It’s the messiest time of the year, at least when it comes to ecommerce. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect businesses, supply chains, and inventory across the globe, this year’s holiday season is projected to look a bit more chaotic than years past. Stockouts in major categories are anticipated to be one of the biggest issues for holiday 2020 ecommerce for both consumers and brands.
Pattern conducted an analysis over the past 90 days to determine which Amazon categories are currently experiencing inventory stockouts and which are most likely to experience stockouts this holiday season. Considering the substantial consumer behavior shifts in 2020, we share what we’ve learned for brands and consumers alike so they can prepare for what to successfully sell and purchase this 2020 holiday ecommerce season on Amazon.
What makes this holiday season a cocktail of uncertainty is the additional factor of shifting consumer behavior due to the pandemic. In August, Fluent forecasted a 73% increase in consumers who shop exclusively online this holiday season.
Additional data from Qubit indicates that consumer loyalty is on the decline, with 36.6% of consumers saying they now shop with more brands than they did a year ago and 46.2% saying they are less loyal to the brands they love.
Much of this data is due to supply chain interruptions and inventory stockouts at the start of the pandemic that pushed consumers to other brands, and with the potential for a big second COVID-19 wave looming, it’s more important than ever to get your inventory in before the holidays.
We’ll start with the safe items. The following categories are those least likely to experience inventory shortages during the 2020 holidays:
Tech manufacturers in particular have done a good job of keeping their items in stock and available to consumers this year, and the data shows things like chargers, computer monitors, and laptop accessories are pretty safe.
There are some outliers within these categories. Car seat covers, protective gear, and accessories, for example, are expected to see stockouts in the automotive category.
‘Tis also the season for strumming. Another exception in this category are guitars. Guitars are selling fast and the instrument most likely to see inventory shortages in the music category for holiday 2020. That’s one you’ll want to get ahead of now.
Here are the categories you’ll want to pay close attention to for holiday 2020 on ecommerce. They’re the most likely to experience widespread stockouts during the holidays:
Within these categories are several subcategories especially at risk. We’ve broken some of them down below.
Some items that will be especially difficult to get your hands on as the 2020 holidays approach are ice makers, refrigerators, and freezers. With the colder months approaching, along with fears of a second wave of the pandemic, emergency preparedness is on many consumers’ minds and they’re buying these products early to make sure they have lots of space to store their perishable food products.
Aside from refrigerators and freezers, ranges, range hoods, ovens, and cooktops are also experiencing stockouts right now that are expected to stretch into the holidays. Small appliances, like toasters and microwaves, are also on the move.
2. Home & Kitchen
Shoppers have been buying lots of home and kitchen products as stay-at-home orders have been prolonged, and that trend will continue into the 2020 holidays on ecommerce. With the extra time at home and the additional challenge of having to create workspaces at home, consumers are refurnishing their houses in large numbers. Furniture is seeing shortages right now that are expected to continue through the end of the year.
Shoppers are also making their outlets and tech go further while they’re working from home. Cords, adapters, and multi-outlets are also experiencing shortages right now.
People are investing more in their outdoor patio spaces this year. Patio furniture and accessories as well as doormats are also experiencing stockouts. Another subcategory that’s a hot commodity now is bedding. Right now, consumers are trading out their coverlets for comforters as sweater weather arrives.
This was true for March and April, and it will be true throughout the rest of the year: all-purpose cleaners are experiencing shortages. The impending flu and cold season combined with COVID-19 are once again driving customers to buy health and household goods. A notable exception is vitamins and supplements, which are unlikely to go out of stock.
Clothing had a fairly rocky start of the year, excluding items like pajama pants and shirts, but purchases are picking up as people have slowly begun to leave their houses more. The men and boys categories in particular are expected to have holiday stockouts. Bra and underwear sales have seen unusual spikes as the summer’s come to an end, with lingerie in particular experiencing stockouts right now.
4. Office Products
With social distancing measures still in place, more and more consumers are getting crafty and communicating the old fashioned way. Greeting cards and card stock are seeing big stockouts right now, possibly because shoppers are sending more get well cards. With families spending more time apart this year and Christmas card season peeking right over the horizon, you’ll want to make sure your card inventory is stocked early. Cards are going to go fast.
Additional products we’re seeing shortages of are binders and paper.
5. Sports & Outdoors Equipment
Twenty-twenty is the year of the at-home workout, and early inventory indicators show that strength training equipment is very likely to see stockouts this holiday season as customers continue to beef up their home gyms. In addition to strength training equipment, consumers are also buying yoga related equipment in large numbers, so make sure to hop on that early, too.
Additional products seeing shortages in this subcategory right now are sports and outdoors clothing, water bottles, and fan-related goods, like jerseys and t-shirts.
6. Baby Products
Baby products have been seeing a higher spike in stockouts this fall. That’s possibly due to more family planning happening during COVID-19. Blankets and swaddling are low in inventory as well as baby bedding, diapering, pacifiers, sippy cups, and activities/entertainment for babies. You’ll want to start now to make sure your baby inventory is pretty well-stocked across the board.
7. Beauty & Personal Care
While most beauty subcategories have struggled with sales in 2020, there are some exceptions. Shampoo and conditioner are experiencing stockouts right now. Another item flying off the shelves is nailpolish. That’s one product to look at right now instead of waiting.
8. Pet Supplies
Pet supplies are generally safe. However, as more people are buying pets and spending more time at home with their pets, pet beds and pet furniture are experiencing stockouts. Those are the items to look at in the pets category.
The trick to doing well on ecommerce this 2020 holiday season may just be to stay ahead with your inventory. Pattern’s proprietary software can help brands forecast demand and avoid stockouts and missed sales. To learn how Pattern can help your business succeed this holiday season and beyond, contact us in the form below. Check out our holiday to-do list for Amazon sellers to learn more.
Methodology For this analysis, we took a sample of about ~70K of the current most popular products on Amazon, as measured by rank. This plays out to be about 4,000 products for every major category on Amazon. We used the Keepa database to pull product information and look at historic stockouts in the past 90 days for these products. We then aggregated stockout rates at general category levels as well as subcategories within those general categories.
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If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.
Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.
At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead.
An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.
A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:
Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance.
Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.
A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.
It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.
Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins.
Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.
As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.
Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.