Ready or not, the last quarter of the year is well underway. And that means the holidays will be here before we know it.
For brands and retailers, the holiday shopping season is expected to be relatively flat compared to last year. Deloitte predicts holiday retail sales will grow between 4% and 6% this year – driven significantly by inflation.
But it seems those who sell online may see more significant growth. Deloitte also predicts eCommerce sales will grow by 12.8% to 14.3%
Shoppers are going to start ticking off their shopping lists soon. So brands and retailers must have solid plans in place to attract and convert them.
Preparing for the upcoming holiday shopping season might seem straightforward enough. But if you’re a global brand, it tends to get more complicated. Heck, it can even be complicated if you’re not a global brand but have a diverse customer base!
In this post, we’ll explore four things you need to consider in order to have a happy, successful multicultural holiday season.
Consideration 1: The Nuances of Different Markets
In the United States, the holiday shopping session is very Christmas-centric. Santa Claus is in the mall. Christmas trees adorn shop windows. And promotions are full of Christmas imagery and puns – and timed appropriately for those celebrating the holiday.
This focus on Christmas isn’t terribly surprising. According to Pew Research, 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas.
But it’s important to remember that holiday, religious and cultural traditions vary widely based on country – and even within a single country. In fact, even a single holiday can be celebrated in a number of different ways. For example, Pew Research tells us 46% of Americans celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious holiday – but the remaining 54% celebrate it more as a cultural holiday.
The bottom line? It’s imperative to look beyond your own traditions to understand those of your key markets.
Make a list of your key markets, and then research holidays celebrated in those markets. Here are just a few of the holidays celebrated during the last month of the year:
- Boxing Day
- Winter Solstice
- Las Posadas
- New Year’s Eve
Of course, you don’t have to incorporate every holiday under the sun into your strategy. Just make sure to understand the ins and outs of the ones you do include. For example, be sure to understand which holidays are gift-giving holidays. You don’t want to send an email campaign about holiday gifts when gifts aren’t customary for the specific holiday! Also, get educated on what’s appropriate for each holiday in terms of greetings and other nuances.
Finally, remember that while there are government, cultural and religious holidays, there are also a ton of “just for fun” holidays. Consider incorporating some of these into your strategy – when it makes sense. For example, a home goods brand might send an email promoting its barware collection on National Bartender Day. And National Call a Friend Day might be a good opportunity for a phone brand to run a special promotion.
Consideration 2: Seasons and Weather
In many parts of North America, folks are starting to dig out their fall and winter apparel clothes. But those in Australia are preparing for summertime.
When making plans for the holiday shopping season, be sure to consider seasons and weather for your key markets. This is especially important for certain product categories – including apparel and housewares. Winter boots may be a hot holiday item for those in the Northern Hemisphere – but that’s not the case in the Southern Hemisphere.
In addition, remember that weather varies considerably even within the same country. An email or social media ad with the headline “Baby It’s Cold Outside!” will resonate in Illinois – but not in Florida!
Consideration 3: An Influx of Website Traffic
Online holiday shopping is expected to grow this year. So it’s important to prepare your website for an uptick in traffic. Remember consumers can (and do) shop online at all hours – especially from global brands. As such, it’s important to ensure your dot com is equipped to handle high traffic volumes 24/7. If a visitor runs into problems like slow load time or other errors, they’re likely to jump ship.
Here are a few other ways to spruce up your website in preparation for an influx of global holiday traffic.
1. Add a multilingual chatbot
Our own research found that 56% of consumers believe a digital assistant (aka a chatbot) can answer some of their questions and get them to the right live person, if needed.
Consider adding a multilingual chatbot to your dot com. That way, your global visitors can get answers to simple questions any time of day. And your live agents can focus on more complex issues.
2. Adopt global messaging channels
Consumers across the globe leverage messaging channels to stay in touch with family and friends. But increasingly, they want to use these apps to interact with brands.
Consider adopting top global messaging channels such as WhatsApp. That way, you can connect with your customers – wherever and whenever the need arises. Be sure to include information for initiating chats on your website.
3. Incorporate UGC – specifically ratings and reviews and Q&A – into your dot com.
According to our friends at PowerReviews, 72% of consumers say ratings and reviews are a top consideration when purchasing gifts for others. And, featuring a Q&A section on your product pages allows shoppers to ask questions standing in the way of their holiday purchases – and get quick answers.
4. Incorporate multiple payment methods
There are any number of reasons why a consumer might not follow through with an online purchase. One is running into problems with payment – including a lack of preferred payment methods.
There are many payment options that you can integrate onto your dot com, including Amazon Buy with Prime, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Stripe. Be sure to understand which options are known and trusted in your key markets – and then incorporate them onto your website.
Consideration 4: A Plan for Multilingual Communication
It’s becoming a lot more common for consumers to browse and buy with brands in another country. And if a shopper does business with a brand that speaks a different language, they have high expectations. Our own research found that 83% of consumers expect a brand in a different country with a different native language to be able to interact with them in their preferred language at least sometimes. That figure is even higher – 89% – when a consumer is interacting with a brand in the same country with a different native language.
And they expect native language communication across just about all key channels, including email, live chat, messaging apps (think WhatsApp), SMS, and Q&A responses – among others.
Consumers Expect Native Language Communication Via Both Digital and Traditional Channels
For which of the following would you expect a company to be able to translate/communicate in your language, regardless of their native language?
- Always or sometimes: 97%
- Never: 3%
Help or Knowledge Article
- Always or sometimes: 95%
- Never: 5%
- Always or sometimes: 94%
- Never: 6%
Online Reviews and Questions
- Always or sometimes: 93%
- Never: 7%
- Always or sometimes: 92%
- Never: 8%
Chat with a Digital Assistant
- Always or sometimes: 91%
- Never: 9%
- Always or sometimes: 90%
- Never: 10%
- Always or sometimes: 90%
- Never: 10%
- Always or sometimes: 89%
- Never: 11%
Communicating with customers in their native languages may sound like a tall order. However, Translation Studio from 1440 empowers the best brands to do just that – without leaving Salesforce.
Consideration 5: A Plan to Meet Shipping Promises – Globally
Some consumers get an early start on their holiday shopping. This is a trend that’s accelerated as Amazon started to hold Amazon Prime Days earlier in the fall – and other retailers including Target and Walmart followed suit. In addition, research from the National Retail Federation found that 44% of holiday shoppers feel it’s better to buy gifts and other seasonal items early on because they expect inflation will continue to impact prices later on in the year.
However, there are still those that wait until the last minute. According to PowerReviews research, 29% of consumers will do their holiday shopping in November and December.
When it comes to shipping, consumers have high expectations – regardless of when they choose to commence their holiday shopping. It’s important to have a solid plan in place to ensure their orders get to them by the promised date. A solution like Shipping Studio from 1440 allows brands to find the best shipping rate and print labels – all in one location.
Get Ready for a Happy Holiday Season
The holidays will be here before we know it. Now’s the time for global brands to have a strategy for attracting and converting holiday shoppers – regardless of where they’re located and what they celebrate.