The Black Friday checklist: 5 tips to help online merchants shine bright

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.

There are several key aspects merchants need to think about in order to keep up with the pace of today’s shoppers. The following “checklist” is meant to be a practical guide for those online businesses wanting 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 most dreaded part of shopping festivals like Black Friday. More and more customers rely on their mobile devices to search and shop for best deals. It becomes 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 everywhere thanks to 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. If we look at the opportunity brought by the millions of Chinese visitors preferring to checkout with their WeChat Pay account, we’re talking about a monumental business opportunity for those merchants willing to provide that convenience.

Being able to offer the right mix of payment methods will remain a strategic component ahead of any internationally renowned shopping craze, to help you increase conversions and create a seamless experience for your customers. At SafeCharge, we offer the right mix of region-specific payment methods that can help your business sustain sales, whether traditional (cards) or “alternative” (the above mentioned WeChat or Apple Pay!).

3. Check your PSP’s SLAs (…and stay up!)

With customers wanting to strike their bargain and checkout quickly, it is imperative for your payments provider to handle the largest 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 (ranging from 10 to 100 thousand euros on average, according to our research) 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. We recommend you check your payment service provider SLAs (service level agreements) to ensure the highest possible uptime figures are met.

4. Optimise your 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 bottom line and introduce an element of disruption that customers won’t likely tolerate. We’ve all seen what the likes of 3D Secure 1.0 brought in terms of cart abandonment and user dissatisfaction. With fraudulent activity being inevitable during the busiest shopping period of the year, 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 most thought-through processes can fall apart. In the case of a highly-sought discount shopping day, any potential disruption during peak hours means BIG $$$ losses. You should find out how your PSP deals with downtime and what are the measures they take to makes sure your 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 up and running 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. At SafeCharge, we help businesses tackle the challenge of reducing fraudulent activity off their shoulders by providing the latest technology innovations to meet the highest compliance requirements and provide the best service. With a proven track-record serving the most demanding customers across the most demanding industries, we strive to improve authentication processes, make checkout flows as user-friendly as possible, and ultimately increase businesses authorisation rates with smart routing.

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.

Connect with our team to learn more about designing a successful payment strategy.

SafeCharge Limited is an Electronic Money Institution authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Cyprus and is a principal member of MasterCard, Visa and Unionpay International (CUP). SafeCharge Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Payment Institution. Both SafeCharge companies are wholly owned by SafeCharge International Group Limited.