How Online Retailers Can Make The 2020 Holiday Season A Golden Opportunity

Founder and CEO of Molzi.

Since Amazon Prime Day began in 2015, it has nestled comfortably into its position as a staple of the e-commerce calendar for brands and consumers alike, even rivaling other global sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2019, 175 million products flew off Amazon’s digital “shelves” and onto consumer doorsteps during the 48-hour sales period.

I believe this year will be just as popular among consumers, despite the delay of Prime Day from July to October 13-14. However, a belated Prime Day has naturally fueled fears that shoppers may simply hold out until later, given its new proximity to other sales events.

At Molzi, we work directly with our clients to offer full-service Amazon management, marketplace management and Amazon training and consultancy, and we too wondered what the impacts might be. We conducted a consumer survey and discovered that those fears were unfounded.

More than four in 10 U.K. Amazon customers consider Prime Day the most important e-commerce event of the year, outranking Black Friday, Cyber Monday and December and January sales. Twenty-six percent of respondents even said that they would be less likely to wait until Black Friday to buy Christmas gifts, instead favoring Prime Day.

Whether shoppers want to get a head start on Christmas shopping (44% of respondents), avoid the shops due to Covid-19 (39%) or simply to take advantage of special deals (65%), it’s clear to us that Prime Day will be going straight into consumer diaries once the date is announced.

The pressure is on for retailers to adopt the right strategy to capitalize on this spike in the e-commerce calendar, and the months ahead present an opportunity that will be just as daunting to brands as it is lucrative. Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas sales are almost consecutive and will bring a herd of deal-hungry shoppers to e-commerce platforms.

With more consumers comes more competition, and brands are increasingly making the leap to e-commerce to capture the new and broader customer base.

So how should brands prepare for this unprecedented run of sales events?

It may sound simple, but inventory management should not be neglected over the coming months. Products could be listed perfectly, but efforts will be fruitless without a reliable supply of stock. If brands run out of inventory for too long, they won’t sell products and their visibility online will suffer.

Inventory planning is especially vital for Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) sellers, who must adhere to new Amazon inventory management regulations to prevent an overload and freeze in FBA shipments. But FBA warehouses are already being filled to the brim in anticipation of a big sales quarter, so instead of relying fully on Amazon’s capacity, retailers should consider direct-fulfillment or seller-fulfillment options to protect sales.

Online-savvy sellers likely know that consumers won’t go out of their way to find products; brands must go to them. A robust advertising strategy can be particularly impactful this time of year. Brands can take advantage of the increased online traffic to reach a wider audience of new-to-brand consumers than at other points in the year.

Advertising bids during the holiday season tend to be more costly due to increased competition, but investing is worthwhile if paired with the correct strategy. The key is to time sponsored ads in conjunction with attractive discounts or promotions. If sellers are discounting but not getting visibility, or paying more for ad space but unable to convert customers at a high rate, they will miss out on potential rich pickings during the high-traffic period.

If a brand is enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry, it also has its own Amazon Store. This can be optimized to allow the personality of the brand to shine through and showcase the best deals, creating a virtual “shop front” where shoppers can see promotions without competitor interference. More and more, shoppers are searching for eco-friendly products, so brands should use their store as an opportunity to show off their eco credentials to the conscious consumer.

But sellers must not get caught up in advertising strategy before ensuring that the foundations of their listings are secure. High-quality images, relevant keywords, plentiful and positive reviews, and concise descriptions are at the core of an e-commerce strategy — the bread and butter for any successful seller. Retail-ready products correlate with visibility and sales, while promoting a positive brand image to win repeat customers.

The sales events in the remainder of 2020 could prove to be a make-or-break opportunity for brands, and that success or failure is likely to translate into 2021. In the lead up, companies should be testing what works for them. Trends are constantly shifting, and what worked last year might not appeal to a buyer this year, especially during the pandemic. 

With the correct strategy, brands will be ready to ride the wave of consumer enthusiasm, from Prime Day through the holiday season. These companies will be more likely to emerge in 2021 with healthy profits and a dominant online presence, gold dust in a world in which e-commerce rules.

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