The 2020 holiday shopping season will be different from any that have come before it, and much of the difference will revolve around digital capabilities.

But everything else about the season is up in the air, Kount Chief Marketing Officer Gary Sevounts told PYMNTS.

Merchants are adapting quickly to a rapidly digitizing environment, caught between trying to build a smooth, seamless experience for their good customers and trying to prevent fraud of all sorts as attacks increase in both number and activity level. Sevounts said there are no silver-bullet solutions, but there are data to be leveraged to build a better, more secure experience and improve business operations as a whole.

“First of all, merchants should be prepared to offer a customer journey that eases friction. The less friction there is, the better the conversions will be,” he said. “But friction comes in at several points in the digital journey, and merchants need to be ready to account for all of them.”

Sevounts said fighting friction means following the consumer at every point of the journey — understanding what they see well enough to create an experience that’s smooth, but also secure, from start to finish.

What Winning Will Require

Sevounts noted that inventory will likely be king this holiday season — and inventory management will mean more than simply having the right goods in adequate supply.

The challenge in a year when digital shopping is the rule will be ensuring that merchants don’t only have the goods consumers want, but also a desirable path to accessing items.

“They need to have the ability to ship on time to have it at the consumer’s door on the right day, or the option to purchase online and pick it up at the store,” Sevounts said. “The power of inventory isn’t just having it but making sure it can get to the customers how they want, when they want.”

But providing such multichannel commerce will be challenging. For instance, Sevounts said it means having customers’ preferred payment options equally accessible across channels. And it means looking at all of the pre- and post-transaction steps in a commerce journey, from initial account creation to post-purchase communications and reach-outs.

He said merchants will find it challenging to….

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