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Next steps: Preparing for holiday shopping season

Drawing on the experience and insights of Cybersource Managed Risk Analysts worldwide, we’ve put together a series of tips to help you prepare for holiday shopping season and protect your business against fraud and risk while delivering a frictionless experience for genuine customers.

Now that you have spent some time evaluating the different parts of your business, connecting the dots, and planning next steps, let’s put it all together with tips for implementation and preparation. If you missed it, you can check out the first blog in this series.

Tips to prepare for the holiday shopping season

Preparing for the holiday shopping season may seem overwhelming at first, so we’ve organized our tips into three phases: evaluation, implementation, and preparation. Our previous post discussed evaluation, and this post will cover implementation and preparation.

Phase 2 – Implementation

Tip: Promote marketing material

You’ve taken the time to discuss your role and responsibilities with marketing, addressed any necessary changes, and developed a strategy that brings together your collective goals. During peak season, marketing will likely want to get a jump on things, so make sure you’re aware of any shortnotice publications. Many companies are now running ‘Early Black Friday’ sales, so it’s important to align on dates, product limits, and sale amounts. If the business has decided to promote an item that has a limit of one per customer, is this something that will be handled systemically (through website or inventory management limits) or is the fraud team ready to prevent customers from buying multiples? How is the business defining ‘customer’ (by email, payment, or customer ID), and is that made clear in marketing and policy documentation?

Preparing and solving for this upfront will prevent fire drills and manual intervention and will support your goals of automation and a frictionless customer experience.

Tip: Update policies

Once you’ve gathered feedback and feel comfortable that the policies align with your business goals, make sure they are implemented for customers to see. Remember, policies can go unchanged for years if left alone; ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ can be a success killer. Expect some resistance along the way but continue to push ahead.

Tip: Refresh your strategy

If you’ve met with the relevant teams, have an understanding of the business goals, and have expanded your fraud platform, it’s time to implement those changes. Make sure they’re in place early so that you have sufficient time to test and retest. Simple mistakes, like using ‘and’ statements instead of ‘or’ statements, forgetting to adjust for certain regions and currencies, or failing to account for policies can have a significant financial impact. Don’t wait until volume has already hit peak levels to find gaps or errors in your fraud strategy.

Tip: Set expectations

A strong business, marketing, and fraud plan can help improve your business’s chances for success. But it’s important to ensure that you’re communicating your plans with the relevant teams. You may have needed overflow support for manual review in past years, but you may or may not need it this year. Also, be transparent with your direct reports and close colleagues about the season’s demands. If you need to limit meetings, pass on a long lunch, or skip a training or one-on-one, make sure it’s not a surprise. Also consider how you might work with your teams to ensure they feel engaged and supported during this demanding time of year.

Phase 3 – Preparation

Tip: Stay on course

Peak season can really strain a business. IT resources, staffing, product management, sales, and accounting will have strict responsibilities and goals they need to attain. On top of this, everyone must consider customer expectations and provide world-class customer service. The right planning, pursuit of automation, and focus on customer experience will prevent this peak season from becoming chaotic, allowing you to reap the benefits down the road.

Tip: Be nimble

Even though you’ve spent months planning, making changes, and executing new strategies, you still have to be nimble. Unfortunately, if sales have grown because of these changes and positive customer engagement is at an all-time high, you won’t have the luxury of time to make last-minute changes. Review the goals you set for this peak season, check in with supporting teams, and swiftly course correct.

Tip: KPI monitoring

What gets measured gets improved. Measure your key performance indicators (KPIs) daily and compare them with data from previous years while accounting for any pertinent changes to the business. Reporting should be as automated as possible so you don’t have to go searching for the data you need; there are several tools and platforms that have built-in functionality that can help. If the focus for this peak season has shifted, you may also need to shift where you get your reporting from. Let’s look at some areas to focus on:

    • Customer service. Check in with the customer service team to see if customer complaints have increased or decreased, and note the reasons why. Does the team have access to reporting and, if so, what’s available? You may find that there are complaints about product limitations, such as the ‘limit one per customer’ example discussed earlier. Where does a fix need to be made: within fraud strategy, on the website, or within marketing?
    • Marketing. The marketing team often tracks click-throughs on marketing campaigns, so ask them which items are getting traction and which are not. You may need to adjust your velocity thresholds to accommodate spending patterns.
    • Finance. This may sound obvious, but finance is a great resource for measuring success. Outside of checking on general sales health through a revenue report, dig deeper into chargebacks and their associated reason codes. This is also a great time to connect on authorization rates and decline reason codes. Collaboration and communication with the finance team can foster continued success.

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