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How to Win in Q4

Over the past few months, Pacvue and Profitero have seen dramatic year-over-year increases, and decreases, in Amazon searches for many product categories, including makeup, home office supplies, back-to-school, and more. Between increased CPCs, out-of-stock items, and the holiday season coming up, you need to have a strategy in place to win the hybrid in-person and online environment in the long term.

Current Marketplace Trends, Including Category Specific Data

Early shopping is becoming a seasonal norm. What we are seeing based on consumer searches is that seasonal shopping is happening earlier and earlier. Amazon.com searches for both Halloween and Christmas-related items have significant year-over-year increases for the week ending August 14, 2021, compared to the week ending August 15, 2020.

Halloween related christmas related search terms amazon.com year over year increases 2021 vs 2020

Substantial percentage increases in Amazon searches year-over-year (week ending July 24, 2021, Vs July 25, 2020) for terms like ‘Makeup Brushes Set’ (+9,548%) and ‘Women’s Blazer’ (+2,432%) are indicative of post-pandemic primping with the return to the office. Searches such as ‘Instant Breakfast Drinks’ (+422%) and ‘Power Bank’ (+705%) surged, as people plan on leaving their homes to work in the office once again. Items like ‘Furbo Dog Camera Treat Dispenser’ (+368%) and ‘Security Camera’ (+389%) show massive interest in equipping homes to look out for our loved ones.

It’s also that time of the year again when kids are getting Back to School (BTS) but with COVID 19’s Delta Variant on the rise, so are the Search Frequency Rank (SFR) trends with kids’ face masks:

  • “Mask lanyard for kids” has skyrocketed from SFR 46K in the first week of July to SFR 305 by mid-August.
  • “Kids disposable mask” has shot up from SFR 211K to 59 by mid-August.
  • By August 14th, 3/4 of the top 4 terms were mask related.

Holiday Shortage Concerns

Already, we are seeing early signs of holiday shortage concerns. As of the first week of August 2021, 61% of consumers who started their back-to-school shopping have run into out-of-stock issues. As reported by numerous news outlets, a vast network of ports, container vessels and trucking companies that move goods around the world is bottlenecked, which means the cost of shipping is skyrocketing. But rising costs of shipping is unfortunately just one example of increased costs that consumer good companies are facing. These rising costs are ultimately being passed on to consumers to try and maintain their bottom line. Everything from office supplies to clothing to electronics have increased approximately 5-10% between June 2020 and July 2021.

How to Stay on Top of Out-of-Stock Problems

From a marketing standpoint, this indicates that inventory issues may be even worse this Q4 than last. You should ensure that you have contingency plans to stay on top of out-of-stock issues in place early this year. And an effective way to do that is to make sure you have the right technology in place. Software such as Pacvue can automate bidding strategies based on your inventory.

Last year, out-of-stock items were a bit more of a shocker than what we can expect this year. Now that we know product shortages will be hitting a huge variety of categories, you can be better prepared and use it to your advantage in some cases. If your highest selling products, or hero SKUs, are out-of-stock, this is a good opportunity to shift a portion of your advertising budget to your tail ASINs.

By tracking online Share of Voice, you can uncover unique conquesting opportunities for those not bidding on their brand terms if out-of-stock. Also, make sure you have the right data and alerts in place to proactively push actionable insights your way.

Strategies to Win Market Share in Q4

With only a few weeks to go until Q4 officially kicks off, now is a great time to work on building your relevancy score, since increased relevancy = lower CPCs. Optimize to click-thru rate (CTR) since CTR is a signal for relevancy and SEO optimize your detail pages with relevant keywords.

Prepare your account now to ensure a smooth and efficient rest of Q3 & Q4, but leave room to react to changes in consumer behavior:

  1. Optimize your keyword strategy and budgets now for top performance during Back-to-School and return to in-person
  2. Review your product pages & brand store to make sure all graphics, titles, & text are fully optimized
  3. Ensure your promotional ASINs are featured in auto and top manual campaigns to encourage visibility
  4. Prepare advertising experiments with different keywords and bidding schedules, discounts and messaging
  5. Have all retargeting campaigns (DSP & SD) ready to ramp immediately following any traffic surges

Amazon FBA Key Holiday Dates

It’s important to start preparing for your Q4 promotions early to ensure you have full deal coverage during peak traffic periods.

  • September 17: Deadline to submit deals in the US
  • October 21: In-bound shipping cutoff for vendors
  • November 3: Inventory cutoff date for sellers
  • November 26: Black Friday begins
  • November 29: Cyber Monday begins and coupon submissions for holiday season close on this day

Finally, look at the checklist below to best prepare for Q4 and the holiday season.

Q4 Retail Media Checklist:

  • Build relevancy score now to win in Q4
  • Launch your campaigns early and test, test, test
  • Put together a competitive conquesting strategy for your competitors’ out-of-stock items (and your own)
  • Prepare your budget for maximum flexibility
  • Broaden your retargeting campaigns to reach new shoppers


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