It’s officially one month until Black Friday.
At this point you should be going down your checklist to make sure everything's in order before the biggest shopping day of the year. This includes your inventory, seasonal staffing, and marketplace optimization. Deciding how to optimize your marketplace could make or break a sale, especially on Black Friday when flash sales occur and inventory is in high demand in a short period of time.
Optimizing your marketplace listings is more than just a pretty photo and some nice keywords. It’s about creating a complete shopping experience that delivers convenience, a good price, and a quality product. It’s also about understanding the importance of automation and quantity syncing from the beginning stages in a WMS to the final product at your doorstep.
Here’s some ideas on how to optimize your marketplace before Black Friday.
OPTIMIZE MARKETPLACE ADS
You could have the greatest product or the greatest deal on Amazon or eBay, but if you’re not optimizing your listing for search results, what’s the point? You’ve gotta have a good product title, product description, and photos, for example.
Keywords, keywords, keywords. You absolutely must have your most important keywords about your product in the beginning of the product title. After that, you can place variations of the product title to fill up the 250 character limit on Amazon. The goal is to have a potential customer understand what exactly your product is, what it includes, and what are its benefits or use cases at first glance.
The description area is a space for you to describe the product in as much detail as possible. You want to answer every question possible so customers feel confident in purchasing your product online, instead of in-stores where they can test it themselves. Tell customers why they need your product and tap into their emotions. And again, keywords for SEO are important in descriptions as well.
The easiest way to lose trust from a potential customer is to post a badly photographed product. Place your product in front of a white backdrop and be sure to light it properly. If you don’t have a studio space, create a simple lightbox at home.
It’s important to get photos at every angle, zoomed in and out, so customers can see the product in full detail. You could even include descriptions in an image like height dimensions. But be sure to only include what you want in the image, and not clutter that could be behind it.
The sale prices of items on your listing sites should be synced and ready to go on Black Friday. Set up quantity buffers through an inventory or warehouse management system so only a certain amount of inventory is sold - this prevents oversells and out-of-stocks. It’s imperative to make sure sale prices are set to go live on time to prevent angry customers, and prevent sale prices at incorrect times.
OPTIMIZE SOFTWARE INTEGRATIONS
Automation is your friend during peak season, especially on Black Friday.
It’s a good idea to speak to customer service at each of your software integrations to make sure your inventory is ready for automation on each channel. The last thing you want to be doing on Black Friday is frantically calling your shipping solution to ask why your shipment options aren’t showing up. That’s their responsibility, but it’s also yours because the total shopping experience is a reflection of your product at the end of the day.
Your marketplace channels should be linked to each solution via a warehouse management system. And again, this is a great place to set buffer options on quantity so each channel reflects the correct inventory amounts. Each channel must be automated to go live at the correct times and must be automated to alert customers when a product is sold out.
USE A REPRICING TOOL
In a world of stiff competition, having an optimized title and product description isn’t always enough to win the Buy Box. Sellers need to compete for the top Amazon or eBay listing spot in order to make their revenue goal each season, and one way to do that is through a repricing tool.
You can use a repricing tool either as a standalone software or as part of an already existing channel management system, like ChannelAdvisor. Most repricing tools are still meant to support Amazon and the Buy Box, but it works for eBay too. Repricing softwares vary on how often they check for new price competition, so keep that in mind when choosing a solution. Frequency is most important if your category has high competition and other sellers who changing their prices at a faster rate than you.
Repricing tools and its effects trace back to the first step at a WMS. Control your quantities in the WMS, which then gets fed into a channel management solution, or the WMS itself if a repricer tool is supported. Once it gets to the channel management solution, you have control over the price. But it’s important to make sure the inventory’s first step at the WMS level is correct.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer service is KING. In a previous post we talked about why your customers matter most during peak season, and the same ideas apply on your marketplaces. When your product is listed on Amazon or eBay, you’re not in control of customer communication, unfortunately. So the next best thing for you as a seller to do is honor a customer’s expectations.
Make sure you meet the shipping guidelines a regular Amazon or eBay customer expects. Honor a marketplaces’ exchange and refund policy, exactly. And when you do receive an inquiry from a customer, don’t let it sit in your inbox for days (or even hours). Answer an inquiry immediately so you don’t run the risk of losing a top spot in your category. One bad review can spiral into many.
Don’t leave your to-do list until the last minute. Black Friday is an all hands on deck mission, so your marketplace listings need to reflect that kind of attitude. Upload high-resolution photos, automate your software integrations, and have a great customer service team in place. It’s go time!