The Black Friday checklist: are you ready?

The Black Friday checklist: are you ready?

By Delphine Bos, CMO, SafeCharge

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days in the calendar year. The arrival of Cyber Monday has made the time period even bigger as customers can get the best deals at the click of a button. For businesses, this is a lucrative opportunity for increased sales and revenue, however, it also requires a great deal of preparation to ensure customer satisfaction is high and services are being delivered despite the increase in web traffic, which can cause retailers to feel under pressure.

However, much like with diamonds, pressure can sometimes we a good thing. Merchants should use their drive to perform and start their efforts on the right foot, channeling their enthusiasm to achieve high conversion rates rather than lose sleep over the stressful peaks.

Businesses needs to plan ahead and make sure they prepare themselves so they can best capitalise on the opportunity available to them. From the increase in mobile shoppers, to ensuring uptime and fraud, there are some concrete areas - or a checklist - that merchants can use as a practical guide to ensure the smooth running of their operations at the craziest shopping day of the year.

1. Create mobile-friendly payments pages
Payments queues in-store are the inevitable downside and dreaded process of mass-sale occasions like Black Friday. More and more customers rely on their mobile devices to search and shop for the best deals. It is now imperative that businesses provide a frictionless experience that retains current customers and attracts new ones, by creating native (mobile-ready) payments pages that will ultimately increase conversion rates. These should include all the relevant built-in features, such as localisation, one-click payments as well as embedded risk solutions.

2. Have the right mix of payment methods

The rise of e-commerce has demolished geographical barriers; businesses can sell to anyone, anywhere by using a strategic approach to payments. That said, it is mission-critical for businesses to tailor their checkout pages to appeal to local preferences and flavours. For example, amongst Chinese tourists, WeChat Pay is ubiquitous and the prefered way to pay. Merchants can capitalise on the opportunity brought by the millions of Chinese visitors by implementing WeChat Pay - and other payment solutions - in their offering.

By tailoring their service and providing convenience to their customers businesses are grabbing the monumental business opportunity available to them, and in turn, leave their customers satisfied. 

During the Black Friday - and indeed holiday - season, providing a mix of payment methods that will increase conversions and create a seamless experience for customers. Being adaptable as a merchant and offering a variety of region-specific payment methods can help businesses sustain sales, whether traditional (cards) or alternative options like WeChat or Apple Pay.

3. Check the PSP’s SLAs
With customers wanting to find their bargain and checkout quickly, it is imperative that merchants have a payments provider that can handle the large number of transactions via the payment page. If the system cannot cope with the sheer amount of traffic generated by Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, businesses are at risk of losing revenue (which can range from 10 to 100 thousand euros on average) as shoppers can easily switch to a competitor in a matter of clicks. Not only is downtime expensive, but businesses can lose hard-earned customers and suffer damage to brand reputation.

Without a proper payments infrastructure to sustain shopping spikes, retailers will not be capable of reaping the benefits of the biggest shopping day in the calendar year. Having a reliable payments partner that is able to ensure uptime throughout the day (and weeks to follow) will be the silver bullet to success for businesses. Retailers need to check their payment service provider SLAs (service level agreements) to ensure the highest possible uptime figures are met.

4. Optimise risk settings

There are many reports on the risks of fraud for shoppers in the form of phishing scams and cyber attacks to steal credit card information and customer credentials. Yet businesses need to be aware of the danger that this time period poses to them as well. Black Friday is a prime time for cyber criminals to take full advantage of the increased volumes in traffic, knowing that retailers are not necessarily paying attention to suspicious activity in this busy time.

Treating every transaction as suspicious will inevitably hit the merchant’s bottomline and introduce an element of disruption that customers will not tolerate. Most businesses will remember what the likes of 3D Secure 1.0 brought in terms of cart abandonment and user dissatisfaction.

With fraudulent activity being inevitable during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, merchants should rely on a payments service provider supporting a smart (dynamic) approach to risk management. By designing a highly customised fraud screening profile adapted to the merchant’s needs, fraudulent activity and chargebacks can be addressed without impacting sales volumes.

5. Have a backup plan
As it happens, even the best laid plans can go awry. In the case of a highly-sought discount shopping day, any potential disruption during peak hours means significant losses to revenue and margins. Merchants need to understand how their PSP deals with downtime and what measures they take to makes sure their business is up and running. In the event of any issues, ensure a team is on point to deal with the situation, to get the system back online as quickly as possible.

With e-commerce becoming the preferred way for people to shop, merchants need to find a solution in order to remain competitive and keep their shoppers and themselves secure. Selecting the right infrastructure to sustain shopping spikes is the foundation to reaping the rewards of Black Friday. However, making sure payments infrastructures can also keep secure is critical to maintaining customers and profitability in the long run. With this winning combination, businesses will be able to take full advantage of Black Friday which can last long into the holiday season.

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