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Quick Guide: Ramping Up Transaction Processing for the Holidays

AUTHOR: Kevin Jaskolka

Small businesses across many fields depend on the holidays to bolster revenues for the year. The issue is most acute if you're in retail, but everybody from plumbers to kitchen remodeling contractors may offer special promotions when the holiday season rolls around.

As shoppers flock to your physical locations and websites this holiday season, you'll of course be left thinking about how to best support their shopping needs. You'll want to provide a seamless, personalized experience that is convenient for customers and easy for you to manage.

Are your transaction processing systems ready to handle the volume of orders typical during the holidays?

Here's a quick look at what you'll need to think about:

Omni-channel Expectations Changing Transaction Expectations

Most small businesses will complete sales in one of three ways. They'll either accept sales online, complete customer transactions when customers visit stores/office locations or they'll complete sales in the field, when visiting customer locations. Sometimes businesses will blend multiple options, and customers increasingly expect a common experience across channels. Improving transaction processing is vastly different in each channel, but small businesses must carefully consider how each sales venue interacts with others to ensure a positive customer experience:

Online Sales

Increasing transaction volume online is a matter of streamlining your checkout process and ensuring the third-party partners you rely on can handle increased usage. This can be an expensive process as improving performance depends on:

Improving data integration within your e-commerce systems to ensure product and customer data can be accessed and processed quickly during checkout.

Ensuring the technical infrastructure that you are using with your web hosting partner is sufficient to handle the increased compute and bandwidth resources as more users visit your site and complete orders.

Working with specialty payment gateway solutions that can securely manage the actual payment process in a way that keeps customer data safe.

An online transaction begins when a customer gets to your site. Optimizing your e-commerce capabilities to improve site load times, provide visibility into product availability and shipping expectations, and managing the checkout process are all critical in handling a high volume of online sales through the holidays.

Store/Office Transactions

Whether you run a boutique store or handle final billing processes at your office, having a modern payment gateway on-site can make life much easier for your teams. As transaction volumes increase and customers engage with your brands across web, mobile and in-person channels, you need solutions that can seamlessly manage customer data regardless of how clients interact with you.

If a client regularly interacts with you online and tries to check-out in store to fulfill a wish list request for a person they're related to or friends with, that user will want that sale to register as connected to their account so the wish list is updated. While this is just one example of how omni-channel experiences add complexity to transactions in stores, it highlights the importance of seamless data management across your lines of business.

Upgrading your point-of-sale infrastructure can be expensive and time consuming, but necessary if you are heavily reliant on your store-based transactions. However, if more of your sales happen online or in the field, the higher cost is improving your back end data management systems to ensure customers have the same experience regardless of how they interact with you.

Field Transactions

Completing transactions in the field, such as filing an invoice for a project, can be complex. Traditionally, businesses would give field workers forms that include multiple data fields and space for customer signatures and payment details. When returning to the office, these forms would be filed with accounting, creating a tedious and error-prone manual process.

Digitizing these transactions is increasingly accessible through field service and mobile transaction management apps, and updating these systems can make it easier to handle a higher sales volume in an efficient way. Modernizing your invoice and billing processes around field work can drive efficiencies that make it easier to both meet customer demands and keep up with operational expectations through the holiday season.

Modernizing Sales Processing for the Holidays

Regardless of which channel you need to focus on, handling a high sales volume effectively depends on digitization. You need to gather customer, product and sales data and communicate it to stakeholders in a timely fashion to meet the demands of today's omni-channel consumers.

While this is a big, expensive venture, it is the kind of update that can help businesses compete in today's rapidly changing markets. Making the transition can be easier with small business financing that eases the financial hurdle to upgrading sales and transaction management processes. A short-term loan can fund your project while keeping the debt manageable, especially with lenders like Select Funding, who can provide rapid access to capital with flexible repayment terms that make it easier to manage cash flow while repaying the loan.

Check if you qualify for funding