Q4 really is the most wonderful time of the year for Amazon sellers, and in this episode I’ll share with you how to make it even better! Many Amazon sellers, if they focus on doing the right things, find that their sales can multiply ten-fold from the other three quarters.
Ever since I started selling on Amazon back in 2011, my sales for Q4 have increased – every single year. In this episode, I pull back the curtains and share with you how I make the most of my Amazon sales during the months of October, November, and December. Follow these tips and strategies during the fourth quarter selling season on Amazon, and you too can experience the highest income possibilities of the year.
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Key points from episode 14:
- When to start sending in inventory and stocking up for Q4.
- Holiday requirements from Amazon; differences between FBM and FBA.
- Hot toy catalogs and figuring out what to stock concerning these.
- Where else to find what you should be selling; time-efficient leads.
- Top tips for getting the most inventory for your dollar.
- The only sourcing strategy to adjust during the last part of the year.
- Q4 effects on pricing and using Keepa graphs to price correctly.
- What not to do during Q4!
- How to know when you have stocked up enough to see you through December.
- And much more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Amazon’s Holiday Selling Requirements for Toys & Games
- BOLO/Product Lead Groups (these fill up fast in Q4)
- More inventory for less money
- Pricing Strategies
- Amazon FBA Supplies
- The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA – Get help in Q4 and beyond with this month by month guide to a profitable Amazon business
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Q4 is just 1/4 of the year. One of the ways you can make selling on Amazon FBA easier is to know ahead of time exactly what to expect each and every month of the year. This guide will help you be prepared for all the profit opportunities for Q4 and beyond!
Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way this year. Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making this year your best sales year ever.
Now you can with the course The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. The package includes a 240+ page ebook, live training videos throughout the year, a private Facebook group, and more!
Announcer: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part-time hours into a full-time income selling almost anything on Amazon. And now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
Rebecca: Welcome everyone to episode 14 of The Full-Time FBA Show and we are so excited because this is our big Q4 episode, yay.
Stephen: Yes. Q4! (starting to sing) “It’s the most wonderful time… of the year.” Okay, I’ll stop.
Rebecca: Yeah. So, we’re going to talk about how to have your best Q4 ever.
Stephen: Yeah, and if you are wondering what we’re talking about, Q4, what is that? Quick little summary about Q4, it’s the last three months of the year, October, November and December. The time when the most sales come in from Amazon and it’s an amazing time.
Rebecca: It is. We love Q4 and it is that time of year when we experience just a huge busy season, but it’s also just so rewarding. Once you put all that hard work in, it just seems like the results of your work is multiplied during Q4. You work hard and you see just these amazing results and it’s very energizing as an FBA seller to go through Q4 on Amazon.
Stephen: Right, and so as this episode drops toward the end of August, September, Q4 right around the corner. What you can expect come October is just a little slight kick in sales, a nice little rise in sales come October. But November, the sales really start to kick in, and the last couple of weeks of November, it really kicks in. And then come December, the first three weeks of December, it’s crazy. It’s awesome.
Rebecca: I don’t know what to say after that. Okay, so is this where we transition?
Stephen: Yeah. Cue the transition music.
Rebecca: All right, so let’s get into the meat of this episode. Stephen, when do you start sending in inventory to Amazon for Q4? Now I’m a shoe seller, so I’m just always sending in shoes all year long. So if you’re selling toys or other inventory, when do you send start sending in stuff that you intend to sell during Q4?
Stephen: Right, so you’re talking toys and home items and home decor and baby items and music and all sorts of stuff that you could be selling as gifts for Q4. A lot of people do ask this question. Like, “Okay, when do I start stocking up?” And it’s an important question to ask because of Amazon’s recent storage fees, because they have special storage fees, monthly storage fees for October, November, and December. And on average, it’s about four times as much as a regular monthly storage fee, so you want to make sure you make really good decisions on when you send your inventory to Amazon.
Stephen: Now, if you expect it to sell pretty soon, send that stuff in as soon as possible. You want to be able to sell your stuff as soon as possible so you get the profit back, so you reinvest it into more inventory. And then that stuff sells fast and you reinvest that profit into more inventory and you kind of begin to build up this Q4 snowball. So if you expected it to sell soon, send it in as soon as possible.
Stephen: But, on the other hand, if you expect it not to sell until maybe November or December, maybe you want to wait until mid-October to send that stuff in. And so you can kind of keep it at your place or find a way to store it inexpensively and then send it in later. If you’re just waiting for maybe the prices to go up in Q4 or the velocity of sales to go up or the demand to go up, you might want to wait a little bit. But it’s always important to remember, the stuff that’s not at Amazon is not going to sell. So I like to just send my stuff in as soon as possible and be able to get those sales and reinvest that inventory.
Rebecca: So I think a lot of people tend to start thinking about Q4 and stocking up for Q4 around the time when Amazon sends out their holiday selling requirements email. And that is usually the first indicator for people, “Oh, this is coming up. I need to get ready.” So tell us a little bit more about that email that you get, the holiday selling requirements email.
Stephen: Yeah. Amazon sends this email out to prepare Amazon sellers about the requirements to sell toys and games during the holiday selling season. And unfortunately, sometimes Amazon in their communications can be a little vague or maybe sometimes the important thing that’s within the email is kind of hidden in the middle and you might miss it.
Stephen: So a lot of people kind of freak out sometimes when they get an email from Amazon with the subject line, holiday selling requirements for toys and games on Amazon. And a lot of people think, “Oh my gosh, there’s requirements? I might get locked out of selling toys during Q4.” That’s like the worst ever. And so I just want to tell you, if you’re an FBA seller, take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay. Because this email is not focused on Amazon FBA sellers, it’s focused on merchant fulfilled sellers, the people who are storing inventory at their house, shipping the items to the customer themselves. It’s for merchant fulfiller, also called seller fulfilled sellers.
Stephen: But you know what, if you want to merchant fulfill toys, that email is very important for you to look at in detail to make sure that you qualify to sell toys via merchant fulfilled during Q4. Because here’s the thing, the two weeks before December is probably the best time to sell toys merchant fulfilled. That’s basically the only time I merchant fulfill toys or anything on Amazon really. Because you know what, I am a full-time FBA seller and FBA gets all of my sales.
Stephen: But you know what, when you get close to Christmas, sometimes it is not a good idea to send stuff into FBA because the item’s not going to go live within time to sell for Christmas. And so you want to look at that email, look at the qualifications because one of the biggest is that you need to sell or fulfill at least 25 orders between a certain time period and Amazon will tell you what that is in that email. So be sure you read any email from Amazon in details. Don’t skip over it. Don’t skim over it because there’s always something important to learn from those emails.
Rebecca: So one thing that keeps coming up that you’ve mentioned a few times and we hear about just from tons of sellers all the time in relation to Q4 is the word toys. And toys are obviously the biggest item that is given as gifts to kids during this time of year. It’s a huge, huge component of Q4 for sales. So a lot of stores, major retail stores will come out every year with a hot toys list, a hot toys catalog. You’ll get these in the mail, you’ll get them emailed to you. They’ll be linked on retail store websites and it’s a big deal for retailers to signal to customers, here’s what we think is going to be hot this year. This is what your kid’s probably going to be asking for because all the other kids want it.
Rebecca: So when it comes to selling on Amazon, doing FBA sales, merchant-fulfilled sells during Q4, are the toys in these hot toy catalogs the toys that we need to be looking for as resellers? Is this what we need to be focusing on selling during Q4?
Stephen: Yeah. As with anything, the answer is, it depends. So it’s yes and no. There are certain toys within those catalogs that it would be good for you to look into, and then there’s other toys that are in the catalogs that you probably shouldn’t. Overall, my rule of thumb is that the hot toy lists that come out, it’s good to look at those and just scan the barcodes and look at the keepa graphs and see what type of sales velocity you might be able to expect.
Stephen: But for the most part, the stores that make these toy lists are going to make sure they are well-stocked for those toys. The hottest toys that will make you the most money on Amazon are the toys that are going to sell out that you can’t find it in retail stores very well, and that people want to go to Amazon and they’re willing to pay a premium to get those toys.
Stephen: And so I actually use those hot toy lists as like a launching point, like a diving off point because I don’t focus on the hot toys. Usually, I will look at the accessories that are connected to those hot toys. So, a couple of years ago there was a VTech Zoo. This little special zoo that had all these little animals that you can put on this little zoo and the little animals ride around and make all these noises and sing really annoying songs. And so the-
Rebecca: So annoying when it’s in the back of your minivan and you hit a bump and it starts going off.
Stephen: Yeah. When like 15 of those same little animal toys start singing the song at different times in the car. Yeah, that’ll drive you nuts.
Rebecca: Okay. Sorry. Back to what you were saying. Just had to throw that in there.
Stephen: Right. So there’s this little VTech Zoo and it was designated as a hot toy. The prices of it never rose on Amazon, but you know what did, a lot of the accessories. The VTech Zoo came with one or two little zoo creatures that you can drive around and make the noise, but they sold individual animals separately that were little accessories. And there were some of those little accessories that you could buy at Walmart for like $10 or even less than that, that were selling on Amazon for 20, 30, sometimes even $50. And so I looked at that hot toy, the VTech Zoo and realized that this accessory was going to be even more popular and hard to find, and people were wanting it, and I could make some good money selling that hot toy.
Rebecca: So kind of going off of a little bit more of a tangent when it comes to toys. So if we’re not supposed to just focus on just here’s the hot toys lists from Target or Walmart, what is a good way to get leads on what toys you should be looking for? Obviously, finding your own rabbit trails is the best way to find leads on inventory that other people aren’t bringing in, but sometimes you just need that little bit of a kickstart. So what do you recommend as far as finding leads in a more time efficient manner?
Stephen: Yeah, there’s different people that actually put together lead lists or BOLO lists, and BOLO stands for be on the lookout. So there’s certain … There’s Facebook groups that are just focused on providing these leads or these BOLOs and they come with a cost, some of them monthly cost, sometimes a one time cost. You can join these and they will give you ideas of stuff to be on the lookout for.
Stephen: So say I was in a list and that group gave me the lead, “Hey, go look for this VTech Monkey because it’s selling for 10 times as what it costs at Walmart, but it’s selling for 10 times for that on Amazon.” So I have that idea and I can go to Walmart and find that particular item. And while I’m there, I can go look at other items and scan stuff myself to look for profitable items to sell during Q4, but there are certain groups out there. I’ll put some in our show notes. If you’ve got a fulltimefba.com/14 there’s a couple of groups that are out there and you can take a look at them. And I’m only going to promote the stuff that I’ve actually used before and have found success with. So you can check that out, fulltimefba.com/14. But these give you a good starting point if you want to find profitable items to sell on Amazon during Q4.
Rebecca: Okay. So in addition to using those types of lists, oh, I know a lot of our listeners are interested in finding out how to get more inventory for a lower amount of money. A lot of people listening to this, it might be their first Q4, they might be beginners or they might be in their second Q4, and still consider themselves learning in this whole process. I mean, we’re all learning, but what would you say is your top tip for getting the most inventory you can for the least amount of money during Q4?
Stephen: So you’re right, everyone wants to spread their dollars out and get as much as they can for as little bit of money, and there’s a couple of different tools that you can use to do that. There are discounted gift card websites that are out there that you can actually buy store cards. You can buy sometimes 10% off, sometimes up to 30% off. And so it’s not unusual to be able to buy a $50 gift card for $40, and so that’s $10 extra dollars free for you and so you can be able to get more inventory with less money. And again, I’ll put those websites on the show notes page two where you can learn how to get those discounted gift cards.
Stephen: But also, if you’re looking online, you can sign up for Rakuten. Rakuten used to be called Ebates and you can get cash back, so that’s another way that you can get cash back for the stuff that you’re spending. And then there’s a Chrome extension called Honey, which will give you coupon codes for the things that you’re buying online. And again, you’re saving money. You’re not paying anything more, but you’re saving a lot of money. And so, there’s ways to be able to get more inventory by spending less amount of money by using these tools.
Rebecca: Okay. Let’s switch gears for a second here and let’s talk about a tip that you would have for FBA sellers during Q4. This is about to be the busiest time of year for us as Amazon FBA sellers. So tell us, during this time, what is a tip that has nothing to do with inventory that we really need to know in order to have a very successful Q4?
Stephen: Well, when you’re sourcing inventory for Q4, you’re going to find more inventory than usual. You’re going to be sending more inventory into Amazon as usual. You’re going to need more boxes than usual, more tape than usual, more labels than usual; so I say stock up on your supplies. That is something that can easily sneak up on you and cause you to have a few days delay if you have to like, “Um, I have to go to the store and get some boxes. I’m running out of boxes. I didn’t realize that was my last roll of tape.” And that could really cause you … And speed of getting your inventory to Amazon is crucial during Q4, so you don’t even want a day or two delay. So stock up on the supplies and it will help you make sure you don’t miss out on those opportunities.
Rebecca: So this just kind of as a rule of thumb, how much more would you say you need to have on hand than you normally would have during the rest of the year?
Stephen: I would say probably twice as much is a good place to start. I mean that’s enough for you to be able to recognize when you’re running low, and a lot of times we just don’t recognize we’re running low because we’re not doing it as often. And so the more you do it, the more you realize that. So I’d say probably twice as much would be a good place to start. If you really want to be at more peace about it … At more peace is that the way to say it? More peaceful.
Stephen: Three times as much as you usually do would be good as well, but that’s a good start,
Rebecca: Right. It’s something that you’re going to use eventually, but if you could have it on hand and have that peace of mind to not worry about it. Yeah, that’s a very good tip because I know that’s something that really stresses me out. When something like that, then I’m like, “Oh, I should have been prepared.” And I’m the one causing the problem here, not somebody else. That really stresses me out when I’m the bottleneck in my own business like that.
Rebecca: Okay. So moving on, another question about Q4 here. Do you think that Amazon sellers should do anything different in their sourcing process when they’re trying to find inventory during Q4 or should they stick with what they know?
Stephen: I think the only thing that they should do differently, I think mostly they should stay the exact same, continue sourcing the same type of items and not try anything new or different, but one thing that they need to adjust is their understanding of sales rank. And so if you’re trying to buy toys and you’re thinking, “Okay, a sales rank of 100,000.” I like items with a sales rank under 100,000 because I expect this type of sales return from sales ranks like that.
Stephen: But when it comes to Q4, especially November and really in December, I might expand my sales rank parameters to 200,000 or 250,000 because I realize just how fast items are selling on Amazon. The items with the best sales ranks are selling out and the items that have higher sales ranks might be start to see a little bit higher velocity in sales. And so, there’s only one number of sales rank for every item. And so since there’s more sales, those items with higher sales rank. So a little bit outside of my comfort zone, now become in my comfort zone and I start buying items with those sales rank. So that also will help you find more inventory because now you’re buying items with a little bit of expanded sales ranks than you’re used to, but they’re still selling like you’re used to.
Rebecca: So don’t go learn a new category during Q4?
Stephen: Right, and just stick with what you know and make sure that you adjust your sales rank parameters while you’re sourcing.
Rebecca: Okay. So talk to us for a minute about pricing. You were talking about sales rank and how that changes during Q4, how is it affected by Q4?
Stephen: Well, in in the month of October, it’s not really affected that much. But come the middle of November and towards the last two weeks of November, the sales really begin to kick up on Amazon. And so the lower priced items begin selling out and the items that are priced higher, start getting those sales. And so you can kind of look at keepa graphs, and if an item has been around longer than one year, keepa is a tool that tracks the sales rank history, pricing history. You can see what the prices and how the sales ranks react last year during Q4, so you can kind of see how to predict this year. I mean, if you’re curious learning about keepa, fulltimefba.com/readkeepa and you can learn how to use that.
Stephen: But being able to price well is very important during Q4, and so you don’t want to price your item on November the 20th and then your item gets to Amazon on November 27th and gets checked in and it goes live. But you’re now the lowest price because the lowest price right then is $50 more or $10 more. So you want to make sure that you are always looking at your prices when an item goes live on Amazon. You can do that manually by checking to see when your inventory gets checked in and then you can go double check your prices. Or you can do it automatically with an automatic repricer that does it for you and that’s how we do it this time of year.
Rebecca: So we’ve been talking a lot during this podcast episode about the different things that we need to be doing. And of course, there are checklists and to-do’s that we need to be focused on and we need to change gears in a lot of things that we do during the rest of the year and focus on, “Okay, how do I need to do this differently during Q4.” But is there anything that you would recommend that we, as FBA sellers, stop doing during Q4? October, November, December, don’t do this, which you might be doing other times of the year.
Stephen: Yeah, and we actually kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, but one of the things that can be really hard to stop doing is learning something new. Now when it comes to Q4, I think the most important thing that you can be doing is sourcing for inventory. Not learning a new category, not learning how to do online arbitrage if you’re focused on retail arbitrage, and not learning something new. Not learning a new tool, not learning … Just focus on doing what you’d know and do it to the best of your ability and just source inventory. And when you’re done with that, source more inventory.
Stephen: You might be tempted to, “Oh, this looks really interesting and I want to learn this.” Don’t. Don’t learn something new. Be able to focus on sourcing. Now if there’s something out there that’s for sale and you want to buy a course or something like that, go ahead and buy it but just save it for January. Learn it in January because you want to spend all of your available time sourcing inventory. Because the more inventory you have at Amazon, the more you will sell, the higher profits you will get, and the more successful you’ll be.
Rebecca: So on that note too, if we need to be sending in more and more inventory, we want more inventory to Amazon during Q4, probably not the first question that’s on everybody’s mind at this time of year is when to stop sending an inventory. But, this is a question that comes up closer when we get into November and even into December, people start thinking, “Okay, should I keep sending in inventory? When do I stop?” How do I know when I’m stocked up, I guess, and I’m good to go? I can take a break?
Stephen: Well, I honestly think that a lot of people wonder this because they realize they’re pushing theirselves. They’re going, they’re going. They’re sending inventory. They’re sourcing, they’re sourcing. They’re sending inventory, and they kind of wonder when they need to take the gas off the pedal a little bit, and that’s a good question to ask. But one of the things that a lot of people don’t realize or don’t think about, it’s like when they hear it, they understand it, sales don’t stop on Amazon on December 25th.
Stephen: Sales continue on Amazon and sales continue throughout the new year. And if you’re stocking up on toys, kids have birthdays every day of the year and those items can still be selling. People get Amazon gift cards for Christmas and other holidays in December and decide there, “Okay, I’m going to go get what I want.” So you want to be sure that you’re stocked up to have those people buy those items that you are selling and that they want to buy.
Stephen: And speaking of getting what you want, some people think, “Okay, Christmas past, I didn’t get what I wanted. I’m going to go out and buy what I actually want.” Again, you want your inventory there so they can buy it. There’s kids out there that, they get the VTech Zoo and they want all the accessories, and so again, kids are buying accessories or other toys related to what they got. Or maybe they saw that Billy next door got this other toy and they didn’t get it, so they whine to their mom that they want to go and get that same toy. And so people are still buying after Christmas, so I say don’t stop sending in inventory into Amazon. Continue sending your inventory so you can continue to see those sales coming in.
Rebecca: But just maybe not in the same amounts of-
Stephen: Right, maybe not as as deep as the before.
Rebecca: The high volume.
Stephen: Right. Yeah, I’d started going a lot wider than deeper, but definitely continue to send inventory to Amazon.
Stephen: So those are my main tenants when it comes to making the most out of your Q4 and how to have the best Q4 ever. Rebecca and I, since we started selling on Amazon, every Q4 has been better than the last and we follow these tips to make sure that that happens and we can see that happening for you as well.
Stephen: One last thought about Q4. I know that I focused a lot about push, push, push, source, source source. And that is important to being able to make a good profit during Q4, but don’t let the more important things in life during Q4 get pushed off to the side. Remember to spend time with your family. Make sure your family understands that they are more important than your Amazon business. They are more important than getting the next sale and that you make sure that your family understands that they are a priority.
Stephen: And there’s so many different religious holidays during Q4 and December. Make sure that you understand and connect with the reason for this season. For us, we remember that Christmas is about Jesus Christ being born and being sent to this earth to die on the cross for us and to forgive us for our sins. And so we connect with that and we make sure that we don’t let our Amazon sales or sourcing get in the way of understanding the meaning of the season for us. And so make sure that you connect with that with yourself and you’ll be a much better person from that.
Rebecca: Okay. That wraps up this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. If you would like to see more about the things that we’ve talked about in this episode, if you want to see the links to any of the blog posts or any of the products that we talked about, be sure to check out fulltimefba.com/14, the number 14, and that will take you directly to the show notes for this episode.
Rebecca: You can check out other episodes of this podcast at fulltimefba.com/podcast and we would love it if you have listened to some episodes and could give us a review. Go to fulltimefba.com/leaveareview and that helps us out a great deal, helps us to be able to get this podcast into the ears of more listeners and that helps out more people to be able to find success selling on Amazon FBA.
Stephen: I want to leave you with one last big announcement. You remember me talking before about making sure that during Q4 you focus on sourcing and to stop focusing on learning. Well, I wanted to announce that this episode is going to be our last episode for Season 1 of The Full-Time FBA Show, so I want to again give you a warning about that. Don’t worry, we’re going to be back next year with more episodes of The Full-Time FBA Show, but we’re going to spend our Q4 and all of that time sourcing as much as possible.
Stephen: We’re not going to be focusing on learning. We’re going to be focusing on sourcing. You can do the same thing now. If you just have an itch to go learn something, you can go back and see if there’s any episodes that you’ve missed out on or you can go to fulltimefba.com/podcast, check out the show notes. There’s more information that you can learn on each of those episodes by going to the show notes of those episodes, but we’ll be back. Don’t worry, we’ll be back with more awesome content next year from The Full-Time FBA Show.
Rebecca: Can’t wait to see you during Season 2. Hope you have a great Q4, guys.
Stephen: Take it easy. Later.
Announcer: That’s all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimefba.com/podcastwhere you’ll find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular in helpful Amazon FBA resources. Now, take action on what you’ve learned today so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.