The 16 biggest online shopping events across the world every retailer needs to know about

19 Nov, 2018

While every retailer hopes for strong year round sales, there are some peak shopping windows throughout the year that deserve to be taken advantage of.

But what are they? And how can you maximise their value to your business? Here are 16 of the biggest peak shopping events around the world we think every online retailer needs to know about.

1) Black Friday

Arguably the most famous and established shopping day, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, and Black Friday sales have traditionally been running since the 50s. Black Friday started gaining international popularity from around 2010.

Black Friday kicks off the busiest shopping period of the entire year, with 30% of all annual retail sales occurring between Black Friday and Christmas. 40% of online Black Friday purchases are made on mobile phones.

In 2017, UK Black Friday online retail sales were worth £1.39billion, with technology being the most popular purchase. Australians, meanwhile, splashed out spend more than $200 million, with most going on fashion and holidays

But this was tiny compared to the US$5billion that US shoppers spent in just 24 hours on Black Friday 2017.

In Australia, shoppers spent more than $200 million on Black Friday 2017, with fashion and holidays being the biggest winners. New Zealand bargain hunters, meanwhile, spent $219 million.

2) White Friday

In 2014, online retailer souq.com launched White Friday, their own version of Black Friday for the Middle East. The event was renamed in respect to Friday being the day of worship, gathering, friends and family in the Arab world.

And, like Black Friday, while White Friday is named after a day, it actually lasts for four days (a long weekend).

By 2016, the Amazon-owned retailer was selling 1.2million products over the weekend. Traffic was 10 times higher than their daily average, and 50% of sales came via its mobile app.

3) Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday in the Monday after Black Friday, and actually began as a PR stunt in 2005, as an online answer to brick and mortar Black Friday sales. Today, however, e-commerce dominates both sales.

In 2017, Cyber Monday was the largest online shopping day in US history, with consumers spending a staggering US$6.59billion (an increase of 16.8% on 2016). And US$2billion of these sales were made on a mobile phone. In the UK, shoppers spent an impressive £1.4billion on Cyber Monday – up 11.7% on 2016.

4) Singles Day

Singles Day is China’s biggest shopping day of the year – and trumps both America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined (in 2017, it was four times bigger than both days combines). In fact, Singles Day isn’t just the biggest shopping day in China – it’s biggest shopping day in the entire world.

The name Singles Day name apparently comes from the date: 11.11 (four single ones). Started by university students in the 1990s, it became an anti-Valentine’s Day on which single people organised activities together.

In 2009, the shopping giant Alibaba decided to create a sales day on Singles Day on its TaoBao marketplace – an act that was swiftly followed by almost every other ecommerce website. And it’s since become known more as a huge shopping fest than a day celebrating singletons.

By 2017, Singles Day was worth over US$25billion in sales (an incredible US$1billion was spend in the first two minutes after midnight). And it’s not just in China that Singles Day is a huge retail event – Australians spent an estimated $150 million over Singles’ Day weekend in 2017.

International brands have started getting in on the act too, with 40% of consumers in 2018 buying from international brands. The top five countries selling into China were Japan, the US, South Korea, Australia and Germany.

5) Ramadan

Ramadan is being seen as an increasingly important retail event in the UK, with supermarket chains competing for the £200million spent by gearing products, displays and offers to Ramadan in areas with large Muslim populations.

And it’s not just the Middle East and UK that benefits from online sales during Ramadan. By 2021 it’s estimated it will be worth more than £3 trillion to the global economy, with food and travel coming out top in spending.

6) El Buen Fin

El Buen Fin in an annual event that takes place in Mexico on the weekend before the the Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day) celebration on the third Monday in November. During El Buen Fin, stores attract shoppers with discounts, credit offers, and package deals.

In 2017, El Buen Fin online retail sales totalled 2.48billion pesos, up from 1.73billion in 2016.

7) Green Monday

Mondays are the big days for online shopping in December, and the biggest of all is the second Monday of the month (or the last Monday with at least 10 days until Christmas).

The expression was created by eBay in 2007 to describe the best sales day in December (when shoppers raced to get their last minute orders in, in time to be delivered), and the ‘green’ apparently comes from the colour of dollar bills.

In 2016, plenty of dollar bills were spent, with US shoppers spending a record US$1.6billion on Green Monday.

But with the increased number of online retailers offering next day delivery, there is some doubt as to how long Green Monday will remain such a peak shopping date.

8) Blue Monday

The third Monday in January is known as the most depressing day of the year. And what better way to cheer yourself up than some retail therapy?

Or, even better, to console yourself by booking your summer holiday? According to data by Holiday Hypermarket, holiday bookings were up 59% year on year in 2016.

9) Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t just the romantic day of the year – it can also be one of the most profitable if you get your display advertising campaign right. But make sure you don’t miss the real shopping peak. Most Valentine gifts are ordered on the 5 and 6 of February, so you’ll need to start your campaign before these dates.

In the US, romantics were predicted to spend US$19.6billion on Valentiens Day 2018 ($654million of that was on gifts for co-workers). The highest spending group are 25-34-year olds, and the top purchases are candy, flowers, cards and jewellery.

Meanwhile, in the UK Brits were predicted to spend £650million on Valentine’s Day 2018, with ‘older millennials’ (aged between 28 to 37) the biggest spenders. In Britain, romantics traditionally splash out on jewellery, flowers, clothes, confectionary and greetings cards.

10) Mother’s Day

Like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day offers a significant opportunity for any retailers in the ‘gift’ market. It was estimated that Brits would spend £1.4billion on the day in 2017. £260million would go on flowers, and around £50million on greetings cards.

60% of all Brits spend something on Mother’s Day, which averaged out at £58 per person in 2016 (rising to £87.12 per person in London). In 2015 men spent about £12 more than women, and are more likely to purchase a gift on impulse (and spend more on it).

Australians also love their mothers, spending just over AU$1.37billion on Mother’s Day.

11) Father’s Day

Father’s Day lags behind Mother’s Day on spend, with 53% of Brits admitting they spend more on their mothers than their fathers. Average spend for Mother’s Day is up to three times higher than Father’s Day.

The same trend appears in the UK, with Americans spending an average of US$135 on Father’s Day and US$186 on Mother’s Day.

That said, Father’s Day is still an important retail event, with consumers spending the most on greetings cards, special outings, clothing, gift cards, electronics, home improvement and gardening and car accessories.

Australians apparently hold dads in slightly higher regard, spending more on Father’s Day than Mother’s Day (AU$1.58 billion compared to $1.37 billion).

12) Easter

While we may associate Easter traditionally with chocolate eggs, it’s also a perfect retail opportunity for florists, travel, restaurants and events.

In 2018, Brits were predicted to spend £1.2 billion at Easter (a 6.7% increase on 2017). This was anticipated to be due to increased spending on Easter eggs, other confectionery and at-home entertaining.

In the US, Easter spending was predicted to amount to US$18.2billion, with most purchases coming from food, clothing, gifts, flowers and candy.

Australians also appear have a sweet tooth; in 2018 they were expected to spend an impressive AU$210 million on chocolate.

13) Diwali

India’s Diwali Festival (also known as Vaisakhi Day) falls on October or November each year. And the month before the festival is the busiest shopping

season in the country – accounting for between 35-40% of all annual ecommerce sales.

In 2016, shoppers spent US$2.2billion online in the month before Diwali, and in 2017 this was anticipated to rise to US$3.3billion.

14) Chinese New Year

At Chinese New Year it’s traditional to buy gifts, food and clothes, making it a bumper sales period for the Chinese market. And, according to PCA Predict 73% of Chinese consumers are making these purchases online.

In 2018, Chinese consumers spent US$146billion shopping and in restaurants during Chinese New Year – an increase of 10% on 2016.

15) Halloween

Over the past few years Halloween has become a frighteningly important retail event. In 2017 it was estimated to be worth £320 million in the UK, and even beat Valentine’s Day in order spend.

In the US, Halloween, a record 179million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2017, spending a scary US$9.1billion between them.

16) Christmas Day

Think that all shopping stops once Santa has dished out the gifts? Not online! With sales starting ever earlier, Christmas Day sales now outstrip Boxing Day.

Indeed, one in five adults will shop online on Christmas Day, and their purchases are worth over £1billion. £2 in every £3 of those sales is spent on mobile phones. The two purchasing peaks are 10am (after gifts are opened) and 6pm (just before the evening TV shows start).

Nine ways you can make the most of peak shopping events

So once you know what peak shopping events you want to take advantage of, what strategy do you need in place to maximise its sales potential from a display advertising perspective? Here are nine techniques that will help you.

1) Get your timing right

The first thing you need to do is to understand when potential purchases are online, and responding to marketing messages regarding the shopping holiday. Our own research into Black Friday in particular shows that ad engagement is highest in the week before in the morning between 7am and 10am, and late afternoon and early evening between 4pm and 8pm.

On Black Friday itself, and over the weekend, ad engagement starts building first thing in the morning, before peaking at 7am and decreasing afterwards. However, for ‘holiday’ events (such as Easter and Mother’s Day) the bulk of purchases will be made before a certain date to allow for planning and delivery. So it’s important to understand the timeline for each retail event and plan your campaign accordingly.

2) Add urgency

Whether the retail event is a celebratory day or holiday with a fixed date (and delivery timeline), or a one-off sales day, there will be peak sales times, and an ultimate deadline for purchases to be made.

And to maximise your sales you’ll want to promote and add urgency to that deadline.

You can also add urgency by showing low stock or availability on particular items, or by holding flash sales within the retail period.

3) Make your last order date clear

If you do have a final order deadline for deliveries for holiday season gifts, make sure you promote these clearly to encourage people to book in time.

4) Offer extras

Think about little extras that could tip the balance between someone ordering from you or from a competitor. Incentives like free shipping, next day delivery or free gift-wrapping can boost sales.

5) Vary your messaging

Simply running ‘Buy now!’ ads running up to the event deadline won’t build much interest or excitement in your offering. So vary your messaging and include important details like an item’s qualities, features and benefits. Combining these messages with offers and urgency can build a powerful sales campaign.

6) Create a bespoke campaign

In order to leverage the relevancy and seasonal excitement of the shopping period, and create standout from your general display advertising campaigns, it’s important to create a bespoke campaign for each event.

The ads should be themed around the holiday or event, and be different enough from you general campaigns (while obviously remaining on brand) to stand out.

7) Use ‘power words’

When it comes to choosing the messaging for your ads, some words are more powerful than others. So, aside from referencing the actual name of the holiday or event your ads are for, try using some of these words

  • Free
  • Increase
  • Find
  • Percentage Off
  • Discount
  • Deals
  • Don’t
  • Excusive
  • Fast
  • Unique
  • Promotions
  • Savings
  • Start
  • Offers
  • Click
  • Try
  • Opportunity
  • Ends
  • Learn
  • Easiest
  • Grow
  • Love
  • Compare
  • Time

8) Promote on social and mobile

Studies show that Chinese consumers tend to research their Singles Day purchases on social media. So make sure your marketing strategy includes social media and mobile. And with 82% of sales made on phones and tablets, it’s essential you have a mobile-friendly landing site.

9) Tailor your offers

To increase conversions, customise your offers and display ad creative to target specific age, gender and interest/life stage groups. And don’t forget to consider where users are in the customer lifecycle, and target your marketing messages accordingly.

9) Use data to target ads

Using data such as location, you can deliver highly targeted ads to consumers at the right stage of the customer lifecycle, at the perfect time of day to maximise conversions.

Want to maximise your online sales all year round? We’d love to chat about how we can help you. Contact your nearest Crimtan office.