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E-commerce in Europe: Events you should not miss!

by Editorial Office

What do Black Friday and Christmas have in common? Of course – they are popular holidays and shopping seasons and thus hold valuable potential for retailers to increase sales and profits.

Alas, in addition to the major e-commerce events, there are also regional and seasonal demand peaks in Europe that offer companies attractive potential.  We give you an overview of the top-selling e-commerce events in Europe.

E-commerce in Europe: Understanding seasonal events, using data

While everyday products are in constant demand throughout the year, many other items are subject to seasonal fluctuations. International retailers should be aware of European customs and preferences in order to be able to optimally serve peaks in demand.

In addition, it is important to actively use existing data. Which products did Millennials buy in greater numbers last summer? How did the sales of bestsellers develop during the year? Companies that are able to answer these questions and understand their data can plan their capacities and marketing activities accordingly and therefore increase their sales rates.

Cross-border e-commerce: Establishing peak management

However, companies should not only pay attention to seasonal fluctuations; exceptional situations such as the ongoing Corona pandemic can also boost sales of certain products. An analysis by the German price comparison portal billiger.de found that office software, multifunction devices, printer cartridges, tablets and board games were in greater demand in 2020.

In order to successfully meet short-term peaks in demand and retain customers in the long term, internationally operating companies are well advised to establish a carefully thought-out peak management system.

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E-commerce events 2022 – seizing the opportunity to benefit

From spring to winter – there are countless seasonal events throughout the year in Europe for which local consumers are increasingly shopping online. Events that used to be the exclusive preserve of bricks-and-mortar retailers are increasingly shifting to the Internet – with attractive opportunities for retailers.

Thanks to e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay and OTTO, it is now possible to participate in e-commerce events in Europe even without having an online store of your own. We present some important shopping events in Europe that you should certainly be marked in your calender.

  • In most European countries, the European shopping year begins in January with winter clearance sales: the event, which lasts for several weeks, plays an important role in European e-commerce as a way of boosting sales at the end of the winter season and making room for new spring merchandise. The sales periods and their regulations vary from country to country within Europe: while in Belgium, for example, the winter clearance sale ends on January 31, Italians and Spaniards can take advantage of the winter sale until the end of March. Another special feature: in addition to typical products such as winter jackets or boots, goods for the coming season are also on offer. Sports and fitness brands, for example, are benefiting from consumers’ new sporting resolutions. Likewiuse, vacation trips are also in particularly high demand at the start of the year.
  • Valentine’s Day continues to boost sales in Europe. Flowers, culinary gifts, food, vouchers, watches, jewelry and decorative items are particularly popular. According to a survey conducted by the IFH Cologne retail research institute on behalf of the German Retail Association (HDE), the “Day of Lovers” generated additional sales of one billion euros in the German retail sector in 2020. Online retail benefitted as well: In addition to buying health and beauty products, booking travel was also highly popular among German consumers, according to the results of a survey by the Global Savings Group. What’s more, men are now also increasingly buying gifts – with attractive sales opportunities for retailers in the entertainment, sports and lifestyle sectors.
  • In Germany, February and March are marked by Carnival, which is celebrated excessively, especially in the western part of the country. Costume and makeup retailers benefit particularly from this unique custom: Before the pandemic, the textile industry generated sales of 110 million during Carnival alone – around 41 percent more than 10 years ago – and the trend is rising, according to the results of a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Rheinische Fachhochschule Cologne.
  • Digital shopping is also becoming increasingly popular during the high-turnover Easter period: According to statistics from the affiliate network Admitad, the fashion & accessories sector in Germany recorded an increase in orders of more than 250 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year. And there was also strong demand for interiors. Interior platforms such as lampenwelt.de recorded an average increase in sales of 100 percent.
  • Mother’s Day is celebrated throughout Europe on different days, but mainly in May. Numerous online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, but also fashion brands and jewelry retailers attract consumers quite successfully in the run-up to the event with generous discounts and special promotions. In 2021, for example, Austrians spent an average of 62 euros and a total of 210 million euros on gifts – the majority ordered online. Flowers, sweets and vouchers were among the Mother’s Day bestsellers, as data from idealo.at shows. Father’s Day is celebrated in Europe on different dates between March and December and is currently of rather minor importance for cross-border e-commerce.
  • Similar to the winter sales, the sales periods also differ within Europe for the summer clearance sales: The popular seasonal sale starts at the beginning of May at the earliest (in Greece, for example) and ends in mid-October at the latest (as in Romania, for instance). Meanwhile, digital marketplaces and retailers offer generous discounts, predominantly in the fashion sector. Current figures confirm the success: according to the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V.), German online retailing achieved a year-on-year growth of 14.8 percent in Q3 2021. Overall, e-commerce retailers turned over EUR 22.2 billion in this period. The industry thus achieved its fastest-growing third quarter in five years from July to October 2021. Online marketplace providers such as Amazon, OTTO and eBay achieved a year-on-year increase of 15.3 percent.
  • At the end of October, Halloween heralds the end of the year for e-shopping. Whether in England, Germany or Ireland: Although the popularity of the spooky festival does not yet reach U.S. levels, Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in Europe. According to a survey conducted by MindTake Research on behalf of the Austrian Trade Association, Austrians will spend an average of 25 euros per capita on theme parties or decorating their own homes in 2021. In addition, MindTake Research predicted total sales of around 42 million euros. In the previous year, Austria’s nationwide spending still amounted to 30 million euros.
  • After Christmas, Boxing Day, which is particularly popular in England, Ireland and other Commonwealth countries, marks the seasonal e-commerce end of the year. It takes place annually on December 26 and, like Black Friday, is a sales-open holiday with numerous special offers. However, there are subtle differences: on Black Friday, the focus is on discounts, gifts and decorative items, whereas on Boxing Day, the focus is on gifts for yourself and the return of unwelcome presents. In the UK, this shopping event is particularly popular: in 2019, British customers spent a total of 5.8 billion US dollars on Boxing Day, of which 1.5 milllion US dollars were attributable to online purchases.

Traditional e-commerce events: sales boosters at the end of the year

In addition to seasonal sales peaks, retail has also spawned its own holidays. While China’s Singles Day has been an online event from the start, Black Friday traditionally originates from brick-and-mortar retail. However, Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Week all have one thing in common: they are growing in popularity, generate strong sales figures for a healthy increase in turnover and form a brilliant end to the year for international retailers.

  • Singles Day in Europe

Singles Day on November 11, which originated in China, is the biggest online shopping event in the world. The additional sales day is also becoming more popular in Europe – however, not in all countries: 11.11. is a national holiday in Poland, for example, and the end of the First World War is commemorated in the UK and Ireland. Nevertheless, 2020 data from adtech company Criteo shows significant sales peaks across Europe – including, for example, Portugal with a 155 percent increase, France (111 percent) or Norway (89 percent).

Good to know: Traditionally, Amazon does not take part in the mega-event organized by its competitor Alibaba, but instead focuses on Black Friday. However, the platform also offers bargains, which they call “early Black Friday deals”.

Cyber Week was brought to Europe with Amazon and has since become the main event at the end of the year for many international retailers. In addition to Black Friday (traditionally the day after Thanksgiving), Cyber Week also includes Cyber Monday – the final day of the mega shopping spectacle. However, the key sales day is Black Friday, which is also confirmed by current data from the information service provider Experian: While Black Friday 2021 registered a 162 percent increase in sales in Germany compared to an average November day, German consumers paid little attention to this year’s Cyber Monday.

The U.K., champions when it comes to e-commerce, also registered record sales – despite supply chain disruptions – surpassing not only 2020, but 2019 as well. According to credit company Barclaycard, British shoppers spent nearly $12.18 billion at the end of last year’s Cyber Week.

Serving sales peaks, winning customers

In addition to seasonal sales peaks, numerous other high-revenue shopping events have now been established that extend far beyond stationary retail. Internationally active retailers can benefit from this development. The growing Eastern European markets in Europe in particular offer companies great potential, which is being exploited by more and more retailers with the help of marketplace integration.

Retailers should keep an eye on the further development of Cyber Week. Experts suspect that discount promotions starting ever earlier will discourage consumers from waiting until Black Friday to make a purchase. For this reason, the first pre-sale campaigns could start as early as October.

Cross-Border E-Commerce and the Soccer World Cup 2022

Towards the end of 2022, the Soccer World Cup will also play a significant role in cross-border e-commerce. Major sporting events are a fundamental factor in creating a significant boom in the economy. Industry insiders know that before and after the start of a major soccer tournament, TVs in particular are in demand – regardless of whether Corona keeps the world in suspense or not. Weeks before the starting whistle, electronics retail chains are already noticing an increasing interest in large-format TV sets. A survey by the Initiative Digitale Handelskommunikation (IDH) confirmed this feeling: Almost a quarter of German European Championship enthusiasts took the past European Football Championship as an opportunity to buy TVs, fan articles or specific groceries to celebrate the games within their own homes.

International suppliers of sports and electronic goods would therefore be well advised to step up their marketing efforts before and during the upcoming World Cup in November 2022 and also place their products on European marketplaces

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