That time between Black Friday and Christmas is what every ecommerce brand waits for — with anticipation building for all of those potential sales and profits. But along with the higher sales volume comes more potential pitfalls. The last thing you want is to stumble during the biggest shopping season of the year. Have no fear. There are things you can do this summer to make sure that doesn’t happen. Andrew Waber, Director of Insights at Teikametrics and Tim McDonnell, Mid-Market Team Lead at Deliverr, shared the prep work you can do now to ensure smooth sailing and maximized profits during the holidays.

Webinar Teika-ways

  • Set an aggressive ad budget
  • Check your supply
  • Don’t consolidate product in one place
  • Use automatic keyword campaigns to seed your audience

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Key Teika-ways

10:08 – Clean up your messaging and visuals

Andrew said that before the holiday rush, make sure your listing content is in good shape so you can convert customers when they make it to your page.

“These are stats that we’ve seen from a company called Salsify, and these are stats that I helped pull back when I was there a few years ago. But they’re consistent now where products that are amongst the top sellers — and this is across every category, across every price point — tended to have more images, tended to have longer descriptions, et cetera. So that richness of content and you being able to have that good retail running. So you’re taking advantage of what Amazon or Walmart has given you from let’s say an enhanced content point of view is really, really important. It puts yourself in the best position to convert consumers when they actually make it to your page. So your advertising is more effective. What you don’t want is if you’re just throwing money at advertising, but you’ve only got one image on there and you kind of didn’t put too much thought into your listing.”

11:33 – Reexamine your budget

Andrew said there will be more potential for sales this holiday season, so make sure your advertising budget can cover what you’ll need.

“Generally a lot of it is setting those guard rails so that you can capture as many profitable sales as possible and not run into budgetary constraints. Because what we’ve seen, this is especially true post-pandemic, is that overall activity on these sites is obviously very, very high, which means the potential number of sales you get is significantly higher. So if you go with the same budget that maybe you did three, four years ago, you’re likely selling yourself short because you’re not really reflecting all that increase inactivity. And you don’t want to, again, seed round your competitors. If you run out of budget for your Black Friday through Cyber Monday. If you run out on Saturday, or you’re running low, you’re going to have to pare down. It puts yourself in a bad position. So keep aware of what’s that budget going to take, and be cognizant of the fact that it’s likely going to be a bigger potential opportunity this year from a volume perspective.”

12:52 – Mitigate Buy Box issues

Andrew said get your plan in place to win the Buy Box now so that you don’t lose your place during the holidays.

“Understand, are you winning the Buy Box now, which obviously is super important. But then additionally, what are the steps you could take to mitigate Buy Box issues? Now, whether that’s going after bad actors, it’s a little bit of a longer process. But do you have the ability to adjust your price, to put yourself in the best position? Because if you can’t, if you’re not winning the Buy Box, your ads are not showing up. So be aware. Can I put myself in a position where I can change? If I need to change the price, I’m going to be aware of how to track this and make sure I’m winning the Buy Box and then making those adjustments. Because what you don’t want is where you lose a day or two of this. That could be enough where your advertising wasn’t running and suddenly your holiday sales is in aggregate and have really taken a big hit.”

13:53 – Check your supply

Andrew said make sure you have enough supply on hand to handle the larger volume of sales. An “out of stock” scenario can impact you for months.

“Do you have that supply on hand to handle that purchase volume? And if you don’t, think about how that should impact your overall strategy. If you were going to go full bore with advertising, but your supply chain is at a point where it’s going to be really hard to meet that demand, you should really rethink that. Because what you don’t want, and we’ll talk about this later. An ‘out of stock’ is, as many of you know, really, really bad. And we know how bad it is on Amazon, where an out of stock even for a matter of hours can impact your organic ranking for months. So, in Walmart, it’s going to be something similar from an algorithmic point of view. So understand what you’re looking at from a supply chain perspective. And make adjustments to be realistic. You gotta be realistic. You don’t want to put yourself into a bad position from a promotion point of view, from an advertising point of view, where you’re committing dollars to something that could impact you months from now, not just on the sale end.”

16:48 – Create a backup fulfillment plan

Tim said to avoid supply chain issues, have fulfillment set up with multiple 3PLs and vendors like Deliverr.

“If there are any issues with any of these supply chains, you always have another one to fall back on. So let’s say that your 3PL is not able to fulfill some of those other orders, you could still get it out through Deliverr. You may not be able to have all the same bells and whistles, but it’s there. Same thing with Deliverr, let’s say that you’re sending the product in and it’s not able to be fulfilled as quickly from a certain region. At that time, you can always fall back on a 3PL or even MC FBA from Amazon. On the flip side with FBA, if there’s a long time to get it in or there’s product quantity restrictions, you can use Deliverr to fulfill FBM. So it’s sort of like everywhere you look, you need to have a redundancy or the ability to pivot. Make sure that you have happy customers and you’re getting that product out ASAP.”

21:05 – Come up with a customer service plan

Tim said there will undoubtedly be slower deliveries during the holidays. Come up with a plan now for how to keep your customers happy when that happens.

“You are going to see reduced speed, lower on-time delivery. I would start thinking about some type of customer service plan. What are you going to do when you have a lot of people that bought a product and they want to give it as a gift and they’re following up with you? And they’re like, I thought it was gonna get an XYZ date. First, Deliverr is really good at targeting based on IP address and where they’re at. We’re really good at saying this is when you’re actually going to get it. And we have a very high OTD, especially in comparison to the market. But with the carrier environment and just what’s going on and some of the unpredictability about what’s going on out there, I think that should be an expectation. And if you want to have happy customers, start planning for that as well.”

29:20 – Seed your audience

Andrew said to start setting up automatic keyword campaigns now to start targeting your audiences and identify the best keywords to use in manual campaigns during the holidays.

“So it’s important, again, seeding audiences. And we talked about before, that’s a good tactic. Because you can kind of get a better idea about what your customers are looking at. Are they searching at higher volumes early? Can you then retarget them later essentially in better context based on what they’ve looked at previously? Additionally, we really are proponents of using automatic campaigns to seed your manual campaigns. We tested this scientifically. Any keyword that is in an automatic campaign that’s performing well for you, it performs better in a manual campaign. So pay attention as you’re kind of spinning up automatic campaigns now, finding keywords that are maybe you didn’t even think they were something that you intrinsically thought were going for your product, but you’re seeing good conversion volume vis-a-vis those other keywords. And you’re seeing good conversion rates. Those are ones you want to move into manual campaigns, and kind of use that feeder system for each product that you sell.”

31:18 – Be aggressive with new products

Andrew said if you’re launching a new product for the holiday shopping season, don’t be timid with advertising. Get it in front of consumers as quickly as possible so you can get a few reviews before then.

“For newer products, especially if you’re launching them during the holiday season, be very aggressive. Be at least very aggressive on, pick your small basket of keywords that are going to drive significant volume in aggregate. And if you feel you have a great product, that’s when you want to hit those. So you can drive volume, hopefully maybe get some reviews in advance of the holiday season a little bit so that when you hit the holiday season, you have a deep understanding about what your expected costs are likely going to be. And you’ve got that history to keep converting customers as you go. So get aggressive. You don’t want to be too timid, because it’s just going to have this knock-on effect where then in three months, you’re going to wish that you’d been more aggressive because you could have gotten that good volume during the holidays that can sustain you for months and months.”

35:41 – Partner with warehouses in multiple locations

Tim said to be wary of consolidating all your inventory in one place. There could be supply chain issues or delivery limits in one location, so make sure you have a backup.

“If you have everything consolidated into just a few locations, that really opens you up for potential pitfalls in Q4. It could be that the communication with a specific warehouse you’re using is broken, or maybe that they had some labor things or the person that was managing the communication is temporarily unavailable. Or as we saw last year, I think carriers like FedEx were essentially doing pickup limits. And so in those instances, they may even be processing and getting your order set up in time, but if it’s coming out of one location and they have a limit, it could be that your order doesn’t make it on the truck. And so that can obviously slow it down, cause more customer complaints. And so really making sure you have many different options and you can pivot to different sort of fulfillment locations or providers, which is super, super important.”

37:06 – Offer free and fast shipping

Tim said to make sure you have inventory stateside starting in August, and to offer free and fast shipping to extend your selling period.

“I would really start looking at your inbounding plans, getting products into the U.S. and into a network immediately, especially going into August even. The other thing is not offering free and fast shipping. One of the things we saw last year and something that a lot of our brands and merchants commented to us on is that we actually extended their holiday selling season. Because we were able to accurately predict and promote and offer free, fast shipping. So for all those people that are waiting to buy certain products, or they forgot about it, instead of being like, we have to do slow shipping because we’re coming out of this one location and they’re very backed up and we have to send it all the way across the country. Well, then the cutoff then is probably going to be December 15th or even sooner. Whereas if you’re able to dynamically place product all over the place and promote speed of delivery, maybe you’re going to get someone who places an order on the 18th, 19th, 20th. You get several extra selling days during the most important time of year.”