Online retailers must be operationally ready heading into peak season. But they cannot do this alone, and nor should they. With success (and failure) partially pinned to the performance and support of their collection of technology and service providers, ecommerce businesses need to ensure these partners are as ready as they are.
This statement is particularly true when it comes to payments. That's because, as discussed in our previous article, payment issues risk derailing even the best-laid peak season plans.
With over a decade of experience working with online retailers, we understand the dynamics that shape peak season. We're also fully aware of how we can help businesses meet their revenue goals. We have teams worldwide working with our retail merchants in the run-up to and over the peak season to prepare their payments technology and processes to capture peak season demand.
Here are some of the steps we take for our merchants.
1. Engaging in peak season planning
Peak season success is all in the planning. The retailers we work with typically have hundreds of people from multiple teams designing the offers and planning their execution with expert precision. We make sure that payments are part of this discussion
We work with the team responsible for payments to insert ourselves into that planning process as early as possible. Our goal is to listen and assess the implications of any planned campaigns on payments and, more importantly, to offer new ideas and considerations.
These insights are tailored for each business. For instance, if a business plans to accelerate sales in a new market, we provide insights into that market's payment landscape. This advice includes information about the most popular payment methods in that market, fraud considerations, authorization rate benchmarks and whether the business can take advantage of local acquiring to improve performance and lower payment fees.
Once customers decide what steps to take, we partner with them to ensure these happen as soon as possible. Doing so allows adequate time for testing and configuration before the peak season period begins.
Although we always recommend that businesses prepare their payments stack well before peak season, we understand that business requirements can change. If they do, our people and platform are ready to implement whatever changes are needed quickly and efficiently. We can even get a business live and processing in a few days, if required.
2. Optimizing for performance and cost with data
As we're helping businesses build payments into their peak season plans, we're also working in the background, leveraging the rich data on our platform to solve lingering issues or find areas of opportunity.
One step we take is conducting a thorough analysis of authorization rates at a market and issuer level. This process allows us to identify areas where there are opportunities for improvements that will minimize payment declines. Once identified, we can tweak settings in our system or leverage our relationships with issuers and the card networks to remedy the issues.
Another area of focus is authentication. Given this peak season is the first where Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) rules are fully operational in the UK and European Economic Area, we're planning on spending considerable time helping customers optimize their authentication flow. This includes reviewing whether or not they can take advantage of tools like exemptions to minimize the impact of SCA on the customer experience.
With this peak season taking place against a challenging economic backdrop, we understand that cost is a significant consideration for many retailers. To that end, we'll also work with our merchants to review their payments costs and find areas for savings. We can do this because of our IC++ pricing method, which provides a detailed breakdown of payment fees.
3. Owning the merchant's peak season goals
As peak season lands, we hope to have done everything possible to give our merchants the foundation for success. But the hard work doesn't stop there. As peak season progresses from Singles Day to Black Friday and beyond, we continue standing side-by-side with our merchants at every step.
Our customer success teams will continually track the data in real-time to understand what's working and make adjustments to eke out every improvement possible. Should the customer want it, we'll also ramp up the frequency and detail of reporting—weekly to daily, continental to country—so they have the latest figures to share with their executives.
Most importantly, we're there if issues arise. While we hope our merchants won't have problems, the reality is payments are complex and involve multiple stakeholders, so there is always a risk.
We always intend to spot and resolve these issues before they impact merchants. But if that doesn't happen, the next best thing is to be available when they come to us, whenever that is. With a global technology and customer support operation, we provide a 24/7 immediate response. This is never more important than during peak season, when any payments interruption can cost millions in lost revenue.
Dedicated support, 365 days a year
At Checkout.com, we pride ourselves on being there for our customers over peak season—and every other day of the year. What we do for retailers in the build-up to peak season isn't unique; it's what we do day in and day out to give our customers the payments foundation they need to thrive in the digital economy.