Voice of the Industry

How merchants can prepare for the holiday season

Friday 1 November 2019 09:18 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Voice of the industry

Blaise Peters reveals several tips on how to best prepare for the holiday sales. It’s about business and technology, but it’s also about people.


It’s coming around to that time of the year. What did you do to prepare? Are you ready? Here is a look at preparations you can make to be ready for the holiday rush. 

The most important thing you can do to ensure a successful holiday season is to PLAN. Document your plan, review it for things you missed, have someone on your team review it, then create milestone dates and list the people or resources you will need for each milestone. Schedule meetings with the stakeholders to ensure you can support each other during this critical sales season. 


Be aware of your company’s holiday code freeze date. Make sure any changes you need to make with any vendors or software updates are identified, implemented and tested at least two weeks before the code freeze. Also, coordinate with telephony/IT group on any changes to the hours you will accept inbound calls, and updates to the announcement message which may contain your normal hours of operation. 


Determine sales dates, campaigns, and items that will impact your review or reject volumes. A key driver of your success will be in reducing the impact of sales promotions on your fraud rules, models and processes. Good customers will flock to sales. Fraudsters will be attracted more by the item and its resale value. So if you have items or categories that are less risky or outdated models, make changes in your rules and models to decrease the number that will be reviewed or rejected. This will decrease your workload and increase customer satisfaction. These changes should be staggered by the dates of the promotions and reverted after the sale is over. 

Rules and models 

Real customer volumes increase exponentially during the holiday season. Fraud volumes increase in a linear fashion. Or, during the holiday season, you will have the same fraudsters attacking your site that you do year-round. They will just up their attempts during peak to hide in the real customer volumes. Make smart changes to maximize incremental good revenue and minimize incremental fraud losses. 

Review any block lists and determine if a purge is advisable. Some attributes like IP addresses and apartment addresses can change hands. You don’t want these negative tags to interfere with a new customer that may be shopping with you for the first time in the holiday season. 

Make changes to reduce your manual review volumes if you have a manual review process. Volumes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be 10 to 15X of a normal day. You can’t hire ten times your manual review staff. Work to make changes to your rule strategy or model scores to push more questionable orders to fulfillment. Look for ways to identify your repeat customers and ensure that they skip the manual review/reject process. Put in backup rules looking for changes to the customers’ profiles (address, payment, geo location) to exempt them from skipping that manual review process in case their account has been taken over. Adjust for sales and promotions to allow more good customers through during the sale dates. 

If you don’t have a manual review process, look for ways to reduce your reject volumes. Adjust the score to allow riskier transactions through. If your old score threshold was effective, review a sample of transactions that fell between the old threshold and the new one every day looking for patterns of fraud that were missed. If you find something, determine what score threshold you need to reject what you have found. Alternatively, if you have a rules engine, write a rule to catch the new pattern and don’t change threshold. 

Physical area 

If you are hiring a seasonal staff, check that computers, phones, and chairs will be available at the time your seasonal staff starts. Check power, internet access, and phones in the expansion area are working. Check that you have enough headsets and that they are in working order. 

If you are going to change or expand your team’s work hours make sure that they have building access during the new times and inform building security of the schedule changes and dates. 


You will be working some extra hours. Make sure you team knows when well ahead of time. Employees have personal lives. Help them balance work and home by letting them know well in advance of work hour changes so that they can juggle with friends and family during the important holiday season. Highlight critical dates and times of high volumes, sales, and purchase/shipping cut off dates. If you set the expectations early, it will be easier for your team to meet them. 

If you will be hiring seasonal staff, you must project how many you will need (or can afford) well in advance of the holiday season. I would suggest April. With your needs in mind, schedule a meeting with your recruiter to share the number to be recruited, develop/share a job description, outline qualifications, schedules and dates, dates for recruitment, and training dates. Develop a plan and follow up dates to measure progress. 

Ensure that your training documents are up to date with any changes to systems or process that have occurred since the last time they were used. Identify your trainer and the impacts to that person’s schedule and key performance measures while they are training. 

Build in some tension and stress relief for the team. They will be working faster, harder and longer hours during the holiday. Schedule some fun activities to give them a change of pace. Create some recognition to thank them for the hard work and award it several times during the holiday.  

Executing on the above keys will help you have a less stressful, more successful, and profitable holiday season. 

About Blaise Peters

Blaise Peters has been in the fraud prevention space for two decades. He began in telecommunications and has spent the last fourteen years working with two large eCommerce companies building best in class teams. Blaise has been a speaker at conferences for the Merchant Risk Council (MRC) and Card Not Present Expo as well as contributing to an MRC white paper on “How to Create a Fraud Prevention Unit”.

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Keywords: holiday fraud, Blaise Peters, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, merchants, ecommerce, risk management
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime