‘Tis the season for merchants to focus on holiday sales.

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially open the holiday season. Combined, they have become one of the best shopping periods of the entire calendar year. Originally a US-focused phenomenon, this obsession to ‘find the best deals’ has spread like wildfire across the globe. In recent years, this weekend has become the optimal time for merchants to increase their sales and generate strong profits by offering customers some great deals both in stores and online.

Beyond Thanksgiving weekend, it’s no secret that the holiday season is a crucial time for merchants, especially in online retail. In 2017, holiday e-commerce sales reached the greatest record sales increase since 2011.

With 2018 already projected to reach record-breaking heights, merchants need to invest the time and energy to make this the most successful holiday season for their business.

In this post, we will look at 8 ways merchants can offer a seamless experience for their customers and end 2018 on a high and make this holiday season a true joy.

  1. Dive into the Data
  2. Alternative Methods of Payment
  3. Fraud Protection Tools
  4. User Friendly Payment Page
  5. 24/7 Customer Service
  6. Uptime a Must
  7. Go Global
  8. Think Personal
  1. Dive into the Data: The best way to make the 2018 holiday season a success is to review last year’s data. Looking back at last year’s holiday season experiences will enable merchants to set clear sales benchmarks. As part of the review, merchants should develop specific retention strategies for customers acquired during the early holiday season. Retaining customers beyond the high season will allow merchants to transform short-term holiday profits into repeat consumers that can spread the joy throughout the year.
  2. Alternative Payments Methods: Online shoppers abandon their shopping carts 69.89% of the time. Sadly, in many cases, merchants are not even aware of the reasons behind it. One of the key contributors to cart abandonment these days is the lack of Alternative Payment Methods (APMs) to traditional credit card payments. Today, offering APMs is critical, especially for the European and Asian markets. Neglecting to offer a range of payment alternatives could mean a high abandonment rate and a low sales season. Merchants should consider APM offerings as an invisible cash flow that can exponentially increase their bottom-line. Of course, simply adding APMs is insufficient. During the holiday season, and throughout the year, merchants must work with APM experts that are deeply rooted in solving the complexities surrounding implementing APM solutions.
  3. Fraud Protection Tools: As holiday e-commerce shopping continues to grow exponentially, so does fraud. According to many reports, including several of the world’s leading global retail brands, a 14% increase in fraud attempts is expected to occur during the 2018 holiday shopping season. The data shows that fraud attempts will most likely peak around Thanksgiving Day. Online merchants need to be prepared for fraud activity during the peak online shopping days. The prevalence of digital payments and transactions, coupled with the number of consumers gravitating towards apps and mobile connectivity, has encouraged criminals to devise newer, more sophisticated methods of fraud during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are solutions. For example, products like SmartGuard use machine learning for superior anti-fraud protection services for merchants and PSPs to accept more payments, increase profit margins,  while providing consumers a friction-free holiday shopping experience.
  4. User Friendly Payment Page: For any online merchant, the checkout page is the most essential component of the customer experience. If consumers aren’t experiencing a seamless process at the payment page, e-commerce businesses take the risk of user abandonment. Especially in the mobile era, payment pages need to offer a positive user experience. Last year, 53% of all orders on Thanksgiving day came from mobile devices! In fact, Shopify merchants saw nearly 60% of Black Friday and 64% of Cyber Monday orders come via mobile devices. As predictions for 2018 stating that mobile will account for nearly 70% of e-commerce traffic, it’s time for merchants to ensure that their payment page is optimized to offer a seamless, mobile customer experience.
  5. 24/7 Customer Service: Another great way to boost sales during the holiday season is to increase customer service during these peak months. In a recent McKinsey podcast, a positive customer journey, throughout the various touch points, can influence their purchase decision with a specific merchant. Positive interactions along the way can turn the customers into advocates and brand ambassadors, well beyond the holiday season. Customer care has come to the forefront, merchants should make sure that customers can easily contact them for any questions or concerns. Live chat options or bots that can offer answers to frequently asked questions could provide positive customer experiences during the holiday rush.
  6. Uptime a Must: One of the most important ways merchants should prepare for the busiest season of the e-commerce industry, is to make sure their payment providers are prepared for the increase in traffic. During the holidays, or any time of year, merchants need to make sure they are working with payment providers that implement robust payment systems ensuring constant transactional uptime. Credorax, for example, is an Acquirer that provides merchants with a robust acquiring platform that ensures uptime, all the time, enabling its merchants to feel secure transactions are always processed around-the-clock.
  7. Go Global: As e-commerce continues to be more competitive every day, it is becoming essential for online merchants to broaden their reach internationally, especially during the holiday season. As consumers demand direct access to global brands and companies, merchants are presented with a unique opportunity to engage with new audiences.
  8. Think Personal: To further bolster holiday success, many merchants are integrating personalization and segmentation tactics to strengthen consumer loyalty. On average, customers respond 2.5 times higher to personalized emails.

To maximize potential gains from the holiday season, beginning with Black Friday through Christmas, merchants must be prepared to offer a seamless customer experience to accommodate the needs of today’s tech savvy, demanding global consumer.

By focusing on these 8 holiday steps, merchants eager to increase revenue and customer satisfaction can easily turn the holiday season into the most wonderful time of the year!