How to Start Prepping Inventory for the Peak Trading Season

Emery Johnson

September 30, 2021

For shoppers, “the most wonderful time of the year” lasts from late November to December. But for ecommerce brands, the preparation for the peak trading season starts long before that.

To make the most of holiday promotions - and to ensure sufficient stock to keep retailers and customers happy - brands should be preparing now for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire peak trading season. Here’s how:

Identify and implement your promotional strategy

When preparing for the peak trading season, your first step should be identifying your promotional strategy. This strategy should include detailed plans on which products you want to promote from your catalogue, how you plan to price these products, and when you want to begin the promotion. This information should then be clearly communicated to retailers as soon as possible.

Only after making these decisions can you accurately predict the lift you should expect to see during peak promotions. Looking at historical data is the best way to predict what your sales will be like. Focus on analysing data of like products with like price points and like discounts. Brands should then plan on having enough stock to cover the anticipated lift in sales plus or minus 10%.

When crafting your peak promotional strategy, flexibility is key. You may initially plan on offering 25% off a product but then see that your competitors are offering 30% off when Black Friday rolls around. To avoid losing sales to competitors, prepare a game plan to move to a more competitive price if necessary. Communicate this plan to retailers so all sellers are on the same page and you’re not damaging retailer relationships by selling below your established price.

It’s also important to keep in mind that November and December see a natural uptick in ecommerce traffic and sales even without deep discounts or peak promotions. In addition to the lift from Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, brands should also prepare for increased incremental sales of full-price products because of increased ecommerce traffic during the peak trading season.

Prepare for seasonal promotions with plenty of time to spare

Seasonal brands should begin planning their holiday shopping promotions with about a 12 month lead time. Brands that replenish inventory more often should begin communicating their holiday shopping promotions to retailers between 6-8 months before the shopping season starts. At the 6-month mark, it’s a good idea to hone in on your shipping times so your retailers’ supply chains are prepared. If you feel like you’re already behind, see what steps you can take today to get back on track.

Try to plan to have your shipment receipts to your retailers by the first week of November, making sure you have enough product to cover your holiday timeframe with a month’s worth of lead time to get ahead of any possible delays. Aligning your receipt flow to arrive well before you expect it to sell improves your cash flow and allows for supply chains to be more nimble. That’s why it’s so important to have a correct demand sales forecast—without it, you can’t have a correct receipt flow. These principles apply year-round but are especially important as sales increase during the holidays.

Prepare your own supply chains to both account for ongoing import delays and to ensure there’s enough buffer time for your retailers. Have safety stock on hand so you can replenish for December as needed if Black Friday goes well.

Coordinate marketing efforts to maximise promotions

Preparing and planning marketing assets are another important factor in preparing for the peak trading season. Make sure you have your best products featured in your marketing, and coordinate with your vendors to see if you’re going to be featured in any of their marketing efforts.

For brands that sell exclusively on Amazon, it’s worth syncing with Amazon to see if your product can be featured as a Deal of the Day or through other marketing opportunities or advertising spending. Plan this marketing well in advance so you know when the promotions will release and what kind of impact they’ll make on your sales and inventory.

Special considerations for 2021

Brands shouldn’t expect this holiday shopping season to mirror 2020, even if the world still hasn’t quite returned to a pre-pandemic normal.

The 2020 season was an anomaly not only because of increased ecommerce traffic, but also because of a later-than-usual Prime Day. While Prime Day normally occurs in the summer, supply chain issues postponed it until October last year, which triggered the peak trading season early and forced brands to be aggressive with pricing from October until the end of the year.

Since Prime Day 2021 happened in the summer, brands should expect a smaller cyber timeframe this year. Still, it’s a good idea to prepare for higher ecommerce demand than was typical pre-COVID, since many shoppers have grown accustomed to the convenience of ecommerce.

Need help preparing for holiday shopping logistics?

When you’re working hard to stay above water with your day-to-day ecommerce operations, it can be overwhelming to plan far enough in advance to take full advantage of peak trading promotions. It can also be challenging to access the data you need to accurately predict the kind of lift you’ll see during the holidays and prepare your stock and supply chains accordingly.

Catch-up on our recent Linkedin Live session with our European experts as they share insights on how to maximise availability on Amazon for peak season and beyond, and how Amazon drastically changed the game with the challenges Covid implied.

Pattern simplifies these processes for brands. Our world-class ecommerce teams and state-of-the-art software help brands make data-backed decisions to accelerate their growth on ecommerce year-round, and these services are available at no additional cost to you. Get in touch and find out how we can help you.

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Aug 4, 2022

How Disjointed Sellers Take Away Brand Control on Ecommerce Marketplaces

A top issue we see with brands struggling on ecommerce marketplaces is a loss of brand control due to disjointed sellers—those that aren't following your brand policies and guidelines when selling your products online. Disjointed sellers can be gray market, unauthorized, and rogue sellers, as well as 3P and other sellers that are noncompliant with your branding, pricing, and other forms of representation online.

It can be very easy for brands to lose control of their ecommerce strategy when they can’t get a handle on disjointed sellers. Typically, these brands are either stuck in a game of whack-a-mole or just ignoring the warning signs of bigger issues and hoping for the best. But, when disjointed selling isn't handled right, the consequences can be devastating to profitability. A loss of brand control doesn’t happen overnight, and the factors that contribute to it are long-standing. 

Erode Consumer Trust

Before the advent of ecommerce, brands favored a wide distribution. It was the easiest way to get products to as many distributors as possible. But wide distribution, when left unchecked, leads to leaky distribution—allowing your excess products to end up in the hands of unwanted sellers.

So brands that continue to operate with a wide distribution strategy are losing brand control and are damaging their brand equity and product performance. Why? You’re unable to monitor your products’ pricing, performance, or quality. You can’t dictate how you’re represented by each seller, creating an inconsistent and false representation of your brand to your new and existing consumers. These issues often lead to poor reviews and erode opportunities to build trust with future customers.

Wear Away Brand Equity

In today’s ecommerce landscape, marketplaces and digital platforms connect people and sellers to make online shopping simple and seamless. They also provide customers complete price transparency. Google, for instance, allows consumers to access any of your products on virtually every ecommerce channel and retail location and posts them side-by-side for you to comparison shop.

Now, everyone from your D2C distributors to large marketplace sellers, legitimate 3P sellers, and rogue and unauthorized sellers are on a level playing field—they’re all presented to the searching consumer, and that consumer has the purchase power.

Disjointed sellers have just as much power and authority to represent your brand as you do, without the same quality, pricing strategy, and customer focus as you.

Cause Competition and Price Matching Issues 

In most shopping scenarios, consumers will choose to purchase a product from whichever seller offers the lowest price. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart know this, and optimize their product selection based on all retail offers to serve consumers the lowest price for the same item.

This means that as one seller drops the price of your product, the next will follow, and then the next, etc. Everyone gains access to the product at or below MSRP. This opens the door for unauthorized sellers to purchase inventory during promotions or at discounted prices and then turn around and sell the same product slightly below competing sellers’ prices—for profit.  

As customers search for your product, they notice the cheaper price and purchase from the unauthorized seller, rather than paying the price you’ve established with your retail teams. Simultaneously, as Amazon monitors their product listing against other available channels, they notice they don’t have the lowest price. So Amazon, and other marketplaces, in service of the consumer, drop their price to match the lower price offered by an unauthorized seller. To stay competitive, your other channels follow suit. The cycle, also know as the profitability death spiral, continues to drive down the price of your product, grinding away your margins and profitability.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem if your brand isn’t actively selling on ecommerce marketplaces, right? Unfortunately, it causes big issues for your brick-and-mortar sales, too. Large retail chains like Best Buy and Macy’s noticed this potential loss of sales from ecommerce and needed to defend and protect their profit. Retailers started telling brands that, in order to keep their products in-store (which accounts for 80% of most brands’ sales) they would need to lower their prices to match online prices. Which led to the concept of price matching. If a customer could prove the price of a product was lower somewhere else, Best Buy would match the lower price and charge the brand for the difference.

As other brick-and-mortar retailers jumped on the trend, brands started to see large losses in their margins.

Gain Ecommerce Control with Pattern

The danger that disjointed sellers pose to brands is enormous—without a way to control all of a brand’s distribution points on ecommerce, your brand spins farther and farther down the profitability death spiral. Using custom technology and data-driven insights, Pattern can identify disjointed and unauthorized sellers for your brand and develop a custom strategy tailored to your specific needs to address these big issues as soon as possible. Then, Pattern partners with the econtrol law firm, VORYs, to enforce take downs and save brands who find themselves caught on any stage of the death spiral.

With the right resources and expert help, we’ve helped hundreds of brands to regain their footing and control on ecommerce, win the buy box, and grow their sales. 

Contact us today to regain your brand control.

Aug 2, 2022

How Poor Product Listings Damage Your Brand on Amazon

Since most brands only sell about 20% of their products online, it’s common for executives to turn a blind eye to their poor ecommerce performance—issues there are probably a small problem, right? But if you can pinpoint the lackluster ecommerce profitability to poorly-performing listings, then you can take care of issues now that would snowball to greater losses as your brand grows.

As an expert in ecommerce and the world’s foremost ecommerce accelerator, Pattern has unparalleled expertise in managing brands across global marketplaces. Partnering with Pattern gives you access to data, technology, and top teams across multiple disciplines that help you prioritize great product listings in your overall ecommerce strategy and provides the resources to improve underperforming listings. 

We've highlighted three ways poor listings impact your Amazon marketplace performance.

Negatively Impacts Your Discoverability

If your listings aren’t optimized for SEO and strategic ad placement, they will not be found by customers. And if your products aren’t found, your traffic, conversions, and overall profitability drop significantly. Pattern’s Amazon data and trends suggest that only the top four products listed in an Amazon search result drive more engagement with a brand's listing. So, optimizing your products for organic discoverability needs to be a priority for your ecommerce efforts.

Typically brands find it tempting to underestimate the power of SEO and paid ads, but the stakes are too high to ignore their impact for long. To put it into perspective, Amazon’s ads are clicked 42% more often than Google ads. And, the data shows when people search for products, 74% of them search Amazon first. 

Another reason Amazon search is so valuable is because of where your consumers are in their buying journey. Ads on social media and Google can be valuable, but on Amazon, you have the advantage of knowing your audience’s search intent. Appearing in front of consumers wanting and ready to buy a product that aligns with their search query is a huge opportunity that you can’t miss.

So, you need to be putting the right resources into creating and testing your listing titles, product descriptions, search filters, and backend search terms. (We’ve listed some of the best practices for brands here.) As you find what works, Amazon’s algorithm will be able to better identify your products and serve them in front of consumers ready to buy.

Pattern’s expert SEO teams know the best practices and how to optimize your product listings for the right audiences to improve your rankings for better traffic and conversion wherever you sell your products online.

Misrepresents Your Brand

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of brand affinity on ecommerce marketplaces. One of the key reasons you should be establishing a strong brand presence is to build a consumer base of loyal, repeat customers. 

Repeat purchases from repeat customers are a true sign of a healthy, thriving brand. And when you can establish a great relationship and deep trust with the people you’re selling to, you’ll naturally build positive momentum with their reviews and word of mouth endorsements. In short, it’s easier to reduce buying friction, the cost of conversion, and the cost of acquisition with people who already have an enthusiastic opinion of your products, leading to more conversions and overall success for your brand.

Clearly, it’s valuable to find your brand advocates, but how do your listings help you do that? The first is by claiming the buy box

Many brands struggle with disjointed sellers—3P sellers who have acquired your products, (for example—after buying them on deep discount) and now “pose” as your brand to sell those products to consumers. They often sell your products below their MAP price in order to claim the buy box, attracting more traffic and conversions.

As those customers are drawn to those listings instead of yours, they experience a disconnect in what they normally associate with your brand—often, the copy, media, and even the grammar are ignored for profitability for unauthorized sellers. They often focus on keyword stuffing and quick turnaround to capture traffic and end up poorly representing your brand.

Issues like losing the buy box can hurt your brand long-term, especially if 3P sellers are selling returned, damaged, or fake products in your name. When you have a true understanding of how to optimize your product listings to outperform your competition, you can win the buy box and reclaim your brand presence for your repeat and future customers to ensure better long-term success.

Pattern knows the dangers of disjointed sellers leading to poor brand representation. We have both legal partnerships and listing optimization strategies at our disposal that are proven to help you get ahead of disingenuous sellers and reclaim your brand’s presence wherever you sell online.

Lowers Your Conversion Rates

In order to achieve long-term profitability and growth on ecommerce marketplaces, it’s important to keep your conversion rates as high as possible. Pattern’s experts have found that a low conversion rate signals to Amazon your products aren’t worth showing to customers, significantly lowering your sales potential. But a great conversion rate helps improve your organic rankings and raises your ROI for paid ads—making it easier and less expensive to sell your products in the long run.

So, how do listings affect your conversion rates? Consumers searching for products on Amazon are more likely to purchase from a brand they trust. And without being able to physically sample your product, they have a short window with limited information to decide whether or not they’ll purchase from you. 

We know from extensive data analysis and research there are a few key components of your listing that help in building trust with your consumers. One of those components is the quality of your images.

If your images are blurry or you only post 1 or 2, customers will have a hard time understanding what your product is and its potential value to them. So, they’ll keep searching instead of purchasing your product. Things like the images’ lighting, background, the quality of your equipment, and your editing process shouldn’t be left up to chance. 

Partnering with an ecommerce product photography expert is a way to make sure you get the best photography for your products, and your images are optimized for both your brand and your marketplace.

Pattern Boosts Your Product Listing Performance 

When it comes to optimizing your ecommerce strategy, Pattern has all of the resources you need to achieve long-term profitability. Not only do we have the data and technology to analyze a brand's current performance and opportunity on marketplaces, Pattern has all of the necessary teams to optimize your success from end to end. As the world’s top ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knows the key drivers for boosting listings, conversions, and profitability for brands.

Ready to improve your product listings? Contact us.

Aug 2, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 2nd August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon sees its share price rise 10% and beats revenue expectations Amazon has exceeded revenue expectations, mainly due to its Amazon Web Services cloud business and its fast-growing advertising arm. Investors who have been concerned about the effects of sharp macroeconomic effects have been reassured as the ecommerce giant has overperformed and seen growth. [Read more on the Financial Times](https://www.ft.com/content/911f7a71-72ed-4c26-8a07-932832ffff4d) Amazon set to launch localised versions of its Prime Video in Southeast Asia Amazon is launching local versions of Prime Video across three countries in Southeast Asia, with new investments in local content. The service will launch in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, where users will be offered a 7 day free trial along with other discounted introductory offers. Prior to this launch, consumers in these countries had been able to shop cross-border on the platform but Prime Video has not been available until now. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/26/amazon-prime-still-worth-it/) Amazon closes down its cloud storage platform, Amazon Drive By the end of 2023 Amazon Prime members will be losing a big feature, Amazon Drive, as the company turns its attention towards its Amazon Photos service. The tech giant wants to focus on photo and video storage features, allowing Prime members to safely back up, share and organise photos & videos with Amazon Photos, which is currently available on iOS, Android and desktop devices. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/01/amazon-prime-members-are-set-to-lose-a-big-feature/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify lays of 10% of its workforce Shopify has cut 10% of its workforce as it struggles with a slowdown in ecommerce growth. The company was relying on a permanent jump in online purchases in the retail space, and are now realising that incorrect assumptions were made, which now need adjustment accordingly. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/27/shopify-cuts-10-workforce/) Alibaba Group goes after primary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange By the end of 2022, Alibaba will become dual-primary, listed on both the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and HKSE (Hong Kong Stock Exchange). Being listed in two major financial centres will allow the company to expand its openness and diversity, broaden its investor base, and will help to pave the way for its globalisation strategy. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/07/26/alibaba-group-pursues-primary-listing-on-the-hong-kong-stock-exchange/) Shopee and P&G launch virtual home shopping experience As part of Procter & Gamble’s Regional Super Brand Day on Shopee, a new exclusive 360 degree virtual home shopping experience feature has been launched, with P&G brands of household essentials on offer, categorised according to rooms. Accessible through P&G’s official store on Shopee’s website and app, the feature includes multi-format touch points like videos, games, and localised content to make online home shopping convenient and engaging. [Read more on Business Mirror](https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/07/26/pg-and-shopee-launch-a-new-exclusive-360-virtual-home-shopping-experience/) The Hut Group ends investment deal with Japan’s Softbank UK ecommerce company, THG, has recently put an end to an investment agreement with Softbank due to “global macroeconomic conditions”. The deal was made to help fund the expansion of THG’s technology platform before going public in London. The company saw its share price fall after the announcement and its valuation remains well below its flotation price despite recent bidding wars. [Read more on The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jul/26/uk-thg-ends-investment-deal-softbank-lookfantastic-zavvi) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Third-party online marketplaces sales to account for 59% of all global ecommerce by 2027 By 2027, third-party sales through marketplaces will be the largest and fastest-growing retail channel globally, accounting for two thirds of all online sales. Alibaba will continue to hold its place as the global leader in retail sales, growing total net GMV sales in 2027 to $1.5trn, and Amazon in second place with $1.2trn. The number of third-party marketplaces operating globally has increased by over 500% since 2007, and is expected to see further growth. [Read more on Internet Retailing](https://internetretailing.net/marketplaces/third-party-marketplace-sales-to-account-for-59-of-all-global-ecommerce-by-2027/)