Start Planning For Holiday Season

Not many people are thinking about Christmas at this time of year — unless they are retail merchants. In this case, summer is not too early to start planning for the holiday shopping season.

For many merchants, the sales made during the holidays make the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable year. The good news is that the holiday shopping season keeps getting longer and longer: Some analysts now view November 1, or the day after Halloween, as the start of the season.

This is just a few short months away. Therefore, now is the time to kick your holiday shopping preparations into high gear. Businesses today look for creative ways to accelerate receivables. Gift cards may be the solution you need to optimize the way you receive funds. The popularity of gift cards continues to grow, proving they are no longer just for big-box retail stores or large chain restaurants. They can be found in coffee shops, hair salons, doctors’ offices and even auto repair shops. Plus, gift cards are not just great holiday gifts. Be sure to keep gift cards stocked year-round to take advantage of all non-holiday-related purchases.

Below is a checklist of some of the important things you may wish to do heading into the holiday shopping season homestretch:

* Update your point-of-sale (POS) terminals and other merchant card processing equipment. With many customers today choosing to pay with credit and debit cards instead of cash and checks, keeping your POS equipment up to date is more important than ever. Inefficient card processing equipment without the latest technology and features (like near-field communications and contactless transactions) could slow things down at the point-of-sale and cost you revenue.

The upcoming shift in liability for fraudulent card activity from banks to merchants, under certain circumstances, if merchants haven’t upgraded to EMV-capable POS terminals is another reason to make sure that all of your merchant card processing equipment is updated.

* Make sure your website and e-commerce functions are working properly. Now is the time to test and retest these functions to make sure there are no bugs in the software and everything is working like it should. If you engage in e-commerce, consider upgrading your system’s capabilities to handle the increased traffic you may experience during the holidays.

* Decide what kinds of promotions, sales and other marketing efforts you will utilize to boost your sales. Competition is usually fierce during the holiday shopping season, which makes these more important than ever. Approach marketing from a strategic perspective by preparing a calendar ahead of time detailing what kinds of promotions will be used for how long to drive sales of which specific products and services. Typical holiday promotions include things like free shipping with a minimum order amount, BOGOs, free gift wrapping and special guest appearance in your store.

Have questions about available merchant gift card solutions? Give PNC Merchant Services a call at 888-235-6959 and we will help you plan strategies for success.

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Important Legal Disclosures and Information

EMV is a registered trademark of EMVCo in the United States and is an unregistered trademark in other countries. FIRST DATA is a registered trademark of the First Data Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Merchant Services provided by PNC Merchant Services Company and are subject to credit approval. PNC Merchant Services is a registered trademark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.