As the holiday season approaches, many merchants are shifting into high gear, hiring seasonal workers, increasing inventory, and launching promotions designed to get shoppers into stores, hotels and restaurants. Retailers typically stage promotional events throughout the year, but most view transactional data from November to January as a key performance indicator of their year-over-year business growth, customer acquisition and wallet share. —
The holidays are also a mission-critical time for payment processors. Many hiring decisions and new product testing and certifications are put on hold as companies bolster customer support during this peak season, when merchants can double and triple electronic transaction volumes.
Payments analysts are predicting that the 2015 holiday season will be a challenging time for U.S. retailers and processors alike. They expect the following factors to impact payment processing throughout the holiday season:
Chip cards: The Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) liability shift that became effective Oct. 1, 2015, will affect consumers and retailers during peak season as they acclimate to chip cards at the POS.
Security concerns: An epidemic of high-profile data security breaches in recent years has highlighted a need for advanced, multilayered security strategies designed to protect information technology infrastructures. Retailers are implementing a range of point-to-point encryption, tokenization and EMV payment schemes.
Mobile wallets: Apple Pay, Android Pay and other mobile wallets are driving adoption of near field communication (NFC) payment technology at the POS. Merchants who recently invested in NFC devices will be training staff and updating back-office systems during the holiday crunch.
Omnichannel commerce: Key findings from the The Retail CMO's Guide to the Omnishopper published by MasterCard Worldwide indicate consumers use a range of technologies to research and purchase products. Payments analysts expect social media "buy" buttons to accelerate omnichannel commerce. Retailers will need online and mobile web presences to facilitate the omnichannel experience.
Curated, personalized commerce: Digital offers are replacing print media in holiday-themed promotions. Many ads are provisioned for smaller screens, designed to target connected devices. Opt-in programs, quick response (QR) codes and email marketing enable merchants to send targeted, personalized messages to individual consumers.
Blurred start and finish to holiday season: Results from the 2015 Pitney Bowes Shipping Survey indicate that this year's holiday season may begin before Black Friday and extend to New Year's Eve. The study revealed that 30 percent of respondents intend to shop before Thanksgiving and 34 percent expect to shop in December.
Release ID: 93297