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Some Last-Minute Prep Can Ensure Amazon Prime Day Success It's not too late to up your odds of big sales this year, and not too soon to begin preparations for next year.

By Katie May

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The fourth installment of Amazon Prime Day is set for next week, running from July 16 at noon Pacific through July 17. By this time, as an ecommerce retailer, you should have already decided whether you're participating or not, and if you are, this will be a very busy weekend of preparation if you follow the advice below.

For those not familiar with Amazon Prime Day, it's a 36-hour sales event featuring deep discounts, specially priced items, and Lightning Deals, all available only to paid Amazon Prime members. Last year, Amazon saw its largest jump among Prime members, and subscribers now total over 100 million. For 2017's Prime Day, participating Amazon sellers saw a 58 percent increase in profits, a 92 percent increase in sales, and a 66 percent increase in orders over the month before (June).

Related: How Amazon Sellers Can Drive More Prime Day Sales

Outline your goals

It's important to approach this Prime Day knowing fully what you intend to get out of it. Most ecommerce retailers are looking to cash in on the popularity of the big sale days and make an increase in revenue. However, there are more opportunities to consider. Amazon Prime Day offers a marketing opportunity to get your company and products in front of an engaged customer base. And, perhaps you are hoping to offload slow moving inventory to make room for back to school and holiday inventory.

Your approach to Prime Day may vary slightly depending on each. For example, if you're looking to turn the sales days into a powerful marketing opportunity, your goal will be to not only make sales but capitalize on new customer relationships and build on them. Keep in mind, you can't simply nurture Amazon customers as you would customers from other channels due to Amazon's strict policies, but there are some important initiatives you can do.

Amazon allows you to have customized packing slips, so use that to your advantage. Encourage customers to follow you on your social channels so that you can keep the conversation going. Just be sure these invitations to connect are simply that—don't add promotional language such as coupons or incentives. Amazon frowns on that. With clear calls-to-action on your website and utilizing pinned posts with CTAs on your social accounts, you can build your audience and/or set up retargeting ads for future promotions.

Related: Amazon Accidentally Leaked the Date of Prime Day

Plan your Amazon approved follow-up

If you're unaware of Amazon's rules with respect to communicating with customers, they are uncompromising. Basically, you aren't allowed to do any promotional marketing to people who buy from you through your Amazon store.

However, you are permitted to request seller and product reviews, which offer long-term value to your business. Though customers highly value reviews, they often need prompting to write one. Fortunately, you can often automate these with auto-generated emails that include links to your store or purchased products. You are allowed to send requests to every customer who purchases from you. The more personalized and timely your requests, the more likely you are to get reviews out of them.

Here are some of the benefits of increasing your reviews.

Product quality

Amazon is more than a marketplace. It's also a product search engine. The better rated your products are, the more likely they are to show up prominently in searches. Consumers have been conditioned to comparison shop thanks to the plethora of options now at their fingertips, and half of a star rating could be the difference between gaining and losing a sale.

Seller reputation

People want to buy from businesses they trust, and they look at customer reviews the same way they do personal recommendations. Specific to Amazon, you may be competing with other businesses who carry the same product, so your seller reputation could be the tipping point in a customer buying decision.

Related: Amazon's Biggest Prime Day Sale Starts on July 16

Future selling opportunities

Amazon has specific criteria a seller must meet to be able to participate in things like Lightning Deals. A Lightning Deal is a time-bound, promotional offer where an item is featured for a limited number of hours, usually four to 12 hours, on the Amazon Deals page. Featuring an item as a Lightning Deal may help increase sales, reduce your inventory, and create a sense of urgency.

To qualify for Lightning Deals, you must be a Professional Seller with at least 5 Seller Feedback Ratings per month and an overall rating of at least 3.5-stars. If you don't qualify now for this Prime Day, this sales holiday is the perfect opportunity to set yourself up to be eligible going into the fall and holiday seasons. You will then be able to offer Lightning Deals during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Ecommerce sellers of all sizes have benefited greatly from the previous Amazon Prime Day events, and it's expected that this year will be the same. Be prepared for a flurry of items to ship, and remember, customers are looking for discounts. Prime Day offers a unique opportunity to get your company in front of millions of new customers, and can be game-changing for your ecommerce business.

Katie May

CEO of ShippingEasy

Katie May is CEO of ShippingEasy, a start-up that provides online merchants with the easiest cloud-based shipping solution.

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