The Christmas shopping season has begun and this year, as has been the practice since 2020, many Christmas gifts are expected to be bought online. In fact, according to a Coldiretti/Ixè survey released just a few days ago, one in two Italians (54%) will buy their Christmas presents in online shops, also taking advantage of the discounts and offers of Cyber Monday, which follows Black Friday. But this trend is not just Italian: Christmas has become one of the most popular holidays in the world. Even in China – where until a few years ago the 25th December was a day like any other – people have started to approach this holiday with all that it entails: gifts, but also decorations.
This universalisation of Christmas makes the period leading up to it a great opportunity for anyone with an eCommerce business and makes it practically irresistible for those with a cross-border online shop. Even in this case, however, it is a good idea to be prepared for this period with an online sales strategy that contains all the fundamentals for a good cross-border eCommerce store.
As with Black Friday, having a multilingual and multi-currency site is essential for Christmas eCommerce: you need to make sure that your eCommerce has the languages and currencies of the country you want to sell in so as to avoid shopping cart abandonment. In addition to this, for a perfect cross-border Christmas eCommerce it is also essential to activate an adequate customer care, i.e. one that is ready to support a large number of questions to be answered quickly and problems to be resolved in record time.
In addition to these important features for a successful Christmas cross-border online sales strategy, there are other essential ones.
The most important of all is that the packages, being Christmas presents, must arrive on time. For a cross-border eCommerce this means choosing the right shipping method to avoid the unexpected – the arch-enemy of online shops at Christmas. So it is important to decide whether to have a decentralised network – i.e. logistics warehouses in the other markets where you sell – or whether to have just one central warehouse in your own country and transfer the packages by relying on local shipping services. The choice depends very much on the size of the company. The first option has higher costs, but also a more stable supply chain. The only thing that matters, however, is that in both cases, make sure you time things well so that the parcels – which are someone’s gifts – do not arrive late. It is also important to clearly communicate the shipping times to the customer. To avoid performance anxiety on the part of those who have purchased a Christmas gift on your online eCommerce, a good antidote is to provide tracking.
Return policies, which are always important, must also be flawless during the Christmas period. If I give a gift, it is also essential that the person I am giving it to can easily return it and exchange it if they wish. And since returns in cross-border eCommerce can be more expensive than in eCommerce in your own country, it’s a good idea to make it clear from the outset the return policies you choose to implement and, if possible, during the Christmas shopping period and up to a few days afterwards, implement free return policies.
Setting up geo-localised promotions depending on the countries you sell in during the Christmas period is another great move if you have a cross-border eCommerce. If you sell in non-European countries, it is especially important to take into account the climate of those countries as well as the different habits in order to better target your cross-border eCommerce strategy.
Finally, on the subject of habits, there are some special days that relate to only certain countries. If you have an eCommerce business that does cross-border trade in one of those countries, it might be worth taking them into account both to make the most of those days and to manage the possible overload that may arise. In America, for example, Panic Saturday (the Saturday before Christmas) is the last real day when people go on a shopping spree: it’s best to remember this and be ready with adequate shipping and customer care. 12-12, on the other hand, is Double Twelve – a day that was the brainchild of Alibaba and now involves hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers and has become a kind of online shopping festival. In cross-border online commerce, these days can be crucial, but they can also be dangerous: mark them in your calendar and act accordingly.
For the rest, the rules of any well-run eCommerce apply: take into account the gift wrapping option, make your eCommerce “festive-looking” for Christmas, have a mobile-friendly eCommerce, and remember that upselling and cross-selling are great strategies for selling online, even more so during festive periods when users are well prepared to buy. With these tricks and a lot of perseverance you can sell in almost every country and beat Father Christmas on performance.