Last modified: January 29, 2019
Global ecommerce growth continues to surge as brands prepare for another record-breaking holiday season. US holiday sales alone are set to reach $124 billion this year, with Cyber Monday expected to set a new record as the largest- and fastest-growing online shopping day of the year.
These trends of holiday ecommerce growth can be seen around the world – not just in the US. As more online shoppers are buying from cross-border retailers than ever before, brands should make sure their strategies are global and emphasize what is most important to shoppers worldwide: discounts.
In this second installment of our three-part series, we’ll address the importance of utilizing international consumer shopping holidays and promoting discounts to drive sales for your global ecommerce business.
Why promotions matter
Holiday promotions help maximize your consumer engagement throughout the year by offering shoppers new reasons to visit your store and different ways to spend their money. In addition to giving new customers a reason to take the purchase plunge, consistent merchandising and promotions that support your product mix also give loyal customers reasons to come back again and again.
As shoppers return to your store for multiple visits, especially during the holidays, they expect variations throughout their touchpoints. Just as most brick and mortar stores regularly change displays, it is important to ensure there is new content to keep shoppers’ attention and continue driving engagement. Our most successful clients set a defined process around where, when and how they update their online store images, banners, marquee and featured products to create variation. Going a step further, it’s crucial for brands to make sure these processes focus on creating a local experience for shoppers in other countries.
Establish your global promotional calendar
Taking advantage of existing promotional dates is an easy way to promote your business, driving new customers and bringing existing ones back for more. While it is vital to plan specific offers around key shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, using existing holidays throughout the year allows you to use precise messaging and can help increase sales in lower performing months. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday or Mother’s Day, creating clever messaging and relating the day to your business can provide a nice additional boost to your online store. To attract consumers from around the world, don’t just focus on popular US holidays – be sure to include global holidays in your promotional calendar and promote them with localized marketing materials.
Taking Retail Holidays International
Today’s most successful companies are focused on attracting and retaining cross-border shoppers, and taking advantage of global retail holidays is one of the most effective ways to do exactly that. Let’s take a look at a few of the world’s biggest shopping holidays and how each one is capitalizing on an international emphasis this year:
Chinese retailer Alibaba looked to new global and offline strategies to make Singles’ Day, their biggest sales day, even bigger this year. The November 11th event is Alibaba’s day of massive sales across all its platforms and is often compared to Black Friday in the US. Singles’ Day generated a record $30.8 billion in total gross merchandise value this year, up from last year’s $25 billion. In comparison, that’s triple the $10.6 billion in online sales that Cyber Monday and Black Friday generated in 2017.
Alibaba said that this year’s event was their largest ever in terms of scale and reach thanks to the company’s “new retail” strategy – combining its core ecommerce sites with physical stores and logistics capabilities. This strategy, known to many retailers as omnichannel commerce, is set to be key for this year’s holiday shopping season. Brands with both an online and physical presence are projected to have a 28% higher conversion rate than retailers without a “traditional storefront”.
This year, in an effort to expand the shopping holiday internationally, multiple ecommerce sites hosted sales as part of Singles’ Day. Singapore-based ecommerce site Lazada joined forces with Alibaba in hopes of attracting more shoppers throughout Southeast Asia. Alibaba’s global, multi-platform approach is expected to propel the Chinese ecommerce giant to new heights.
Amazon took a page out of Alibaba’s playbook when creating Prime Day back in 2015. Both brands were able to successfully establish their own global promotional holidays with consistent messaging and a consistent time of year to help attract new customers, promote their products and services, and drive sales during traditionally lower-performing times.
Since it was introduced, Prime Day has become one of the most widely known retail sales holidays around the world. How does Amazon do it? For starters, the company is putting a bigger emphasis on international sales. In 2018 alone, Prime day was extended to Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to bring the total participation to 17 countries.
Last year, Amazon’s Prime Day saw a sales increase of more than 60% and surpassed Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. This year’s Prime Day was the biggest yet as Prime members purchased over 100 million products during the event. Amazon saw more sign-ups for Prime memberships on July 16 than any previous day in the company’s history and now boasts more than 100 million Prime subscribers across the globe. The company is likely to see this number continue to increase as they work to expand into new regions.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
While US holiday ecommerce is set to reach $124 billion, Thanksgiving weekend sales alone – which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday – are projected to reach over $23 billion. Year after year these retail holidays fuel record ecommerce sales with brands offering their best deals to kick off the holiday shopping season.
As retail holidays continue to grow in scale, Thanksgiving weekend sales have drawn international attention. In addition to US consumers, shoppers around the world plan to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year. Consumers in countries such as the UK, Germany, and Canada are most likely to plan on participating in this year’s shopping holidays. More than 70% of global consumers plan to get involved in Black Friday, including an impressive 92% of shoppers in the UK.
Online sales per person are the highest in the UK compared to any other country in Europe, with an estimated 87% of UK consumers shopping online. These shoppers also spend more per household than consumers in any other country. In Spain, the largest ecommerce market in Southern Europe, 48% of online stores participated in Black Friday in 2017 and 28% participated in Cyber Monday. Global ecommerce considerations like these are important for brands to remember when planning holiday campaigns around the world.
No matter which holidays your brand chooses to promote your products and discounts, remember that taking your promotions global is a tried and true way to build and strengthen relationships with customers around the world. In the third and final installment of our Going Global series, we’ll touch on the importance of putting the same international emphasis on complying with local regulations to avoid potential damage to your brand image.
To learn more about the opportunities and considerations for your global ecommerce expansion, download our Simply Global guide.