Like the rest of 2020, the year-end holiday season will be different from all prior years. Indeed, the season has already diverged from convention, because it is already well underway. Many savvy retailers segued from holiday prep to implementation before summer's end.
Now would be a great time to encourage your merchant customers to step up their holiday season activities if they haven't already done so. A significant portion of consumer spending shifted from in-person to online, which spurred merchants to adapt. Many launched ecommerce websites for the first time; some entered entirely new sales channels; a large number adapted to new methods of order placement and fulfillment. Much of this is still new to them. Integrating seasonal products and promotions early will give them more time to work out the kinks before the bulk of orders arrive.
Another reason for merchants to get their holiday mojo on early is that many retailers are now at peak capacity when it comes to shipping packages, and so are the various companies that will be making their deliveries. A glut of undelivered packages sitting in warehouses on Christmas morning instead of under the tree, for example, would cause more than disappointment. It could lead to long-lasting ill will among the huge percentage of people who celebrate the holiday.
Authenticating online purchases is another challenge merchants increasingly face this year. How can they balance the need to block fraudulent card-not-present purchases and the need to not decline valid purchases? Take a look at what you offer merchants. How well do your products and services deal with this? If you fall short, find partners who can help you fill this essential gap, because all indications are we'll see online purchases soar higher than ever this holiday season.
In addition, getting a jump on the holiday season can give merchants valuable data on emerging geographic and demographic trends that they can apply to their plans for the rest of the year and into the coming year. Does your suite of services provide a means for them to collect and analyze data in a meaningful way? If not, this is another area where you can research potential partners who will enable you to provide the very best service possible.
There will always be some folks for whom holiday shopping is a cherished social activity. They will want to visit physical stores and see real merchandise on display. Merchants need help creating optimal in-store experiences for consumers under what are likely to be social distancing requirements that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. What services do you have that can help merchants offer a seamless in-store experience? Do you provide contactless payment acceptance, as well as hand-held POS devices so sales associates can check shoppers out on the spot and avoid long lines trailing down cluttered aisles?
We used to talk about omnichannel commerce in the future tense. It has now arrived. And we, in the payments community, are positioned to help make it rewarding for all involved as we get into the holiday spirit.
The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.
Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.Prev Next