Payment Strategies to Prepare for a Holiday Sales Spike

holiday salesBy Ryan Stewart

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it, an influx of shoppers. Last year, Americans spent $91.7 billion online between November 1st and December 31st, and this year, online sales are set to exceed in-store sales for the first time. Thankfully, payment tools have finally caught up, allowing retailers to streamline the sales experience, minimize consumer risk, and ultimately turn one-time holiday shoppers into repeat buyers.

Optimize for Omnichannel

It’s no longer just a matter of in-store or online; customers can choose to make a purchase in a browser or an app, with a payment form or a digital wallet… the list goes on. Part of keeping your customers happy — especially when their emotions are running higher than their credit card bills — means allowing them to use their preferred channels, and creating a consistent experience no matter their buyer journey.

Retailers optimizing the payment experience for omnichannel can’t afford to ignore the following:

  • Digital wallets: Digital wallets, like Apple Pay and Android Pay, securely store users’ credit card, debit card, or bank account information. This allows consumers to easily authorize payments with one click, rather than entering long card numbers, expiration dates, or CVS codes. Studies have shown a 10% increase in the rate of completed transactions from online shoppers when digital wallets were accepted, proving how a faster checkout process is a win-win for consumers and brands.
  • User-friendly payment forms: Mobile commerce is expected to account for nearly 35% of total e-commerce purchases this year. Simple payment forms can help make sure you’re capturing as many sales as possible across all touchpoints. These should match your overall branding and use responsive design, guiding customers seamlessly towards purchase whether they’re shopping online or in-app.

Anticipate Fraud Vulnerabilities

‘Tis the season. Due to increased traffic over the holidays, retailers are particularly vulnerable to everything from carding and transaction-based fraud to identity theft and security breaches. The NRF estimates that fraudulent returns cost American retailers over $2 billion dollars each holiday season.

The best defense is to have strong fraud prevention tools in place in time for the holidays. Some of these solutions — like address verification services (AVS) and card verification values (CVV) — are table stakes. Many payment processors also offer tokenization, a method of encrypting sensitive customer data to reduce the impact of a data breach.

Here are some more tools to consider this season:

  • Velocity limits: defining limits that automatically flag a fraud risk if the value or frequency of transactions is above a predetermined level. If your largest order is usually around $5,000 and a purchase goes through for $20,000, chances are it’s fraudulent.
  • IP filtering: using a filter to block transactions from an IP address that was previously used to carry out fraud. This way, you won’t get burned by the same card twice.
  • Risk thresholds: establishing criteria to assign a risk score to each transaction so that you can quickly catch transactions that are potentially fraudulent, like those originating out of country.

These tools can minimize risk and reduce the number of lost sales from transactions that are incorrectly flagged as fraudulent.

Whether it’s to add payment channels or combat fraud, a payment processor can help you prepare for the holidays. Don’t just survive the holidays — end Q4 on a high note and keep those profits rolling into the New Year.