Every year, more and more Australian retailers are jumping on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bandwagon and offering greater discounts.

The annual US Shopping event, Black Friday, has become one of the biggest sales periods in Australia while having no cultural connection to Australians. In 2020, The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed a 13.2% increase in overall turnover, while online purchases increased by 42% compared to 2019.

Cyber Monday, originally conceived as the online version of Black Friday, merged to create a long weekend of discounts, with most brands providing the same sales and promotions from Friday through to Monday.

And now, we’re seeing this trend of adopting and extending promotions from other regions across Australian businesses in the bid to drive customer conversions, such as Sofa Sunday, extending from Black Friday sales.

But now, a third big sales event for November, which also arrived at Australian shores from overseas, is Singles Day.

Singles day, originating as an anti-Valentine’s Day sale aimed at unattached shoppers, is held on 11 November; the date was chosen because 11/11 represents four ones, or four singles, standing together. It is also said to represent “single sticks” or “bare sticks”, which is Chinese slang for bachelors.

With an emphasis on buying and paying for themselves to demonstrate independence, the day was initially known as Bachelors’ Day among young people, celebrating the notion of self-care by treating themselves to presents, fine meals and having a night out with friends.

Today it is a commercial holiday that has become the largest online shopping day in the world — selling more goods than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

A 2021 NAB study found that Aussies spent about AU$8 billion during the four-day weekend, surpassing pre-pandemic records from Black Friday 2019 by 8%. Technology and fashion were top of the list for Australian consumers.

This year, with in-person shopping in full swing and online shopping retaining its immense popularity, a hybrid approach to purchasing is set to become the new norm.

How should brands approach a hybrid model? They need to consider the five fundamentals of good customer experiences: immediate help, unique experiences; excellent service; ease of use; and multichannel communication. By doing so, retailers can retain customers beyond the Black Friday sales.

In our globally connected world, people can instantly share traditions, cultures and ideas with the click of a button. Brands have also become global, using the internet, social media, low-cost international shipping and freight forwarding services to reach a worldwide audience and network.

This retail globalisation makes the competition for Australian retailers and the fight for Australian consumers’ attention much harder to sustain. As a result, participation in promotions and traditional global trends is a no-brainer for Aussie retailers. However, what’s missing from global brands is the authenticity to participate in Australia’s rich, diverse multiculturalism and the ability to tap into Australian culture intuitively.

Add in the increased cost of living and interest rates we face, and Aussie consumers are hanging out for a reprieve from inflated goods, hoping to snatch a bargain or two in the November sales frenzy days before the Christmas mania.

How can brands navigate large-scale sales in a hybrid consumer approach?

2022 is the first year in a while that we’ll see flocks of consumers heading to physical shopping destinations. However, old habits don’t break that easily, and after two years of relying on online shopping, consumers are smarter and savvier.

Hybrid consumerism will be the preferred approach for snagging bargains, with consumers using online portals to scan brands, offers, and prices from the convenience of their homes before navigating physical stores.

This means that brands need to step it up a notch and ensure their customers have a consistent experience across both online and physical spaces.

Knowing where your customer is shopping is key to creating these positive customer experiences, which will lead to increased sale conversions, increased customer retention and loyalty.

Think about it this way; if a potential customer were looking for a new set of headphones, they would most likely start their buyer’s journey online. And in times of sales and promotions, they will be flooded with multiple offers from their competitors in newsletters, online searches, and advertisements. Building loyalty through personalised, data-driven contextual communication with that customer online helps cut through the blaring red-ticketed noise and keeps the customer focused on your brand.

Implementing a robust communication strategy

With sales events like Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming soon, brands will have a higher volume of customers to manage. Transforming your customer engagement model to encompass a more strategic and engaging role in the early stages of the buyer’s journey is key to ensuring a smooth experience. And for your business, gathering that valuable data on consumer behaviour will allow you to cut through the noise in a competitive market by offering a premium customer experience.

Businesses that activate specialised AI on their customers’ preferred communication channels can provide a positive customer experience without burdening the retail workforce with simple enquiry requests.

Throughout the year, customers want easy access to a brand and information; this is magnified during busy periods. You will reap the rewards of increased sales and a smoother transaction process by putting your customers first.

There are various channels available for brands to begin the customer engagement journey, from a website chatbot and SMS to WhatsApp business, which enables you to improve engagement and customer loyalty — looking for assistance? We’re happy to help.

Jonathan Ryan is head of Australia and New Zealand at Infobip.