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Not All Chargebacks Are Created Equal… Here’s Why.

Not All Chargebacks Are Created Equal… Here’s Why.

If you read the last two articles in this series, you know “killer customers” often take advantage of DTC companies’ return and shipping policies. By now you’re probably thinking “What else can go wrong?” Well, we’re sorry to say, the list is quite long.

In 2018 Chargebacks 911 reported chargeback fraud cost merchants up to $40 billion per year. With increase in ecommerce activity over the past 2 years, we can expect that number to be even higher today. While the holiday season is behind us, the chargeback season has just begun. Continue reading to learn 2 more ways abusive customers attack your profits and how you to prevent them.

1. Friendly Fraud

 

woman looking at computer and smiling possibly committing friendly fraud

 

“Friendly Fraud” is when a customer files a refund or dispute with the bank instead of with the merchant. Committing friendly fraud involves no malicious intent and can be easily overlooked by the customer. In many cases, a customer may notice an unfamiliar purchase, receive an item that doesn’t match the description, or can’t reach a customer representative.

Friendly fraud may sound harmless, but it can severely threaten your bottom-line. In fact, the method accounts for 86% of all chargeback volume and is difficult to identify.

Preventing Friendly Fraud

Most customers don’t understand the negative effects a chargeback has on merchants. Therefore, preventing friendly fraud requires a multi-step, ‘nip it in the bud’ approach. Here is how it’s done…

      1. Make it easy for customers to quickly contact you.

Don’t give your customers a reason to go to their bank to file a dispute. Your customer service contact information should be accessible to anyone at any time. Include this information in all communication correspondence and social media platforms. Proving 24-hour support via phone or live chat (with these options clearly visible on your site) are great ways to ensure your customers come to you first.

      2. Provide clear product descriptions.

To prevent unnecessary chargebacks and increase conversion rates, customers should receive the same product described in the product description. Making sure your product descriptions are detailed and accurate can save you major losses.

By centralizing complete product data and then enriching product descriptions and specifications, product information management systems help reduce the chances of errors across multiple channels. This results in more users getting exactly what they are looking for.

–– Lynn Torbert, Director of Sales, Jasper PIM

      3. Verify all shipping and tracking information.

With all so many reports about new shipping scams, it’s important to create detailed shipping terms and conditions. Once tracking information is verified and the purchase is complete, customers should also receive a copy of all shipping and tracking information. This could come in hand in case a customer claims an unauthorized purchase. However, that’s another, more malicious type of fraud…

2. Deliberate Chargeback Fraud

 

Woman holding cash after commiting Chargeback Fraud

 

Opposite from friendly fraud, deliberate chargeback fraud is when a customer contacts a bank with the intention of disputing a purchase. Similar to an “Item Not Received” scenario, a customer intends to obtain the product or service for free. This type of online fraud is equivalent to brick and mortar shoplifters, accounting for 35% of all fraud losses.

In less extreme cases, chargeback fraud occurs when a customer experiences buyer’s remorse. They don’t want to confront the merchant, so they dispute the charge with their bank instead. In extreme cases, customers may dispute large orders by claiming they are fraudulent charges. This hurts the retailer’s reputation with the bank and pulls profits out from under them.

Providing a fast and frictionless customer experience is a priority for merchants, but can be costly without the right considerations. For example, most sites allow customers to file a dispute with one click. This makes it difficult to prevent chargeback fraud and leaves merchants empty-handed.

Preventing Chargeback Fraud

Since deliberate chargebacks and friendly fraud both heavily impact profits, your best option is to get customers to handle their disputes with you, rather than their bank. Whether it’s buyer’s remorse or an unauthorized purchase claim, you need to protect your bottom line. Consider implementing the following defense mechanisms on your online store…

       1. Provide a clear and flexible return policy.

Customers should know what items they can return and how to go about returning them. For example, add a 30-day deadline on returns and provide return labels with all online purchases. With this flexibility, customers are more inclined to resolve their return issues with you. Also, this will make customers less likely to take advantage of your return policy.

       2. Be prepared to fight back

For customers who claim an unauthorized purchase, evidence is key. There are many places you can acquire proof of purchase to protect yourself, especially during the checkout-process. Double-check shipping and tracking information, replay phone conversations and track down social media accounts if you choose to fight a fraudulent chargeback. This information can be the difference between saving your profits or watching money walk out the door.

Final Thoughts

Modern merchants need to understand the differences between deliberate chargebacks and friendly fraud. To protect customers and your relationships with them, you must successfully weed out the bad actors who purposely seek to defraud you. Remember, your goal is to protect your merchandise, revenue, and profits. Finding the proper fraud defense can be time-consuming, but we’ve done our homework to make it easy for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Redstage’s Security and Maintenance Bundles to help you strengthen, monitor, and maintain your site, schedule a FREE consultation today!  

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Are DTC Companies Risking It All For Killer Customers?

Are DTC Companies Risking It All For Killer Customers?

Let’s face it, customers have done a great job of redesigning the eCommerce industry through excessive demands and high expectations. However, what happens when these demands cut into profit, putting your company at risk? There’s a fine line between loyal and killer customers. In this 3-part series, we reveal the top 3 ways killer customers attack your profit, along with methods you can use to identify and avoid these scenarios.

Part 1. Return Abuse (This Article)

Part 2. Shipping Scams and How to Prevent Them

Part 3. The Difference Between Friendly Fraud and Chargeback Fraud

The Killer Customer

Whoever said the “customer is always right” certainly never encountered an abusive customer. Killer customers are more than unprofitable customers, they continuously drain money from your organization. Since a great customer experience is high priority, many merchants find it difficult to maintain positive rapport with the bulk of their customers while keeping killer customers at bay.

Return policies are meant to protect a company’s reputation and give them competitive advantages. However, in the hands of killer customers, returns can be the number one profit killer. The average return passes through 7 people before listed for resale, devaluing the item. After factoring in time and costs of shipping, processing, evaluating, and restocking returned items, only a handful of these items can be resold at full price, and many will be sold at a loss. Over time serial returners cause your bottom line to suffer, but modern merchants have options.

While you work hard to safeguard your store this holiday season, consider amending your return policy to combat the 4 most common abuse tactics your killer customers use against you.

1. Wardrobing

Lady in pink wedding dress sitting on bench looking to the right

Shoppers often purchase items they intend to use or wear only once before returning. This process is known as wardrobing and is most common with fashion merchandise. Today, wardrobing is a massive problem for retailers and online merchants alike, accounting for over 7.6 billion dollars in losses in 2017.

40% of retailers have seen an increase in “intentional returns” over the past year. This is proving to be an incredibly expensive burden for retailers to take on – particularly when almost half of the retailers are already seeing their margins being severely impacted by the cost of handling and packaging returns.

 -Scott Hill, VP of Product, Brightpearl

Preventing Wardrobing  

When implementing a solution, merchants must think of a cost-effective approach that doesn’t negatively impact honest shoppers. Implementing the Shark Tag is popular new approach retailers are taking. The Shark Tag is a one-time at-home removable tag attached to garments. By placing tags in visible areas, the idea of wardrobing becomes less attractive to customers. Once the tag is removed, items become non-returnable and non-refundable.

2. Fitting Rooming

white-and-black-floral-cap-sleeved-shirt-

As you know by now, customers expect brick and mortar stores to mirror the same shopping simplicity they experience online. The reverse is apparently also true, with some killer customers bringing the “fitting room” home with them. This process is called “Fitting Rooming” and in these cases, customers order the same item in different sizes and colors to try on at home. Once they are satisfied with their item of choice, all the unwanted items are returned. Online stores that offer free returns are key targets for this kind of abuse.

Preventing ‘Fitting-Rooming’

Solving the issue involves a more creative approach that can increase brand loyalty and invite new customers. Retailers can adopt a “Try before you buy” service to allow customers to test out items they’re interested in before being charged (normally between 7-30 days). Subscription boxes also follow a similar approach, allowing customers to pay monthly to sample specific products before purchasing. These strategies help merchants keep track of specific items they expect to be returned, lowering the costs associated with unpredictable ‘Fitting-Roomers.’

By the end of 2019, A quarter of all retailers are expected to incorporate a “try before you buy service.” This practice allowed companies like Stitch Fix to see a 25% increase in net revenue over a year. Customers are more likely to opt into “pay later” options with confidence, knowing there’s a hassle-free return involved. Best of all, you’ll see an increase in conversion rates.

3. Counterfeit Returning

Close up on two store receipts

We recently warned eCommerce companies about cybercriminals getting creative with their hacking tactics. If you gave the article a read, you may not be surprised to learn killer customers are getting just as creative. Thieves a re now using high-quality scanners and printers to make counterfeit receipts and return merchandise they’ve previously stolen from stores. Also, customers are taking extreme measures to use fraudulent credit cards when making online purchases to return items in stores in exchange for money or store credit.

Companies like Nordstrom built brand loyalty based on their legendary “free to return everything” policy. This policy allows customers to return items without a receipt regardless of when (or if) the purchase was made. Abusing this policy can severely damage sales, gross margins, profitability, and most of all, make inventory management a nightmare.

Preventing Counterfeit Returning  

To eliminate counterfeit returns, it’s always a good practice to require receipts. Take it a step further to implement a 30-day limitation on returns and/or restrict popular items and high-volume orders from being returned. These minor tweaks will turn away customers who seek to return stolen merchandise and can also keep away Fitting-Roomers. Lastly, utilize an ERP or platform, tracks repetitive returns by requesting proof of identification. This process makes it easy to cross-reference sales and get alerts when a customer excessively returns items. Once you know who your killer customers are, you can ban them (or at least take them off your email lists).

4.Customer Service Abuse

Abuse from customers is not part of the job sign

Offering lenient return policies, providing 24/7 accessibility, and creating engaging content reflect excellent customer service, but there’s a limit. These practices subject retailers to vulnerabilities as abusive customers take advantage. Identifying and dealing with these customers becomes difficult and, in some cases, an expensive task to take on. Customer representatives spend hours handling disorderly phone calls and receiving verbal assaults. This manipulative tactic is used to further gain refunds and discounts from merchants.

Beyond assaulting your customer representative, your reputation is next in line. If customers don’t receive the shopping experience they feel they deserve, they will switch to you competitorwhile dragging your reputation through the mud. Social media is easily accessible for killer customers to provide negative feedback about their experiences with your brand, and can spread like wildfire. Upsetting the wrong customer with the right amount of influence can become a PR nightmare. If your brand has a bad reputation, 90 % of customers won’t shop with you.

Preventing Customer Service Abuse

 After implementing the previously mentioned solutions. Invest in training for your customer representatives. Focus on equipping them with the knowledge to properly manage abusive customers using proper escalation procedures. Lastly, closely monitor all social platforms to stay on top of negative comments, and have policies that clearly outline how and when your reps are allowed to pass on benefits and freebies to customers. You can also use Instagram’s “hide offensive comments” feature to automatically filter out offensive comments and block users on the platform.

Final Thoughts

Analysts predict that online and offline return fraud will cost companies $550 billion by 2020 and $3.5 billion during the holiday season. While the goal is to satisfy your customer and keep them coming back for more, be sure to protect your business in the process. However, as we pointed out above, serial returners and abusive customers can have a similarly devastating affect on your business. If you don’t have much info on your killer customers, now may be the time to rethink your priorities, especially as the post-holiday returns season looms.

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Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Most Amazon Prime members make an online purchase once per week, and plaintiff lawyers are delivering ADA-compliance lawsuits even faster. The Supreme Court is showing no remorse for companies whose websites are not ADA-compliant. If you get served, your only option is to pay up. Here are 6 steps some of our clients have taken to successfully operate an ADA-compliant website and avoid costly damages.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All content and information available are for informational purposes only.

 

Step 1: Understand the Seriousness of ADA-Compliance

Gavel Statue on top of water in front building

The American Disabilities Act requires all places of public accommodation to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. It’s no surprise that in the year 2019, the world wide web is now considered a place of public accommodation (See: Title III).

In 2016, Domino’s Pizza Inc. was hit with an ADA- compliance lawsuit that claimed the website doesn’t ensure the blind and visually impaired can order food through the website or mobile app. As of October 7, 2019, the Supreme Court is refusing to review Domino’s appeal on the basis that ADA is a strict liability law, meaning there are no excuses for non-compliance violations.

Plaintiff lawyers are working overtime to serve up lawsuits for non-compliant companies. No matter how many unique visitors your website attracts, if it’s inaccessible for web users with mental or physical disabilities, your business is a target for legal action

Reports reveal that there is one web-related ADA lawsuit every working hour. This means 8 a day, 40 a week, and more than 2,000 a year. In 2018, more than 7,500 ADA suits were arraigned in federal court. Now that you understand it’s not a question of if, but when you’ll be targeted, let’s dive into the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

“While plaintiff lawyers handing out ADA-compliant lawsuits may seem predatory it is necessary and an important part of our justice system. Our government alone would not have the resources to enforce important regulations. So, these lawsuits are here to stay. Companies must know that there are consequences for non-compliance. As a business stakeholder, we have the challenge of balancing compliance, cost, and customer experience.

— Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage.

Step 2: Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

blur book with open page an glasses and magnifying glass on top

6.2 billion shoppers are expected to shop online this Cyber week alone, leaving eCommerce businesses vulnerable to potential lawsuits. To help you prepare, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explains how users with disabilities can access sites. While you’re in the process of strategically planning your holiday content, be sure to double-check all points of access to your store. You need to ensure your site is “perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.” For a full explanation of these terms, see the link to WCAG above.

Taking proper measures to get an ADA-compliant website will save companies time and money. This step is always forgotten, overlooked, and never budgeted for. Many helpful tools can let you know if your site passes ADA requirements and extensions that come with approved codes.

— Jignesh Joshi, Sr. Project Manager, Redstage

Step 3: Add Alternative Means of Access

Disabled woman faced with inaccessble stairs to office or college building.

Ensuring your content is ‘perceivable’ may not be the toughest task you’ll face on your ADA-compliance journey. In fact, it may even be the opposite. According to the WCAG, all images including charts and infographics must include alt-text. Since SEO and content marketing are already part of your eCommerce strategy, you’ve likely already added alt-text to all of your imagery. To make sure, take some time to go through your archive and add relevant alt-text wherever it’s missing. This process may be tedious, but site readers (software) must be able to successfully read and describe your images to the blind and visually impaired.

54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Naturally, videos have become a common practice for brands. All published video and audio files must also be accessible to those with disabilities. This can be achieved by including closed captions and text transcripts.

Closed captions should be accurate and in sync with video while text transcripts should accurately convey what’s in the video file. If you’re producing audio content like podcasts, you may want to pay close attention.

The WCAG updates are continuous and it can be easy to overlook minor details like fonts, for example. Make sure your fonts are clearly readable and properly displayed on a high contrast background. To play it safe, keep the standard light background and dark font. These minor changes can be a huge help for your users to easily navigate your site.

Step 4: Provide Easy Navigation for your Users

Ancient Antique Map to Represent Navigation

Luckily for our readers, we’ve been sharing tips on how to provide a fast and frictionless user experience for customers all year. If you’ve been following along, you should already be one step ahead, since user operation for ADA-compliance and frictionless experiences go hand-in-hand. When focusing on navigation, the first step is to ensure your website’s entire navigation can be fully operated via keyboard, without a mouse or touchscreen.

Users should have the ability to pause, slow down automatic movements, interact with images, and play videos through the keyboard. One tip is to stay away from auto-play to give your visitors enough time to read and process content.

Secondly, if your website doesn’t have a search function that can help your customers find products and information at ease, it’s required under the Web Accessibility Standards to have one.

Lastly, do not forget to include a site map. Remember, a positive user experience requires users to have the ability to operate your website that is understandable and feels natural. Again, you probably have one already because site maps improve your SEO.

Step 5: Website Features Should Be Understandable

Man on Laptop Looking at website with sneakers

When producing content, remember: all of your visitors must be able to read and understand it. Providing a default language function can not only keep you out of a lawsuit, but it can positively affect your conversion rate. We all know the uncomfortable feeling of standing in the middle of a conversation without understanding what is being discussed. To ensure your users and their reading assistance technology can properly function, refrain from the use of jargon, idioms, and abbreviations without properly introducing or explaining them.

Your website may already have the main functions that are considered predictable under the WCAG. Your users should be able to come to your website and predict what will happen as they interact. If you’re unsure, we have provided a brief checklist below.

  1. An X in the upper left- or right-hand corner for users to close the window.
  2. All Visible forms have instructions
  3. Navigation is consistent across all pages (Up, down, left, right,)

It may seem like a lot to fine-tune your website. Make sure you keep your developers in the loop as they’re coding and responsible for making sure your website is running smoothly. It takes a lot of work to get fully compliant. Once you’ve achieved compliance, you’ll want to keep it that way.

Step 6: Website Should Be Error-Free

black Screen with Colorful codes

While developers have a lot on their to-do list, the main priority is to make sure your website is robust enough to be considered ADA-compliant. This step may take the most time, but it can save you more than $50,000. Without getting into too much coding jargon, the overall presentation must be error-free and coded with standard HTML tags. We touched on some of these points earlier in the article, so here’s a quick checklist to review with your developers.

  1. Clear Descriptive Text
  2. Nested Headings
  3. Clear Forms
  4. Uniform Labels
  5. Section Labels
  6. Clean Code

Keep in mind that the work you do to make your site accessible benefits ALL users, not just those who may have disabilities. You will see the positive results of providing an accessible, easy-to-use site almost immediately.

—Kevin Rydberg, Managing Accessibility Consultant, Siteimprove

Final Thoughts

Remember,  reaching ADA-compliance is a process with many steps to complete. With an estimated 30% increase in lawsuits this year, there’s no time to waste. Remember, the information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Our trusted partners at Siteimprove can help you pinpoint accessibility issues that can potentially put your site at risk of an ADA-compliance lawsuit. Consider them your first step to protection before lawyering up. They can get you involved in a program that will help shield you from those who would target your online store. Do not hesitate to get a powerful, free website report and request a Demo here.

If you’re looking for a more robust, comprehensive solution to cover all holiday risks (including security, bug monitoring, and ADA-compliance, check out Redstage’s new security and maintenance bundle here. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions! We’re always happy to help.

The Difference Between Good & Great Content Marketing

The Difference Between Good & Great Content Marketing

Whether you’re a retailer or service-based business, content is your secret weapon to driving business onward and upward. Creating content that resonates and aligns with your brand (and audience) isn’t an easy task. However, experts agree it’s worth taking time to produce quality content. If content marketing isn’t a key part of your strategy by now, consider making it a top priority in the new year.

“Content marketing should be a major cornerstone in your marketing arsenal. By providing valuable, free content, that builds customer empathy, you will attract and convert new prospects into brand-loyal customers. The caveat to producing great content is having the foresight to produce content that aligns with customer interests, while continuously delivering new content that your customers hunger for.”

— Christopher Yin, Creative Director, Redstage

There are many platforms and channels that make it easy for people to find, consume, and share content. As a result, it’s even more challenging for companies to connect with consumers. Retailers understand that creating a holistic consumer experience is a significant challenge. On the other hand, B2B companies are challenged with building loyalty and relationships within their customer base. However, there are still traditional touchpoints like email, case studies, social media, e-books, and mobile apps that customers rely on to fulfill their content needs. Each of these channels is a spoke on the content marketer’s flywheel. Here‘s how to produce “Evergreen” content that can continue to drive value far into the future across all channels.

1. Empower Customers with Brand Storytelling

Content is a form of storytelling. Your end goal may be selling a product or service, but your customers want to know if that product can relate to their journey or benefit their business, before completing a transaction.

Melanie Allen, the CMO of Brooks says “I don’t focus on the brands, I focus on the runners,” stating the importance of getting into your customer’s head to create effective content that engages customers.

2. Resonate

Technology and human nature are now intertwined. Understanding this can help with the creative process. To resonate with and evoke emotion from your audience, your content needs to:

  • Create impact and opportunity
  • Drive purpose or connect to a social cause
  • Contain thought leadership
  • Feel organic, authentic, and true to the brand

 

3. Source Creativity, Rather than Influencers

Influencer marketing is meant to impact consumer behavior and drive sales through the use of public figures with large followings. However, this strategy is becoming overused and influencers pitching product after product seem inauthentic to audiences. Additionally, it’s important to select an influencer that has a direct connection to your brand messaging and mission. Constellation brands, for instance, chose an influencer who published photos regularly, sharing her love for Corona Extra and all things summer. It was a natural choice to pick her to move forward with additional promotion strategies.

Also, the Corona brand delved into cause marketing this year with a “Pay With Plastic” campaign to clean up beaches. The plastic waste collected was turned into Adirondack chairs, which were repurposed for in-store displays. When you think of Corona, you think of summer and the beach, so what better way to connect with customers on a more intimate level than with a cause today’s consumers care about?

According to several panels at Advertising Week New York, the best marketers are those who give equal attention to both content, products, and data. They do this by testing various methods, analyzing the results, and incorporating a natural message. Think outside the box to create a conversation between your audience and your brand. Help them think critically about the industry. Remember, visual communication resonates better than written when it comes to online, mobile, and OOH audiences.

4. Data Quality Is Everything

There should always be a purpose behind creating content and each piece of content should have a specific objective you want to achieve before your pen hits the paper. Not even a simple twitter post should be published without a particular goal in mind. Here are some KPIs today’s top brands use to track content engagement and value:

  • Interaction: How much time is your audience spending interacting with your content?
  • Emotional Engagement: Is your audience finding, reading, loving, remembering and sharing your content?
  • Brand Building: Is your brand expanding, lifting and converting?

 

Think about the ritual your customers go through when engaging with your brand. When do they use your product? When do they buy it? How do they buy it? Determining the “Magic Moment” when your product solves the customer’s problem should be the epicenter of customer stories and content that revolves around that ritual. For runners, content about different routes, trails, or morning routines could be a trigger to buy a new kind of shoe or water bottle. If new mothers are your target, a blog about a child’s first steps or first finger painting can touch your customer’s heart and connect with them with your brand products on a deeper level.

Final Thoughts

There are many creative strategies to ensure you are producing the best content possible for your audience. B2B companies should be producing content at every part of the sales funnel to see an ROI. While these tips can be helpful in the planning process, it is also important not to limit yourself in the creative process. Don’t be afraid to dream big and be bold or educate and entertain, as long as your ideas are anchored to your customers’ lives, habits, and connection to your brand. With content marketing comes the need to personalize, track, and measure the effectiveness of your messaging. Learn more about the top 5 ways e-commerce companies are making the most of their content marketing in our blog post: Top 5 Trends in Personalization and Social Selling!

If you missed out on  Advertising Week this year, be sure to check them out for further updates and information.

Ghosts of Black Fridays Past: 3 Crucial Warnings for Retailers

Ghosts of Black Fridays Past: 3 Crucial Warnings for Retailers

Congratulations! You survived the Back to School retail surge. While the true test of eCommerce performance is yet to come, any hurdles you encountered during Back to School should be taken care of well before then. Consider these your warning shots. To help, here are 3 precautionary measures you can take to digitally strengthen your store for the holidays.

 

1. Stress Test to Avoid Lost Revenue

A wave of more than 6.2 billion shoppers will descend on digital retailers during Cyber Week. Unfortunately, not all businesses are prepared for success…

For example, J. Crew’s site crashed on Black Friday in 2018 and issues persisted throughout the afternoon. Analysts predict the outage cost the company around $780,000 in just five hours. Shoppers flocked to Twitter to complain en masse, causing a firestorm of anger to erupt across the web. This is where the real damage was done.  Like a ghost story from holidays past, this is a warning for retailers everywhere to change for the better.

 

Adam Morris, Redstage CEO

Redstage’s CEO Adam Morris identified the top “holiday rush” issues we’ve helped clients through in years past. Here’s what to watch out for:

1. Slow Site Speed

2. Price Caching

3. Broken or Buggy Checkout

4. Server Overload or Timeout

5. Add to Cart Features Failing

 

“The holidays are a time of increased profits, but that comes with a huge load on websites,” Morris says, “So if you haven’t done proper stress testing to account for higher demand, you won’t know how your online store is going to react.”Adam Morris, CEO at Redstage

 

Preparing for the worst now can save you money and your reputation later with one simple step— testing. Skipping this step could spell disaster that leaves the specter of poor service hanging over your reputation for years to come.

 

black friday, cyber week

2. Your Back-End Checklist at Present

From Thanksgiving to Black Friday through the end of Cyber Week, retailers have a few critical days to rake in as many sales as possible. During this shopping frenzy customers both in-store and online. Regardless of how they buy, your online store (or your app) will more than likely be their first stop. We developed a checklist of what you can do today to ensure your eCommerce site survives Cyber Week.

  1. Optimize your site’s user experience with A/B testing.
  2. Check your indexing to avoid price caching.
  3. Review all error codes to avoid a broken checkout.
  4. Avoid overload and crashes by scaling your server.
  5. Double-check key functions to avoid important features failing.
  6. Complete load testing to prepare for an increase in traffic.
  7. Utilize an automated monitoring system for real-time updates on 404s and checkout errors.
  8. Upgrade your payments and security platforms to prevent payment fraud.
  9. Lastly, be prepared to scale up your support team on the fly. If something goes wrong, even for a few minutes, you’ll need a sizable support team to manage angry customers and correct the issues.

 

“If you’re not using visitor data to identify the friction points in your checkout, you risk focusing your budget in the wrong places. A data-driven approach to optimization means trusting your analytics even when the message is counter intuitive.”Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solutions Engineer at Redstage

 

Learn a valuable lesson from LuLu Lemon. Last year, the athleisure brand’s site went down the morning of Thanksgiving Day. Shopper outrage hit Twitter at 8am EST with a “Site is down. Ugh!”

In the first minutes of the shopping event of the year, the brand was stuck, entangled in crisis. Once the site got back online, more errors appeared, causing sales prices for in-cart items reset to regular prices or prevent customers from checking out.

With proper bug monitoring and back-end preparations, this fiasco could have been avoided. Take a page out of our book and start monitoring now. You’ve done the legwork to bring customers to your site, now protect it.

 

black friday, cyber week

3. Capitalize on the Future

A single visitor doesn’t guarantee a transaction and a single transaction doesn’t guarantee a loyal customer. Flawless mobile experiences will do both, but takes some serious testing.

Conversion rate optimization turns your visitors into customers while ensuring they receive an immaculate customer experience. While no two customers are the same, simple tests can lead to enhancements that remove friction from the checkout and dramatically reduce abandoned carts.

Merchants like LawnmowerTirestore.com took advantage of testing their site before the holiday season and the results were a game changer. By making their checkout button stick to the site’s header and follow users while they scrolled, sales soared with a 29.5% increase in revenue per visitor (RPV) for desktop customers. For mobile, the test yielded a 7% increase in RPV, after only 4 weeks of testing. Now, Lawnmower Tirestore plans to roll-out the feature site-wide to capitalize on their new-found data-driven advantage.

As part of the Mobile Optimization Initiative, retailers can receive checkout tests 100% free. The goal of the initiative is to create a set of best practices for mobile optimization and share our insight with the world. Read more about the initiative here.

 

black friday, cyber week, cyber monday

Final Thoughts

According to Internet Retailer, 60% of consumers plan to spend 50% or more of their holiday shopping online; spending over $21.6 billion during Cyber week.

It is not too late to prepare. If you start early enough and cover all the bases, you can sit back, relax and watch your revenue grow with measurably less stress. Remember, this is your holiday too. While there’s still time, monitor your site for bugs, load test, A/B test, utilize the data, capitalize on those results, and enjoy some eggnog.

Cheers!