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10 Key Ecommerce Dates in the Countdown to Christmas 2017

It’s not easy being an eCommerce retailer. It seems there’s always a new online shopping holiday to get ready for and it can be difficult to keep up. We’ve all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but do you have a strategy in place for some of the lesser-known eCommerce events?

We’ve produced a handy guide to the major online shopping dates in the run-up to Christmas to make sure you’re prepared. So what are the 10 key dates?

Singles' Day - 11th November

Originating in China, Singles’ Day provides the occasion for people to celebrate their single status and treat themselves with gifts. Since 2009 Alibaba, China’s largest eCommerce retailer, has encouraged retailers on its platforms to offer discounts on the day, growing the sales event into the nation’s most lucrative eCommerce day. Last year Chinese shoppers spent a huge £14.2bn in just 24 hours.

Grey Thursday – 23rd November

The day before Black Friday, Grey Thursday acts as a soft launch for online merchants to showcase their deals ahead of the next day’s purchasing frenzy. The day has seen increasing success in recent years, with financial firm JLL stating that “Grey is the new Black” "Grey is the new Black" and BizTek Mojo declaring that “there is a new champion in town”. Whilst Black Friday is more well-known as an established shopping day, Grey Thursday represents a great opportunity to prep your client base and any other visitors to your site on upcoming deals. It’s predicted to be massive this year as retailers work to spread out the Black Friday season.

Black Friday – 24th November

Black Friday began as a day in the US for bricks and mortar retailers to have a flash sale, but has now become a huge global eCommerce event. Last year it was bigger than ever in the UK, with an estimated £1.23bn spent online, a 12% rise on 2015 (the year when the day famously broke the billion). With such positive results in recent years, it will be interesting to see what 2017 holds.

Cyber Monday – 27th November

As the name of the shopping day suggests, Cyber Monday is the eCommerce event ring-fenced solely for online merchants. It’s an occasion for flash sales, discounts and urgency driven transactions through time-sensitive deals and limited stock offers. In 2016, traffic increased by 155% on Cyber Monday compared to a normal sales day.

Retargeting Tuesday – 28th November

The aim of this shopping day is to reinforce the two more established preceding days by retargeting customers who have abandoned your site. The relatively new addition to the eCommerce calendar is also known as ‘Bounceback Tuesday’. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about conversions (sales, donations, subscriptions – or whatever constitutes a conversion for your site). But whilst these days are very successful, the average basket abandonment rate is generally around the 80% mark. Retargeting Tuesday finds its niche in targeting this abandoned traffic.

Giving Tuesday – 28th November

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving where communities come together to show the world why it’s good to give. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering your time or just spreading the word at the start of the Christmas shopping season, Giving Tuesday is a Call-to-Action for everyone who wants to give something back - and so is the perfect day for Charities to champion.

Throwback Thursday – 30th November

Throwback Thursday is traditionally the day when all those impulse buys purchased by customers earlier in the week are returned. It’s often a hard day for retailers, as handling these returns can severely cut into profit margins. Dealing with difficulties like this is why many brands have chosen to veto Black Friday in the past couple of years. Throwback Thursday is an important day therefore to ensure your returns process is slick and efficient.

Small Business Saturday – 2nd December

This eCommerce day is all about encouraging customers to support their local small businesses. Whilst the idea behind this campaign was originally designed for bricks and mortar, companies have successfully translated the premise to the online world. If you plan on incorporating Small Business Saturday into your strategy, be sure to make the most of the ‘#SmallBizSat’ hashtag to help drive engagement. You can join the official campaign here.

Green Monday – 11th December

Green Monday has unofficially become Cyber Monday 2.0 and was named by eBay after it became the retailer’s busiest online shopping day. Green Monday marks another surge in online sales as gift givers rush to purchase the perfect present, without incurring the additional shipping charges that will begin to be tacked on if ordering later.

Free Shipping Day – 16th December

On this day in the eCommerce calendar, participating merchants and retailers offer free shipping that guarantees the delivery of orders by Christmas Eve. Shipping costs are one of the foremost causes of basket abandonment, so this day acts as a great sweetener to drive conversions. If your margins allow it, it’s well worth embracing this day. 

How can you prepare for these eCommerce events?

There are a multitude of things you can do to prepare yourself for this run of events. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Have your campaigns and deals ready to go for Grey Thursday, not just first thing Friday. The soft launch is an opportunity to test everything will run smoothly for the following day
  2. Make absolutely sure your site’s bandwidth is up to scratch and can handle the load before Cyber Monday
  3. Ensure that shipping options and delivery dates are prominently visible on your site, so consumers know when it’s the Christmas delivery cut off
  4. Combat the volume of returns (especially on Throwback Thursday) by being clear and concise in your product page copy and descriptions

You can now be confident in the run-up to Christmas that you're prepared for all the biggest dates in the eCommerce calendar. 

We crunched the numbers and analysed the data to uncover what really happened during 2017's Golden Quarter. Download our Golden Quarter report for exclusive insights into the latest online shopping trends

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Posted by Ellie Hubble

Ellie is a Content Manager and spends her time reading, writing and getting excited about all things UX, digital and technology.