Brace Yourself for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

With Christmas only a couple of months away retailers around the world will be preparing for this seasonal boom. The priority must be to capitalise on this time of year, and ensure that all systems are go, go, go!

For the online retailer there are two key dates in the diary: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday Forecast to see 32% Increase In Sales

Friday 27 November 2015 is forecast to see a rise of almost a third in UK retail sales on last year’s figures: accordingly to research produced by Experian in conjunction with IMRG. This equates to £1.07 billon.

Black Friday is the day that consumers expect great bargains (on and offline). Only few years ago many customers had not even heard of the concept, now many will be waiting to kick start their Christmas shopping on this day.
Are you ready?

Cyber Monday 2015

In the same report from Experian and IMRG, Cyber Monday (30th November) is expected to see a similar increase in sales in the UK. Up 31% from last year: from £720m to £943m. Cyber Monday was originally created as a marketing ploy to encourage online sales: the eCommerce version of Black Friday. Now the two dates are closely linked with many promotions happening over the weekend as well.

For online retailers this is a great opportunity to benefit from public awareness of both dates; particularly by encouraging those consumers who start window shopping on Black Friday and over the weekend, to get online and shop on Cyber Monday.

What Issues Do You Need To Address Now To Be Ready?

There are a number of issues that online retailers need to resolve if you are to make the most of this spike in pre-Christmas sales. Here are what we consider to be the most urgent:

Website Performance

Can your website cope with extra traffic over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period? First off you should speak to your IT department or hosting provider and find out what database server capacity you have. Run a load testing programme to see how your website manages, using different customer journeys. You might want to buy extra capacity to cope over these few days.

You will also want to ensure that your website is fully optimised for mobile. With 83% of UK shoppers reviewing purchases on mobile devices before buying (Centre of Retail Research report) it is essential to make it easy for them to click checkout and pay.

It may be advisable to strip back your site to handle this extra traffic as the majority of consumers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday are focused on price – bargains and discounts – rather than the detail.

Web performance is critical at this time of year. With your competitors also chasing your customers’ Christmas shopping lists, it is essential that you provide a fast, intuitive shopping experience.

Third Party Resources

Many online retailers rely on resources from 3rd parties to help facilitate their sales. This will range from your website hosting company, through payments service providers, to shipping and distribution. If you expect to see an increase in sales it is advisable to warn these 3rd parties in advance and ensure that they can provide you with the resources you need.

Providers like ourselves at Secure Trading are well aware of the increase in demand that our clients will experience; and have already taken steps to ensure that we have capacity to maintain our service at the highest level so that our clients can benefit from this retail bonanza.

However, do not presume that all your outsource providers will be gearing up for these dates. Have a conversation now about your additional requirements so that everyone is ready and can cope with a spike in sales.

Payment Options

On Black Friday and Cyber Monday you are likely to see a lot more traffic from new customers, particularly if you have ramped up your marketing with offers and attractive discounts.

New customers will not be familiar with your payment options and therefore it is essential to offer choice, and use this opportunity to convert them into returning customers. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other major cards are standard, but also consider accepting PayPal as many new customers trust this payment method. You can also give them more choice with other alternative payments such as ELV, iDeal and SOFORT Banking.

While allowing new customers to make purchases using a ‘guest account’ will increase conversion rates (no lengthy forms to complete), you may also like to offer new customers a faster checkout process in future with ‘one-click’. A streamlined payment process now, could result in returning customers before the Christmas rush is over.

Therefore ensure that your payment service provider is using tokenisation, the technology behind ‘one-click’, and that your customers have the option to sign up for this secure and quick payment process. Tokenisation is built into Secure Trading’s API eliminating the need for your customers to repeatedly enter their debit and credit card details.

Conversion Rates

Tokenisation will increases your conversion rates for returning customers, a quick and uncomplicated payment process will result in fewer abandoned shopping baskets over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping period.
Consequently, if you are planning a targeted email campaign, or are using geo-targeting and web personalisation tools, Secure Trading’s API with card store and tokenisation will increase conversation rates when existing customers return to your site.

Combat Cyber Fraud

Unfortunately record levels of online purchases present fraudsters with an opportunity to get in under the radar either with cyber attacks that result in downtime and significant loss of sales, or through payment fraud.
Advice from our partners ACI Worldwide is that online retailers, and payment processors, should look for the following ‘red flags’;

  1. Average ticket price: In 2014, the average ticket price of a genuine purchase was about $100 (€90.62) lower than a fraudulent purchase.
  2. Type of item: Fraudsters often target electronics, clothing, cosmetics, luxury items and gift cards.
  3. Type of delivery: Pay close attention to overnight/expedited, e-mail and in-store deliveries.

At Secure Trading we offer an additional level of counter-fraud protection. This is delivered through our Protect Plus product, created with ACI Worldwide, which incorporates our standard Protect product and these extra features:

  • Unlimited bespoke rules for accepting and querying transactions,
  • Data attributes enhanced with the use of neural modules,
  • Identity checks against the UK electoral roll and BT databases (including ex-directory).

Pre-Christmas Returns

Finally, one consequence of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are returns. With potentially double the number of month on month sales, you will also need to factor in double the amount of returns.
With customers keen to spend any refunds quickly and replace presents they thought were purchased, you will need to be able to process these refunds within the timeframe stated in your T&Cs.

Here at Secure Trading we suggest that you deploy tokenisation to help with processing refunds. If a payment has been made using this technology the token associated with the payment card can be used to refund the customer. This means no protracted communications with the customer requesting card payment details again, the customer receives their refund expeditiously, and you can focus on more profitably areas of your business.

If you would like to discuss how you prepare your eCommerce business for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and have a great start to the Christmas season, please get in touch with the team here at Secure Trading. Call +44(0)8081593975, or use this contact form.