Q4. It’s one of the best letter/number combinations for an FBA seller. Q4 stands for the Fourth Quarter of sales for the year. In the business world, Q4 indicates the months of October, November, and December, but for the Amazon world our biggest sales can actually come in November, December, and January. What you do in October can have a big impact on your profits in November and December.
Traditionally, when it comes to sales, Q4 brings a huge increase. It’s not a stretch to say that a person selling on Amazon could potentially triple or quadruple their payouts in Q4. As of 2011, I’ve experienced Q4 twelve times as an Amazon seller, and I can testify to this.
In fact in 2012, I was awarded by Amazon as a Top Holiday Seller. This meant that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers and my customer satisfaction ratings were excellent (A+) during that period.
You might be saying, “Well, Stephen, that was back in 2012. How do we know that your strategies will still work during Q4 today?” That’s a good question. While 2012 was the last time Amazon handed out this “top holiday seller” distinction, I still know that these strategies work because every year since 2012, my Q4 sales have grown exponentially in comparison to the year before. My sales and profits have increased using the tips on this page, and so can yours.
Here are some thoughts I have as we are currently in Q4. As always, there are exceptions to every suggestion, but overall these are the strategies I put in place as we get closer and closer to Christmastime.
1. Don’t blindly lower all your prices to match the lowest price.
Like many resellers, I reprice (sometimes manually and sometimes automatically). With the number of sales on Amazon dramatically increasing in Q4, I know that the lower priced competition will eventually sell out and my higher priced items will be there for the willing buyers. A few years ago Amazon reported that during Q4 FBA warehouses shipped over 1 billion items (yes, that’s billion with a B). That equates to 126 items sold per second, 7548 items sold per minute, 452,899 items sold an hour, and almost 11 million items sold per day via FBA. This speaks to the huge opportunity provided by selling via FBA during Q4.
This is the absolutely best time to wait and get the price you want. The only exception to this guideline is if your inventory happens to have a higher sales rank (say, above 300,000 for Toys & Games) AND you have a lot of competition priced much lower than you. In this case, I might price match the lowest priced competitor, especially if they have a lot in stock (I use this tool to easily see how much my competition has in stock).
2. Raise prices on some items.
Using the same thought process from above, I’ll raise my prices on some items that have really good and sustainable sales ranks. Also, when I’m first listing a product during Q4, I’ll price some of my items much higher than usual on items with a high sales velocity. I do that since I know the lower priced competition will sell out soon.
It sometimes surprises me, but when I take the time to raise the prices of some of my inventory, many of those items end up selling later that day. Click here or here for blog posts about repricing your inventory.
3. Keep an eye on your most recent shipment of inventory.
When I’m looking at my pending sales, I’m not just looking to see all of the awesome items I’ll be getting paid for, but I’m also looking for new sales of items that I just sent in to FBA. If something sells the day it hits the warehouse, then I might need to look at my price and make sure I’m priced competitively.
Many times during Q4, you might price an item on Monday when you ship it to Amazon, but when it gets checked in on Friday, there have been so many sales that the prices are now higher. If you get immediate sales, then check your prices… If you see that you are priced too low, raise your prices!
4. Keep an eye on multiple sales of the same item.
Again, when looking at your pending orders, if you notice that all of a sudden you have many sales of the same item, you might need to check the prices on those items too. It’s the same thought process from the tip above… If you are getting multiple sales of the same item, then you might be priced too low. Check your competition and then reprice higher if necessary.
5. Expand your sales rank limits.
When sourcing, it’s always a good idea to look at sales rank history when you’re making your buying decisions. When Q4 comes, I often buy items with a higher sales rank than I usually do. If my sales rank limit for the Toys & Games category was 150,000, then I may raise that limit to 250,000 in preparation for Q4.
Many items completely sell out on Amazon during Q4, so buyers start looking for other items that might not be as popular. Each category will be treated differently, but I always raise my sales rank limits for Q4. As always, it’s good to check Keepa to know which items are a good buy.
6. BUY! BUY! BUY!
It’s simple math: You will only sell a lot of items if you have a lot of items to sell. During Q4, I’m out buying a lot more often than I usually do. I even go much deeper on a buy during Q4 than I do the rest of the year.
It’s a fun cycle: I send more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more… I take that money and send even more items to FBA, more items sell, and I get paid more.
Of course, be wise in what you buy. Just having more inventory in stock does not automatically mean more profits, but if you expand your sales rank parameters during Q4 and buy more of the right inventory, then you can massively increase your sales and profits.
7. Send inventory to Amazon ASAP!
If you have product sitting around your house that you haven’t sent to Amazon yet, send it in now! What are you waiting for? Check everywhere for products you might have forgotten about. Look in your closets, your garage, in boxes, under your work table, in your storage units, etc. Products sitting around your house are not ever going to sell via FBA.
Some people worry about higher Q4 storage fees, but honestly if you expect an item to sell during November or December, send it in today! This tip ties into the bonus tip at the end of this post, so keep reading.
8. Don’t be intimidated by Black Friday sales.
Too many people think of Black Friday shopping as fighting the crowds and dealing with crazy discount deal shoppers, but it’s not like that at all. Did you know that the best deals of the year are not always on Black Friday? In fact, there are some amazing deals you can find both before AND after Black Friday – minus the crowds and crazy people!
In our course, The Reseller’s Guide to Black Friday: The Fool-proof Strategy to Rock Black Friday Sales Every Year, I share all of my secrets on how to find amazing deals for items you can buy before, during, and after Black Friday for amazing profits. Plus, if you want to brave the crowds the day after Thanksgiving, my co-author and I cover how to master that strategy as well. I’ll help you conquer Black Friday in a way you never thought possible.
Important: The Black Friday book and master class are only available for purchase during a few weeks in November. Right now the cart for the course is open, but only for a limited time.
Plus, for only a few more days you can enroll on the Black Friday course before the doors close for 2022. Check out the course because enrollment will close in only:
BONUS Q4 TIP
January is one of the best times to sell on Amazon. People are returning the Christmas gifts they don’t want and will use that money to spend on what they really wanted. People also have Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. Because of these factors, sales in January can be amazing.
I’ve even heard some sellers say that their January sales are almost as good as their December sales. Just because Christmas is on December 25th doesn’t mean customers on Amazon stop shopping for the rest of the year or in January, so continue to send inventory in to Amazon throughout the month of December!
How about you? What Q4 tips would you like to offer the group here? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very exciting time of the year.
*Updated for 2022
Sher Bailey says
Great tips, as always! This is our first 4th quarter and we love hearing from seasoned sellers.
Thanks for this blog. Curious if you (or others) had a big cyber Monday selling toys (and all Black Friday weekend). This is my first Q4 and did not sell nearly as many toys that I was expecting and I’m wondering if it’s just a matter of people buying other things and toy sales will pick up as it gets closer to Christmas or I do not have the right merchandise. Thanks!
David, our sales were $1,200. We typically sell $300/day. Of the $1,200, $850 was split between pedometers (go figure) and a grocery item we sell that we purchased wholesale. (Grocery item usually sells 5 daily; someone purchased 20.) Toys are starting to sell now finally for us. You have to have the buy box. Some of out items were only $.50 off so once we repriced a but we had sales. Good luck to you!
Cyber Monday was easily our biggest sales day of the year. It was twice as much as my biggest sales day from the year before.
Michael Belfield says
I found out the hard way to price high when you send inventory in late November , all December and if you need to lower the price after it gets in then do it. I have had an entire lot sell at the lower price as soon as it hit Amazon and I couldn’t raise the price because it was all sold and I lost money. So send it in high.
Terry Menig says
Thanks for all the good advice. I was wondering if anyone has been restricted from selling certain brands of toys. When I tried to list Fisher Price and Mattel toys, (I have sold both in the past), I received the restricted notice. When I talked with AZ, they said I needed invoices from the manufacturer or distributors. I wondered if invoices from department stores would be adequate?
No, receipts from stores are not the same as invoices from wholesalers.
Terry, Amazon recently implemented several new brand restrictions, including some toy brands. There are lists of restricted brands on various websites. I’m not sure if this site has one, but The Selling Family (who Stephen recommends, so I feel ok with saying that here) has a list of brands.
Like most things Amazon, the restrictions aren’t necessarily a “blanket” thing, something in a particular category may flag restricted, while others don’t. Only wholesale manufacturer’s invoices would be accepted as proof, not store receipts, if you were asked to provide proof. I know it seems a little “over the top” on proof requirements, but there have been problems with counterfeit items, so Amazon tightened the boundaries on everyone.
Here is my strategy to overcome these restrictions speed bumps: https://youtu.be/wSvqg9veGWo
Tracy burroughs says
What kinds of things do you source for the fourth quarter .? toys mostly? What profit margin do you generally look for
I look for anything that well sell quickly. Think of things given as gifts (yes, toys… but also home and kitchen items, baby items, video games, and more). I like my ROI to be at least 30% but the higher the sales rank, then the higher the ROI I’ll want as higher sales rank items tend to sell slower.
Stephen: Thank you very much. Great tips. I would like to know how can you source without using Tactical Arbitrage. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me.
Sourcing is the main issue here.
I would appreciate your comments.
Stephen Smotherman says
TA is a tool, and if it’s not working for you, then you’re not using it correctly. Watch all the free youtube videos and learn how to use the tool. Or take this course (which is awesome) to learn how: https://www.fulltimefba.com/taacademy. If you just don’t want to use TA, then I suggest this book to learn how to do OA without TA: https://www.fulltimefba.com/onlinearbitrage
Randy Zakowski says
On other items that you source, what sales type of sales rank will you look for?
I’ve found items that might make good gifts (candles) but the sales rank is around
900K. Would you consider that too high?
Stephen Smotherman says
A good” sales rank is different for each category. 900K is good in one category, but not good in another. Check this out for more info: https://www.fulltimefba.com/salesrank
It is also a good practice to alter the price of the items based on its demand and season. It really makes a lot of difference.
Hey Stephen, love the site. Question, how do you handle amazon not accepting retail stores receipts as inventory. has me worried about purchasing to much in case they do a review and ask for invoices. thanks
Stephen Smotherman says
It’s only myth that Amazon will not accept receipts as proof of authenticity. I’ve used receipts in the past to prove the authenticity my retail arbitrage inventory with zero issues. Just keep the receipts! 🙂