Valentine’s Day can be an important opportunity for cross-border e-commerce merchants to increase revenue and engage with more new customers. January and February are often difficult months for e-commerce, as shoppers typically use this time to pay off their credit card bills from December holiday shopping. Luckily, Valentine’s Day arrives just in time. Observed in many global markets, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, China, France, Mexico, and Australia, Valentine’s Day gives cross-border retailers a great way to re-engage with consumers who may have gone quiet after December. But savvy cross-border retailers should know that each market will have its own cultural spin on this holiday celebrating love and romance.
Here are five ways cross-border e-commerce merchants can win the hearts of international shoppers this Valentine’s Day.
- Understand that it’s not February 14th for everyone. For example, in Brazil, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on June 12th each year. The holiday is called Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day.” And in China, it falls in August as part of the Qixi Festival, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Lunar calendar. Part of your job as a cross-border retailer is paying close attention to the calendar in each global market. Showing your awareness of varying holidays demonstrates to your customers that you’re in-tune with their unique needs.
- Hearts and flowers don’t translate to every market. In Western nations such as the U.S. and U.K., candy hearts, jewelry, and red roses are the traditional gifts associated with Valentine’s Day. In the U.K. alone, consumers spent £267 million on flowers for Valentine’s Day in 2019. Japan is a big market for Valentine’s chocolate, as well. But don’t expect every market to demand the same. In Denmark, for example, lovers give each other white flowers called Snowdrops.
- Clarify your shipping and delivery policy. Any time consumers are purchasing gift items for specific holidays that fall on a certain date, they’ll need assurances that their purchases will arrive in time. Our research has shown that two of the top barriers to making a cross-border purchase are the high costs of shipping and long delivery wait times. As an international e-commerce retailer, it’s vital to communicate in clear terms exactly how long your customers will wait for delivery, and any additional costs required to ensure timely arrival.
- Offer the right mix of payment options. Alternative payment services such as PayPal, Afterpay, and Wepay have already transformed other holiday shopping experiences such as Black Friday. Global consumers can be turned off when a cross-border merchant doesn’t offer their preferred local payment option. In fact, 1-in-5 international shoppers we surveyed said that the failure to offer local payment options prevented them from making an online purchase. Are you offering the right mix? Taking the time now to research the most popular payment options in each global market can help lower cart abandonment later.
- Be aware of which markets do NOT celebrate. Love is a beautiful thing to express, but some countries don’t agree. Whether for religious or cultural purposes, there are some nations where celebrating Valentine’s Day can actually get you in trouble. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia all frown on Valentine’s Day and public displays of affection in general. In India, the adoption of this traditionally Western holiday has sparked a morality debate with some of the more religious sects, so proceed with caution.
Attention to detail in every market you sell into is an important step in providing a localized customer experience, year-round. How have you prepared your e-commerce sites for each market’s unique needs for Valentine’s Day? Does your product catalog accurately reflect the gift categories preferred in each market? Are you displaying the most accurate pricing, in the local currency? Are any relevant taxes and duties associated with that market calculated in real-time at checkout? Are your shipping policies and costs clearly communicated?
Don’t miss any holiday-driven promotional opportunities in 2020 that will help boost sales and build stronger relationships with your international e-commerce customers. Check out our free Gift-Seller’s Guide to Global Holidays.