Season 1, Episode 40

End of Year Strategic Planning

Most sellers have come to understand that monitoring metrics and keeping your account healthy is a mandatory starting point when it comes to selling on Amazon, but due to the chaotic holiday season it is not uncommon for things to fall through the cracks. In this episode Chris & Leah discuss strategic planning so you don’t fall behind in the upcoming new year.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Leah: Hello, Amazon sellers. I am Leah McHugh, Amazon seller consultant, and I am here with Chris McCabe, former Amazonian, and also an Amazon seller consultant.

[00:00:23] Chris: With E-commerce Chris– Yes. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. Let’s talk today about some strategy for end of the year.

[00:00:37] Leah: This is the time of year where you start seeing everybody doing predictions for next year on Amazon. Which is fun. But I was thinking that it would be maybe a little bit more useful to talk about what sort of strategic planning you should be doing now before the end of the year. So you’re ready to go.

[00:00:56] Chris: Yeah. And devoted listeners. Leah has some awesome ideas about logistics and planning because that’s where her brain goes. And she’s really good at that. I just want to throw in a couple notes about holiday cleanup, which you shouldn’t really let things completely go during peak just because it’s peak.

I know that’s tempting. I know it’s common, but ignoring performance notifications and expecting like, oh, we’ll address those first week of January, that’s like a two week stretch. If you’re talking about from like Christmas day, let’s say, or Christmas Eve to the first week of January, because you’re probably not going to really hit answering those policy violations or answering some of those performance notifications on ASINS you care a little less about until the end of the first week of January. I think that’s kind of risky and dangerous because it makes sense right? In your brain to be like, we’ll just get through the holiday, we’ll survive the holiday. And then we’ll jump in with both feet and we’ll get everyone back and we’ll do this and this and this. That makes sense to the seller, to the brand– to Amazon every day’s the same. To their bots and algorithms every day is the same. Right?

[00:02:09] Leah: 
Well, and you also don’t know what’s in the pipeline coming to your accounts in the next few weeks. So you’re essentially keeping a ding on there that could be followed by multiple other dings. And now you’re suddenly at risk of losing the account where if you’d already started attacking those policy warnings or violations in advance then the risk to your account will be less, even if you did get more policy violations.

And that actually was going to be my first point was to start doing an account review now, it’s tempting to do that new year, new you and start it in January

[00:02:44] Chris: Your new weight loss plan for your account health.

[00:02:47] Leah: Right. So I would say, start looking at that now that we are past the craziest couple of weeks, things are just starting to slow down, now that we’re getting outside of the shipping deadlines to get there by Christmas. So even if you can just dedicate one team member so that it doesn’t necessarily need to be your whole team, because obviously you are still filling orders and doing all of the important things around Christmas. If you can just dedicate one team member to digging into the account and looking for areas of concern and not just on the performance side. I mean, we focus on the performance side because that’s what we do. But also in terms of sales, what products are underperforming maybe consider pulling them from your catalog, or maybe consider how can you improve sales on some of your slower performing items?

What items should be getting pulled out of FBA, particularly if they’re seasonal items like you don’t want to be keeping Space in FBA for Christmas decorations after Christmas, you’re just wasting space and paying fees for no reason.

[00:03:51] Chris: And we understand this isn’t the top of your checklist right now, but even baby steps in these directions now make January less painful.

Not just because your to-do list will be smaller, but like we’re saying it’s logical to you to put some of this off for the moment until next month. But it’s illogical when you look at how account health is computed.

[00:04:14] Leah:
 And also if you’re making your plans for next year, next year, you’re already going to be at a disadvantage against your competitors who already have their plans ready to go into next quarter.

So if you’re making January plans in January, You’re already behind. And also further to that, there are certain things that are time sensitive, particularly in relation to taxes and fees. So for example, if you needed to clean up your business entities. For example, people who are both manufacturing and selling their product, it’s highly recommended that you have two separate entities.

One is a manufacturer and one is a seller. So now would be a really good time to get those set up in time for the beginning of the year, or alternatively, maybe you’ve consolidated some of your businesses and you don’t need one of your entities anymore. You should be closing that before the end of the year.

So you don’t have that entity into next tax year and you have to deal with that all over again for something you’re not using in that year.

[00:05:14] Chris:
 And like you said, hopefully these are some things that people have already done before late December, but from a performance notification mop-up perspective in the account health perspective, Reviewing your whole account, everything you do in your operations, everything in the account right now might not sound feasible, but even just creating like your top three pain points or areas of concern, I know it’s Christmas. I get that. It’s not like I expect everyone to be doing this on Christmas day, but having that strategy, having that battle plan set up so that you’re not stumbling into 2022. It’s a good idea, because like you said Amazon likes to surprise people. We don’t have to really preach much about that anymore because everyone’s experienced it one way or another and they could just be waiting to drop something on you i n January, right. They’re waiting until the holiday passes because they’re not negatively impacting holiday sales now, but they are looking towards next year already themselves.

[00:06:14] Leah: And then I would also say that obviously this year has been very difficult in terms of logistics. And I think a lot of people are waiting and hoping that after Q4 that will improve, I would suggest maybe start making some plan B’s in terms of, okay, so we’re having trouble getting things shipped over from China. Can we start looking at sourcing products elsewhere? Maybe closer to home where it’s easier to get them to us. Carlos Alvarez, who was one of our speakers at Seller Velocity, said a very good thing that he and his team do is an exercise called what will put us out of business. I think the end of the year is a really good time to start thinking of that.

What could happen that could put you out of business and what plans can you make to stop that from happening in that situation? I think this is a perfect time to be doing that beginning of next year is. Potentially too late. And like I said, you’ll be behind the other people who are already making their plans for next year.

[00:07:10] Chris: For sure. On this podcast, we talk a lot about the, what will end your business from the seller performance or policy side. But worthwhile to have that kind of strategy meeting across your entire Amazon business.

[00:07:22] Leah: Yeah. If you have departments, I think each department should be doing that exercise. Obviously different things that can put you out of business in different areas and the strategy needs to be different for each of them.

[00:07:32] Chris: Well, I mean, hopefully people are already doing some version of that with compliance or with, Hey, are there new laws coming on the books in January? Especially with brands that have already been hassled or notified by Amazon, that they want to see certain kinds of compliance, documentation, consumables, FDA products, FDA sanctioned products, for example.

So it’s a question of don’t you need to do this every December for the month ahead anyway?

[00:07:57] Leah
: Right, exactly. And then last point, which isn’t, again, particularly Amazon specific we’re even business specific, but just end of year specific. Look at your charitable donations. This is an excellent time to donate to charity.

If you, if the, if the good feelings that you get from donating to charity, isn’t enough, you can also use it to promote your brand. This is a good year, time of year to look at that because again, and the tax year comes into play. And also, you know, there are people that need, and this has been a rough year for those of us, not in ecommerce.

[00:08:32] Chris: 
We’re not preaching something we’re not doing ourselves . We’re spending a lot of time this month looking at our own charitable contributions and donations. So we understand that this isn’t the best time to be doing some of this stuff if you run an Amazon business, but we’re also kind of used to it, right?

December is a big working month. Even when some of us want to go somewhere warmer or somewhere with family. I totally get that. It’s just that this has to be folded into the equation somewhere where you can focus on it too.

[00:08:59] Leah:
 Yeah, and I think also getting the stuff done now will make it easier to enjoy time with your family because you don’t have all of these things on your mind that haven’t been dealt with yet.

[00:09:10] Chris
: So, thanks again for listening. Thank you, Leah. And we will catch you next time.

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh



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