2023 Ecommerce Holiday Guide: Timing, Locations & Strategies
Nailing the Global Holiday Ecommerce Landscape: A Fresh Perspective
It’s no secret that the holiday shopping season, encapsulated within the vibrant months of November and December, carries a massive significance for retailers. Yet, as one gazes across the vast digital ocean of commerce, the humdrum chatter of the same old advice might elicit a tired sigh.
While time-honored shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day may seem ubiquitous, they essentially translate into a modern, globalized gladiatorial contest. Shoppers and sellers alike, worldwide, grapple with the frenzied pace and skyrocketing stakes.
Despite the wearied familiarity of the holiday commerce narrative, its importance remains undiminished. Surprisingly, up to a third of a retailer’s annual turnover can be attributed to this two-month commercial extravaganza. In fact, the U.S. National Retail Federation reveals that, for some, it may represent at least a fifth of their yearly income.
Even more intriguing, online retailers might enjoy an even larger slice of the pie. Deloitte’s studies suggest consumers across various demographics anticipate conducting around 59% of their festive purchases in the digital realm.
The ensuing six weeks may feel akin to navigating a tumultuous ecommerce tempest. However, if your clientele spans the globe, a measured, strategic approach could help steer your business to successful shores. Here’s a fresh take on what you should bear in mind.
Global Ecommerce and Cultural Calendars: A New Outlook
Undeniably, the tapestry of global cultures is threaded with a myriad of unique holidays. The commercial buzz of the so-called “holiday season,” primarily focused on the Western calendar’s November-December period, is not the sole festive window on a global scale.
The profusion of sales linked to events like Black Friday, Christmas, and Boxing Day has transformed the final two months of the Gregorian year into a golden age for online commerce. Remarkably, this holds true even within territories where these holidays don’t traditionally hold sway.
Merchants across the globe have been agile in harnessing the increased online activity in this year-end phase. In a stroke of strategic brilliance, they’ve leveraged lesser-known holidays and converted them into sale opportunities.
However, it is crucial to recognize the diversity in global holiday timelines and approach them with a nuanced understanding. The key to truly successful global ecommerce lies in grasping the cultural intricacies of each market and tailoring one’s strategy accordingly. By doing so, you can transform every cultural celebration into a potential ecommerce opportunity, not just those confined to the end of the year.
Tracing the Arc of Global Commercial Holidays
It’s evident that the map of global commerce is dotted with a diversity of holidays, each with its unique history and purpose. While some of these holidays were born out of cultural traditions, others have been crafted for commercial purposes, effectively transforming the market landscape.
Take China’s Singles Day, marked on November 11th, for example. Originally conceived by a group of single university students in the early ’90s, it has blossomed into a celebration of self-love and self-gifting. Its allure has not been lost on e-commerce platforms, and it has become a lucrative opportunity for retailers to drive sales, yielding record results each year.
Then there’s the back-to-back extravaganza of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the West, known collectively as BFCM Weekend. Despite its origins in American Thanksgiving, BFCM has morphed into a global sales event. To counterbalance this commercial onslaught, American Express initiated “Small Business Saturday,” encouraging consumers to support their local businesses.
Fast forward to December 12th, or 12/12, a day coined by Lazada, an offshoot of the Alibaba Group. Operating in the South/Southeast-Asian market, Lazada created this date to mirror China’s Singles Day, thereby sparking “online fever” in the region.
Next, we encounter Super Saturday, aka “Panic Saturday,” which plays into the last-minute frenzy of gift shopping ahead of Christmas. The proximity of this day to Christmas can significantly influence consumer behavior and offer a lucrative opportunity for retailers to maximize sales.
Finally, on December 26th, we celebrate Boxing Day. While its origins are debated, today it symbolizes the post-Christmas wave of sales, helping retailers clear their remaining stock. It has also become a significant e-commerce event in the UK, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong.
All these holidays, diverse as they are, share one commonality: their commercial relevance. For e-commerce businesses aiming to maximize their global reach, understanding these dates and their cultural significance is paramount.
Evolution of Global Online Shopping Holidays: Beyond Borders and Traditions
Here’s a revelation: Black Friday, with its roots deeply embedded in American culture, has now transcended national borders, emerging as an international shopping event. This shopping extravaganza, known for its rampant consumerism, has evolved from the day following Thanksgiving into a global phenomenon.
Moreover, within the U.S., Black Friday’s digital counterpart, Cyber Monday, has superseded it in online sales. Internationally, Black Friday’s influence is burgeoning with skyrocketing interest in regions like the U.K., South Africa, Turkey, and Italy.
However, while the recognition, search volume, and total sales value related to Black Friday continue to grow globally, it isn’t the sole e-commerce spectacle in town.
In China, for instance, Singles’ Day outperforms every other event in various metrics such as website traffic for major e-commerce platforms, customer interest, conversion rates, and overall sales. The event isn’t monopolized by Alibaba anymore; competitors like JD.com and Pinduoduo have also enjoyed impressive revenues during Singles’ Day.
Interestingly, Southeast Asia has embraced Singles’ Day as well. However, the region’s ’12/12′ sales event demonstrates a greater growth rate annually, signifying promising prospects for merchants operating in these territories. It’s a clear indication of the dynamic, borderless nature of e-commerce celebrations, reflecting shifting trends and the power of digital connectivity.
Preparing for the Festive Shopping Rush: A Global E-commerce Guide
There’s no denying the inevitable: the festive season is right around the corner, even if American Thanksgiving is a fortnight away. The astounding sales figures from China’s Singles Day hint at a prosperous period ahead globally. Regardless of whether you’re active in the Chinese market or missed out on Singles Day, rest assured, you’re not late to the party.
Here are four strategies to gear up your global e-commerce store for the remaining holiday shopping frenzy.
Bolster Your Customer Service
It’s a universal e-commerce truth that the holiday season will see an upsurge in customer queries, regardless of whether you sell clothing, toiletries, or tech products.
SaaS giant HelpScout suggests several measures to handle increased customer interactions. These include outsourcing, improving your onboarding process, and readying responses for frequently asked queries. These tips are applicable across various sectors and businesses of all sizes.
When dealing with a globally diverse customer base, especially as an SME, you might not have the resources to outsource all your customer service to local agencies. So, how can you ensure that your support team isn’t overwhelmed with issues raised by international customers?[Alternate tool] is a handy tool to prepare your support team for the global stage. It handles the all-important language component of customer interaction, ensuring your team is ready to handle queries from every corner of the globe.
Revisit Your Checkout Process
Regardless of your e-commerce platform, you’ve set up a payment system. If you have international customers, you likely use a platform like Stripe, known for its localized payment options such as AliPay and WeChat Pay.
However, it’s always wise to review your payment process for each currency in your major markets. Suppose your primary currency is USD, and most of your sales come from the U.S. and Mexico. Test the checkout process in English and Spanish as both a U.S.-based and Mexico-based customer to ensure a smooth experience.
Prepare for Increased Shipping Demand
The holiday season means more traffic, more customer queries, more transactions, and importantly, more orders to fulfill.
Logistics platforms like Easyship can be integrated directly into your store, ensuring you can meet increased shipping demands, irrespective of your hosting technology. The platform simplification of fulfillment logistics comes as a boon for smaller e-commerce merchants, allowing for efficient order delivery and resulting in improved customer satisfaction.
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