By Sarah Jones
As we near the end of Ramadan, Sprii's CEO, Sarah Jones, shares her key insights into the expected shopping trends and how retailers should prepare for the Eid holiday period
With Ramadan coming to an end, we've looked back at the key shopping occasions, and although Black Friday, Christmas and January sales are key, Eid needs to be very high up on any retailer’s hit list.
It’s easy to group this in with the bigger and more global shopping peaks, but embracing Eid as a standalone retail period is a much better strategy, as it allows for businesses to consider locality and offer a much more personalised experience for the consumer.
Last year, we saw 40% spikes in sales for gear, such as strollers and car seats, that complemented the travel plans for many mums going away over Eid.
There was also a shift in what people bought from our homeware category; pre-Ramadan we saw coffee machines and food processors experience a +230% lift, whilst in the weeks that followed, sales for blenders, juicers and the ever-popular Nutribullet soared, suggesting that consumers wanted to begin a health kick after such an indulgent month prior!
We’re used to seeing people flock to supermarkets ahead of Ramadan, however Eid is an increasingly important retail event of note too, especially when it comes to fueling online sales in the region.
Criteo recently unveiled research that showed 61% of consumers in KSA and 58% in the UAE intended to buy gifts during Eid Al Fitr, with sales peaking in the weeks after, which means retailers can’t afford to rest once the week-long celebration has ended; they need to find a way to extend the hype.
And communication is key in that aim. At Sprii for example, we use the holiday itself as more of an anchor point and then plan the messaging pre, during and post-event to correspond to the user journey as it happens. Within this, there’s the distribution to consider too; we have more than half a million followers on social media and over 150k subscribers to our newsletter, so these are key communication channels for us to maximise during this period as well.
The priority should always be to make the consumer experience seamless from start to finish, especially during any promotional cycle; it’s crucial to learn from past challenges and provide better solutions that keep consumers coming back. Sprii is a platform ‘driven by mums and powered by us’ which means at its core, the user has to have a big say on what we offer and when.
For 2019, we can already see similar patterns emerging in what our consumers are starting to shop for. Enquiries to our customer service department and items added to wish lists have increased, with nostalgic kitchen products, such as popcorn and candy floss machines, teamed with more premium buys from Tefal and Moulinex, proving popular so far.
The growth of our fashion category is also something we’re expecting to see continue throughout Eid, as we increase our assortment in maternity fashion, as well as customised kidswear options too. We know from consumer feedback that this kind of mix isn’t readily available online, so we wanted to be the first to answer this need, especially as this is a product selection that is likely to be in demand during this time.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that shoppers are primed and eager to see how retailers respond during ‘events’ like Ramadan and Eid. I touched on it earlier how locality provides a unique opportunity for vendors to really tailor their promotions to each market, offering exclusive discounts that will encourage repeat business.
We recently launched in Saudi and know that the consumer mindset is different, their shopping habits more varied, which means we need to personalise our offers to cater to this. It’s no good just applying a one-size-fits all approach to every country you have a presence in, because competition is fierce and if you don’t stand out, then what’s to stop them going elsewhere? Remember you only have three seconds to make an impression and it needs to count.
As more people shift to ‘shopping on the go’ in line with their 24/7 always-on lifestyle, a great mobile web and app experience is a given, but this is particularly important during Eid if you want to capitalise on potential sales.
According to Criteo, last year weekly mobile share in sales surged by 17% during Eid al-Fitr versus 13.1% in the second week of Ramadan. In-app sales also grew by up to 79%, which shows how the user mindset is shifting towards an ‘app-first’ mentality, providing brands make their offering easy to navigate and intuitive to use.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to just launch an app, but to create something that really aligns with the customer journey takes a lot of work; it’s not something you can throw out into the market for the sake of ticking a box. The infrastructure behind the scenes needs to be in place in order to offer a new layer to the shopping experience, not just be another mobile version of your website.
Taking all of this into account, it’s true that planning can only get you so far. Businesses also need to be able to respond in real time, using the right data and feedback to shape and tailor the consumer journey as it unfolds. You could have a great product offering, but if you don’t connect with your consumers then your Eid promotions will fall flat and the expected peak won’t ever reach its potential.
Think of Eid as something of a red carpet event for retail. Vendors and consumers are looking to capitalise in different ways, which is why it’s essential for there to be synergy between the expectation and reality.
For the consumer, it’s a chance to indulge and treat their loved ones, whereas the vendor will look to rack up sales first and foremost, but if they are smart, they should think ‘personalisation at scale’ to speak to as many users as possible, whilst still retaining the appearance of a 1-1 relationship.
Not only will this result in an uptick in the short term, but it will encourage brand loyalty for future retention as well. After all, isn’t that the goal for any e-tailer worth their salt? Sales are fleeting and retail is a 365 days a year kind of game; loyalty counts for everything.