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The back-to-school season is upon is, which means that the bustling holiday shopping season is right around the corner. For many e-commerce shops, this is the bread-and-butter season. With U.S. consumer confidence at 15-year highs and e-commerce projected to take an even bigger slice of the overall retail pie, online stores must go into the holiday season prepared.

Optimize for Conversions

Many small- and medium-sized online retailers utilize one of the popular ecommerce platforms out there like Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce. Let’s look at how each one can be optimized for maximum conversions during the holiday shopping season.

Magento

Speed and ease-of-use are key. In default form, Magento checkout consists of 6 steps, which can cause lower conversion rates. Removing some of those steps can speed up the process and improve conversions. Consider installing a one-step checkout extensions (see: OneStepCheckout, Checkout Pro or MageWorld’s One Step Checkout).

Shopify

In the same vein, Shopify Plus merchants can make things easier for online shoppers by including a checkout progress bar. About one quarter of shoppers will abandon the checkout process due to time constraints, so if you let people know how far along they’ve come (and how much more they have to complete), they may be more inclined to complete the purchase.

WooCommerce

Not everyone is going to complete a purchase, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never complete a purchase. With the Recover Abandoned Cart plugin, WooCommerce merchants can recapture shoppers by sending them a sequence of follow-up emails that include difference offers to entice them into completing the purchase.  

Broaden Payment Brand Acceptance

The beauty of e-commerce is that your consumer base isn’t limited to one location. With the potential to make global sales, you should ensure you that your payment gateway can accept as many different payment types as possible (and rational). In addition to the major credit card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express), consider enabling payments from PayPal.

Merchants that have a significant consumer base abroad should also consider popular payments types for the regions they are targeting. Some countries have popular payment methods that are not used in the U.S., so you should be sure to talk to your payment processing partner about how to add those options to your gateway.

The other consideration here is currency. Global ecommerce merchants will want to be sure their gateway supports processing charges across currencies. Presenting prices in a customer’s native currency can improve conversions and boost sales.

Guard Against Chargebacks & Fraud

Along with the increased traffic and sales volume of the holidays comes increased fraud. The sheer increase in both can be overwhelming for some merchants. In some cases, it may make sense to outsource chargeback prevention and management during the holidays. Companies like Chargebacks911, Ethoca, or Verifi offer solutions and services that can remove some of the burden from busy online retailers who want to focus on making sales.

In any case, ecommerce merchants can implement some best practices to reduce chargebacks:

  • Establish realistic and enforceable return policies with specific time frames, conditions for returning merchandise, and exceptions.
  • Be sure your return policy is clearly presented – both in language and presence. Use clear, concise, and direct language and be sure it’s easy to find on your website.
  • Properly staff customer service call centers and set your reps up for success. Having a straightforward script that can address all customer issues, complaints, and questions will ensure favorable resolution in most cases.
  • Include accurate product descriptions and photos for all in-stock inventory. Including customer reviews alongside products can also be helpful in building trust with shoppers about the quality of your product.

Up Your Security Game

Consumers shop with sites they know are secure. Be sure your site has a high-assurance SSL/TLS certificate, which signals to consumers that you are a safe site to shop with. Getting an EV SSL can be even better as it includes additional trust indicators: green padlock and green address bar with your company’s name. Customers recognize those indicators and are more comfortable shopping with merchants that have them.

Be sure your payments gateway complies with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).  Additionally, use additional security features for authorization:

Address Verification System (AVS) – this system verifies the address of the person using a payment card to make a transaction by checking the billing address the user inputs against the one on file with the credit card company.  

Card Verification Value (CVV) – this anti-fraud feature helps verify that the purchaser is in possession of the payment card with which he is attempting to make a purchase by asking him to enter the number at the time of purchase. The CVV is a three-digit number printed on the back signature panel of a card.

IP Address verification  – This protocol compares the IP geolocation from the device used to make the transaction with the actual billing address the user enters online.
The holidays are an exciting time for buyers and sellers alike. Making the entire buying process from browsing to paying as seamless as possible can increase sales and help ecommerce merchants avoid unnecessary holiday headaches.