think it’s between like 10 to two weeks or so.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. So, it was about the same as what I had then.
Bradley Sutton: What are your plans this year in as much as just like you said, theoretically speaking, it should be a slower time of the year for you, but are you going to try and test anything this year in order to try and like maybe offset that or you just going to go business as usual?
Schrone: My mindset was to launch my second product, which I did in February. And February and I launched that before variations, announced to the world we didn’t Corona was right around the corner. I sold 600 units in 51 days and I’m like, well, this is the one. And then quarantine hit Amazon slowed down because of essential versus non-essential things of that nature. And I didn’t get it back up until just last week. What I’m testing is, and I relaunched it with six variations instead of four. I’m hoping that the sales from my second product will carry me in the fourth quarter when my first product slows down a little bit. But, I guess I should be modest because my slowdown is I was making 50 or 60,000 in the summertime, and now I’m making 30,000 on my first product. So it’s not that.
Bradley Sutton: Is your product something that is giftable at all, or that people would give to during the Christmas season?
Schrone: I wished that it was, it’s not likely based on my two years of fourth quarter, my two fourth quarters prior to, and what I’ve learned with the Xray tools and the graph tools of Helium 10, it’s just historically a slow moving product in the fourth quarter.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. Well, one thing I would say that you could do, of course you’re using Helium 10 a lot. I know. I would run Cerebro on some of those keywords or even Magnet. I would take some of those main keywords, like, like, I’m sure you probably have your, you and your competitors have like maybe four or five main keywords that they get sales from and run Magnet, and then take a look at what comes out. Even if it doesn’t have much search volume now about if there’s anything like gift or Christmas or something that comes up in that. The smart complete, it just shows you all the different variations. And then for those keywords that are kind of like variations of that, what I’m going to do is I’m going to hit those Keyword Tracker or not Keyword Tracker. Keyword search volume history of each of those, like Christmas, it might say 50 search volume now, or 100 now, and then just see, are there any spikes at all? During November, December, and then boom, if you’re, I would put those into my PPC campaign or maybe optimize for those. So, who knows, there’s still hope that there might be something going on there that hopefully you can take advantage of. Maybe they’re changing their lifestyle image to show that it’s a gift, or something like that. Have you heard any cool strategies that anybody in your community is going to use?
Schrone: One of the things I suggest I haven’t, I don’t feel too comfortable getting other people start, but one of the things I suggest is know your product, know your category, for instance, mine is in maternity. So, I know sometime in February around, Oh, excuse me, May, around Mother’s day. I need to change the theme of my listing, right? Where bullet points are centric to mothers specifically around Mother’s day are the bullet, the title may have something about mother’s day in it. Things of that nature with that being said, if your product is holiday centric, change your lifestyle, pictures to holiday stuff, because people love to be in the mood for shopping. And if you can accommodate that by making it cozy in your listing and do so also the backend search terms, if you don’t want to change anything, because you know, the one time you change something in it and still a central everything just goes to hell with them and you have to fix it all up again, just change it back in search terms to be more relatable to holiday shopping.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s talk about Q4. When I first was thinking about who would be an appropriate guest, I was like, all right, we’re going to be talking about the different things that people are going to do for Q4. And just by definition, that means, Hey, are people changing their images? Are people adding different keywords? Are they doing different things for targeting in PPC campaigns, but it all comes down to the thesis or the theory that, Hey, if I optimize for certain like maybe holiday related keywords or imagery that maybe it’ll help me. So, your company is PickFu, we’ve always talked about PickFu on Helium 10 about how it’s great to kind of like split test things, but you’ve been doing this for years already. So in your experience, what you’ve seen your customers do, what kind of things have Amazon sellers done like around this time that we’re in right now getting ready for that big Q4 rush, maybe in November, December utilizing PickFu?
Justin Chen: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think they’re looking to make drastic changes. I think they’re just looking to optimize the listings that they already have. And so, some of it just might be sanity checking. But even if you were to validate a large change on PickFu kind of off Amazon, I think it would still be kind of a risk to make that kind of drastic change on your listing. So, I would say that most people are just optimizing things like their main images or their titles. Maybe they haven’t gotten around to it, especially with things going on with COVID, they might’ve just gone their inventory in recently, and haven’t had a chance to talk to my listings live. So, I think a lot of people are taking the opportunity to kind of just do the things that they should have been doing and testing things like their titles, their main images, descriptions, bullet points, kind of all that stuff, because especially now you don’t want to be testing it lives. It’s a little dangerous, both from a loss of sales, but also algorithmic impacts and all that kind of thing.
Bradley Sutton: Do any of your clients come back to you, like at the start of Q4 and then say, Hey, we’d like to maybe optimize our listing. Are there any other keywords that are Q4 related? Like, a holiday related keywords for Q4? Like, do we change it? So, is that something that ever happens with any of your clients?
Jana: Yeah, definitely. All the clans, they really take care of your listings, I guess, they should optimize the listing or because they’re Halloween friendly or like Christmas brand new again, you can really use more keywords than you’re actually using. And a lot of seasonal keywords are actually the right way to go. So, a lot of them, like for Q4, we already have, some clients that are getting ready for Christmas. They’re getting ready for Halloween and they’re just going to they want to optimize, they’re not teaming all of the humans of course, but I really think that the search volume keywords are definitely going to go higher for before the holiday season. And then if you can like, maybe insert one main keyword in the title, for instance, that has like the highest search volume, it’s definitely something that people are going to search for. Also, like you can, I mean, if your product is like something, which is, I don’t know, like I’m always a little for Christmas, like, I don’t know, maybe some presents for your mom or a good friend for my grandpa. You can also see if you did a keyword research from last year, what were people searching for? So there could be probably a good guideline of what sort of keywords you could put in your listings. But definitely it’s very important to optimize them according to the season. So seasonality is very good for your product, is very good for your sales. Just make sure you have enough inventory, because that is, I think going to be the biggest problem in Q4 right now, because there’ll be a lot of crazy stuff going on. And I think that there’s like this other sphere, the most.
Bradley Sutton: You’ve been around the game for a while. So, in your experience on what you have seen successful sellers do for Q4, whether Europe, USA, wherever, what is a common trait that you could maybe share with the rest of us on, on what sellers should be focusing on or something like that for Q4?
Jana: Yeah. I definitely think that you have to optimize your listings on time, because if you are too lazy to just don’t do anything last bit. I mean, I know this is like a no brainer, right. But a lot of people still do it very, very often. And I know that we get the most requests literally like three days before, like a prime day or like 15 days before Christmas or something crazy like that. So, don’t be those sellers and just optimize releases on time. Also seasonal keywords are very good idea. If you don’t know what– you’re maybe haven’t sold anything for like last Christmas, just I don’t know if you can do like some keyword research, you can–if you did something, just go to your old keyword research to get an idea of what you might want to add to your title or to your bullet , don’t change your listings too much. So be very careful with that. I would never suggest changing your bullets in the title. So just kind of like change one variable at a time, either the title or like one bullet, you still have time.
Bradley Sutton: In the Amazon India market, how is Q4 related to the rest of the year? Is there any increase? Does it stay the same. Does it go down?
Verun: Okay. So, the difference between India and the Western world. So the rest of the world, mostly UK, US. Europe, those countries, for them Q4 is Christmas, but for us, Q4 comes around October, September, October, November. So, we treat this as a Q4 beginning. So this year, the Valley is around middle of November. So by the middle of October to middle of November, we would be having crazy selling. So, it’s just about to get started. Yeah. So Q4, we mean the Valley.
Bradley Sutton: And then, so is December a little bit slower than November then because of that?
Verun: December is slower, yes. But not sure the rest of the year, but still better than the rest of the year, but that’s no other than the October, November.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right. Good to know, obviously not for Christmas, but for that holiday and festival, you’re talking about November. What do you do anything differently with your strategy as far as PPC or your listing or promotions or anything at all for the November holidays?
Verun: India market is a little different 3x because I talk about if my seller account, if I talked to you, like we are some managed business what does selling managed business? Basically, strategy account managers have been assigned to our account. They keep on coming back to us back and forth regarding our listings and all the top performing is they try to give us some incentives so that we reduce our prices for the period. Grading their incomes for a month and three weeks, like five days, and then five days gap in between. So let me come back to how we work on this. We give some incentives from Amazon on couple of our top performing ASINs, and then we have to reduce our prices and match that discount, the incentive that has been given by the Amazon. So there’s the one way to do this. Then if we talk about rest of the ASINs, how we do it. So yes, we boost up our PPC is. We change our bids accordingly. So, to keep up to the– because at that time there are of people who are on the PPC at that time, and the bids become little expensive at the time. So we have to literally boost about what bids as well. So keep our visibility higher and yes, just try to be as competitive as we can and keep our listings. We have to basically look at that conversion rate, because at that time, the conversion really gets very well because a lot of people have actually buying for the last three, four months ago, they are really what this period. So if you’re visible at that point of time, your conversion rate will go really, really very good.
Refael: Q4 is a bit different than the rest of the year. Why is that factories basically factories are exploring with like, with orders, pre-orders that people like sellers put and book to manufacture their products. To be honest, we are in October, we have actually started Q4 today and people are after the order, their Q4. It’s too late to put an order for Q4 because it’ll take like 30 days for manufacturing another month for shipping a new way of in December. So people is already– we are now shipping Q4 orders and we’ve started shipping Q4 is like on August and September, but don’t forget. We have Chinese new year coming up at the start of next year. So people are now ramping up for the orders for Chinese new year. So you’ll now start manufacturing. All right. So it’ll be ready on December. So, you can ship actually before Chinese new year. So now even if you’ve sent your Q4 orders now would be the best time to start manufacturing for Chinese new year. I don’t know if you all know that about Chinese new year is the longest holiday of the year in China. It’s a disruption. It’s a disruption of about, it’s a disruption effect of about 30 to even 40 days, right? The actual China holiday is about 10 days or 12 days, something like that, but because it’s a very important holiday for them. That’s the Chinese new year. Everybody in China is going back to their home towns. So, it’s like they take them a week to go to their home and a week to come back. And some of the employees don’t go back because it’s a whole thing there, it’s a really whole thing that it takes a month until everybody comes back and factories are reopened again. So now would be a very, very important time to place orders for after Q4.
Bradley Sutton: I remember you told me this months ago that that you had during COVID the air freight was just impossible. Like something that maybe would have cost $1,000 before it cost like $5,000 or even worse, but are things more normalized now or still not enough flights operating to for the prices to go down to normal?
Refael: Surprisingly, there are enough flights now, even though people don’t fly around surprisingly and I was sure it will take ages to go to go back to normal, but surprisingly rates by air are now, I would say 30, 35% higher than usual, even 40% higher than usual, which is very good. Because again, three months ago we were talking about 500, 600% higher because there was just no flights at all and border was shouting down. So now countries opened up the borders, more flights coming in, more flights going out. So, it’s a lot easier prices are much better now.
Bradley Sutton: What’s your best advice, something you haven’t mentioned yet that sellers are keeping in mind as far as when it comes to logistics here in the next few months?
Refael: Well, I would say, first of all, if you’re shipping with your supplier, if you’re a first time shipper, if you’re a first time seller, that’s fine. Send the first order with your supplier. But if you have more than one shipment a month or more than one shipment in a quarter, find yourself a freight forwarder, develop a relationship with them and it’ll just help your business so much. That’s one. Secondly, prepare for Chinese new year. All right. Again, Chinese new year is just around the corner. Things are going to be shut down. If you try to put production in January, you’ll see that the lead time would be like crazy because people have done it before. People started putting the orders in November, in October for next year. Right. So I know it takes capital, but try to put your orders as soon as possible. January would probably be too late to put an order for Chinese new year. So try to late October, November, that’s the most relevant tip. And the last thing is take a buffer. Things are crazy. If you have a shipment that is about to come out, or if you’re the shipping on the way, or if you’re about to ship something in November, they could buffer, take another 10 days in account.
Bradley Sutton: Our clients now, and maybe even a month ago, like have they started doing some like campaigns that maybe to push some Christmas keywords or do you find that they wait a little bit more before trying to push their ranking for keywords?
Alina Vlaic: It goes both ways. There are some that have already started preparing, but it’s a little bit difficult, more difficult this year because of the restrictions with the inventory. So maybe, we’ve had some situations where they wanted to start like in early September to have a longer campaign and start getting things ready for prime day and for black Friday and everything, but no, not enough inventory. So, there are some times switching to FBM listing and doing both ways.
Bradley Sutton: What are you going to have to do differently now that you are launched in Q4, as opposed to, if you had done it on your original plan to launch in August or July?
Alina Vlaic: I think maybe I’m a little bit more aggressive with the lounge. And when I say aggressive, I don’t just mean with the search find, buy and keyword targeting and everything. I’m talking about PPC and the PPC seems to be extremely important this year. It has always been, but my feeling is that it’s more and more on a growing trend here. So, brand registry, video ads, all those opportunities they allow right now, I think those need to be used in order to leverage in front of your other competitors that are just doing the classical way. And I don’t know, just do things right. One other thing I would mention would be have an overall perspective of what happened also in Q4. I mean, if you’re launching in Q4, you don’t need to analyze the sales and the everything that had been going on only from the beginning of the year, because you’re looking only three months back or six months back. You have to check what happened the last Q4, because some players only focus on Q4 and you need to take that into consideration. So just instead of starting a lounge on a slower pace, I would go, I will go probably a little more, more aggressive on all parts.
Bradley Sutton: For you and your multiple businesses on Amazon, what are you doing or what have you been doing to prepare Kevin for Q4?
Kevin King: I think the biggest challenge for everybody, whether you’re brand new and just launching, or whether you’ve been selling for a while is going to be inventory management with all the new restrictions. If this has already been talked about, feel free to change the subject, but with all the new restrictions, it’s going to be difficult to maintain inventory that the new restrictions combined with excessive delays and getting stuff checked in, and those delays are going to vary depending on where you have to send it. One of the things I’m looking at is trying to get some stats from some different people on which warehouses are faster. And I may even do like product placement and pay the 30 cents or whatever the fee is these days, and actually send it to somewhere else that roll the dice. Hopefully did it gets checked in faster if I have a problem. But I’m already– one of my products is calendars. So it’s a seasonal item. And these typically sell best from about mid-November, till about mid-January is when we do like 95% of the sales. But I started shipping them in July, even though we’ve been selling these for years, they still are considered a new ASIN. So, it’s the 200 limit. So, I’ve been shipping them in and just building that slowly up and I’m prepared right now to ship in as much as often as I need to just keep topping to build that up. And I just hope that there’s not delays. The other thing is everything you need to have FBM and FBA set up. I mean, so if you don’t, if you either shipping out yourself out of your house or your garage, or if you’ve got a warehouse in the back, like you do, shipping out there, I just came just from my garage just now I have– I live in a high-rise condo, but we have garages in the parking garage actually garages where people park their car. My garage has set up as an FBM center. Basically I have a big one of those big monk, those big elephants that spits out the peanuts, and I got a scale and there’s no wifi down there. So I have to use my cell phone and turn on wifi on myself or the hotspot. And I have a computer, a Mac computer with a screen and everything set up. And I have– I use that for not so much for mostly Amazon businesses, but we’re doing a lot of influencer stuff right now for one of my businesses. So we shipped stuff out of there. I have someone that comes and packs it, but they go on the road for like a month at a time. They’re kind of living that lifestyle and doing all of our social media, but she gets him, she’ll come in and she’ll pack a hundred of these things. And then she’ll message me. Hey, three of these, three needs to get sent out. These two need to get sent out. I could have a fulfillment center do that, but we’d write a special note in each one and stuff, and we do some special stuff. So I just go down there and ship that stuff out. But so, but anyway, if you don’t have a, if you’re doing serious volume, like I am at companies, I have a fulfillment center that handles that. And that way you can cross back and forth if you do run out of inventory. So those are probably the two biggest challenges that most people are going to need to be aware of. And then fourth quarter just naturally the sales go up. Even if you have a seasonal or holiday type of item or giftable item, it goes, it can go crazy up 10, 20 times up. If it’s just a normal item, it can still just because of the increase in traffic, the people on there, they sales typically go up for most people, and with what’s happening with the pandemic stuff and the rise in e-commerce, I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I noticed like prime day this year, as far as I know, nobody was offered a lightning deals or deals of the day of around prime day. Normally, they announced an advance and let you get your extra time to ship it in this year. There was none of that. And that may be the same thing for Cyber Monday and Black Friday too. They may be just not at Amazon may not want that extra, extra traffic.
Bradley Sutton: Do you allocate a little bit more time, both on the production side and in the shipping time due to it being Q4?
Kevin King: Yeah, I do. I mean, you have issues, even if you’re in the product sourcing stage right now, if you’re like just starting and it’s in quarter four, you’re going to get less response from a lot of factories. They’re just busy, you know? And so when you’re trying to ping them just for pricing and stuff, you’re going to have issues. So I start, I usually, I do add like an extra month. And so I try to try to have all my inventory in the United States by September. Just that way, if there’s a delay, if I get a customs, check that, delays it a couple of weeks or something, or who knows what I still have it by October. And that way, if I get in September, I can get all my organization done and split it up at the 3PL do whatever they got to do. Or if you’re shipping, you get really shipped straight to Amazon anymore unless you’re doing under 200 units. And then starts sitting in October. Now this year, like I said, I started in July. I do have, I recommend a new person launched in the fourth quarter, unless it’s a seasonal item, but new people really shouldn’t be doing seasonal items, because a little bit trickier. But, I do have some products launching, one next week and three in later in October, but that’s not normal, but those– these are extensions of– they’re not brand new things or extensions of what we already have. So, and they’re in high demand right now in low supply. So worldwide, that’s something that we will be doing, but yeah, I do add an extra month or two to it to make sure. And so, like I said, try to have everything in by September, if you’re just now shipping stuff in and you might be able to air freight some stuff, but your costs are higher and you’re going to have some issues. It’s in plus the other thing with fourth quarter is it’s harder to rank if you’re doing search find buys or ManyChat, or even PPC costs are way higher typically and search find buys, you’re going to have to give away. Even if you look at Helium 10 and look at how many you got to give away there, that number typically rises for most stuff too. So, it just gets more expensive for most people. And it’s better to wait and don’t forget January things don’t die. And, right before Christmas, January is almost as good as December because a lot of people what happens on Amazon, especially for any kind of weight loss stuff or fitness stuff, or a lot of the supplements, but everything in general, it still has a nice peak in January because a lot of people get stuff for its Christmas guests, they return it and then they have a credit from Amazon. They go buy something else. Or people get a lot of people get gift cards. And so they’re on Amazon buying. So there’s a don’t overlook January. A lot of people get caught with their pants down thinking that December 23rd, 24th. All right. That was nice. But no, you have a couple of day reprieve and then it starts right back up again.
Bradley Sutton: Speaking of that, people who may be delaying, you don’t want to delay too much because then now you might risk missing the Chinese new year. So like when would you say, Hey, put your order in by this date in December or whenever to make sure that it’s done in time before people go on vacation for a Chinese new year.
Kevin King: Yeah. Chinese new year, the date that week, it’s really about 10 days to two weeks where it’s just a mess. That varies depending on the year and the moon cycles or whatever it is between late January to mid-February is when it’s starts. So you get first thing to know is no one that is, I also have a November, in October, November, you have the national holiday too, which basically shuts everything down for a week. Don’t forget about that. But yeah. Coming for shipping for Chinese new year, it depends on your factories lead times. I mean, so you got to back it up from if your factory is if Chinese new year starts January 28th, remember a lot of people leave like the week before, except some of the executives and stuff like that. So I would say January 20th, and I would add a week to 10 days buffer. So January 10th, if it takes them four weeks to make my products back it up to December 10th and then I’d add another week. So probably December 1st, I’m placed at the latest, I’m placing my order.
Bradley Sutton: All right, we’re coming up on the end here, Kevin, any last thoughts on some great tips that Amazon sellers should just definitely be putting on it? It doesn’t have to be Q4. I mean, if it’s a Q4 tip, great. If not, then something else that Amazon sellers should or should not be doing in the next few months.
Kevin King: Well, the first thing is you just need to know your numbers. I mean, a lot it’s too many people don’t know the numbers. I see so many students like in the Freedom Ticket that their landed cost is six bucks and they’re selling it for 12. And they just, you’re not going to make money and money’s made in the sourcing and not in the selling. So, you got to source well, and you got to have the margins. If you don’t have a three to 5X margin, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing, unless you’re just going to think you’re going to sell 500 a day and can work off a small margins. But even at that, the competition can come in and take ticket out from under you too easily. So, that’s the number one thing that people need to really pay attention to and go take a look at what you’re selling now, and you maybe need to get, you got a lot of dead weight. Yeah. It’s nice to have, if you got $10,000 a month coming in right now, but five, 4,000 that you’re just losing money on. Let’s get rid of it. It’s better to take in $6,000 a month is 10,000 and actually make money. And don’t stick with a product too long, too many people. This is their pet product. I spent three months researching it. I made it better. I created a nice design and all this work into it. I know it’s good. I know it’s good. It’s just, I just need some more PPC or I just need this one guy to quit tacking my account or jumping on my listing and whatever. Just be willing to cut and run and move on to the next one. Don’t get too emotionally tied to anything. And it’s a numbers game and it’s a, you got to be able to adapt and move quick. And that’s how people like us. We’re like the gorilla marketers, we can move a lot faster than some corporation can. That’s got a lot of layers and we can adapt. And that’s how you can compete on Amazon. It’s a beautiful platform to be able to compete. And it gives a small guy, a huge chance to compete as much as a billion dollar guy.
Bradley Sutton: Well, guys, I hope you enjoyed that information and I hope you were able to pull out some points. I would love to hear what was your favorite point that you learned in this episode that you guys are going to implement? Well, I hate to hear or what I hate to see people watching the training videos or listening to the podcast and they say, Oh yeah, this is great stuff. I loved it. I loved it. And that’s it. They don’t do anything about it. I want you guys to implement it. So, I want to know what is your top thing that you guys are going to do? Maybe make like an Instagram story of it. All right. Make an Instagram story, write it down. And tag me, tag me and tag Helium 10 software and tag @h10Bradley. That’s my Instagram handle about what of the top strategies that you learned from this episode? Guys, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and whatever platform you’re listening to. If you’re listening on Apple podcasts, please do us a solid and leave us a review so that we know we’re doing great and what we need to improve on as well. So, thank you so much guys for listening in and we’ll see when the next episode.
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