No one has to tell merchants that the days following Thanksgiving are among the busiest – and most profitable of the year. But, for online business, the big question is how to prepare for increased traffic, sales, snafus – and scams.
In America alone, online shopping is expected to break records again this year, spending a total of $124.1 billion over the November-December holiday shopping season, a 14.8 percent jump from last year. Divided by the total number of U.S. internet users, that translates into roughly $423 in spending per online shopper, according to Adobe Analytics.
The five-days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will drive $23.4 billion worth of online sales, with Cyber Monday being the biggest shopping day ($7.8 billion), followed by Black Friday ($5.9 billion) and Thanksgiving weekend ($3.3 billion).
Figuring out how much inventory to have on hand can be difficult. Look at last year’s sales as a predictor and consider increasing inventory levels a bit higher if your business’ sales trends indicate the need to do so. New merchants can look at their average sales per day during the busiest months as a guide. Shopify suggests merchants plan for 3.6x increase in sales on Black Friday and 3.1x on Cyber Monday (based on sales for a normal November day), and offers this formula
Remember, inventory can always be sold later (assuming it’s not perishable), but if you’re sold out you’ve lost those sales.
Merchants should make sure that shoppers know what deals are on offer. It seems obvious, but marketing can get forgotten in the busy run-up to the holidays. Consider starting sales early for customers on your email list, or social followers – offer exclusive “early access” deals. Look into spending a bit on boosted posts and social ads – but only if social media does a good job of driving sales for your business. Consider reaching out to bloggers, influencers and news sites that appeal to your customers, to see if they are running sales roundup articles. Think about how you can get the word out to the people who are most likely to purchase from you.
Check Fraud Filters
The best Payment Processors offer solutions to merchants that help prevent cybercrime such as fraud and mitigate the risk of chargebacks. This includes fraud scrubbing technology, which uses rule-based filtering to quickly spot and stop potentially problematic transactions. The right fraud scrubbing solution, properly configured, will block the majority of fraudulent transactions in real time, and enable you to scrutinize potentially problematic activity to determine whether it is genuine or fraudulent.
Fraud filters typically look for exceptionally large orders and rapid-repeat transactions. Transaction velocity checking filters may need to be adjusted to reflect expected increased activity at certain times of the year. Merchants who have adjusted their fraud scrubbing filters may want to check their custom configurations to help ensure that they reflect the needs of a busy shopping season. Talk to your Payment Provider to determine whether a fully-automated solution is the best choice for your business, or what level of customization will best fit your needs.
Check Hosting Provider
Any merchant that experienced serious issues during previous high-traffic periods should check his or her hosting provider’s plans to deal with the holiday rush. There’s no way to prevent some glitches entirely – even huge retailers like Amazon have been known to choke on holiday shopping traffic. But hosting providers should have a plan in place to cope as well as possible with increased traffic. And now is a good time to jot down all the support contact info and URLs, on the chance that the hosting provider itself will buckle under high demand.
Prep Payment Processing
This close to the holidays, merchants really should already have an existing relationship with a trusted Payment Processor and Payment Gateway. The holiday season is no time to experience merchant account freezes, holds or terminations – or be scrambling for a Payment Processing solution. Be wary of “instant onboarding” merchant account offerings, as delayed on-boarding may also result in sudden terminations. Look to Payment Processors such as T1 Payments for fast underwriting and reliable access to merchant financial services, even for businesses that are considered high-risk.
T1 Payments specializes in meeting the needs of high-risk merchants, providing a full suite of Payment Processing, including advanced fraud scrubbing and other risk management tools, and Payment Gateway services that integrate with over 175 different shopping carts. T1 also provides flat fee merchant accounts, complies fully with PCI, and offers comprehensive account monitoring, reporting and support to help high-risk merchants avoid chargebacks, fraud and other business risks. To find out more about our customizable global payment solutions for high-risk merchants please visit t1payments.com or call 866-518-2216.