4 Europe peak seasons to prepare for big e-commerce sales

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The most recent annual survey from Eurostat reveals a sustained growth in online shopping throughout the European Union (EU). As of 2022, 91% of the population between the ages of 16 and 74 were internet users; of these, 75% had purchased or ordered goods or services for private use online. This trend underscores a steady rise in e-commerce activity over the past decade, with the proportion of e-shoppers jumping from 55% in 2012 to 75% in 2022. For businesses based in Indonesia, this opens a window to a larger consumer base and the prospect of greater sales volumes. 

To start shipping to Europe, understanding and leveraging their peak shopping seasons becomes key. As the name suggests, peak seasons are times when consumer buying activity is at its highest. These seasons are typically marked by festive or holiday periods when consumers are more inclined to spend

Here’s an insightful guide to help you navigate through Europe’s peak shopping seasons in the second half of the year:

1. July - August: Long-awaited summer holiday season

The summer holiday season in Europe unfolds as a time of abundant sunshine, vacations, and ample time for leisure activities. The summer break buzz creates a flurry of retail activity, with consumer demand peaking for a diverse range of products. Beach essentials such as swimwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, and beach towels are sought after, alongside outdoor equipment like camping gear, picnic supplies, and gardening tools

The summer sale period is an opportune time to entice customers with enticing deals, holiday discounts, and seasonal promotions. The relaxed summer mindset often leads to consumers treating themselves, splurging on items outside their regular shopping habits.

2. September: Back-to-school season

The back-to-school season signals the end of the summer holidays and the return to academics. But it's not just about textbooks and school bells – it represents fresh beginnings and opportunities for new purchases. This period is particularly profitable for businesses catering to educational needs – stationery suppliers, shoe stores, bag retailers, and those offering educational tech gadgets

As families prepare for the school year, shopping carts overflow with notebooks, pens, new shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and more. Tailoring your product offering and marketing strategy to this period can yield significant rewards.

3. October: Spooky and spectacular Halloween season

Come October, the Halloween season ushers in a unique shopping period. Not restricted to just costumes and decorations, the retail activity covers an eclectic mix. This includes sweets for trick-or-treaters, arts and crafts for home and school activities, party supplies for themed events, and a spike in alcohol sales for the grown-ups

The allure of the spooky and fun-filled season entices consumers into the holiday spirit, making it an excellent opportunity for businesses of all types to boost sales with Halloween-centric products and promotions.

4. December: Joyful holiday season

Finally, there is the Christmas season – arguably the crown jewel of peak season for e-commerce businesses. As the festive spirit permeates the air in Europe, consumers from all walks of life are on a mission – to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Sales for a diverse array of products can increase, from tech gadgets and toys to fashion items, home décor, and cosy winter apparel

Whether you're shipping to Europe from Indonesia or serving customers in your locale, the Christmas rush can significantly boost sales figures. 

More cultural holidays to look forward to

Europe's rich tapestry of cultures also means a plethora of unique celebrations throughout the year. Germany's Oktoberfest, France's Bastille Day, Spain's Running of the Bulls, and many more. Offering seasonal sales that resonate with these celebrations can help you engage with your customers on a deeper level. Let’s not forget globally popular e-commerce sale days, such as Boxing Day, Black Friday and Single’s Day, for an expanded portfolio of opportunities.

Overcoming peak season challenges

While promotions during these peak seasons have the potential to deliver significant profits for e-commerce businesses, they also come accompanied by unique challenges. Here are some common peak season hurdles and strategies to effectively overcome them:

1. Website downtime

In today's digital age, your website often becomes your most important storefront, more so during peak seasons when the flow of online traffic intensifies. It's during these times that your online presence is at its most vulnerable and significant, with high visitor numbers capable of either propelling your business forward or causing substantial damage. Website crashes, long load times, and other technical glitches during these pivotal periods can not only frustrate potential customers but could also result in a significant dent in your yearly revenue. 

Before peak seasons hit, set aside some time to stress-test your website, simulating the high-traffic scenarios you anticipate. This process helps identify weak spots and bottlenecks that could slow down your site or, worse, lead to crashes. Stress-testing gives you the chance to measure your site's performance under peak load conditions, assessing elements like speed, reliability, and response time.

Armed with this insight, you can take action to reinforce your website infrastructure, optimising it to handle increased traffic smoothly in time for your seasonal sales. This could mean anything from upgrading your web hosting plan, utilising a more robust server, or implementing a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to ensure fast, efficient delivery of your site content – no matter where your customers are located.

2. Marketing and promotions

Effective marketing can be a formidable lever, significantly boosting your sales during peak seasons. The key here is to initiate your marketing campaigns early, fostering anticipation among your target audience. Employ a diverse range of tools such as email marketing, social media promotions, and search engine optimisation (SEO) to engage your audience. 

A tactical approach to keyword usage, incorporating phrases like "Christmas sale in Europe" or "summer holidays in Europe", can markedly improve your online visibility in search results during these peak periods. This, in turn, funnels more traffic towards your online store, priming the pump for increased sales.

3. Inventory management

The fear of facing an "out of stock" situation is common among international e-commerce businesses. Not only does this imply an immediate loss of sales, but it also puts your brand reputation in jeopardy as customers may associate stock-outs with poor business planning. To avoid this pitfall during peak seasons, logistics management becomes your best ally. 

By leveraging historical sales data, keenly assessing market trends, and utilising sophisticated inventory management software, businesses can accurately predict product demand. When considering factors such as lead times, supplier reliability, and seasonal demand fluctuations, maintaining a safety stock level serves as an invaluable buffer against unexpected surges in demand, guiding businesses safely through the tumultuous tides of peak season scenarios.

4. Order fulfilment and shipping

Amidst peak seasons, customers' expectations for rapid delivery climb steeply. Any stumbling blocks in this process may lead to a less-than-optimal online shopping experience and invite negative reviews. However, by joining forces with a reliable delivery partner like DHL Express, businesses can confidently promise and deliver timely shipping from Indonesia to the United Kingdom (UK), Europe, or any corner of the globe with confidence. 

Should your sights be set on establishing a foothold in international markets such as Europe, peak seasons present the perfect springboard. Begin your preparation for the busy holiday shipping phase by opening a DHL Express business account. From packaging to tracking, a business account with DHL Express ensures that every facet of your logistics needs is managed efficiently and professionally.

To maximise these high-traffic periods, you can also delve into a range of tips to harness the power of peak seasons in the global market or gain insights on crafting an effective return policy for your online venture.