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Are you ready for Black Friday? 16 tips for online and offline to prepare

By: Verifone

Black Friday - online and offline

This article will offer eight ways to make sure you’re ready for Black Friday online, and eight more to get you ready in store.

With Black Friday 2017 falling on November 24th, British retailers are bracing themselves for an upsurge in consumer spending – last year we saw a staggering £1.23 billion transactions on a single day.  With offers and promotions spilling over into Cyber Monday, the transaction surge may well continue throughout December with no let-up till after the seasonal sales in January.

The scale of these spending peaks creates an amazing opportunity for merchants large and small.  But they also throw up many challenges and expose them to greater operational risk. Increasing choice and complexity drive new demands on consumer-facing touchpoints, while high volumes of simultaneous transactions, place tremendous strain on physical and virtual payments infrastructure. 

Retailers cannot afford to lose sales through unavailable, slow or unreliable checkouts.  Yet over a third (36%) admit they cannot scale up quickly enough during peak times such as Black Friday. Good practice and forward planning can prevent this, creating a positive customer experience, improving speed and efficiency and paving the way for sales boosting loyalty initiatives to keep customers coming back for more.

Verifone’s payment gateway experienced 28% more transactions on Black Friday 2016 compared with Black Friday 2015, with sales peaking at around lunch-time (1pm). 

Here, are some simple steps that retailers can take to survive the spikes and keep their checkouts ringing under the load.

Online:

1. Check loads and reliciency

Assess transaction capacity within your existing system with stress testing.  If it shows signs of load straining prior to anticipated sales spikes, you may need to add additional servers or cloud capacity fast. Make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in place so you can switch instantly to a back-up processing system if your site goes down.

2. Optimise payment pages

Determine the best option for managing your payment page with your gateway provider and make sure you have the necessary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in place for effective payment processing.  Many consumers will be browsing and buying via mobile this year, so make sure your payment pages and sales sites are responsive and optimised for this format.

3. Ramp up support

Consider using a managed service which provides a resilient, reliable hosted e-commerce platform that is scalable. It allows you to pay for what you need, when you need it, to maximise your return on investment.

4. Share plans

If you’re planning post-Christmas promotions, special deals or offers, think of the impact on online site traffic.  It’s not average volumes but high levels of concurrent visitors that can potentially knock out your payment platform. Make sure that Marketing communicates sales generation activity with your IT department, or online payment provider, so that they can factor it in.

5. Keep watch

If you manage your online environment in-house, ensure you have adequate resources and increase frequency of site monitoring to take you through the busiest periods.

6. Join the dots

More and more customers are using click and collect to avoid unnecessary delivery costs.  If you’re an omni-channel retailer, consider using eCommerce solutions to augment your bricks and mortar operations and provide seamless seasonal sales journeys.

7. Enhance security

In 2016, ecommerce payment fraud soared by 18% to nearly £309 million. Consequently, consumers can be cautious about inputting their card payment details online. To reassure them and to safeguard cardholder data, while reducing the burden of securing payment data, consider using a secure managed payment service that provides a resilient and reliable PCI compliant hosted platform with additional Point to Point Encryption (P2PE) and tokenisation capability.

8. Be transparent with costs

Unexpected costs and data overload at the payment page can lead to abandoned baskets. Accurately calculate postage costs and show these up front. Better still, let an online marketplace service calculate them for you. Set expectations and be clear about delivery time-frames; if necessary, using a fulfilment service to help manage this.

In-store:

1. Health-check devices

Make sure any lanes in your store that are not normally used, except during peak trading, are working before they are needed. Network cables and other connections can sometimes get knocked out of place.  Schedule any maintenance or updates well before November 24th.

2. Add capacity

Consider renting additional payment devices to meet peak trading, so that queuing is kept to a minimum. 

3. Look deep

Take time to analyse data from your terminal management information systems, to see historically when peak trading has occurred.  Plan your staffing and additional resources around these time frames and locations.

4. Stay safe

Events such as Black Friday and Christmas are also peak fraud seasons so ensure your staff training is current, particularly when it comes to compliance and security.  It’s vital that your PCI procedures are properly implemented and maintained so you are not exposed to unnecessary risk or fines.

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to implement PCI P2PE in order to keep your payment chain safe and to help reduce PCI scope. Properly applied PCI P2PE can eliminate skimming devices by more than 95% – as terminals are securely delivered to the stores and securely stored. It also reduces data compromise risk and liability by more than 80% (Verifone figures), as the cardholder data is encrypted thus eliminating data breach within the stores.

5. Queue-bust with MPOS

Queue busting solutions, such as mobile payment terminals and contactless payments help to reduce queues by taking payments to the customer and helping till points flow faster. 

6. Add self-pay

Advancements in unattended payments are creating new opportunities for kiosk and self-service sales within retail, transit and hospitality environments.  Many of the latest payment components, offer multimedia capability so you can link seasonal digital content to boost branding and fuel even greater sales.

7. Optimise services and content

With today’s multimedia-capable point of sale (POS) devices, it’s never been easier to add content or personalise the checkout.  Retailers can integrate in-store sales points with advertising and brand campaigns, deliver targeted offers and promotions and even encourage seasonal giving through charity apps such as Pennies – the ’digital charity box’.

8. Connect with proximity marketing

Truly connected retailers will want to maximise on peak trading periods, such as Black Friday and Christmas sales, by boosting uptake of online and social promotions in-store by using QR codes, beacons and push alerts sent direct to customer mobile phones.  Make sure sales staff are aware of these and trained on how to redeem these at the terminal to maintain a positive customer experience and not let them down at the point of redemption.

 

By: Verifone

 

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