How Advantage Unified Commerce helped brands grow sales by more than 40% on Black Friday

peter frost

Brands represented by Advantage Unified Commerce, the digital agency of Advantage Solutions, grew collective sales by more than 40% on Amazon between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, outpacing the overall industry by more than fivefold, data show.

The overall ecommerce industry, meanwhile, reported that sales grew 7.8% over the five-day period, according to preliminary results. 

“Our clients were able to exceed category growth targets and win market share during the busiest time of year for e-commerce,” says Fahim Naim, senior vice president/head of Amazon for AUC. “Our Amazon business had a record-breaking holiday, and that’s due in no small part to the hard work and months of preparation by our teams.” 

Here are the four strategies that helped AUC push its clients’ performance ahead of industry levels: 

Relentless preparation

Planning for the Black Friday holiday spending season takes months, Naim says. Long before the holiday begins, AUC’s Amazon team was preparing for the expected, the unexpected, and helping to facilitate brand operations well before, during and long after the week ends.

“There are a lot of intricate details, and you have to plan in advance to be prepared,” Naim says. “Something will go wrong. Amazon has hundreds of millions of products on the platform where you’re leveraging technology, and even with preparation, there will be things that happen you can’t prepare for. You just need to do your best job to react to them.”

In the run-up to the holiday, Naim and his team conducted hundreds of calls and implemented hundreds of trackers, and, of course, created backup plans upon backup plans to ensure a smooth sales weekend.  

All hands on deck

AUC team members were on duty throughout the holiday weekend checking deals and making updates in real time. That could mean anything from increasing ad spend where needed, troubleshooting technical glitches and proactively communicating with clients throughout this critical sales period. 

“We’re absolutely plugged in, often providing updates while our brands were eating their turkey, and they loved it,” Naim says.

Create the right content

By now it’s an old adage, but it still holds true: Content is king. AUC does a considerable amount of A/B testing throughout the year — especially the six months leading up to the holiday — to determine whether the images, the language and the messaging work harmoniously to do everything possible to convert shoppers into buyers. 

“Precision in messaging, testing, best-in-class assets — we know what works to put in front of the customer during that time period,” Naim says.

Brands that use the same content and copy all year long are making a mistake. And data bear that out. “We have the data to say when you tilt the main image to the left and show it at this angle, it has 3% higher conversion than if its flat or to the right,” Naim explains. “And when you’re doing $50 million on Amazon, a 1% or 2% increase in conversion has a big, big impact.”

Think big picture

The five-day selling holiday is a critical time to drive sales, but AUC also stays on top of inventory planning to ensure brands that sell out of promoted items have sufficient stock once Cyber Monday ends. It’s about taking ownership for a brand and actively working to make necessary adjustments to an account that will boost performance at any time, not just this important week.

“Other agencies focus primarily on media and advertising, but we’re truly full-service agency,” Naim says. “We’re doing operations, pricing, day-to-day troubleshooting, testing. We know everything that’s happening on the account.”

AUC handles everything from managing shipments and chargebacks, making pricing recommendations, and building design — including videography and assets — to negotiating with Amazon on a brand’s behalf.

Finally, once the Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign is over, AUC conducts a full autopsy for each brand’s campaign, evaluating what worked, what didn’t and how they performed against competitors. The findings inform 2024 account planning and future campaigns. 

Article developed with reporting from Kellye Whitney.