Q4 is short for Quarter 4 or the 4th quarter of the year. Traditionally that means October, November and December. To retailers, Q4 is considered the peak sales period when shoppers spend the most money. In the US, some of the major events in this period include:
- Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November)
- Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving and the most hyped sales day of the year)
- Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday, which was created in 2005 as a marketing effort to get people to shop online while riding on the shopping frenzy of Black Friday)
- New Year
Having sold through the last three Q4s since 2013, practically speaking, Q4 is November, December and January - because I have personally experienced the highest sales in these three months.
In fact, January has been my top grossing month in terms of Amazon sales in two out of the past three years.
Here's a possible reason why. Lots of people gift Amazon Gift Cards as Christmas presents - me included. I have a sister who lives in the US. Every Christmas I send her an Amazon Gift Card as a Christmas present. People who receive Amazon Gift Cards during Christmas would then start shopping on Amazon from the end of December into January.
How to Prepare for Q4
For me, I have a a replenishable private label/wholesale inventory of about 50-60 SKUs with a sales history. Based on the trackable sales history, I know how many units are sold each month for every SKU.
I check my Amazon sales history in Amazon Seller Central by going to REPORTS>Business Reports>Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item. From there you can select the date range and sort by unit sales, etc. to analyze the sales data.
For example, for SKU-1 I know the monthly average sales for the last 3 months is 100 units per month. I also know that this product might be something people would buy as a gift to friends or parents during Q4. Based on past experience, I would therefore want to have stock of 2X the normal average monthly volume. Personally that means I would project 600 units (2 x 100 units x 3 months) to stay in stock for Nov, Dec and Jan.
I would typically order this in two equal batches.
The first order would be in late September or early October (depending on the lead time of each supplier), with the target of stock being received into FBA by mid October. So 300 units for sales in November and early December.
The second order of 300 units would be in late October or week 1 in November with the target of the stock received into Amazon by end November. This stock is for December and January.
It is important to order enough stock for January sales in late October or early November for 2 reasons.
- Some suppliers run out of stock in November due to the peak season demand. I have experienced that with 3 suppliers that resulted in lost sales worth thousands of dollars.
- There are many holidays in Q4 where many suppliers and prep companies, especially in the US, might close for an extended period such as during Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas through to the New Year. I used to work for a US headquartered company and our office would close for 1-2 weeks from Christmas Eve onwards. So it's important to order what you need for January well before the suppliers go on holiday.
For New Sellers on Amazon
If you live in the US, consider joining a Q4 Sourcing Group. These groups have helped members sell large amounts in the last 2 years by sourcing suitable inventory especially in local areas.
If not, I recommend simply going wide not deep. This helps minimize any risk of having all your capital stuck with one product should it not sell well. In my opinion, it is better to focus on the slow and steady approach of building for the long term rather than trying to catch Q4, especially if you are new to selling on Amazon and reading this in June or later in the year.
It usually takes a person at least 3 months to get the ball rolling on Amazon and I would estimate at least 6 months (if you are very diligent and analytical) to become proficient in knowing what to sell and how to source.
Q4 will come and go too quickly. And anyway there will always be another Q4 next year and the year after!
For the best collection of proven strategies to sell successfully on Amazon, I highly recommend taking a look at the Proven Amazon Course which I consider my foundation for selling on Amazon.