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Lunar New Year Series: How to Boost Your eCommerce Sales

Written by
Amanda Lim
Published on
January 17, 2019
Updated on
June 20, 2023

The Lunar New Year period is a time where people return to their hometowns to visit extended family members, have big family feasts, and celebrate the turn of the season. As one of the biggest traditional festivals, it is also a time where giving gifts1 between family and friends are the norm.

With the increased convenience of online shopping and cross-border delivery of gifts, more customers will look into eCommerce sites to make their shopping more convenient this Lunar New Year. To help you prepare for the upcoming festivities, it helps to run promotional campaigns early to fulfil more orders earlier so that you’re not swamped when the festivities start.

Because of this, it helps to know when Lunar New Year occurs in different countries so that you can plan your eCommerce promotional campaigns effectively.

When Does the Lunar New Year Occur in 2019?

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, falls somewhere between January and February depending on the year. In 2019, that date officially starts on 5 February, 2019.

Depending on the country, however, celebrations and public holidays could start earlier. While the festivities are traditionally observed for 15 days, public holidays usually span from a few days to a week long, and some countries have a public holiday on the 15th day as well, known as the Lantern Festival.

The countries that will have public holidays for Lunar New Year are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. To illustrate the days when the public holidays happen, this infographic breaks down the number of days based on the country.

For China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, the holiday periods last for more than a week.

With these extra days off, your potential customers will also have extra leisure time, so you can capitalise on this by creating a great online shopping experience for them.

Apparel and footwear are popular products during the Lunar New Year festivities because of the tradition of buying new clothes to signify the new year. Additionally, other cultural observances include giving “lucky money” to loved ones and friends in red packets or “hong bao”, spring cleaning and decorating, dining out, and eating traditional snacks among others. With that in mind, food items, home appliances2, decorations, and gifts are also popular product categories that see a surge in demand during this period.

In order to get customers to notice your online storefront, it helps if you are running promotional campaigns as early as you can from the holiday celebrations.

Popular eCommerce Promotional Campaigns in the Lunar New Year

There are many ways to promote your products during the Lunar New Year. Some promotional campaigns may be more successful than others, so we’ve compiled a few popular methods to give you some ideas.

Online Vouchers on E-hongbao Platforms

Tencent was the first to popularise the idea of the e-hongbao or online red packet feature when they launched it on WeChat in 2014. Through this feature, people can send “lucky money” digitally to loved ones and friends, which can then be spent on the WeChat platform. A whopping 100 million users3 flocked to the platform when it first debuted to distribute “lucky money” within the Lunar New Year month, and Alibaba was quick to adapt4 their Alipay app to have a similar feature.

This “lucky money” feature was also popular with Singaporeans during Taobao’s Singles Day 4event in 2018. With Alipay having a foothold in places like Singapore5, Malaysia6, and Thailand7, you have a unique opportunity to market your products through Alibaba’s platforms in Southeast Asian countries, as consumers will be more inclined to spend their virtual “lucky money” online.

On top of this, you could also offer seller coupons specific to your storefront in conjunction with the hongbao giving period. Depending on the platform and the site’s policies, customers could check out with both your merchant coupon and the platform’s e-hongbao to result in savings for your customers.

Campaign Discounts

According to eMarketer, spendings on Lunar New Year in China8 saw a 48% year-on-year growth with 54% of all Lunar New Year spend happening online in 2018. Markets in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan also see a huge uplift in eCommerce sales9 in this period.

Platforms like Qoo10 would typically launch campaigns 4 to 5 weeks before the Lunar New Year10 period because sales could slow down leading up to the actual Spring Festival holidays as customers may be spending that time travelling. With this in mind, you should also be pushing your campaign discounts early in order to capitalise on this.

Since savvy shoppers are on the lookout for good deals before purchasing any item, it also helps to study what your competitors are doing. You could also use this campaign to promote new items with a new release sale respectively.

Flash Sales

Another type of discount that is widely popular is the flash sale. Items listed in flash sales are typically hugely discounted, but the promotional time frame only lasts for a short duration.

Big platforms like to conduct flash sales and lists participating items on the front page, with competing platforms introducing new features for flash sales11 like the buddy flash sale, flash deal reminders, and shaking games on smartphones to keep customers engaged on their platform during major shopping events. You can look into participating in the platforms’ flash sales and have your consumers snagging a good deal quickly during this festive period.

Aside from pushing these promotional discounts on your online storefront, it also helps to be aggressive in your marketing strategies by using your social media pages, email newsletters, and other marketing channels to announce your promotional campaigns, ensuring that your returning customers are aware of the Lunar New Year sales.

By promoting your eCommerce products early in this festive season, you will be able to stay ahead of your competition by capturing your customer’s attention early on. Additionally, you benefit from being able to plan your operations when shoppers enter your digital storefront in great numbers. In times like these, it is essential to work with your suppliers and eCommerce shipping partners to smooth out any supply chain issues that may crop up.

In part 2 of this series, we will look into preparing your eCommerce store’s operations to ensure a smooth delivery experience for your customers.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can solve your SEA eCommerce cross-border delivery needs, come and have a conversation with us.

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  1. China Highlights: Great Chinese New Year Gifts Ideas for Friends, Kids and Seniors
  2. Criteo: The Big Opportunity of Chinese New Year: Sales Uplifts of +71% in Fashion, +101% Grocery, and More
  3. Reuters: REFILE-China's Tencent celebrates Year of Horse with mobile gifts
  4. Technode: Tencent and Alibaba at Digital Lucky Money War
  5. Today Online: Taobao targets Singapore shoppers in marketing efforts for Singles’ Day
  6. Today Online: AliPay to launch local wallet for Singapore
  7. Malaysian Wireless: Malaysia key market for Alipay, now has over 18,000 merchants
  8. Startup Thailand: Thailand Ranked the 2nd Most Overseas Alipay Spending
  9. Total Access
  10. Marketing Interactive: Shopping habits around CNY: Have you missed your chance?
  11. Channel News Asia: Shopping smart: How are Qoo10, Lazada and Shopee gearing up to get people to spend big on Singles’ Day?