As Covid-19 reduction measures are selectively re-introduced, the outlook for retailers remains unclear. Yet with the traditional peak trading season just around the corner, we look at what we do know for certain.


Covid-19 patterns magnified

Covid-19 has forced a dramatic uptick in the use of digital services. Online sales are growing. So are the number of first-time online shoppers. An EY study at the height of lockdown in April found that nine percent of people were shopping online for the first time as a direct result of Covid-19.[1]

Peak trading season may magnify these behaviour changes. Retailers should expect more online orders, more first-time e-shoppers, earlier on. In previous years, peak trading season began with Singles’ Day, the Chinese online shopping festival on 11 November. Then came Thanksgiving in the US, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, followed by pre- and post-Christmas sales.

This year, there will probably be less of a spike in online sales. Rather, a steady climb between now and the end of the year, as more everyday purchases, such as groceries and household items, as well as seasonal gifts are made online.


Prevent chargebacks

Peak season is usually followed by peak chargeback season. No business can ever wholly eliminate disputed transactions or chargebacks. However, they are annoying for your customers and an administrative hassle for you. One of the best ways to avoid chargebacks is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Try and resolve disputes with customers before they escalate to a chargeback. Make it easy for customers to resolve queries with you in the first instance by providing contact details. Include terms and conditions as well as frequently asked questions prominently on your website. This way, customers may not have to contact you at all.

Manage customer expectations. This applies to delivery times during busier periods and how long it takes for customers to receive refunds. Also, how long it will take to respond to queries, if you’re dealing with larger call volumes than usual.

Don’t forget the obvious, such as e-mailing order confirmations and delivery notifications. Ensure your business name is recognisable on the customer’s card statement. So many chargebacks arise needlessly when there’s a mismatch between your business and trading name on statements. Check with us if you’re unsure about this.


Strong Customer Authentication

Something you should consider is that, between now and the end of the year, European issuers will start testing their strong customer authentication policies and procedures by ‘soft declining’ transactions. For card payments, this means using the 3D-Secure (3DS) protocol and asking for a step-up authentication from the customer. Ensure that your peak trading opportunities are not hindered with the added layer of complexity that this protocol brings.

We have devised strong customer authentication policies for processing online payments to suit all merchants, sectors and geographies. Plus we have made various integration guides, API references, examples and test scripts publicly available at


If you need help navigating your way through strong customer authentication requirements or peak season trading, contact us today.