I know I keep saying it, but it’s a little hard to believe that the Fourth Quarter is just about here!
We are always excited for the biggest selling season of the year for Amazon sellers. This will be our 10th Q4 selling on Amazon and we’re just as psyched now as we were when we first started.
I still remember that first Q4 when I got a late start and was just selling 3 different things. And they would sell as fast as I could get them into the Amazon warehouse. I was able to get about 3 shipments into Amazon in 3 weeks time. I would send the shipment, it would sell out, and then I would request and wait for the funds to be deposited before I could send the next shipment in.
We’ve mentioned many times that we make almost half of our yearly income on Amazon in November and December alone. It’s crazy and thrilling and hectic, it even feels a little bit out of control sometimes! Then just as fast as it came, it's gone and over.
One thing we’ve learned over the past years of selling on Amazon FBA is that there are a number of things we can do ahead of time to make things go more smoothly once the real rush starts.
Because it won't just get crazy busy on October 1st, just because it's technically Q4. It's more into November when you will start to see things flying off the shelves. So you want to make sure that you are prepared.
We go into lots of detail about this in our Q4 Profits Guide, which is part of our Q4 Coaching. If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to sign up for the coaching spots soon before all of the slots are filled! We’ll teach you everything you need to know to handle the Fourth Quarter like the pro you are. 🙂
In the guide, we look at things you can do in October and early November to get ready. That’s the early part of the Fourth Quarter when you’ll still be researching and studying the market, getting ready to pounce when the time is right.
Your sales will start to increase and there are plenty of holiday items (Halloween and Thanksgiving/Black Friday) that will sell really well, but the big push won’t start until right after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas.
Here's an overview of how Q4 usually plays out for us:
- October is when we are really preparing for the season. We don't start shopping big until the end of the month. So we're mostly watching new items and keeping up with trends. By the end of the month, we start placing some online orders and buying in-store deals.
- November is our busiest month and we usually rotate shipping and shopping days. Most shopping days are 8-10 hours and we shop about 3x per week. On the other days, we ship the items we bought the day before. We only take about 1 day off each week in November.
- In December, we're starting to do more Merchant Fulfilling in addition to FBA shipments. We like to be DONE with the season by December 15. Sometimes we will even take a trip to Disneyland to celebrate (and resist the urge to keep sourcing until Christmas Eve).
But today we’re going to focus on the things that you can do in September and into October to be prepared for the 4th Quarter on Amazon.
First, you need to know that there is one thing that we DO NOT recommend doing right now! We do not recommend that you stock up on any toys right now, hoping that they go up in price later on. This is pure speculation and most times leads to huge disappointment and loss of profits. Plus held up money. Trust me, I speak from experience and have made this mistake more than once.
There is just no way to know exactly what is going to be that HOT ITEM until the sales start moving above retail price and the stock starts becoming limited in the stores. This is why we pay such close attention to the trends of items in our Q4 Coaching Group.
Now, we’re going to give you some very practical tips that’ll help pave the way for you to crush it this season!
4 Things You Can Do Now To Prepare For The Q4 Rush
1. Stock Up On Supplies
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you will go through way more boxes, tape, labels, and poly bags during the Fourth Quarter than you do the rest of the year, so it’s a good idea to stock up now! It never fails that we have coaching clients (and even ourselves sometimes) rushing to Home Depot or Office Max to grab some boxes or bubble mailers to get the day's shopping items out the door. When we have to buy them at places like that, we spend more than necessary because we don't have time to wait for a shipment to arrive.
We go through tons of polybags in the Fourth Quarter especially. A lot of toys need to be bagged because they aren’t completely enclosed in boxes or are plush, and we do a ton of bundles and multipacks as well.
The poly bags we keep in stock are 8×10; 9×12; 11×14; and 14×20. You can also get a starter kit of 100 that has multiple sizes and see which ones you like the most.
Even if you’ve never created a bundle or listed a multipack, you can take advantage of others’ expertise. You’ll find a lot of existing bundles where you can jump on the listing. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got supplies ready to pack them!
You’ll use a variety of sizes of boxes, but during Q4, in particular, you want to stock up on some of the bigger sizes, like 18x18x18. You’ll find that not only are you shipping out more items but that a lot of them will be larger than usual. One of the big sellers a few years ago were Max Tow Trucks which are pretty big. So we could only fit 4 in a big box. But if we only had the medium sized boxes, we would probably only be able to do 1.
Keep in mind that you need to limit box size to 25 inches or less on any one side or else your shipment is subject to oversize charges.
The Fourth Quarter is also a time when we will Merchant Fulfill orders more than usual. We do this either to jump on a hot item with a high profit before the price falls or late in the season when it’s too late to ship something into Amazon but when sales are still rocking.
When we Merchant Fulfill, we usually like to ship items that are light and can fit into a bubble mailer. We order at least 100 of the 8×10 and 14×20 sizes.
2. Organize Your Office and Workspace
In the Fourth Quarter more than ever, you want to make sure you have an office or workspace that functions efficiently. This isn’t the time to be searching high and low for your tape dispenser or box cutter!
Take an afternoon or a whole day, whatever’s necessary, and make sure your space is fully functional. Or see if there is another space that would make more sense.
This doesn’t mean you need to have floors you can eat off of or a desk with nothing on it. We all have our personal work styles and you don’t want to try any major changes out right now, either. But you do need to make sure you can work as fast as possible with as few distractions as you can.
One organizational tip is to make sure you can reach everything you use regularly from your seat. So if you’re sitting in front of your computer, think about where your printer is, your notes, your labels, etc.
Of course you will probably get up and pack items at a different spot, but do the same thing there. Have everything within easy reach in your prep area. You’d be surprised how much time you can save by making sure you don’t need to take just a few extra steps. Multiply that by 100 or 200 items, and you can easily add an hour to your day just because you have to walk around more than you need to!
One thing we do different during Q4 than other times of the year is we bring folding tables into the living room so we can have an “assembly line”. Even with a huge dining table it just isn't enough work area, so we found having the extra tables makes it easier to work with.
3. Keep Selling Right Now, Don't Wait For The Busy Season
A lot of sellers want to send in a bunch of inventory right now and stock their shelves in anticipation of increased sales and higher prices. We actually do the opposite.
Instead, we suggest you send in and price items to sell NOW. We feel it’s better to sell more product now than to wait to sell it later. You want to reinvest and grow your capital, not sit on it! This also goes back to not knowing what will happen later. Even if they are proven items, why not just price them to move now? That way you can send more in later. If you have some leftover and prices jump, great, but at least they were selling the whole time.
Of course, this doesn't mean that we’re not sending in SOME items now that we don’t expect to sell until later. It just means we are sending in enough for it to sell the whole time.
Think of September and October as a time to sell as much as possible in order to grow your available cash. Wouldn’t it be better to have a nice wad of cash to invest in the Fourth Quarter instead of running out of money because you spent it all in August and September on things you hope do well?
You’ll also have a much better idea in mid to late November of exactly what the most profitable and hottest items are. So make sure you’ve got the capital to act on what is hot at the moment! We teach that you should be able to triple your initial investment capital during November and December; so what do you want your starting figure to be?
Which brings me to one of the questions that we get the most: “How much do you have to spend to sell $150,000 in the 4th quarter?” Our answer really works for any amount of money that you want to sell. So, if your goal is to sell $20,000 the math will be similar.
During the “normal” year, we try to always make at least a 100% ROI, during Q4, we will take a little less than that. For ease of math, we will just use 100% in the example. Meaning that if we sold $150,000 we spent at least $50,000 on that sold inventory. If you want to sell $5,000 worth of products during Q4, you should spend at least $1,666. If you want to sell $12,000 you should spend at least $4,000.
If your ROI is going to be less than 100% you will need to spend more than 1/3 of your goal. We think it is really important to be realistic with setting your goals for the 4th quarter because the amount of money that you have to invest will play a big part in helping you reach those goals. If you have $500 to invest right now, it isn't realistic to set your goal for $10,000 in sales. There just isn't enough time for your money to turn over.
4. Start Watching for Trends
We get into this in much more detail in our Q4 training, but you’ll want to start getting familiar with stores you might not have visited much during the year.
This includes Target, Walmart, Kohl's, and other places that sell toys in particular. You want to know the layout of the stores and where the different sections are. This saves you time when you’re sourcing there later and need to get in and out so you can hit as many places as possible in a day.
You should also start paying attention to the weekly store circulars and sales to get familiar with brands and toy lines. It's easy to do now that all of the weekly ads (and Black Friday deals) are upload on store websites. This way, you’ll recognize the hot toys when you see them in store. You’ll also know right away if you’ve spotted something unique, like a color variation that might not be available everywhere.
You can do a lot of research online (I like to do this at times when I can't be out sourcing because I need to be home with my son). You can search Amazon for bundle ideas or for themed products to get an idea of how well they’ve done in the past. Be careful to look for items that do well every year and not the ones that might have been hot for one season.
October is a great time to start monitoring trends. By the end of October, we're pretty busy shopping, so it's best to start “studying” earlier in the season.
- Read through the Q4 Profits Guide and watch the training videos that are included. That way you are ready to go when prices start to increase.
- Join our Q4 Coaching group if you would like a place to work one-on-one with experienced sellers and have a place to ask your questions as they come up.
- Go ahead and join BoloMart while there are spots available. This will help you start to identify new sourcing ideas.
- Share this post with your friends who should be selling this Q4!
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