Only 26 shopping days separate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, six days less than in 2012. That means retailers and consumers have less time to make the most of the holiday shopping season.
Every Day Counts
Retailers are doing their part to help out consumers; almost half started promotions by November 1, according to a report by Experian Marketing Services.
In addition to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that serves as the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season, many retailers will be open Thanksgiving Day and offer extended hours right through Christmas Eve. There’s also Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and countless other promotions lined up.
Let’s face it. The stakes are high for retailers as the holiday season accounts for up to 40 percent of their annual business during that time, according to information provided by the National Retail Federation.
The pressure isn’t just about profits. An abbreviated shopping season means there is less time to deal with any of the number of issues that can arise.
Retailers Take Action
Many companies are taking extra measures to ensure their shelves are stocked faster, including tweaking their supply chains to get merchandise to their distribution warehouses quicker. Others are teaming up with shipping companies to offer Sunday delivery.
Retailers are also renting more space in the cloud and provisioning additional servers to make sure their e-commerce sites can handle abnormal traffic spikes. It’s a good thing as consumer online sales are expected to grow by more than 18 percent in 2013, according to eMarketer.
On the subject of e-commerce, don’t think the shortened shopping season will translate into fewer opportunities for cyber-criminals. They may, in fact, be even more aggressive.
Before typing your credit card number in on a web site, make sure it’s secure. You can tell if the site is secure if there is an https in the address and a closed padlock symbol.
If you’re a retailer that processes credit card information, abiding by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) will help ensure the safety of cardholder information. (Plus, it’s required.) Keep in mind that if you outsource any of the IT infrastructure or systems that handle card holder data, you are still responsible for the safety of that information. Working with a data center or cloud services provider that is validated for compliance with the PCI DSS can help you meet the regulatory requirements ― and most important ― better protect your customers’ credit card data.
Put PCI compliance on your holiday list now if it isn’t already top-of-mind for your organization. And start shopping now. The clock is ticking.