3 Ways to Get Your eCommerce Site Ready for the Holidays

Red and green decorations are beginning to pop up everywhere. Dancing miniature versions of Old Saint Nick may grace your coworker’s desk. Even if it’s barely cold enough for a  light jacket where you are, speakers in grocery stores are beginning to declare that “the weather outside is frightful.”

The holiday season is upon us.

If you own a store, we’re coming upon the peak sales season – and for good reason. The US retail industry has averaged more than three trillion dollars over the last few holiday seasons. That’s about 20% of industry sales. If you have an eCommerce store, you face unique challenges each holiday season. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, shoppers are heading online for most of their shopping this year at 59%.

Yet, with major retailers being hit by devastating security breaches, it’s imperative that you optimize your website to protect customer data and provide the best shopping experience possible. Here are a few strategies to prepare you for the holiday rush and ensure smooth processing of your customer’s transactions.

1. Make sure your website has the bandwidth

Down time and slow load times can spell absolute disaster for businesses, especially during the peak holiday season. If your website poses too many roadblocks, customers will look elsewhere to fulfil their shopping needs. Before the peak season, use your web analytics tool to see when customers are looking at your site and from which device. With most customers shopping via their mobile device, make sure that your site is mobile-responsive and fully functional to be viewed on a variety of screens.

Another tip: Consider your server (and we don’t mean at the next restaurant you go to). While it’s a popular decision to use shared hosting for your website, if you’re anticipating a surge in traffic this holiday season, consider upping your server game. A dedicated server can be cost-prohibitive for some businesses (some cost upwards of $200 per month for use) but if it makes financial sense for your business, consider the benefits and cons of switching.

2. Outline your returns policy

One thing that can really cost businesses are disputed transactions. Not only will businesses often have to carry the cost of the disputed transaction in the event they don’t win the chargeback (which occurs in up to 80% of cases), if chargebacks are a constant thing for your business, some banks will ding you financially as the cost of doing business.

There are some tactics to help increase your chances of winning a chargeback, like documenting each transaction, using a cloud-based reporting system (like what Forte offers) and using a recognizable name in the line items of customer’s transaction histories. However, also offering a clearly-stated return policy can also do much in the way of preventing a customer from instigating a chargeback with their financial institution in the first place.

3. Give customers confidence when submitting payment info

It’s important to make sure however you accept payments, you offer your customers a way to complete their transactions confidently and securely. In fact, more than 90% of cardholder data breaches occur in small business locations. The costs to your business can be costly, too. If your business is implicated in a breach, financial and remediation costs average $10,000 to $50,000. Additionally, the hit to your reputation among potential customers and the potential you face of losing credit card acceptance privileges can spell doom for your business.

PCI-DSS compliance is a vital, mandatory benchmark that your business must adhere to – for your business’ benefit and your customer’s security. There are a number of avenues you can take to ensure PCI compliance. You can choose to manage your own PCI compliance assessment using the forms on the PCI Security Standards Council website. Alternatively, you can choose a payment processor who has a PCI-DSS Compliance Program, like Forte does. What’s more, participating merchants will receive breach insurance and remediation service as part of the program.

The holiday season can be a great time for your business. With your strategic planning, you can maximize your business’ potential for bringing in a major chunk of your year’s business. Keep in mind these vital tips to ensure that your holiday season has fewer headaches and more victories.

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