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Seasonality Helps Global Fashion Retailers Sink or Soar

As fashion retailers face increasingly intense competition from brick-and-mortar and online rivals, more and more companies are expanding into global markets with translated e-commerce websites.

The results are powerful and successful: connecting with new consumers in their preferred languages builds trust and ignites previously-untapped revenue sources.

However, a nuanced understanding of a market’s culture, climate and preferences is what delivers sustained success in global online markets. In fact, online retailers that neglect these important cues can alienate customers, and quickly sink their e-commerce endeavors.

Seasonality in particular informs shopping habits. Companies that smartly adapt their localized websites, online promotions and product stock to the unique seasonality of their target markets can easily woo consumers in global markets.

Let’s look at three international markets and how seasonality affects fashion e-commerce there.

Germany

Germans are renowned for being meticulous planners and their online fashion shopping behavior reinforces that reputation. Europeans typically begin their summer shopping in April or even later. (Data from enterprise localization platform, MotionPoint, reveals that French consumers start shopping for summer gear in May!) Germans, however, are way ahead of the curve, beginning their summer fashion shopping in March.

Since temperatures drop earlier in Germany than other European countries, winter apparel sales really pick up in there September. MotionPoint winter 2015 sales data indicates that wool products are quite popular, as are cardigan sweaters. Winter sales peak in November, earlier than in other parts of Europe.

Here’s an interesting insight: Germans seem to love low-cost winter accessories, like scarves. By actively promoting these products, particularly during the check-out process, a fashion e-tailer can see an overall lift in order values.

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Leveraging internationally-known sales events is another way to move the needle. We’ve observed that Germans are aware of American shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’re increasingly visiting local sites during these times, looking for deals.

Localized sites catering to these expectations can see a boost in sales. We examined the holiday 2015 website performance for one of our clients in the German market. This fashion e-tailer offered Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials.

Both days generated more sales and revenue than nearly any other day that year.

Russia

Russia’s economy has been taking a beating recently, but fashion e-tailers are still finding success there. Beyond sales from Russian citizens, e-commerce sites are generating sales within neighboring markets like Estonia and Ukraine (where Russian fluency remains high). Translation: one site can serve many markets.

Data suggests Russian fashion e-commerce traffic peaks between late December and early January. This predictably follows the regional lift all retailers see here during the holidays.

Winter hats are always a hit in this market. Data indicates that Russians do most of their knit-hat shopping between September and December, and holiday-themed hats are particularly popular.

Russian fashion e-commerce traffic surges again in July, coinciding with summer. And while this traffic is lower than winter/holiday traffic, average order values are much higher in the summer. Why? MotionPoint research indicates that Russians are reducing their holiday spending budgets. Besides, they’re more inclined to give makeup, books, candy and money as holiday gifts.

And like Germans, Russians also love affordable add-on items. Businesses should optimize their Russian site’s conversion funnel to promote these items during checkout. The most-frequently purchased item? Lip balm.

France

Finally, let’s look at France and how a retail tradition generates remarkable results for e-retailers.

France’s brick-and-mortar retail industry generates windfalls during “Soldes”—the nationwide weeks-long sales events held each summer and winter. The discounts offered during Soldes are usually 30 percent off or more.

Soldes are widely known as brick-and-mortar sales events. But savvy e-tailers can seize this opportunity, too. Offering Soldes-themed sales empowers fashion e-commerce sites to compete without drastically slashing prices. (Incentives like free or low-cost shipping can help to achieve pricing parity with brick-and-mortar stores.)

We recently examined sales data from a French e-retail site we localize for a fashion retailer. It debuted timely promotions during both yearly Soldes events. On the first day of each winter and summer event, the French site’s revenue grew 350 percent and 320 percent, respectively. These single-day increases generated hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s clear that French shoppers expect local e-commerce sites to host Soldes-like sales events. Companies can miss out on major revenue-boosting opportunities, when they fail to adapt to local customs like Soldes.

 

Charles Whiteman is senior vice president of client services at MotionPoint Corporation, the world’s #1 enterprise localization platform. He may be reached at cwhiteman@motionpoint.com.