GEARING UP: HOLIDAY SEASON PLANNING GUIDE
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS
With a stronger global economy, 2018 consumer expenditure is expected to grow at its
strongest rate since 20111. ACI understands that success for merchants and retailers has
never been more critical.
We crafted this eGuide to provide you with the latest insights and information you need
as you plan and prepare for the holiday season.
THIS eBOOK IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE:
Timelines and milestone dates you’ll find important for planning
Spotlight areas to drive success within your business
Key resources and information for peak season
75% of consumers globally are very interested in receiving a call or SMS messaging to their mobile device to help mitigate fraud2.
Only 43% of global consumers trust merchants to protect personal data2.
Globally 80% of consumers think their mobile wallet’s personal and financial information is secure2.
Consumers are upbeat: Over 25% are spending more on products and experiences this year2.
Worldwide, the #1 security concern is theft by computer hacking2.
Internal supplemental audit and testing
• Review and test systems:
External vendor/partner preparedness
• Communicate updated peak estimates to
vendors to assist in their management of
cumulative resource needs
• Communicate special requirements or
requests to vendors early
• Validate vendor preparedness
• Obtain support and escalation resources
and align with internal teams
Create a plan and communicate, communicate, communicate
• Plan based on estimates plus a healthy margin:
Create and enact communications plans
• Establish internal communications processes
across business units, including “what if”
scenarios and contingency actions, and
assign responsibilities and escalation points
• Create external communications plans,
pre-draft content where possible, and assign
responsibilities, resources and escalation
paths, and set expectations
AREAS TO CONSIDER WHEN DEVELOPING YOUR PREPAREDNESS PLAN
ACI FRAUD EXPERT INSIGHTS
During the holiday season volumes spike,
both genuine and fraudulent consumer
behaviors change and pressure mounts.
Opportunities increase for fraudsters —
and maintaining the right balance between
customer experience, sales conversions and
risk mitigation becomes even more critical.
Poorly planned holiday season fraud
strategies risk disappointing your genuine
customers, pushing them into the arms
of competitors and inviting fraudsters to
target your business, resulting in higher
Adjusting your fraud strategy ahead of
and during the holiday season is crucial.
Recognizing your existing customers even
if they are displaying unusual shopping
characteristics during this time is key for
both customer experience and also for your
Erika Dietrich Leader of Global Risk Services ACI Worldwide
22% was the increase in fraud
attempts in the period from
Thanksgiving to December 31
in 2017 compared to 2016. So,
despite the sales uplift (overall
transactions increased by 19%),
one out of every 85 transactions
was a fraud attempt3.
Erika Dietrich leads ACI’s Global Risk Services
team and is a member of the Merchant Risk
Councils Americas Advisory Board (AAB). She
is a certified eCommerce fraud professional with
more than 15 years’ experience in data analytics
and fraud detection and prevention strategy
In this Q&A, Erika Dietrich, Leader of Risk Services, shares advice on how merchants can best
prepare their fraud management strategies for the holiday season.
TACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
DID YOU KNOW... In recent years at ACI,
we have seen 78% of
fraud attempts come
from customers with
no account history
with a merchant4.
Q2 Beyond software, what else can merchants do?
ED: You must understand your weak points.
If you were compromised before, be sure
that gap has been addressed and tailor your
strategies to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
If something like delivery fraud was a problem
before, identify the postcodes which need
higher review rates and re-focus reviews and
resources from areas which pose less risk.
Also, be sure to consider anything that’s
changed since your last peak period. Are
there new product lines, sales channels,
payment methods and delivery options? Are
these initiatives protected with specific and
tailored fraud rules and strategies? Be sure
to account for everything of this nature when
Q3 How can merchants maintain security and deliver a great customer experience?
ED: It starts with first being mindful of the
customer experience. Fraud solutions must
be complementary to a great experience.
Identify your loyal customers and their
preferred channels. Customers today are
using many devices and methods to shop,
and it’s important to recognize and enable
One way to do this is to use customer
profiling and time-on-file techniques to
maintain the customer experience for valued
customers and ensure good transactions
are still accepted. This provides a good
experience while still being strong enough to
recognize popular attack methods, such as
Q1 What initial steps should merchants take to prepare their systems?
ED: First, I would recommend deploying
automated risk strategies. Doing this can help
to reduce manual review rates and lower call
center expenses, which will help to control
the demand on internal resources, who can
then focus their energy in other directions.
Next, be sure to utilize early warning
indicators. Access to these tools, such as
acquirer-reported fraud, will help to quickly
reduce your exposure and mitigate losses.
These are great places to start.
TACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Q5 How important is it to gain internal alignment?
ED: Very! You must speak with your
colleagues to gain alignment and clarity.
Cross-functional communication (with IT,
finance, customer services and marketing)
can build a picture of previous efforts and
outcomes which will then inform this year’s
It is essential that you gain a 360-degree
view of your organization’s season campaigns
and promotions. Make sure you are aware
of anything that may inadvertently provide
opportunities for fraudsters. Raise your
concerns about potential problems and offer
solutions that are informed by your fraud
monitoring processes, analytics and reporting.
Now that you know of the season plans,
adjust your rules accordingly to allow for
the potential changes in genuine customer
buying behavior. After all, a successful
campaign will drive more sales and possibly
form new channels and customers. Your
marketing department will be quite happy to
see their efforts rewarded by a fraud solution
that welcomes these new, good transactions.
Q4 Can you speak a bit on the need for proactivity and manual reviews?
ED: Absolutely. Merchants must be fully
aware of the hot spots and trends in fraud,
especially the trends found within your
system. For example, analyze and monitor the
cards, IP and email addresses that pose the
biggest threat. Once you identify them, factor
them into your rules and alert triggers.
The data at your disposal is invaluable, and
I would recommend using as much of it as
you possibly can. If possible, dedicate one
individual into looking holistically at data
and trends, including decisions, individual
performances, rules, volumes and KPIs.
Remember, every review you complete adds
to the fraud intelligence information you can
use to inform your decision making.
Also, be aware of the other parts of the
process that trigger declines — 3D Secure,
AVS/CV2 responses and bank declines. You
must be prepared to manage those, as they
can trigger multiple customer attempts,
putting further pressure on your already-
Finally, explore the use of silent rules
and reporting tools to screen lower-risk
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