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Key retail takeaways from the 2023 holidays—how do you leverage them this year?

Are you still feeling the holiday rush? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. We’re here to bring you news on what the holidays went for Amazon sellers.

BIG IDEA

The 2023 holiday season (November 1 to December 24) saw a 3.1% year-over-year increase in U.S. sales. As reported by EcommerceBytes, online sales increased 6.3% year-over-year, while in-store purchases were up 2.2%.

🔎 The preliminary insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse revealed the following trends:

  • Online shopping is growing faster than in-store. Although in-store purchases still make up a considerable portion of total spending.
  • Apparel is the top category of the season, with a 2.4% year-over-year increase. Looks like consumers still love to splurge on new outfits and holiday costumes. 🎃
  • The Restaurant and Grocery sectors rose 7.8% and 2.1% year-over-year, respectively. 
  • Early promotions gave consumers time to hunt for the best bang for their buck.

What does this mean for sellers this year?

Simple: consumer spending behaviors are reverting to pre-pandemic levels, but trends continue to point toward digital stores.

But that’s not all. Other retail waves are emerging—ready to shape the new year—including:

We don’t know for sure what 2024 has in store, but it looks like it’ll have sellers on their toes. The important question is: are you ready to turn the facts into advantages? 🫵

TOGETHER WITH STACK INFLUENCE

How to execute the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns in 2024

How to execute the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns in 2024

Have you ever wondered how top-tier brands consistently maintain their dominant positions? We’ll let you know a secret–they owe it to their commitment to innovation.

Yes, technology plays a part. But there's something else, too: time-tested strategies like word-of-mouth marketing (WOM). 

🗣️ The new face of WOM

In modern ecommerce, a fresh form of word-of-mouth marketing has surfaced—user-generated content (UGC). 

When an influencer says a product works for them, it helps everyone believe the review’s credibility. Once a viewer personally relates to the influencer, they’ll most likely purchase the product through association.

Not sure how influencer marketing works?

Stack Influence can help you with this! Just like how they did for big brands like Unilever, P&G, Magic Spoon, and Momofuku, they can:

  • Connect you with over 11 million micro-influencers on their platform.
  • Handle your influencer marketing from beginning to end.
  • Make you more visible on social media.
  • Increase your sales up to 5 times more.

Interested? Sign up with Stack Influence today and watch your brand reach new heights.

BITES OF THE WEEK

AMAZON NEWS

Amazon’s updated holiday returns policy

Amazon’s updated holiday returns policy 

Before 2023 ended, Amazon had made some strategic changes to its returns policy. EcommerceBytes revealed that the retailer added updates to make returns more cost-efficient for buyers and sellers.

♻️ As it turns out, Amazon also plans to use these changes as its bid at sustainability, as it works to “maximize reuse and minimize waste.”Here’s thesummary of the changes:

  • More than 8,000 drop-off locations are offered in the U.S.
  • A return drop-off point is placed within a 5-mile radius of 4 out of 5 customers’ homes.
  • Amazon returns kiosks are now available in Whole Foods Market store locations.
  • Eligible items can be dropped off in the original packaging.

Does this benefit sellers?

Seeing as these actions are still new, we’re yet to come up with a solid answer for this. But there’s one change that sides in sellers' favor—the shortened holiday returns window. Amazon sellers must accept returns until January 31, 2024 for purchases made from November 1 to December 31, 2023 (ICYDK, Amazon previously allowed returns for purchases made as early as October).

But if you truly want to benefit from the changes, why not start planning on how to properly handle returns? 💭

SELLER REFRESHER

3 things you should know about Amazon’s 2024 return policies

3 things you should know about Amazon’s 2024 return policies

​​Speaking of properly handling returns, Jungle Scout shared a refresher to help you deal with such unavoidable hassle.

🥜 Return and refund policy in a nutshell

  • Most items have a 30-day return window.
  • A Returnless Refund is possible if the cost of shipping returns is higher than the product’s value.

📤 Returns outside of Amazon’s policy

Sometimes, buyers have a change of heart for reasons beyond policies. It’s up to you to honor the returns or not. Do note that you can charge a restocking fee if:

  • The item was used, damaged, defective, or materially different.
  • The item is outside the 30-day return window.

⚠️ Returns policy updates

ICYMI, FBA sellers will be slapped with fees for high-return rate products starting June 1, 2024. Fortunately, there are programs to help you do this, including FBA Liquidations, FBA Grade and Resell, and FBA Donations

Aside from this, Amazon hasn’t rolled out other major changes to its general returns policies. But you should keep your eyes and ears open for news like this to stay on top of your returns handling process.

Author : SellerBites
Faith began working on SellerBites in 2021, a weekly newsletter that provides sellers with the latest news and updates in FBA. With first-hand experience in managing various seller and vendor accounts, she understands what sellers face on this platform. Her background led to the conception of SellerBites, which main goal is to help people become better, more informed entrepreneurs in the Amazon marketplace.
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