*Parental Advisory* we’re discussing the secrets of Santa and some last minute Amazon Seller strategies to drive awareness, consideration and sales this holiday season


Now that Amazon is so pervasive in holiday share of wallet (they shipped more than 1Bn packages during the holiday season of 2018), I wonder how much sooner in life our kids are needing to face the existential Santa dilemma: How does his sleigh fit all of those toys? …”OMG”

With Amazon anticipating an even larger holiday season this year, what can we ascertain from last year’s reporting for some holiday sales strategies to explore?

PYMNTS points out that some of the best-selling products of last season were the Echo Dot, L.O.L  Surprise! Glam Glitter Series Doll, fashion items from Carhartt and Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless Headphones.

Learning: Toys, Fashion & Electronics are HOTT in the Holidays

With those categories in mind, we want to provide a few last minute strategies for brands in the Toys, Fashion and Electronics categories to drive growth this Holiday Season.

All Categories: YOU’RE TOO LATE to make the most meaningful decisions to drive growth:

Inventory for Black Friday and Cyber Monday should arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by November 5, 2019.

Inventory for Christmas shopping should arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by December 5, 2019.

Inventory for 2020 should be sent to Amazon fulfillment centers no earlier than December 17, 2019. Until then, please only ship items to Amazon that will sell in 2019.

Be sure to allow ample time for supplier lead times, carrier lead times, or both. It may take longer to get inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers during the busy holiday season.

Aside from having prepared well in terms of inventory planning and having a plug with Marty McFly or Doc Brown to travel back in time, here are some strategies and tools all sellers can take note of:

Amazon’s FBA Holiday Selling guidelines

The average increase in Amazon Ad spend per brand is about 4X-10X during holiday season.

This stat is pulled from an aggregate of other media agency reports, as well as, our own studies of our clients’ spend patterns, so I have to give that caveat. However illegitimate this stat might be scientifically speaking; it is anecdotally and directionally accurate.

It is intense with competition during this time of year and you must balance short term profit with longterm growth at this time of year more than ever. Keywords and placements are all more expensive at this time.

Lots to consider! Are your stock owners happy with their returns this year? Do you need to maximize units to hit targets? Do you need to maximize margins this year or are you looking to grow at all costs?

Every brand will need to treat their Amazon Advertising strategy differently given some of those macro considerations, as well as, tactical questions of whether you are in a defensive or category conquering mindset. We would love to schedule a 1 hour consult to chat it through with you.

As advertising is crucial to have a grip on for every category and so very unique to each brand, we wanted to provide some other ways to drive awareness, consideration and sales this holiday that are unique for some of the highest GMV holiday sales categories: Toys, Fashion and Consumer Electronics:

Toys: Amazon is very protective of this category in the Holidays. Kids must get the right toy on time!

Ever since Toys R’ Us liquidated their business, retailers and manufacturers have been vying to fill in the massive opportunity. They are all employing very aggressive price matching & selection incentives to beef up their market share quickly.

With that in mind, ensure that all of your order management issues are sorted and that your Seller Fulfilled metrics are pristine… this time of year especially! If you sell in the Toys category, Amazon will shut down your ability to fulfill items (and we all know that FBA inbounding is a nightmare this time of year) unless you maintain these metrics:

Performance Criteria based on Seller-Fulfilled Orders (not fulfilled by Amazon)

  • Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to September 1, 2019 and does not need to be specific to Toys & Games.
  • You must have processed and shipped at least 25 seller-fulfilled orders from August 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019.
  • Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be no greater than 1.75% from September 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019.
  • Your late shipment rate must be no greater than 4% from September 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019.
  • Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% as of October 14, 2019.

Fashion: who is your shopper & where should you focus traffic driving efforts off Amazon to your listings?

Each demographic is fairly well represented on Amazon & the shear velocity of US households paying >$120 per year to be Prime members should tell you that your audience is on Amazon. But if you are looking to influence your audience on other Platforms to drive conversions at Amazon, where should you turn?

It is fairly intuitive that fashion, more than other categories, is influenced by social media. Not to mention the frequency of purchase in this category leads to high levels of impulse buys…

With that in mind and with our agency’s strong portfolio in the fashion, apparel and accessories space, we work with our brands to target specific channels where their audience is most likely to drive to purchases. The above research provided by our friends at BigCommerce and highlights just how important Snapchat is to the Millennial and Gen Z crowd. I was convinced that Snapchat was cancelled, who knew??

A healthy brand with equity being driven on other channels that are not just ratings and reviews is more crucial now than ever to Amazon Merchants. There was a day, when my co-founder, Viet Tran, could rely on increasing ratings and reviews on Amazon to maintain his category dominance in eyewear for ZeroUV. Now a days, private label manufacturers are all finding that Amazon’s algorithm is rewarding listings that are driving their own organic traffic in their listings.

We are working with clients to integrate their Amazon listings into increasingly integrated marketing campaigns to engage consumers and drive brand equity. The investments are paying off and we are excited to share how effective content marketing / community building can drive inorganic growth in your Amazon business in upcoming case studies.

For now, pay attention to where your demographic is paying their attention and develop relationships there, as well as, on Amazon… Go do it now!

Download Amazon’s Social Media Tool Kit for promoting your Product Listings

Electronics: identify ways to drive experiential activations for your brand & leverage the content online. Features and benefits only get sold so well on a web page.

Our team took a tour of one of B8ta brand’s retail concept stores in Austin, TX. I have been following B8ta for some time now, as I am quite interested in how they are innovating in selling high-consideration product types. With a focus on explaining complex product types & ability to test the product before trying. Take Devialet’s $3K speaker box that promises:

This is not a speaker. This is Phantom. The best sound in the world. Encounter the physical impact of a high-end ultra-dense sound. Instantly. With power, clarity and precision unlike anything you’ve heard before.


Bose proves that audiophiles are shopping amazon and willing to pay for premium product, but the consumer needs to appreciate the “high-end ultra-dense sound.” How else will they do that other than hearing one?

What B8ta brands is doing is interesting and something I saw work quite successfully for OtterBox when I worked there. We were at least 100% more costly than the next brand on the wall @ Best Buy, but we invested in employee incentive programs and experiential marketing to make sure people knew their iPhones were protected in our Box.

The lesson here is not to concoct some multi-city, multi-retailer campaign, but how do you take your marketing budget and cost efficiently drive some local experiences that display your product with your audience? What of the B8ta experience can you take and activate between now and December 20th. People are shopping later and later in the year these days. More time to win their attention!

Fun fact… B8ta is also powering the technology behind the Toys ‘R Us revival – more to come on that. Not sure if I buy it or not.

Beyond Meat – #1 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

Beyond Meat

Brand mission: Beyond Meat Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009. create The Future of Protein® by offering mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: More successful than previous meat replacement options. Record breaking high stock valuations & recent collaborations with the best social media marketers on the planet, fast food restaurants, continue to keep driving awareness of the brand. They just launched a new burger collaboration with Denny’s this week. 

Why will it do well on amazon: AmazonFresh announced this week that they are offering Prime Members free 1 hour delivery of their groceries.

Additionally, Amazon manages their own meal kit business and increasing their AmazonGo store concept rollout with many “grab and go” meals. Beyond Meat could not only drive sales of their patties and other items, they could collaborate with Amazon to be their meat alternative partner.

KNC Beauty – #2 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

KNC Beauty

Brand mission: KNC Beauty specializes in all-natural lip masks and eye masks for the perfect natural beauty. 

Items they sell: Collagen-infused lip masks, reinol infused eye masks, lip balm.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: First of its kind in terms of natural lip masks. Brings out organic beauty without determinantal chemicals. Hot on IG with celebrities and publications.

Why will it do well on amazon: Amazon strengthens its No. 5 spot gaining 100 bps share to 5%—this compares to No. 17 in Fall 2018. Not to mention, Brand loyalty with beauty products is high, so is the push for all-natural, un-intrusive products. Getting people exposed and hooked on the selective collection of KNC Beauty would drive long-term sales without excessive maintenance costs.

Good-for-you and natural brands dominate the best sellers on skincare/beauty for female teens 2019 including similar products such as Aveeno and Burts Bees. 89% of female teens use online influencers as a source of discovery for beauty brands and trends, and KNC Beauty already has a hot IG presence.

Truly Hard Seltzer – #3 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

Truly Hard Seltzer

Brand mission: 100 calorie hard seltzer, gluten free and simple natural ingredients. 

Market insight as to why the product is hot: With the restrictions on Whiteclaw people will be looking for a replacement hard seltzer. Low calorie and sugar (1g) and carb (2G) make Truly an appealing alternative. 

Why will it do well on amazon: AmazonFresh announced this week that they are offering Prime Members free 1 hour delivery of their groceries. This will really explode the traffic and purchase behavior of groceries on Amazon and provides a young brand like Truly an amazing opportunity to grow with Amazon. Unlike the endless options of liquor/wine/beer there are less hard seltzers so people will be more likely to just purchase the one are familiar with and already like.  

Champion – #4 Most Amazon-able Brands @ ComplexCon


Brand mission: American manufacturer of clothing, specializing in sportswear. 

Market insight as to why the product is hot: People are trending toward athletic wear more in daily life. Retro/90s style is on the rise.

In addition to having the athleisure & streetwear push into fashion, workwear and many other segments, Champion is HOTT. 

Champion seemingly resurrected from nowhere. Let alone the last decade of dormancy, even within the last 2 quarters where Champion moved from #17 to #10 in apparel preference. That is crazy. Where were they in 2010? Were they even ranked? Who is the Creative Director driving this growth? So many questions…

Why will it do well on amazon: Amazon’s search queries are simply a matter of what everyone on the planet is searching for. When a brand like Champion is on a tear like they are right now, I would love to get our team’s hands on their Amazon business. Guaranteed they are missing >25% of their branded search by not actively managing their brand as an Amazon Marketplace Seller.  

Any brand with this level of HOTT, can always find ways to optimize.

Def Jam Recordings – #5 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

Def Jam Recordings (DJR)

Brand mission: American record label owned by Universal Music. Active since 1984, they are still actively recruiting up and coming artist and making them into international stars.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: Household name specializing in hip hop, pop, and urban music, all of which are exploding in popularity. Impressive catalog of artists spans multiple generations of musical preferences.

Why will it do well on amazon: Has some of the most influential people in the world signed (Rhianna, Kanye West, Justin Bieber). These people all have active social media and an enormous influence on shopper preferences (Kanye West’s sister-in-law Kylie Jenner was #2 in most influential fashion icon for teen shoppers in 2019). 

These artists and other trademarks owned by DJR are some of the most searched for keywords on Amazon’s site. Not only does the record label have a seemingly endless number of novelty items they can create with those trademarks, as Prime Music and Video become increasingly relevant, artists can follow in Rihanna’s footsteps to do more media takeovers with products they endorse/own.

Backwoods – #6 most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon


Brand mission: Earnest cigar company that celebrates tried-and-true cigars will all-natural leaf wrapping.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: Backwoods and marijuana are synonymous in many circles. The Hip-hop community (Drake’s song, Too Much), continues to show the brand love in songs, on IG posts and in their daily smoking habits. 

Someone go tell Noel to get the Backwoods

Why will it do well on amazon: This amount or organic, awareness-driving media is at the same time free & invaluable; this will drive searches on Amazon. If a habitual smoker can buy their wraps without getting off the couch, I think that is a homerun Amazon opportunity. It has to be why the internet exists, right?

Zen – #7 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon


Brand mission: Innovative sneaker and clothing company seeking to represent the evolution of e-commerce for sneaker and streetwear culture.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: Their 29 brand shoe collection carries a variety of hot brands, from more established names like adidas, reebok and Timberland to more up-and-coming brands like SURF IS DEAD and I Love Ugly. 

Why will it do well on amazon: Their focus on e-commerce and exclusive products makes them a good fit for the way people shop on Amazon. They have a decent social media presence (265k on IG) which would help them overcome “the cold start problem”. 

More to come on what “the cold start problem” is on Amazon; in short, brands must invest upfront in driving traffic with most of the payoff happening months after initially launching the product. It has to do with how Amazon’s search engine “A9” works. 

As a platform for listing products, Amazon has structured their search engine to Earn Trust with their shoppers. For that reason, A9 prioritizes products with more established sales history and positive ratings/reviews. Remember 70% of shoppers never leave the 1st page…

Zen’s product offerings are rare & unique and the brands invest in driving awareness online. I know for a fact Prime Members would prefer to get their Murakami drop in 1 day and with the global logistics of Amazon, they can reach more HypeBeasts everywhere. 

Simple Mobile – #8 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

Simple Mobile

Brand mission: In the increasingly expensive and confusing world of mobile carriers Simple Mobile offers affordable alternative mobile plan options and phone buying services. 

Market insight as to why the product is hot: Phones will continue to be a necessity, however pricing on the newest models and the susceptibility of breaking is driving renewed interest in refurbished / older model phones. While consolidation in the mobile market leaves lower-income shoppers with little options for good mobile service, Simple Mobile has a very simple value proposition and I am sure quite interesting unit economics (wish I was an investor!). 

Why will it do well on amazon: People already are active on amazon for phones and phone accessories and it is a natural step for them to extend that to the carrier service itself. I foresee an interesting conversation with Amazon’s team about offering an option to sell the Simple Mobile’s wireless plans through the site, as well. The Fire Phone was a huge flop, but this offer of value to Prime Members makes perfect sense to me. 

Good Smile Connect (GSC) – #9 Most Amazon-able Brand @ ComplexCon

Good Smile Connect (GSC)

Brand mission: Japanese products company that develops and distributes premium collectible items. Also involved in animation production and motorsports industry.

Market insight as to why the product is hot: Content and commerce continue to merge and investments in content marketing continue to deliver better, more sustainable customer acquisition/retention benefits than many advertising opportunities. On top of that, anime, cartoons & video games are great merch opportunities for toys, apparel and related product catalogs.

GSC, with their collaborative approach to working with creatives to develop products and GoToMarket strategies sits in an interesting position to provide turnkey programs for an increasingly fragmented video game & content publishing industry.

Why will it do well on amazon: There is an interesting case study of a similar business that exploded on Amazon in sales but have since had issues in scaling due to numerous seller policy infringements

TeeSpring – a Andreesen Horrowitz portfolio company – provides a screen printing website that allows artists to create and sell their graphic tshirts through their system. TeeSpring has thousands of creatives pooled together creating even more styles of shirts that no one needs to take inventory on (print on demand once the shirt is ordered). It was brilliant, until Amazon started Merch by Amazon (MBA)  and now there is a fairly active community on Reddit that debates whether MBA or TeeSpring is a better platform to manage your graphic t-shirt business. 

GSC has a similar sized opportunity and can even further their ability to compete on Amazon by leveraging Twitch and Amazon’s growing marketing tools to convert Twitch users to Amazon buyers

A content publisher meets manufacturer of toys and merch… very intriguing.