South African online payment platforms prepare for Black Friday 2020

Black Friday 2020 will take place on 27 November and is expected to be the biggest online shopping period South Africa has ever experienced.

One of the most important aspects of a seamless online shopping experience is that payment platforms work as expected.

The industry received a wake-up call in 2018 when payment platforms could not cope with the increased load, preventing shoppers from paying for their orders.

The failure to process transactions by credit card payment providers caused tremendous frustration among consumers and left online shopping sites furious.

Last year, payment providers invested heavily in upscaling their infrastructure to avoid a repeat of the previous year. This is continuing in 2020.

MyBroadband spoke to two of South Africa’s top online payment providers – PayFast and PayGate – on their preparations for Black Friday 2020.

Jonathan Smit, MD and founder of PayFast, said he anticipates many sales that would normally be processed in-store over the Black Friday weekend to move online.

He said even though it has been a tough year for retailers, Black Friday presents an opportunity for businesses to make up for a lack of sales during the lockdown.

PayGate MD Peter Harvey agreed, saying Black Friday serves as an immensely valuable opportunity for retailers to bolster their annual revenue numbers.

He did, however, add that the bleak economy and dented disposable income will take its toll on transactional growth this year compared with record growth in previous years.

Preparing for Black Friday 2020

Smit said PayFast has experience with managing the sudden influx of payment volumes over this period.

“Last year, we were able to process thousands of transactions without any major issues,” he said.

“In the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ve put a number of preparations in place to ensure that we can handle the increased load on our payment engine and that our customer service team has more capacity to answer support tickets.”

He said online shoppers want to get their deals in as early as possible, so they pre-empt purchases to begin just after midnight.

“Our staff will be working extended hours over the weekend to handle any support queries as they come through,” he said.

Harvey said lessons learned from previous years will extend to the payment ecosystem which supports the sale days.

“The banks, PSPs and card associations are all ready for the surge in transactions and so technically we are confident of a well-managed experience this year,” he said.

“Teams on standby around the clock and careful monitoring will be a matter of course.”

Advice for online shopping sites

Smit had four suggestions for online shopping sites to ensure they are ready for Black Friday 2020.

  • Start deals early – This avoids having all your sales come through over a short period. A lot of retailers are spreading their specials over the whole month of November. This will help your team handle surges in orders and customer support queries as they come in.
  • Make your website mobile-friendly – Trends have shown that more local consumers are shopping on their smartphones this year. Ensure that your website and checkout process is optimised for mobile browsing to keep pace with your competitors.
  • Offer secure online payments – Shoppers won’t convert to buyers unless they trust that their banking details are secure when they checkout on your online store. Additionally, make sure to talk to your web designer or hosting company to make sure that you have an SSL certificate installed.
  • Offer multiple payment options – Black Friday has become notorious for causing banks to experience issues with 3D Secure, due to the massive amount of online credit card transactions. Consider adding additional payment options such as Instant EFT, SCode, QR payments and Mobicred.

Now read: The biggest Black Friday sale yet in South Africa

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South African online payment platforms prepare for Black Friday 2020