It’s Not Too Late to Prepare for Holiday E-Commerce Sales

If it seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier each year, you’re not wrong. Decorations begin to adorn store shelves long before Thanksgiving — and now often appear well before Halloween. That means if you haven’t yet started to think about how to prepare your online store for and protect your e-commerce sales against the onslaught of holiday e-commerce shoppers and fraudsters, you certainly should.

Consider implementing these six tips to help develop lasting customer relationships, protect your e-commerce sales against chargebacks and false declines, ensure sensitive financial data stays secure, and guarantee the holidays remain the most wonderful time of the year.

Watch Out for Signs of Account Takeover Fraud

Account takeover fraud occurs when a fraudster uses a piece of a victim’s identity (like Social Security numbers or email addresses) to gain access to and take over the victim’s account. Unfortunately, with each data breach, account takeover fraud becomes an even bigger problem for merchants. Fraudsters use this stolen information to compromise checking, savings and brokerage accounts — even loyalty accounts — to steal from you and siphon cash from your customers.

How to Prepare

Some of the giveaways for account takeover fraud include multiple failed login attempts and logins from new devices with different IP addresses and device IDs. Even during the busiest of seasons, be prepared to take a closer look at suspicious transactions and flag those that require manual reviews.

Take a Second Look at Express Shipping

Typically, first-time customers who place large orders and request expedited shipping are flagged as possible fraud. But during the holidays — especially as Christmas gets closer — panicked shoppers will pay almost any amount to have their last-minute purchases delivered on time. This means you may need to loosen your standard fraud filters, so you don’t automatically decline these transactions. Failing to do so means you may not only lose out on valuable sales, but also risk alienating the good customers whose transactions you reject.

But yet, won’t fraudsters be aware of this, which means shouldn’t you be extra concerned about inadvertently approving fraudulent transactions?

How to Prepare

The solution is to look at more than just shipping method to determine whether an order is fraudulent. Evaluate the transaction as a whole. You might also consider using a combination of human staff, real-time data and customer analysis to separate the good customers from the bad.

Beware of Phishing Scams

Sales aren’t the only thing on the rise during the holiday e-commerce shopping season. Emails to customer service also increase significantly as the shopping season gets into full swing. Fraudsters may take advantage of this and choose this as the time to launch spam attacks or send phishing emails. If even one employee accidentally clicks on the wrong link in a phishing email, you risk revealing sensitive business data or confidential credentials and putting the entire business at risk for a data breach.

These same phishers might also impersonate you and send spoofed emails to your customers to try to compromise even more data from your customer base.

How to Prepare

Now’s the time to remind customers and employees that you’ll never ask for sensitive data, including user names and passwords, via emails, phone calls or text messages. And don’t forget to remind employees and customers that before they open any attachment, they should confirm the sender of an email by hovering the mouse over the sender’s name.

Clarify Exchange and Return Policies

Some consumers are proud to complete all their holiday shopping months in advance. But what happens if the recipient doesn’t like the gift — or needs to exchange it for a different size? Often, the time between the purchase and the return/exchange request exceeds your normal timeframe. But refusing the request could result in losing the lifetime value of two customers — the original purchaser and the recipient.

How to Prepare

Smart merchants will relax their exchange and refund policies around the holidays to ensure recipients are happy and have the opportunity to get the gift they really wanted. Create a clear, flexible holiday exchange and return policy and post it clearly on product, checkout and policy pages.

Be Prepared for Unexpected e-Commerce Sales

When it comes to consumer online shopping habits during the holidays, expect the unexpected. It’s not uncommon for your regular customers to change up their buying patterns at this time of year. But don’t automatically assume that unusual purchases are fraudulent – or even that the type of fraud you experienced last year will be the same as the fraud you see this year.

How to Prepare

Pull up and analyze e-commerce sales patterns from previous holiday shopping seasons to remind yourself of the fraud patterns and levels you saw last year – but go into this new season with eyes wide open, because new fraud patterns are always emerging. Also make sure your fraud review team is adequately staffed to handle the increase in manual reviews needed.

Update Your Fraud Prevention Tools

Fraud attempts are bound to increase during the holiday shopping season, and it’s not always easy to separate the legitimate transactions from the fraudulent — especially if you rely on simple fraud filters to screen transactions.

And it’s not just fraudulent orders to worry about; you should also be looking out for false declines. Not only can these declined transactions cost you more revenue than actual fraud losses, they can also damage the customer relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.

How to Prepare

Look at whether your fraud prevention solution is doing what you expect and need it to. If it’s not? Consider upgrading to a solution that uses a robust combination of human analysis and artificial intelligence to identify the fraud that integrated or automated solutions might miss. If you’re not sure where to start, download our free “Fraud Protection Buyers’ Guide.” It walks you through available options and ensures you’re asking the right questions and choosing the fraud protection solutions that will fit your needs.

By taking the time today to prepare your online store for the busy holiday season, you can help ensure you experience more sales, fewer false declines and chargebacks, and increased customer loyalty all year long.

New call-to-action