International growth needs local knowledge

As the ecommerce market grows, and cross-border sales and international expansion become part of many business operations, understanding the importance of domestic celebrations can make a real impact on your business.

Alibaba’s recent results for example, showed lower than expected revenues due to the impact of the Chinese New Year holiday, which meant many consumers were on holiday. But understanding the importance of local events provides a big opportunity for retailers to run campaigns taking advantage of the holidays to capture and engage customers.

Oban Digital has come out with a calendar to help retailers take advantage of these important dates, enabling them to plan for (and even take advantage of) local events. The report, “10 Key Dates For Your Global Marketing Plan” follows the 2014 publication of its Global Ecommerce Calendar, featuring more than 220 major events from every continent.

By organising sales, promotions and marketing activities around specific dates in the calendar, ecommerce businesses can ensure that they are targeting the right person, at the right time and converting them to valuable customers. The report includes information about when and where each event takes place, how much is being spent, what is being purchased, as well as an in-depth social and economic analysis of each event.

It’s critical to understand the differing importance of differing events. For example, China’s Zhonghe Festival (March 21) and National Day (October 1) are afforded exactly the same prominence, but the ecommerce potential of each event couldn’t be more different. One is a small-scale traditional festival that marketers could mention in passing to make their social media activity more regionally authentic – the other is a pillar of annual business in China, during which 975 billion yuan ($158.94 billion) will be spent.

It’s worth noting that when putting the shortlist of dates together, the report omits well established dates in English-speaking markets, (such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) because of their existing global commercial success.

Where it is worth paying attention outside such global events are dates such as Mexico’s “Hot Sale,” which runs from May 29 to June 1, offering a wide range of consumer goods on participating websites. This new sales event, created by the Associación Mexicana de Venta Online in conjunction with other internet-advocating bureaus and confederations, saw sales increase in 2014, nearly 450 percent during the three-day period. In 2015, retailers can market to this, and other local events, to boost revenue, according to the report’s findings.

Mid-June also provides an exciting opportunity in the winter sales in the Southern Hemisphere. In June 2014 winter purchases included winter clothing sales, electrical goods, furniture, homewares and hardware6. In total 2014’s full year online sales in Australia reached $14.9 billion and are growing faster than retail sales. Google trends data above shows growth in search for the term “winter sale” over the last decade, with 2014’s mid-year peak a good twenty points ahead of the uniform peaks for 2010 through 2013. Regional interest is (unsurprisingly) strongest in the most southerly state, Victoria.

While knowing about the important dates mentioned in the report will matter, significant local knowledge is needed to simply gain access to these events. Where large volumes of money are being spent, there’s intense competition and a highly discerning customer base. Success is going to take dedicated resources and a partner with cultural understanding and influence.