There are three critical parts of an online retailer’s payments system that must be working properly during the peak holiday season.

Jared Ronski, co-founder, MerchACT

Jared Ronski, co-founder, MerchACT

The holiday shopping season is literally upon us, and consumers aren’t the only ones wishing they had more time to prepare for the mad rush. If you count yourself among the many e-commerce merchants for whom 24-hour days are simply not long enough, we’ve got just the hack for you.

If you can only find time to do one thing to prepare your online store for the holiday rush, make it be ensuring that three key components of your e-commerce payments stack are ready to withstand the heavy load. Perhaps you prefer the term “platform,” software stack,” “solution stack” or something else entirely, but no matter what you call it, your e-commerce enterprise runs on one. It’s made up of many different parts with many different functions, but these are the three that you’d better make sure are running at full capacity—and take whatever steps are necessary to see that they remain that way for the next four weeks.

Payments gateway

If your store can’t process payments—for even the briefest amount of time—your holidays are going to be a lot less jolly. The payments gateway is a critical component of your e-commerce payments stack, so be sure to check and double-check that things are operating smoothly, and also that you know who to contact and how to resolve things quickly should something go awry and sales transactions aren’t processing the way they should.


Fraud protection software

One unfortunate byproduct of the holidays is that ’tis also the season for online fraudsters to come out in droves—even more so than the other 11 months of the year. While a thorough check of your payments gateway should confirm some degree of PCI-DSS Level I compliancy with regard to secure transactions, it’s almost certain that your store’s e-commerce payments stack also has some additional fraud protection software—and there’s no better time than the present to ensure that this software is performing its job properly. If by looking into the matter you discover that your store is lacking even some basic protective solutions like encryption and network firewalls, there is still time to make the investment—and consider it a holiday gift to yourself, to your customers and their personal data.

Chargeback management tools


Another important component of your e-commerce payments stack is a set of tools that deals specifically with managing customer chargebacks—also something that is likely to spike during the holiday shopping season. Some chargebacks are the result of the aforementioned fraudsters, but others are far more innocent, even accidental. What they all have in common is the fact that they must be dealt with in a manner that keeps your honest customers coming back. Regardless of their origin, chargebacks cost the merchant money, and a good suite of management software—operating at peak capacity, confirmed by your holiday checkup—will minimize your losses.

There you have it. It’s a short list, so be sure to check it twice. Happy Holidays!

MerchACT provides payment services to online retailers.