Plan Plan Plan
Why is it important to plan ahead for promotions? Because putting a plan in place ensures you are regularly using the options available on Amazon to learn what generates the highest conversions for your brand - critical information to have when the holidays come around!
“When you’re launching a product on Amazon, one of the costliest mistakes
you can make is the failure to have an effective product launch plan in place.”
Putting a plan in place as soon as the holiday slump starts (read: January) is an important step to generating sales throughout the year. Consider all of the promotions options at your disposal (we’ll share some ideas in this post!), and write out a plan for when you will put each into effect. Don’t miss a key opportunity for your brand because of an overdependence on Q4 holiday sales. Sell sports equipment? Make a Super Bowl promo of buy one get one % off. Sell jewelry? Create Valentine’s Day coupons to boost conversions. Planning ahead for those smaller, yet niche holidays allows you to get creative with your promos, and as we said, learn what promotions work best so you can implement those over the holiday season!
Understand Amazon promotion options…and when to use them
Percentage-off… or make it a BOGO
When should you run a percentage-off sale? One strategy is to focus on your competitors. Study your competition and put a promotion in place when your key competitors are also running promotions. Through this analysis, you are gaining an understanding of your competition’s pricing strategy as well as positioning yourself as a seller whose prices can’t be beat.
In addition to percentage-off, you can also create Buy One Get One (BOGO) offers that allow you to give a % or $ discount based on quantity purchased. The benefits of this are increased sales volume and bigger discounts to customers who buy more! Consider pairing best sellers with a slower moving or new product to encourage purchases. For some brands this works really well. Sell coffee pods? Definitely try this one. Sell couches? Maybe this one isn’t for you. It’s important to consider the price point of your product: lower priced items may be ideal for a percentage off / cross-selling BOGO promotion whereas a higher priced product promotion may have too significant an impact on your margins.
Brands can use percentage-off sales to help move slower inventory throughout the year, not necessarily focused on a holidays / special events. This promotion is visible under “Special offers and product promotions,” below the “Sponsored products related to this item” and “Customers also shopped for” headers.
Flash sale before a holiday weekend
Similar to a percentage-off sale, the flash sale also offers products at a sale price; however, the difference lies in where the promotion is placed on the product page. A flash sale appears in the normal price location but in red or the flash sale may appear as the original price, with a strikethrough and the new, lower price below it in red. The appearance differs by category. Additionally, flash sales are normally quicker than percentage-off promotions, usually less than a week.
When to use a flash sale? Flash sale are most effective around a holiday. For example, Amazon shoppers are logging in to find deals over Memorial Day so implementing a short flash sale is likely to win you more sales. Do you sell grilling accessories? Definitely try out a flash sale in the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend.
Free Shipping so no brand is left behind
A lesser used promotion option is one that benefits the non-Prime seller. Free Shipping allows a brand to level the playing field with Prime competitors. Brands can choose to offer a variety of free shipping options, including: Expedited, Next Day, Priority, Second Day, Standard. If you are not a Prime seller, use this around holidays especially to remain competitive with Prime sellers.
Lightning Deals: are they worth the rumble?
These lightning fast deals are only ~4 hours in duration! Different from the standard promotional tools on Amazon listed above, the Lightning Deal is unique in both the visibility, accessibility and cost. The deal is available on both Vendor and Seller Central but it’s by “recommendation-only” on Seller Central so you have to check in often to see if an recommendation exists. If you miss the window, the opportunity is lost! Vendor Central does not have the same exclusivity but on both platforms you must have a 3 star minimum product rating and on Seller Central your offer must be Prime.
The cost of the lightning deal is an interesting factor which many newer-to-Amazon brands find prohibitive, ranging from $150 to $600 per ASIN depending on time of year. Additionally, Amazon stipulates how much you must discount your products by to participate. The Lighting Deals are visible on the Deals Page, with some deals showing the expiration in format: hh:mm:ss. Customers are further enticed to visit your product page and make a purchase!
“A good conversion rate on an Amazon product detail page is widely considered 15%. That’s a huge number, often 3-5x that of other ecommerce sites.”
Once you get a customer to visit your product page, you are much more likely to see a conversion than non-Amazon e-commerce marketplaces. So, a significant benefit of the lightning deal is the brand exposure that you gain. In line with that increased visibility, with lightning deals we see the “halo effect.” This is the increase in customer discovery and sales both during and after the deal has run. The “halo effect” is attributed to the fact that on the day that the Lightning Deal runs, the Best Seller Rank (BSR) improves over that time period. This could lead to more views on your product pages, improved sales velocity, and more product visibility as the product is featured on Amazon’s Deals page.
So to answer the question of when to use Lightning Deals, on Seller Central, Amazon will tell you when you have the option and Vendor Central you can set a deal up voluntarily. But to decide whether or not to take advantage of this deal requires some foresight because Amazon can run the four hour deal whenever they want to within the date range selected. If your deal is from 2am - 6am, you aren’t going to get the exposure that you hoped for. Ultimately, a brand must decide if they can swallow that risk.
Coupons: highly visible and effective year-round
Are they worth it? Short story: yes. The unique thing about coupons is that they differ from regular Amazon promotion options in both visibility on the product page as well as how you can utilize them. A typical Amazon Promotion (Buy One Get One 15% off) is on display below the bullet point descriptions, requiring customers to scroll down far enough to see that a promotion is in effect.
However, coupons are visible right next to the price both when you see the list results of a search in the search bar and when you click into the product page. This repetition is key because Amazon customers are often searching for a deal… and when you use coupons it’s clear that you are offering one!
Amazon Search Results Coupon Product Page Coupon
Above: Images of Amazon search results and the product page details that clearly show the green
Additionally, coupons allow the seller the options of $ off or % off. Which to choose? It’s a good idea to test both options. Customers are used to seeing percentage discount offers at large retailers, so this is a strategy that does work. On the other hand, customers are on Amazon to shop, not to do math. From that perspective, dollar discount is the winner.
The cost of coupons differs from other promotions as well in that every time a customer clicks on the coupon, the seller is charged a $0.60 redemption fee + the amount of the coupon. You can set a maximum budget and date range.
How much to invest now versus Q4?
Many brands depend on the large portion of their annual revenue from the flurry of holiday shopping at year-end. But is that because they are not promoting themselves as strongly in Q1 - Q3? Or is it that their product offerings are simply geared more toward the perfect holiday gift (children’s toys, for example) and naturally they put forth most effort this time of year?
Certainly some brands will always depend on the bulk of their annual sales over the holidays; however, there is lost opportunity for every brand that doesn’t promote their products throughout the year.
Let’s take a look at this calendar of holidays throughout the year to identify potential opportunities in Q1, Q2, and Q3.
January: National Hat Day? This is not a widely recognized holiday but it’s a great reason to run a promo through the dredges of post-holiday slump if you sell sun-shade accessories. Consider a BOGO especially if you are selling hats/accessories to hats (i.e., sunglasses).
February: Nothing like a Super Bowl to push your sports-related memorabilia/equipment/gear! Create a flash sale discount the week before and don’t forget to update your back-end keywords to direct more Super Bowl traffic to your page.
March: We’re emerging from the post-holiday slump- try implementing a longer term (1 month) coupon to see how that moves the needle with conversions. If you remotely relate your products to St. Patrick’s Day, consider a Flash Sale.
April: Humans love nothing more than their pets so USE THIS to your advantage when National Pet Day comes around (yes, that exists.) Many customers are searching for Easter Sunday dresses/jewelry/shoes. Earth Day is an opportunity for almost anything outdoors related.
May: Brands may see an increase (or the beginning of) Lightning Deals over Memorial Day weekend. If you haven’t taken advantage of this, try it out this weekend. And (almost) no one forgets Mother’s Day, so consider placing your products a mom would love on 25% discount.
June: Summer has begun and sales are picking up! Remember that coupon you ran in February? Try another long term coupon to see the effects and make sure this overlaps with Father’s Day. If products respond well, set up a low percentage coupon (5%) semi-permanently.
July: Independence Day weekend is enormously popular for BBQ, family gatherings… and Amazon shopping. Run an aggressive long weekend flash sale (20% or more). Don’t forget that back to school shopping is beginning at the end of this month.
August: Back to school season is in full swing with parents looking for everything from school supplies to clothing. BOGO can be effective this time of year. Consider pairing a best selling product with a slower moving one to clear out stagnant inventory before Q4 prep begins.
September: Are there any promotions you haven’t tried this year? Did you run a free shipping promotions if you are not Prime? Did you run a cross-selling promotion? Last chance to see what promotions may be more effective for your particular brand.
October: Believe it or not, Christmas shopping has begun. Jump on the Halloween bandwagon, of course (Flash Sale!), but consider running coupons in prep for an even bigger Christmas shopping influx.
November: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are other good holidays to consider for lightning deals, leading up to Black Friday. They start to get expensive this time of year, though, so if they are too costly (or you aren’t invited) defer back to the coupon.
December: Implement the promos that worked best for as long as you can sustain (check your margins!) throughout the holiday season. Watch your products fly off the shelves and implement what you learned in the following year.
Why use promotions offered by Amazon? They are proven to be effective. Through trial and error of implementing promotions year-round, you’ll be able to identify which are most effective for your brand, and reap the benefits of being prepared for Q4.