Black Into Gold

Late November news reports are quick to emphasise the commercial potential of “Black Friday” for global retailers. What began as an exclusively American Thanksgiving tradition has now been embraced far more widely.

In recent years we’ve seen the websites of high profile retailers almost grind to a halt on the day after Thanksgiving, with buyers stuck in endless virtual queues. But the biggest lesson of this November 26th won’t be how long people have to wait in virtual queues but how many of them are lining up to do it. Retail analysts are estimating an increase in year on year online trade of as much as 500%. With traditionally English-speaking markets now increasingly multilingual and with retailers reaching out to new markets in all corners of the globe, how can we smooth the path for sellers and buyers?

We can localize, and at XTM LIVEStream, Brock Hansen of Wish ecommerce reminded us of how effectively this can be accomplished. The Wish mobile shopping app connects users with over half a million merchants all over the world. Those merchants must trust that they can grow their business on the platform, and of course end clients must trust that the products and services they receive via Wish will meet expectations. All parties need clear, nuanced and localized communication that will resonate with the target audience and build trust across markets.

Over 41 million people across the United States delivered their Thanksgiving greetings in Spanish this year. But that doesn’t mean they spoke with one voice. Taking Florida as just one regional example, the accents and speed of speech you hear in conversations between Cuban-Americans may be a world away from the slower and more formal diction of Columbian-Americans. And when listening to Venezuelan Spanish you may be struck by the absence of sibilant “s” sounds. The Puerto Rican origins of almost three quarters of a million New Yorkers resonate in their daily speech, while Californians of Mexican heritage may speak completely different types of Spanish according to how long they’ve been in the United States. The distinctiveness of people, their age groups and their regional accents and dialects makes a “one size fits all” approach to language unsuitable when dealing with people in the same city, let alone the same country.

This is a good time to remind ourselves of the influence of Spanish in the United States. While the first Anglicised Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by pilgrims who’d travelled to America from southern England, findings at Florida’s Museum of Natural History have revealed that a Spanish Thanksgiving was held decades earlier. In 1565, explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés attended a special Thanksgiving Mass with over 800 fellow sailors and settlers in St Augustine, then sat down to eat side by side with local Native Americans. Menéndez de Avilés had lost half his ships on the voyage from Spain, and this show of friendship and appreciation was his first response on reaching safety on America’s Atlantic coast. Four and a half centuries later, it’s a gesture we can still learn from. The key element of any relationship is trust. For merchants and ecommerce leaders, communicating clearly and engagingly and offering a high quality, immersive shopping experience makes all the difference. It’s what turns possible into profitable. It’s what turns Black Friday into gold.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of XTM LIVEStream. Session recordings are now available here at XTM On Demand. We look forward to seeing you face to face at XTM LIVE 2022 in San Franciso on April 27th & 28th.