We’re coming up on a year of mask-wearing, homeschooling, hand-sanitizing, working from home, and a drastic shift in the way we shop and dine. Even though the last 12 months has been challenging, some of the changes businesses were forced to make have made life a little easier and propelled us forward leaps and bounds in terms of using technology and focusing on the customer experience. Read on to learn the top Amazon selling strategies during COVID that you should be aware of and implementing right now.
Changes We've Seen During COVID
Even though we’ve had to take extra precautions, the number of helpful and user-friendly apps for businesses is increasing, along with the way we receive the products we purchase.
Apps to Enhance the User Experience
The more user-friendly the app, the more likely it is that people will purchase through it. Fortunately, Amazon’s mobile app was ready to go before the global pandemic hit. Think about which apps you use frequently and why you are drawn to them.
A few that come to mind as being five star for user experience are the Target app, which is very similar to Amazon in terms of ease, and the Chick-fil-A app. Simply order from the app, then just drive up to collect your food, easy-peasy. Plus you get rewards!
All of these apps have one thing in common: convenience. You can store your information for a fast checkout, they keep track of your favorites, plus it’s easy to browse and select how you will receive your purchased products.
More Delivery Methods
It’s no secret that the supply chain was majorly disrupted at the beginning of the pandemic. We think it’s fair to say that it is not back to the capacity at which we were used to just yet. However, fast delivery still remains a key component for consumers.
Amazon shifted the amount of FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) inventory that was allowed during this time, restricted non-essential categories, and relaxed the delivery expectations (for instance, if you couldn’t have your products delivered within the 2-day Prime window you weren’t penalized) at the onset of COVID. That gave them time to learn and come up with a game plan moving forward. Over the summer of 2020 many of the restrictions were relaxed as Amazon got a firmer hold on handling the surge of eCommerce shoppers and balancing logistics needs.
With these changes Amazon seller strategies during COVID shifted as well. FBA sellers were limited by the amount of inventory they could ship into Amazon’s warehouses. Many sellers developed a back-up plan, or secondary shipping methods. This is something we still advise many sellers to do today and will talk about in more detail later in this article. Additionally, due to inventory limits, sellers need to remain diligent and keep a close eye on their inventory levels. Lastly, they need to plan well in advance to ensure that they don’t run out of stock.
You may have also seen more delivery options when you check out on Amazon. To help lighten their delivery load, Amazon now asks if you want to ship in fewer packages or opt for no-rush shipping and receive a digital purchase reward.
When we look outside of Amazon and go back to our earlier examples of Target and Chick-fil-A we see more options as well. Target gives you the option to ship, get same day delivery through a third party logistics partner, or choose drive up pick up. The Chick-fil-A app lets you choose if you want to drive up, park and have a team member bring out your order when you arrive, or you can use the drive-thru to collect your order. In both situations, you get to tell the store or restaurant you are there and share your parking spot number to make it easy for their team members to get you your items. We’d say that’s taking customer service to a whole new level!
What Are Consumers Buying?
It’s no secret that consumers are spending less on experiences and travel - for the time being. But what are the top categories in which they are spending? Overall eCommerce sales are up 52.20% according to Common Thread Collective. The biggest category remains essential medical supplies, followed by household goods (cleaning supplies), and baby products. As you can expect, fashion and apparel, automotive, and jewelry sales have dipped.
Where Are Consumers Shopping?
Many consumers were essentially forced to shop online last year but many claim that this new way of life and ordering online is something that is going to stick for them. eCommerce sales jumped to 32.4%, while sales that are not eCommerce (brick and mortar stores) dipped below their average by -3.2% according to eMarketer.
In addition to where consumers are shopping, Deliverr discovered the top three marketplaces that sellers are using. Amazon remains number one at 31%, followed by ebay at 20% and Walmart at 19%.
9 Amazon Seller Strategies During COVID
Being nearly a year into monumental growth on eCommerce sales channels, supply chain delays, and logistics hassles, I think we can say we’ve learned a few things that will allow us to better handle our Amazon business and sales in the months ahead. Below are the leading Amazon seller strategies during COVID that you should be aware of currently.
Planning in Advance to Avoid Out of Stock Inventory
Amazon sellers have found that getting inventory and shipping is taking longer. Whether you import inventory from other countries or you manufacture yourself, you may still see delays due to slower shipping times, processing delays and closures due to COVID-related issues.
As much as you can, try to plan in advance. Be aware that your lead time could be weeks or, in some cases, even months longer. If you need financial support to purchase more inventory before yours sells out, check out our friends at Payability. They support eCommerce sellers and provide capital advances for inventory and marketing needs.
Have Multiple Order Fulfillment Options
We’ve also been advising many of our clients who sell on FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) to have FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant) set up and ready to go in case inventory that is sold through FBA runs out of stock.
Why should you have a backup plan? The amount of inventory that you can send in to warehouses is limited and the time it takes to ship and process inventory is taking longer. You run the risk of your inventory not being restocked in time. If that happens you're going to miss potential sales, and your rating will likely decrease.
In order to prepare for the worst, but expect the best, having FBM set up to run if your inventory goes out of stock on FBA is a good way to cover your bases. If you don’t ever have to ship FBM, great. But at least you don’t run the risk of inventory issues and lost sales.
Launch New Products in Trending Categories
Do you research before buying or manufacturing a new product to sell on Amazon. Consumer trends have shifted. Take a look at the graph above to learn more about the popular categories in which consumers are shopping. Then find products in those categories and check out your competition. Amazon is more popular than ever and the amount of products listed is growing daily. Make sure you are not launching a product that is already over-saturated on Amazon and other potential marketplaces in which you may be interested in selling.
Explore Additional Channels for Selling
Even though Amazon remains the leader for eCommerce, it’s a good idea to diversify, or at the very least know what options you have. In our expert opinion Amazon is still the best eCommerce sales channel to be in by far. After all, they have numerous benefits for both their sellers and customers, including their own logistics channel for delivery, fulfillment options within their channel, and they have a trusted name and community. Yes, sometimes Amazon’s guidelines and policies get annoying, but this protects sellers and allows the marketplace to be a trusted source for consumers to turn to - which is a huge benefit for you as a seller.
As you saw in the graphic above, the other two eCommerce marketplaces that are trailing Amazon are Walmart and eBay. These are great secondary options to consider along with having your own website. Selling from your own website will have it’s own set of challenges, but it’s not impossible to be successful on your own platform. You’ll need to make sure you have a way to collect customer information, process orders, and ship efficiently. Lastly, think about how you plan to drive customers to your site. The likelihood of them just finding you on the internet is slim. You’ll need to put marketing efforts and a budget into building your brand, and educating your target audience in order to drive traffic from social media and paid advertising to your site.
Drive Sales with Advertising but Decrease Your ACoS
That’s right, we want you to spend money on advertising - but we also want you to make sure that you keep your ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale) down! That is the best way to get the biggest return on your investment. Your ACoS helps gauge if your advertising spend is right for your sales and profit.
To calculate your ACoS you need to take the amount you spend on PPC advertising (clicks) and divide it by the revenue you’ve received from the paid advertising clicks. Then multiply that by 100 to get your percentage. A good ACoS depends on your business as well as what category you are selling in, pricing and other factors that affect your profit.
Additionally, Amazon has a lot of sellers competing for page one of search results, the Buy Box, and more. Advertising helps you get those results quicker than relying only on organic efforts.
Know Your Metrics
There are many moving parts that play into your success (or failure) on Amazon. One way to stay on top of what is going on within your account is to know which metrics in which to pay attention. Your Amazon seller metrics directly affect how your products are ranked in the marketplace. Higher ranking products sell more.
Amazon has high expectations for the customer experience. The metrics that can assist your business all feed into that experience. There are seven metrics that we’ve identified that can help you as a seller:
- Seller ranking
- Product ranking
- Order Defect Rate (ODR)
- Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation Rate
- Inventory Performance Index (IPI)
- Unit Session Percentage Rate
- Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time (CRT)
Promote and Market
It’s important to understand the value of utilizing the marketing options available within Amazon. After all, these promotions will draw more attention to your listings and inevitably lead to sales.
In addition to advertising, you can take advantage of coupons, discounts, lightning deals, Subscribe and Save, promo codes, Launchpad and more (please note that Seller Central and Vendor Central sellers have different marketing opportunities and guidelines).
Each marketing and promotional offer has its own set of pros and cons so it’s important to research or discuss these options with your trusted Amazon consultant to find the best solutions for your needs.
Speak to Your Audience
Whenever you are writing copy, taking images, or promoting your products you should be speaking to your individual target market. If you are selling the hottest hair styling tool to give ladies that perfect beach wave, your target market is going to look different than if you are selling a bi-fold leather wallet intended primarily for men.
Additionally, if your product has any connection to the current global pandemic, whether it is something to help stay safe, or you are donating proceeds, you should be upfront and forward. Don’t tiptoe around the issue. It’s no secret that we’re faced with a new way of thinking and doing things. People respond to honesty.
Focus on Your Customer Service
It’s been a hard year but don’t let that affect the level or quality of your responses to questions, returns and overall customer service. Remember, Amazon values customer satisfaction. Not only will it help your placement and ranking on Amazon but it will also help build your business as a trusted brand.
Remember, unhappy customers want to share their experience and warn others. Getting reviews is not easy and negative feedback can hinder your sales and Amazon rating. Focus on making customers happy with quality products and fast response times.
Stay Focused on your Amazon Selling Strategies During COVID and Beyond
Now that you are well informed about current consumer trends in 2021, where they are shopping and what they are shopping for, you can better understand your next steps to enhance your marketplace channel growth and set in motion some of the Amazon selling strategies during COVID that we've discussed.
It’s important to stay up-to-date on changes within the marketplace, what consumers are looking for as well as supply chain challenges. Additionally, plan ahead. Don’t wait to order until the last minute. It will affect your sales, especially if you start to have out-of-stock listings.
If you need help navigating Amazon during COVID and beyond, let’s talk. Awesome Dynamic was around prior to COVID and helped sellers advance on Amazon. Additionally over the last year we’ve helped sellers handle the challenges that were presented due to COVID. Our team knows what to do to help you handle selling on Amazon in 2021. Schedule your free consultation today!