Whether you only ship products in the US or globally,
understanding who your customers are and when they celebrate
things is an important factor when planning around the
holidays. In the U.S., Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday of
May along with the majority of countries, but what if you cater
to Spain, Romania, Portugal or Hungary? They celebrate the
holiday on the first Sunday in May. The same concept goes for
other commercialized holidays.

Not everyone celebrates holidays at the same time, and not
everyone celebrates holidays the same way. For the biggest
holiday period in the U.S., these are generally set in hard
time, along much of the world, but focus, hour, messaging and
shipping are entirely dependent on a person’s religious
background, geography, and interest.

As a retailer, now is prime time for planning out your holiday
marketing, messaging, and promotions. Let’s take a look at how
internationalization can impact Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and
other expected micro-spikes:

Time Zones and Timing

Whether attributed to Amazon or the excess noise on the web,
consumers demand personalization now. According to a study from
Swirl Networks all the way back in 2015,
88% of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with retailers
that deliver personalized and connected cross-channel
experiences than those who don’t.

This is bigger than the Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays
debate. Think timing, meeting consumer demand, and making
everyone feel those warm and fuzzies when they get to your
site. There is a six-hour difference between the time zones in
Honolulu and New York City. More simply, between the West Coast
and East Coast there is a three-hour time difference (four, if
it’s daylight savings time), with even a single hour impacting
when consumers buy online, when a sales email prompt may be
most effective, and when it’s time to take the Christmas lights
down from your site. You wouldn’t send the same exact marketing
driven email to your entire list, would you? Most of this
should seem like common sense these days, but it never hurts to
set yourself a reminder for timing of new promotions.

There is one last, very time-sensitive focus to keep in mind
during the holidays: shipping. Until every brand can acquire
their own fleet of drones or self-driving trucks, we’re going
to be dependent on our shipping partners. With that, it means
leading up to the holidays there are very distinct timelines
for when gifts and items need to be shipped in order to make it
in the hands of their designated customer. Not only are
shipping windows time sensitive and require geotargeting,
they’re also typically the last
micro-spikes
for sales before the actual holidays land.
Just remember to factor shipping times into your
personalization plans.

The Rise of Branded Holidays

For nearly a decade, China-based Alibaba has celebrated a sort
of made up holiday that has turned into a giant success.
Singles Day, a holiday that occurs on November 11 due to the
combination of ones (11/11), has a few origin stories, but, in
terms of eCommerce, it has become Alibaba’s largest success story, with
others following suit. In fact, last year the festival became
the largest online shopping sales day in the world. Between
Alibaba, Tmall, and Taobao (all owned by the same company) they
drove $17.8 billion in sales in 2016, and the year before $14.3
billion.

If the concept sounds familiar that’s because the now popular
Amazon Prime Day is an offshoot of this concept, and it too has
resulted in huge gains for the company. Not only was the
third annual Prime Day a huge success for
Amazon
, the 30-hour event became the company’s best sales
day in its history, beating out both Black Friday and Cyber
Monday. Following suit, brands like Best Buy, Target, and
Walmart also jumped into the action offering price matching and
similar merchandise.

While J. Crew may not have created a sales themed holiday this
year, their “National Stripes Day” did generate some brand
awareness. For the occasion, the company released two new
shirts and set a fashion trend for March 31 that would have
people wearing stripes all around you.

Other brands also tested the water with similar approaches,
especially around the holidays. The days of regular Black
Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming a thing of the past, with
many expanding these into week or month long sales periods.
While stretching the holidays is probably good for traffic, it
also reduces the urgency to drive people to make a purchase;
however, revenue and sales numbers don’t lie for these brands.
Starting in 2015, ModCloth mashed the two holidays into a
month-long sales extravaganza with noticeable gains, as did
Newegg with their “Black November” concept.

On the contrary, Patagonia saw substantial gains from an
“anti-Black Friday” approach. Their mission-oriented business
brought forth a new concept starting in 2014 when they launched
an app designed to swap used gear rather than to buy new stuff.
Then in 2015, the company helped customers repair old gear, and
in 2016 they donated 100% of the sales to grassroots
environmental organizations.

As more eCommerce brands realize the potential for creating
their own branded holidays beyond flash sales and holiday
specific sales, we’re going to see others following suit. The
major benefit to these kinds of events is that they can become
a global focus, rather than based on geography, giving
retailers more opportunities to personalize and increase
conversion.

About Elliot Volkman and Blue Acorn

Elliot is Blue Acorn’s Digital Marketing Manager. He holds a
master’s degree in communication from Gonzaga, and holds
several awards for journalism and marketing. Blue Acorn, Magento’s 2015 Partner of the
Year, is an agency dedicated to maximizing client satisfaction
and online revenue for leading B2C and B2B brands.