How small businesses can capitalise on the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year and other annual international events.
By David Poole, Managing Director Sales, UK South at FedEx Express.
Countries and cultures around the world all have their own individual holidays and celebrations, from St. Patricks Day in Ireland to La Tomatina in the Valencian town of Buñol. If we take 11 November, China celebrated Singles’ Day, an anti-Valentine’s Day festival for those who are single, which has become the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year. Its success has outpaced other retail events including Black Friday and Cyber Monday and generated an impressive US$14.34 billion in sales in 2015. With a third of consumers purchasing international products, this further cements Singles’ Day as an international opportunity, which has the potential to widen the customer base of many UK-businesses.
At FedEx, we understand global events such as Singles’ Day require a great deal of planning, not just for consumers who want to find the best deals but also for small businesses who want to ensure they have ample stock to deal with an influx in orders. To help reap the benefits of these events and manage your supply chain efficiently, we have put together some top tips:
1. Do your research: Even if you currently export or are looking to expand your business’ reach, examine the different holidays and events in each market, so you can capitalise on these and start marketing your product or service to that audience. Some countries, namely those in Scandinavia and Spain celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January which involves children leaving their shoes out at night to be filled with presents. This offers an opportunity for your business to expand on its Christmas sales.
2. Prepare for a surge in orders: Black Friday on 25 November is regarded as the busiest shopping day of the year in the US and the UK and this year will be no exception with UK consumers expected to spend £5billion. As such, assess whether your business has the required staff numbers and product volume to deal with this predicted influx of orders. Additional shipping options can also be explored such as express services and tracking; all while maintaining regular contact with your shipping provider.
3. Understand new shopping trends: Shopping is now focused on the omni-channel experience. While the high street remains popular, consumers are increasingly buying items on smart phones or social media – known as m-commerce and social commerce. Europe currently has the highest mobile penetration rate and mobile spending even doubled between 2014 and 2015. This represents a great opportunity for many businesses to grow through m-commerce. Similarly, Cyber Monday on 28 November naturally occurs online so be mindful consumers will want fast delivery options.
4. Optimise your supply chain: Any peaks in activity can test the effectiveness of your supply chain. If you know when your business will experience high demand, particularly from international markets, it is worth assessing your operations and ensure it is fully optimised to cope with an influx of orders. It is also worth checking in with your logistics provider to see how it can support your business during busy periods. For example, as Singles’ Day takes place on one particular day the time taken to export products is crucial, so consider solutions such as express services and tracking to ensure shipments arrive on time.
5. Make your marketing work for the country: It is important to tailor your marketing campaigns to country holiday/events you’re tapping into. China has one of the world’s most active social media environments in the world but is nevertheless dominated by domestic media outlets. To help promote your business in the run-up to Singles’ Day, you can consider using the skills of a local social media agency to create targeted Facebook or Twitter posts. This can help you to identify specific demographics, such as single females in China, and illustrates that you’re able to understand different shopping habits from country-to-country.
You do not have to dive into the deep end and jump at every event possible, but given its sales potential, Singles’ Day could be a good place to start. Consider researching into key calendar events and gauge the positive impact these could have on your business. Your transportation provider will also be able to provide you with appropriate advice when entering into new markets and allow you to capitalise on any noteworthy events. So, let’s start exploring and delivering for every international occasion!