holiday

The 2019 holiday shopping season could be the most lucrative ever according to a report by SmallBizDaily’s Rieva Lesonsky. If sales surpass $1 trillion, as some estimates suggest, even a tiny slice of the pie would be Santa-stic for small e-commerce businesses.

At the scale of holiday shopping, small changes to your operation can affect the size of that pie slice. The holidays are upon us, so you can’t go back in time to revise your marketing or re-do your e-commerce site. However, you can still tweak your checkout and payment processes. So, let’s focus on three things you can do, in a matter of hours, to raise your holiday revenue.

1. Reduce the risks for shoppers—and you

Today, more product searches start on Amazon than on Google. Amazon is appealing for many reasons, and a big one is risk. Amazon takes returns with no questions asked, and Prime members are guaranteed two-day delivery, which is clutch for last-minute shoppers.

You need to mitigate the risks for shoppers who abandon Amazon to find more unique gifts. First, rewrite your return policy to be extremely friendly. Some buyers get “holiday remorse” in January, realizing that they bought too much stuff and need to do something about that nauseating pile of credit card debt. As a result, merchants experience the so-called “chargeback hangover.” Chargebacks cost e-commerce merchants about $40 billion per year and affect 82 percent of businesses that take card-not-present (CNP) payments.

If buyers feel stuck with your product, they’re less likely to buy it in the first place and more likely to dispute the purchase afterward. Guess who the credit card companies usually side with? Yeah, not you.

Change your terms and policies to make returns safe and easy. If there’s no content about your return policy near the “buy” button, add some ASAP.

2. Review your payment analytics for trends

Small business owners are familiar with e-commerce metrics like cart abandonment, but few examine their payment authorization data. Various payment methods do not convert at the same rate thanks to a mess of factors including data laws, fraud screening, and perceived risk in an industry.

Let’s say your site is popular with foreign holiday shoppers. If a German shopper’s credit card transaction is routed to a U.S.-only bank instead of an European or German bank, it has higher odds of being declined, in which case you lose the sale.

In the analytics, you might find differences in the authorization rate among various credit cards brands and eWallets like PayPal and ApplePay. High-dollar purchases and transactions originating abroad are the most likely to be flagged and rejected on suspicion of fraud.

Look for patterns. Are you seeing a high failure rate on purchases from Germany, where only about a tenth of the population uses credit cards? Are banks sounding the fraud alarm on purchases from China? Your payment provider(s) should be able to address these issues.

3. Add payment options that eliminate data entry

About 2.1 billion consumers currently use eWallets, and globally, they are more popular than credit and debit cards. In North America, credit cards are still more commonly used, but by 2022, eWallets are predicted to take the lead. Why are they so popular? Because they eliminate tedious data entry. If you don’t already accept an eWallet or two, ask your digital payment vendor to add them. They should be able to do it quickly.

Frankly, potential customers will buy from Amazon instead of a small business just because Amazon has their payment information stored. It’s done in one click, which matters, especially for people with long shopping lists. Filling out a name, address, and credit card info once doesn’t seem daunting. But 20 or 30 times over? No, thanks.

Unsurprisingly, one-touch payments have enabled some businesses to raise their mobile conversion rates by 3x or more. If you accept eWallets like PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, you offer a one-touch option that closes the convenience gap with Amazon.

It’s all doable

Is it worth it? I’m betting yes, but you’ll have to let me know in January.

Ralph Dangelmaier is CEO of BlueSnap, where he is leading the charge to establish BlueSnap as the payments leader in e-commerce. A payment processing veteran, Ralph brings a wealth of experience creating products for retailers, processors and financial institutions and has a proven track record of growing companies both organically and through M&A activity. Under his stewardship, companies have successfully capitalized on the rapid growth in commerce to increase their revenue and stock value. @RDangelmaier

E-commerce sales stock photo by batjaket/Shutterstock