Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, and that means your customers are already itching to learn about your promotions and deals for these big shopping days.


If you’re an Amazon seller, the pressure is on to compete with other sellers and products… for the entire month of November. Amazon opens their Black Friday online store on November 2. That’s right, your 2017 Black Friday is starting in less than a month.


That also means that Amazon warehouses are already fully loaded. They are working to hire more people for picking and fulfillment, but already Amazon is turning away orders due to long lines and lack of space. Some trucking companies won’t even accept Amazon orders anymore due to the long waiting times and rejections at Amazon doors.


Because of this, you need to prepare ahead of time to make sure you have a healthy inventory for the upcoming weeks.


Did you know that Cyber Monday 2016 was the biggest shopping day in the history of U.S. e-commerce, coming in at $3.45 billion on Monday alone? Amazon said it was one of their biggest days ever… and they expect this year to be even bigger.


So how can you make sure you’re properly sourced and stocked for the ultimate shoppers’ day this year?


1. Start sourcing now.

If you haven’t already started planning for Black Friday, now is the time. Everyone else is also planning and preparing their imports, including your competitors and other companies who share your factory. That means that you need to get a jumpstart and contact your factory to make sure they have the capacity and timeline to finish your products. Now is not the time for a late shipment.


A good rule of thumb for holiday sourcing is to take your supplier’s typical timeline and double it. This can account for factory setbacks as well as transportation and customs concerns, as there’s an influx of imports into the U.S. for the holiday season.


If you plan to sell for Black Friday, we recommend the following shipping times from China, no later than:

  • East Coast: October 10
  • West Coast: October 18
  • Ideal: October 8


If you are planning to sell for Christmas, ship from China no later than:

  • East Coast: October 28
  • West Coast: November 8
  • Ideal: October 20


2. Plan your products.

Don’t just start ordering every product in your catalog. Think strategically about your sourcing. Limited space in trucks and warehouses also means you need to select your products wisely.


What products are you going to push? What sorts of promotions will you run for these products? How will you need to source in accordance with the projected sales of those products?


Research the products that are expected to sell big this Black Friday. What is the demographic of the audience and what are they purchasing this season?


Don’t jump on the bandwagon… create your own bandwagon. If possible, use those trending products as a jumping off point to source an even better product that you can showcase to your audience.


Not sure what to source? Work with a company like Ask Idea Sourcing for a thorough product consultation that will take into account your target audience, your competition, and the trends for the upcoming months.


Don’t hesitate. Request a quote to start importing your Black Friday products right now… before it’s too late!


3. Calculate your margins.

Your margins won’t stay the same during the holiday season. Different factors will impact your margins:


  • Increased order volume may mean lower production costs
  • Increased shipment volume may mean higher transportation costs
  • Promotions and discounts may mean lower selling profits
  • Holiday season may mean higher shipping costs
  • Holiday season might mean raised employment costs if you run a small business with Amazon


Calculate your margins for each product you plan to import in order to understand how you can profit on your Black Friday sales. Even if you source the highest trending product, certain variables could actually cause you to lose money. If you need assistance, Ask Idea Sourcing is here to figure out the numbers for you.


4. Overstock your inventory.

After you know which products you’ll be sourcing, you should consider overstocking. If you have a strong promotion, you’ll likely attract more customers than your brand typically is used to. You don’t want to sell out your entire inventory and be left disappointing customers or losing out on sales.


Even if you have leftover inventory from overstocking, you still have another month of the holiday season to push the rest of your units. Even one misstep in inventory management could be disastrous in such a heavy flow of customers.


5. Monitor your orders.

Always know where your shipments are, so you can be sure they are running on the appropriate timetable for your consumers. Holiday delays could mean that your customers don’t get their product until after Christmas, which can kill any business. Customers will leave bad reviews and not purchase from you again. You can quickly lose all your brand loyalty with even one late shipment.


With Ask Idea Sourcing, you can track your orders online in real-time so you can know exactly when you’ll be ready to launch your Black Friday promotions. Our Order Monitoring service ensures that your product is delivered door-to-door safely and efficiently.


6. Ship to Amazon FBA or other fulfillment.

If you don’t pick and ship goods from your own warehouse or home, you want to get your items to your fulfillment center as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’re using Amazon FBA. As discussed, Amazon warehouses are already filled. You want to get in line for a spot before an even bigger rush hits.


The sooner you get the products in from sourcing, the sooner you can start prepping your inventory. The sooner you prep your inventory, the sooner you can ship it to your fulfillment center. You’ll want to get everything properly labeled and shipped to Amazon FBA so they can reserve your inventory for the Amazon Black November sales.


This is especially important because shipping costs will start to rise as it gets closer to the holidays. Send to Amazon FBA sooner to minimize these costs, and let Amazon handle the rest of the shipping concerns to their customers.


Plus, once you ship to Amazon FBA, the product is in their hands. You just need to set up and run your promotional campaign, and then you can sit back and enjoy your holiday.


7. Plan a promotional campaign.

Figure out what kind of campaign you want to run, since Amazon offers a variety of promotion types. Choose a promotion that will work best for your audience, your product, and your margins. Consider how consumer behavior will affect the kind of promotion or deal. Low pricing and free shipping are the most common (and generally successful) routes for the holiday season.


Another great promotional option to consider is bundling. Creating a bundle will help you beat the competition, win the Buy Box, and provide value to your consumer. It’s also a great way to get rid of your idle inventory along with your new, trendy pieces. Learn more about bundling from our partner Seller’s Choice: How To Create A Profit Boosting Amazon Bundle.


8. Market and run your promotion.

Start marketing early. Get yourself out there on Amazon with Pay Per Click ads. Make sure you are completely optimized for Amazon searches. If you have your own website and social media, make sure you’re following knows that you will be holding an Amazon promotion.


You should also consider expanding your sale dates if you have the stock in and ready to go. Amazon runs their promotion the entire month of November. The longer you are a part of that Black Friday craze, the more you’ll be visible, gain customers, and boost sales.


The Bottom Line

Start managing your Black Friday inventory now to be prepared for the November Amazon rush. Working with a sourcing firm can help you consistently check in with your supplier to ensure they are producing and shipping products on time for the holiday season.


If you want to focus on running your promotions and spending time with your family, you need a sourcing partner to help select and import your Black Friday units. Request a quote from Ask Idea Sourcing to find out how we can optimize your business during the hectic and demanding holiday season.