How online retailers can gear up for Ramadan

This is a sponsored post by Criteo.

Ramadan is observed by more than 200 million people across the Southeast Asia (SEA) region, home to the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Ramadan, which runs for 29 or 30 days, will see Muslims adhering to a set of traditions, which includes fasting. At the end of this four-week period, they celebrate with a three-day festival called Eid el-Fitr, also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Puasa in Singapore and Malaysia respectively.

The Eid festival is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and amongst the most widely celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia. During this period, families customarily visit the homes of their relatives and friends, and households would be decorated lavishly and stocked with an abundance of food and snacks to welcome their guests. Naturally, they would also have bought new clothes to mark the beginning of the festivities.

It is therefore not surprising that in the lead up to and during Ramadan, in preparation of Eid el-Fitr, there is a 67% increase in online retail sales in SEA. Correspondingly, the two categories that perform the strongest are fashion and luxury, and home and living.

The success of e-commerce businesses in SEA will depend on their ability to enable or encourage users to complete purchases on their web, mobile web or app storefronts. These businesses must therefore develop capabilities to understand their customers’ shopping journey across devices, browsers and apps, and ensure a unified customer experience across these channels.

Preparing early for your marketing campaigns is the best way to make the most of Ramadan season. These tips and timelines will help you focus your energy where it matters most — making the right moves at the right times to ring up maximum sales and build lasting customer relationships.

1. Prepare for the peaks – know how and when to budget for Ramadan

Based on shoppers’ online browsing and buying activity, shoppers are browsing and purchasing as early as the month of Ramadan begins. This year, Ramadan falls almost two weeks earlier than the year before in 2016 – starting around 26 May 2017 – followed by Eid el-Fitr from 25 to 27 June 2017. This means that retailers who plan to grab early-bird sales by drawing traffic to their websites already need to be strategising their re-targeting budgets accordingly.

2. Maximise on mobile

Understanding how shoppers are buying is also crucial. Mobile plays a big role is e-commerce retail with 37% of onsite retail conversions happening on the mobile app, and up to 26% increase in the mobile share of retail sales in the weeks leading up to Ramadan.

Retailers need to ensure their website is optimised for increased mobile traffic, browsing, and sales to promote positive customer experiences throughout the season. Beyond that, they also need to be invest beyond a mobile-friendly site to create an intuitive app.

3. Conquer cross-device to win more shoppers and sales

In the period from prior to Ramadan, 46% of shoppers were found to be viewing products across multiple devices, with one in four shoppers switching devices at least three times during their purchasing journey.

Accurately identifying, mapping, and serving the right ads to customers across devices and browsers can give you a real edge in engagement and enhance your digital customer experience across channels and devices.

Beyond all the festivities and its preparation, Ramadan traditions do not give way to modern shopping habits. To engage with shoppers, retailers need to know when they are most active online. As shoppers spend time with their friends and families after sundown, they are less likely to browse and shop online.

During the fasting period in the day, e-commerce transactions were lower at 71%, compared to 76% for the period prior to Ramadan. However, after breaking fast, there is an increase in e-commerce sales to 29%, from 24% pre-Ramadan, representing a timely opportunity for retailers to reach out to shoppers.

During the start of Eid el-Fitr, when the celebrations begin, there was a decline of 44% in online sales and 20% in website traffic. However, in the week post-Eid, online sales rebounded, increasing 35%. Retailers must pick the right time of the week and time of day to increase their digital marketing efforts, so they can achieve an uptick in online transactions

Ramadan is an important festive season in this region. Rapidly rising disposable incomes, a growing appetite for modest fashion, halal products and services mean that retailers need to enlist smart solutions to engage shoppers across all touchpoints and deliver the most impactful content at every point in the customer journey.

For more insights and specific tips on how to drive traffic and sales in the lead up to and during Ramadan, download Criteo’s guide here.

Criteo Ramadan report