Tactical Planning Tips for a Profitable Q4

Aug 17, 2023 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

Although eCommerce teams have become progressively specialized, the influx of consumer demands during the Q4 holidays requires expertise in all areas of digital business. What are the leading strategies you should employ to prepare your organization for the end of the year?

There are five core tactics brands should implement for a profitable Q4. Each approach must be holistic and executed across both DTC and marketplace channels. With peak buying season during the holidays, you can promote overstocked items and new product launches with a refined and compelling content strategy. Ensure you replenish inventory before promoting any products. Amazon’s advertising tools are optimal for encouraging purchases and driving omnichannel traffic. Lifecycle marketing, SMS, and email should generate 30% of your revenue, so creating personalized customer experiences is crucial to maximize profitability.

In this virtual event, Nicole Reich, the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, is back to talk with Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson about profitable Q4 planning strategies. Nicole shares how to optimize your content strategy, tips for repurposing creative campaigns, and catalog, inventory, and merchandising planning strategies. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Optimizing your content strategy for Q4
  • Catalog management and merchandising preparation for the holidays
  • Q4 inventory planning and organization
  • How to maximize your DTC and marketplace advertising budgets
  • Email and SMS performance tips for Q4
  • Repurposing creative campaigns for the holidays
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Event Partners

Blue Wheel

Blue Wheel is an omni-channel marketing and operational partner delivering excellence in digital commerce -- from click to ship. As a new breed of omni-channel agency, Blue Wheel supports brands from marketplace management to performance advertising, and creative services. With over $1B in revenue managed for our clients, we help brands from click to ship, scaling brand sales across D2C, Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and retail.

Connect with Blue Wheel

Guest Speaker

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Event Moderator

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

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Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Senior Digital Strategist Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 0:18

Happy Thursday. I am Tiffany Serbus-Gustafson, the digital strategist with BWG Connect and we are in network and knowledge sharing group, we stay on top of latest trends challenges. Whatever is shaping the digital landscape, we want to know and talk about it. We're on track to do at least 500 of these virtual events this year due to the increase in demand better understand the digital space. And we'll also be doing at least 100 in-person small format dinners this year. So if you happen to live in a tier one city, feel free to shoot us an email or check out our website and we will send you an invite these dinners are typically 15 to 20 people having a discussion on a specific digital topic. And it's always a fantastic time. And the timing is opportune because we are actually doing a Blue Wheel dinner in Boston next Tuesday the 22nd. So if you go to BWGconnect.com, you can check it out and register if you will be in the Boston area. So that is for etail east. So if you're a brand that will be in Boston for that event, or if you happen to be located in Boston, definitely go online and register for the dinner, we would love to have you. We spend the majority majority of our time talking to brands so we stay on top of the latest trends. I'd love to have a conversation with you. So you can feel free to drop me a line at Tiffany@bwgconnect.com. And we can get some time on the calendar. It's from these conversations we generate topic ideas we know people want to learn about and it's also where we gain our resident experts such as Blue Wheel who's with us today. Anybody that we asked to teach the collective community has come highly recommended from multiple brands within the network. So if you ever need any recommendations within the digital space, please don't hesitate to reach out to me we have a shortlist of the best of the best. And we'd love to provide that information to you. Also note if you have any hiring needs, we can partner with a talent agency Hawkeye Search formerly BWG talent that I can put you in contact with as well. A few housekeeping items. First and foremost, we want this to be fun, educational, conversational. So drop as many questions comments you have into the chat the q&a, and we will get to them and I'll make sure everything's enabled here too shortly so you can drop those in. If you feel more comfortable, you can always email me Tiffany@bwgconnect.com. And we will be sure to get to them. And also since we started about four or five minutes after the hour, rest assured we're gonna wrap up at least five to 10 minutes before the end of the hour, give you ample time to get to your next destination. So with that, let's roll in, start to learn about tactical planning tips for profitable q4. The team at Blue Wheel have been awesome friends and partners in the network. So I'm gonna kick it over to you Nicole, if you can give a brief introduction on yourself. That would be lovely. And then we can dive right in the give

Nicole Reich 2:50

70 You are a pro. This is our this is our first webinar together. Rodeo right yeah, we I've done Gavin with Aaron but you are on it. So yeah, thank you for having me. For everyone on the call and everyone listening potentially the recording after I'm Nicole Reich the CTO at Blue Wheel. Before we get to the agenda I just want to give you a brief summary of Blue Wheel Blue Wheel is an omni channel agency supporting brands through marketplace management and performance marketing. We have our grams scale efforts across the entire customer lifecycle journey on both D to C and on marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart. This is done in the US but also done globally and Europe, Canada, Mexico, and we do also some Australia and India. With over 1 billion in revenue manage for our clients. We drive commerce from what we call click to ship. If you'd like to learn more about any of the services on the right in more detail, please let me know after the call happy to dig into any of these line items here. So getting through our agenda today, we're going to be focusing on holiday prep overall in q4. And my goal for everyone on the call and those who may be listening to the recording is that by the end of it, you are armed with a solid checklist that you can use with your teams across departments to prep for both q4 on DTC and on marketplaces. I would say though, eComm teams have developed over the last several years and become more specialized. As eCommerce employees, we still tend to wear many hats, meaning we might be running the ads but it's also our job to ensure the warehouse team and the promotions teams are aligned on our initiatives. So fortunately, given our omni channel capabilities, that Blue Wheel, we have lots of specializations across our team. So over the past month, we've gone to each team and ask them, please give us your q4 Prep list. So think of our inventory team, our catalog team or our creative folks. All of them have their own individual checklists that they do in preparation for q4 and over the last month we've consolidated those. So I believe that Doc ended up being Over 10 pages, but I've summarized what we feel are some of the top tips for this webinar. And hopefully this thing can give you a solid foundation in your own organizations. Lastly, unlike some of the other webinars if you've been a part of them, this one is fairly text tabbies heavy, so I'll be reading the slides. But the goal with that is that again, you can take this printed out and give it to your other team members if you need to. So with that, what are the tactics that we're going to be focusing on? Well, it's five different ones. we've summarized them in five different points, the first one being catalog management and merchandising, inventory planning and warehouse planning, advertising, email, and SMS. And then we will close it out with holiday creative considerations. Cool. So first one with q4 catalog management and merchandising. One other thing to note is that there's a couple of stats in here for Matt as well, just to kick us off, sometimes those are really helpful when you're working with internal teams or have a small eComm team and in need that kind of credibility to jumpstart the work to start planning. So one thing we've seen in Prime Day, and we expect to see in q4 is that consumers are looking for meaningful savings this year more than they have over the last three years. So how do we how do we prep for that, right? So as soon as you finalize your q4 budgets and revenue goals, immediately understand the products that need content updates, and schedule those accordingly. So I'm thinking about the top left, right here. Hey, Tiffany, when I have this blue cursor, can you see it? Yes, I can. Oh, beautiful. Okay, cool. So focusing on this one first, on Amazon, we are finding that Content Approval, the Content Approval Process to be more strict than it has been in previous years. Meaning that you might push things through the back end, and they're not coming up on the front end. This applies to both vendor Central and Seller Central. So to summarize this one, if you are planning content updates in November, or two days before Black Friday, that is too late and you are not going to get those live. So what are those actual updates. This is a little checklist on the right, and some of these apply to DTC as well. But start thinking about right now, which keyword assets, you want to update the copy that you're going to need to tweak or create for new product launches, ensure that you've got the the right images and videos, there's been updates to vendor central e files that have made this even a bit more manual than it had been before. Ensure that you have your storefront themes in the back end ready to go. So you don't have to make tweaks you can just shoot them live when you're ready. And then lastly, make sure you focus your promo pages, you highlight those promos that you're going to be running on your stores or on your website. So again, quick checklist on what that content strategy is there should be a good copy and paste you can, you know, use this with your teams. What I would lastly add to this section in particular is that yes, it applies the brand, but it also applies to every product that you have within your brand. So what we find sometimes is that if we're not giving this, you know, we have this master checklist or Excel spreadsheet that gives us a matrix. Sometimes we forget to do for example, the new A plus premium on a new Halo product that we're promoting for q4. So it's at the ground level, but it's also at the SKU level. I know that that's a little bit harder with footwear and apparel. But you know, on the smaller categories or catalogs, anything less than you know, call it 100 SKUs. You should be able to have that matrix for every single SKU that wasn't

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 8:40

there change in June with the product attribute requirements on Amazon. There have been a

Nicole Reich 8:47

ton of changes with attributes. I don't know if it actually happened in June, I would have to check with our catalog team. I don't doubt that but we are finding that depending on the category that you're in, the attributes are changing.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 9:00

There's something to be aware of too. Awesome. Got a question here? I'm gonna take it because we keep rolling. How are brands thinking about what assortment you should include in different high visibility promo events like Amazon's Prime Day events in October versus cyber five? Especially with with consideration for deal tenants, same items and both different inline key items versus over inventory or push to liquidate items.

Nicole Reich 9:28

That is so get that question. That's good. That is so funny because the last section This one right here is going to speak to that so I don't know if I'll answer it completely. But let me try it and then you can put in the chat if I if I missed something. But I again first plan your promo details ahead of time but we're seeing two strategy shifts this year versus previous year. One of them is focusing on Overstock items even if they are typically mapped we're seeing brands get a bit more aggressive in pricing Um, I'll say vendor central for example right now, right? A lot of the times when one P was overstocked on a particular item, it wasn't really the first priority for the vendor, the brand to run promotions on that stock because in their eyes, they got orders, Amazon owns it and we're good to go right. Those days are basically gone. So we are seeing a shift where brands both on seller and on vendor and on DTC are focusing on that overstock first, because we know that if we sell through that Amazon in particular, will start to order more, you'll have more inventory space for the new products going into next year. So that's been one shift for us. The other thing is, is that a lot of the times previously, we saw brands focused on a holiday for new product launches, right, where it's like, Hey, we've got our key items, but we know traffic's going to be up, we know conversion is going to be up, we're going to focus on, you know, on maybe those items that are really great products but aren't showcased on the first page or you know, ArtEZ aren't in our best sellers, we're seeing that flip a little bit more to where we are prioritizing conversion over awareness more so than we have. And because of that, we're still focusing on those evergreen those Halo products, more so than we have in the past. And the idea with that is that we get them in the door, especially for new customers hope, you know we're focusing on our best sellers, getting them in the door and then using retargeting through DSP to then promote and sell those other items that previously we used to do. So those are the two shifts the one overstock second one starting, especially with new customers with your best your cash cows, your best sellers, and then just remembering that after the holiday season using retargeting to then upsell them on other products. Hopefully that answers the question. And again, it all depends. Right? Cool. I got a great, thank you. Cool. So last consideration. On this one, start thinking about your holiday sets or your bundles, and then how you can merchandise those on the stores. We know on Amazon that the typical units per order is one, or 1.1, which is always a struggle on Amazon versus b2c. But if you create these custom bundles, now, yes, they will require their own UPC, you can start to drive up that average order value by still maintaining that one unit per order. So when you do that, make sure that these that are front and center and on your Amazon pages, and then you support those with banner ads, to show the customers what's new, we're seeing that way more than we used to. And because customers are getting even more, or Amazon shoppers are getting even more sophisticated and getting to know how to shop on the Amazon pages. It's working really well. So for brands that typically didn't do gifts that's on Amazon or didn't do bundles. And maybe they only did it through virtual bundles, or making it a priority to make these unique or custom skews and putting those into Amazon now. If you are starting these in October and November, this is another one where you're too late. It's very important that you have the bundles going now even if they're under the radar, meaning you launch them, but maybe you don't do email marketing, you don't do ads on them just to start with a review so that you're ready in q4 in October, November, December. Really make sense. Cool. Moving on to q4 inventory planning, so you're gonna see a theme of these first one, these first two and this repeat but just as important. So again, as soon as it gets finalized that forecast and budget, make sure you that you have the inventory by SKU to support that plan. It seems silly, it seems like a no brainer. But there's still so many times where we have our influence their team running a campaign, it goes viral and then we go then we run out of stock because the inventory team isn't aware of it. So summing up to here that would be the first one on finalized q4 and forecast but summing up to other ones here with the buffer and shipping and then Stephen stamp out. We are if possible proposing that when you are doing FBA or if you have the opportunity in even one p that you are shipping ahead of time your entire forecast so all the units plus about 20% as a buffer to avoid stock outs and inbound restrictions. So I know this is easier said than done on both sides, right? You can't stop up with Amazon doesn't place orders on one p and you can't stock up an FBA if you don't have inventory if you have inventory constraints or limits with the IPI but we used to go in real time in replenishment and we still do that. But we are stocking up way more than we used to call it in 2020 2019. So try to get as much as you can now so you have to Chase last because we are still seeing inbound limits, both on Amazon pickups at your warehouses and an inbound receiving. And we don't want that to limit your potential sales going into q4.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 15:14

What is the average? Do you know of from the time that you send the shipment to the time that is actually received at FBA?

Nicole Reich 15:21

Ooh, good question. It depends if they go LTL or brown. So typically, we see ground is, is received faster. So anywhere from four to seven days, maybe for LTL. We see the pallet. Those being received a lot slower, maybe two to three weeks, there were times during 2020 that we had containers for LTL sitting outside FCS for like a month and a half, it was not great, but

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 15:52

understand that those days Yep. Yep, totally. Well, that's good to hear that it's a lot faster.

Nicole Reich 15:57

Great. Last one on this one set up and stack up right and sure FBM listings are your merchant fulfilled listings are set up correctly, and that you have your backup offers, whether that be dropship for one p or FBM, for SV. So that one's pretty standard. Oh, another weird thing that we're seeing, though, is that the inventory sinks are getting off. And I don't know if this is a glitch in the API. But on multiple of our several of our accounts in the last month or so we're seeing the feed on inventory for FBM. And for dropship. Timeout kind of and there's an error and then we have to kind of re push it. So especially if you see a drop in sales overnight, think through inventory quantity pushing as being a potential red flag and start that and look there first. Because sometimes sales will go down and you'll realize that you're pushing zero quantity.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 16:49

Is there an opportunity within that strategy to do the Amazon seller fulfilled prime? Like I remember reading, like enrollment reopen it was closed for a bit? Or is that onboarding pretty long? For a brand to be able to get that in motion for the holidays?

Nicole Reich 17:10

So if you're accepted into the program, and it is really dependent on how quickly you can move and how effective your or how good your margins are on shipping? To be honest, it seems like that's been rolled out really slowly. I still seems like it is invite only and they're they're being very cautious on that. Tiffany, have you seen anything else because I couldn't be just not the no on that one.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 17:36

I remember having managed a brand and we did seller fulfilled prime it was very painful to get approved.

Nicole Reich 17:44

They cut completely, but they just released earlier this year that they were going to be bringing it back. But that's what I haven't heard a lot of brands talking that they've been included in that beta and kind of the second version of SFP.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 17:57


Nicole Reich 17:59

If anyone has known any differently, please let me know. 

Speaker 3 18:03

Definitely put it in the chat. We'd love to know.

Nicole Reich 18:07

These ones are pretty standard. So of course right now is the time for to plan for additional temp staffing. Think about some of the new initiatives that you might be testing when you do this. Oh, awesome. Christine that she's been offered the opportunity to reapply wouldn't be happy. We'd love to connect and network with you to see how that's kind of going on at some point if you'd like Christine. Well, I'm sorry, coming. I just sidebar for a second there. So temp staffing, it should be planning right now. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're doing new initiatives like by with prime or tic tac shop, that should drive incremental orders that you may not be planning for. So it's the only two things and maybe there's other things like SFP that you should consider. But I know that a lot of the brands right now are anything to drive additional revenue, right? So we're testing new things. And you know, whether it's Amazon Canada, or like I said seller, fulfill seller, fulfilled prime by with prime Tiktok shop, all of those might cause a disruption to your typically more steady warehouse operations teams. So just to be aware of those and don't forget about the incremental orders that might come from them. And as always confirm shipping cutoff dates. So what are those, this is what we would recommend. So I don't know if these are sometimes they released these and then more even more conservative as in, you know the date September 15. We'll say it used to be September 12. But as of right now, what we're recommending is is that shipping cut off or prime fall day usually in October, get everything out by September 12. And then for cyber five plan to have everything out by October 26. Advertising prep so on top of wanting more discounts. We're also seeing shifts in loyalty shopping oddly enough, and this is not a coincidence. But meta also reported that 82% of people are open to switching brands or trying new ones to get the best value. So what does that mean for advertisers? Well, it's, it's essential to be on top of our game for decent defensive branded campaigns, but also a huge opportunity to increase spend on conquest campaigns. So when you do that, right, so quick summary, again, people are going to be shopping, they're going to be looking for more brands than they have before. They may not be as loyal as you think. Make sure you're increasing your ad spends on your branded campaigns for defensive efforts, but start to take advantage of maybe conquest campaigns that you didn't do previously. In those scenarios, we know that that budget isn't going to be as effective, right, it's not going to be as efficient. So the rest of our efforts need to make up for that. So some quick tactics that we got on the digital DVC side. So don't launch new campaigns during the five during state cyber Fallout five. The platform's always have abundance of advertising, launching new campaigns, and we've seen multiple bot bugs pop up in the platform when we do this. So make sure that those are, those are live well in advance. And if you do have a last minute ad that you want to create on the digital DSP side, I plan to check it multiple times so that if it does go down, you can scramble and get it back up live. Make the most of sales before the second week of December I this is a little bit you know, we've gotten over this I think for the most part, but you know, brands that say hey, we've had an okay start to December, I'm sure we'll pick it up in the back half of December, likely you won't, right likely those those customers, we still see them shipping Amazon, where they're the two day shipping window is available. So just making sure that you're getting the most out of your DTC side from Black Friday into the first two weeks of December, in the scenario that you do want to test by with prime, that is the perfect time to do it. Because typically, again, traffic falls off on sites after the first two weeks, you can turn on buy with prime. And that could be a really good use case where you say, well, we're not going to get the customers to convert on our website anyways, I don't know completely about buy with prime, I don't know if we're going to move it going forward. But now is the right time to test that. So just a quick suggestion on that one.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 22:25

Did you use the fall Prime Day? I mean, it was confirmed Amazon said that? Yes, we're going to do that. We don't know the date yet. Last year was the 11th and 12th of October. Could you use that as a testing ground per se for maybe some things that you do want to deploy or plant the seeds for that event then gain momentum

Nicole Reich 22:45

for cyber five? With violent crime? With? Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So that could be the camp. Now I will say that as on the DC side, let me flip back to this. The the ad units are a lot different, right? The the creative that you have in October, on both Amazon and on D to see the imagery, the videos, all that's going to look a lot different than you know Thanksgiving and Christmas, right Halloween. Like in October, you could still you don't even have to promote really holiday typical holiday, I guess branding or voice. So yes, you can test it. But I don't know how much of a crossover that would be because the the tone and the products that you're promoting are likely different from October to Black Friday. However, we are testing what things that we did in July as test ground for our Prime Day, October. Those are more aligned.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 23:45

So those learnings from July are then going over into the campaign. Yep,

Nicole Reich 23:50

absolutely. Cool on Amazon. So this is a really good one up at the top here, before you change all of your bids, and Amazon ads, pull all of your bulk file and your bids so that it's easy for you as soon as the holiday season ends to upload it back up to change your bids again. Now, sometimes there's automation at Blue Wheel we ever on software, right. But if you are doing it manually, and you just in January, you're like cool we got through the holiday season, but I want to go back to my bids that I had in October and September. This is the easiest way to do it. Because you can just export that bulk file that you have right now or you know, going into October and then upload it again in January and it definitely speeds up that process. Adjust bids and budgets right and this is I will continue to see this but the ads the cost per clicks are always every quarter over quarter more aggressive. We'd love for it to be at a certain rate but then we find okay, we're going on a budget or we're not winning impressions. So watch that in real time. Question on your halo products. Again, fund your campaigns, I spoke to that one, and then suspend optimizations meaning, what this, what we're alluding to here is two things once you're in the holiday season, especially on Google, try not to make a ton of changes, because it's gonna be super hard to understand what worked well, and what didn't. And the other part is, is that an Amazon the algorithm supports those campaigns that have been live a lot, right? So yes, there might be one that's completely a dud, where you launch it, maybe the creative is wrong, and you're spending a ton and you got to stop that I understand, you know, pausing or archiving it. But overall, try to let the campaigns run through the holiday and do your testing before that. Don't forget about DSP, this is a no brainer. We've been talking about this a lot of our last couple of webinars and with our brands, you the creative that you're able to do within DSP, as is getting even better. The relationship between running DSP and running PPC at the same time, and then even tying in your Google efforts, you're starting to understand the full picture through AAMC, Amazon Marketing Cloud, and this has continued to be one of the best best practices that we're seeing with our brands. So we are, I would say 2022 2021. A little less aggressive, a little bit more of a testing ground coming into this year, we've got a really good DSP playbook. And we know how to complement DSP with our other ad efforts, both on DTC and on Amazon for AMS

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 26:41

DSP, was that yeah, nice to have. And now it's, it's a must. Yes,

Nicole Reich 26:47

yes, absolutely. Yep. And the budgets. And now you know, the minimum budgets aren't as high, right. But let's just say you don't do a DSP just as a backup than a sponsor display within Amazon ads. That is an absolute necessity. And we're seeing our returns on those types of ads to be a lot better. I mentioned earlier about retargeting, where you're focusing on your halo products. And then coming in with retargeting, you can do that through Amazon does DSP. But you also can do it to some extent through display. I mentioned this a couple of times, right. So that starts spending before Thursday, or on Thursday, at a minimum for cyber five, we are seeing people shop a bit more on Thanksgiving than they typically have. So if you're increasing your bids on Friday, probably missing out on some browsing opportunity, or even purchased opportunity from Thanksgiving. On the right here, just as a heads up, this is one of our creative campaigns that we're running and using for DSP. So just wanted to show you that these campaigns or these ad units are much more creative, right? It's not just your typical text overlay anymore, you can get a lot, you can start to see some of the DTC efforts that you typically do in creative spin over to Amazon ads and Amazon DSP. Other considerations, so Q five, which we termed as the time between Christmas and New Year's, don't forget about it, people have a lot of gift cards, and they're ready to redeem those. There a lot of times not on, on work, right, we're on vacation at that time. So you're kind of cutting off budgets on DTC side based on those shipping times. But then you're ramping it back up between Christmas and New Year's, because everyone's kind of sitting around and shopping on their phones. So just keep that in mind, we tend to on both that we recommend on the D to C side and then plan on the Amazon stores to have Amazon store flips pretty often. So we've got one design I know of ember one design on December, and then sometimes that does new design on the store starts the day after Christmas. So whether it's new year, new me or 2024, whatever it might be, there's a design flip that you need to plan for now. So that the day off while most of the company is on vacation, you can just push it through instead of having to create it

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 29:21

in real time. That's such a good point. pupae, that's so true. those gift cards that are out there, and everybody's like hungry to get them. Redeemed is such an opportunity. When is the best time then to shift that inventory to get that in transit. So it is received in that Q five timeframe? Would that be an assessment, cyber five and then get that shipment in the pipeline?

Nicole Reich 29:44

So we would do that up in September, right. That's the forecast that we have for the entire holiday season. It would that would include to

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 29:51

five five would be in there. But but think

Nicole Reich 29:55

that you're still able to replenish, right. So those deadlines that I that I I presented earlier, those are just for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you are still able to send in shipments of course. So typically kind of on the FBA side and even in vendor Central, I tend to see that it levels itself out that typically isn't an issue. Got it. The only thing the only caveat to that is that if your assortment is different in December or in January than it is in December, like our fitness brands, some of those brands have different assortments that you do have to plan right because it's not the same inventory, or it's not the same products that you're typically promoting in December and then in January, so your your replenishment might need to be cool, too, for email and SMS planning. So some of this can be on Amazon. But a lot of this is more on the DTC side, personalized recommendations are key, the more personalized it can be. The more you're connecting with that consumer, we find many released this a couple of weeks ago, 73% of consumers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations, which is a little funny when you know we all we tend to find people don't want to share and they want to be private, but at the same time, they want you to know what they want. So I think that's a little bit of like an aha moment. But that is not a release. So what are some tips on on lifecycle marketing, again, we call lifecycle SMS, and email. So review your signup unit. So collect those emails. And those SMS opt ins now cover missed opportunities by adding new units or new campaigns, and then understand which ones are live and how they need to be optimized. This is seems to be a set it and forget it for a lot of brands, where we ask brands, how's the lifecycle going? And they say, Oh, it's fine. And then we say is your lifecycle, SMS and email efforts driving 30% of your revenue on DTC and then they say no. And then we say okay, and you have an opportunity. So out of all the things on the DSP side, this is typically one of those where brands think they're doing it well, or they don't think that, you know, it drives the needle, and it definitely does. And it's also not paid, right. It's one of those things that it's more of a time investment. And there's some expertise behind it. But this isn't like running ads, where you have to have a budget, you just have to have the right people allocated at the right time to set this up for you. So plan your segments that goes to how clean your data is your contact list, right, but set promotions up for VIPs or password users or engaged subscribers, those that have worked really well. And again, segment those ahead of time, build personalized workflows. So in front upfront, know that, you know, there's maybe some low inventory or price drops or back end stops coming back, set your emails up to correspond with those inventory suggestions or those inventory activities. Another buy with prime one push here is that this is another workflow that can happen right we talked about communicating to your customers, and those last first two weeks of December coming up to that cut off. On the day of the cut off. If you see traffic drop off and you want to testify with Brian, make sure that you have emails set up to target them. One quick tip on that is that we do find that we want to be very protective of our customers on DSP. But there's also customers in your database who haven't purchased or who are stale, right? Those are the ones I would target potentially with that by with prime email. And then as always prep your customer service teams, make sure that they understand and can support the customer questions related to quality or how they're browsing on the website if there's current problems and then also help them understand how they can do post purchase upsell if we get them on the phone or emailing them directly.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 33:06

Another way to that I learned the hard way was like bulk up on your replacement parts. If that is something that your product you know warrants to have those ready for you that need customer service calls come in at them The holidays are in January and just to be able to save the sale and provide those parts made a big impact for the business we ran.

Nicole Reich 34:26

Plan your incentives appropriately right. They can vary from dollar off percentage off for free gift with purchase. This is a right now time you know, Tiffany you asked what are the things that maybe we could test in October of maybe it's not the actual product? It's more of the the positioning right. What does the subject line look like? What is the email body look like? Is it a percent off? Is it $1 off? We find on Amazon we test the same type of thing. And it really varies by brand. Some brands customers engage more with a percentage off Then $1 off, and others are the opposite. At the end of the day, it's still the same amount. It's just how you position it. So now's the time to start testing that what are your How do your customers interact? And then you can apply that what you learned from potentially Prime Day or October now to the holiday time. Totally cool. Consider when customers are more likely to convert frequency and resend the right timing is everything on emails, if you're sending an email at Sunday, on Sunday at midnight, likely people won't open it right. So just check those times. This one again, is a very easy thing in object like to say, sometimes we find when it comes to execution, it's not always there. So easy check on

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 35:48

it just reminder, questions, comments, put them into the q&a or chat, and we will get to them as we round up here. So Mitch, great content. Great.

Nicole Reich 35:59

This is actually the last one. So creative prep. So we had a webinar a couple of months ago, with our VP of, of creative Wednesday. And if you are following us on LinkedIn, you'll see her and she kind of talks through our approach to creative it's well worth the watch. Maybe not mean necessarily, but definitely Lindsay, she's got some great insights in there. And just to add kind of our last stat here, 41% of people find ads showing relevant products or discounts most influential in their purchase decision. And to tie this to creative. Gone are the days that it can just be text, right and especially with Tik Tok, and with Instagram, if you're creative isn't engaging, you may think that it's an ADS problem, when really, it's a creative problem. And that again, needs to be switched out. So right now, for example, we are doing holiday shoots, where for our brands, and making sure that we're calling out those opportunities, whether they're stocking stuffers, or last minute purchases, and we're doing one shoe with all of the different creative that we need across all channels. So we're doing holiday tic tac shoots Instagram, email on the DTC site on Amazon, plan all of that now and take more than what you think you would need. Worst case, maybe there's some that you can repurpose for the following year. But we find that the more that we're switching and having those campaigns out, the better so on your Amazon store, right? Having the content updated regularly, the the newness is important, more so than it ever has been. And then also plan your content to be module, test different versions and allow for a variety of content to be of use across platforms. So on this one again, I just a quick plug, we do have really cool, very efficient holiday packages that we're doing for our brands right now. So we go to our brands and we say hey, do we what do we want to do in two, four? They say, Hey, we've got all these bundles, and then we say, is there creative available? And they say no. And in that instance, we're able to be pretty savvy and get those products and get them shot right now. So if you're if you can do it on your own plan now, if not, if you are looking for someone to do maybe a one time project, let us know. Cool, I think that is it. grew it. Awesome. Fantastic info,

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 38:28

with your questions, comments, put them in the chat, we'll get to it. And also reminder to all that we are having a Blue Wheel BWG Connect dinner next Tuesday in Boston, August 22. It is on BW g connect.com. If you'd like to register, it's in conjunction with etail east. So details are online. But if you live in the Boston area, or you're going to be there for ETL east, definitely registered, we'd love to have you at the dinner. It's always really awesome, fun time. So one question I have is Amazon live like that user generated contents? Where does that come into play with? Everything else? Yeah. So

Nicole Reich 39:16

I'm being honest here. So Amazon live, we've run certain campaigns, a few of them have gone viral. And maybe this is just the industry that we're in, you know, maybe that's just the brands where we haven't got I guess I would say that I don't have that many wins on Amazon live that I would say yes, do it now. Okay, now, that could just be the brands and we don't do a whole ton of them. We've probably done you know, a handful this year. We did more in 2022 and 2021. But influencer though or user generated content on Tik Tok on Instagram in driving that to Amazon or your DTC has been by far the best tactic that we saw on Prime Day A, like, absolutely incredible. For one of our brands, it's a very, very well known beauty brand. They typically do about I'll just give you the numbers 200,000 a day. And then when we drove a tick tock user generated contacts from tick tock to Amazon, for the two days, they did over $4 million in sales. It was, it was really easy. Yeah. So again, I know that DSC were protective of that customer, but especially around prime days, tested the word, you know, please, please test it, even if it's in a small group, because the Amazon algorithm loves that off Amazon traffic. And also the customers really love that two days shipping, right? And on Prime Day events, they're going to be shopping anyways. So if there's anything I've learned this year from July, it is very much that, yes, we can run coupons, we can run DSP, but try to leverage your social and your email and just test to both channels.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 40:59

That's so true that the algorithms to love that like offsite traffic, especially when it's coming from social media platforms. We've seen that a lot this year as well. So super cool. Any final thoughts as we wrap up? Um, yeah, if you have

Nicole Reich 41:15

feedback on this, please let us know. Again, we're going to send it out. I would love to hear if you end up using this and sharing it with your team members. We plan on doing this next year, we did a similar version, but not as detailed last year. So if you have feedback, or if you find that there's some tips that you have in your own playbook, I would love to see, see those so that we can share them. I will say that Deputy as you mentioned will be at etail. East we have a booth there we have dinner. And if you haven't already called us on LinkedIn, please do we've we've got a lot of great contact content coming out. And I've already posted so I'm so looking forward to engage with all of you over the next couple of months. And of course, best of luck this holiday season.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 41:56

Beautiful and can we send out the presentation to the attendees?

Nicole Reich 41:59

Absolutely. Yep. And the recording that'll come out in the next week or so.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 42:03

Okay, perfect. So yeah, everybody who's everline Look out for that. Thank you all for joining Nicole. As always, thank you so much for the content, the expertise, have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and I can't wait to see you on Tuesday. So with that, it's a wrap. Thank you all. Have a lovely Thursday and upcoming weekend and hope to see you on another event. Take care

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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