February 8, 2023

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Home » 2022 Holiday Season Insights and Shopping Trends with Megan Blissick

2022 Holiday Season Insights and Shopping Trends with Megan Blissick

Who is Brent Peterson?
Brent is a serial entrepreneur and marketing professional with a passion for running. He co-founded Wagento and has a new adventure called ContentBasis. Brent is the host of the podcast Talk Commerce. He has run 25 marathons and one Ironman race. Brent has been married for 29 years. He was born in Montana, and attended the University of Minnesota and Birmingham University without ever getting his degree.

It’s Black Friday, and we interviewed Megan Blissick with Signifyd. We talk about BFCM and the Pulse Tracker. Will the predictions be right?

You can listen to some of the numbers Megan gives us and compare them to what is happening! Signifyd’s Holiday Season Pulse Tracker compiles a live look at online sales with real-time adjusted season projections to bring you the fastest, most immediate insights into season performance.

Powered by Signifyd’s Commerce Network, the Holiday Season Pulse Tracker leverages data from thousands of retailers from a variety of verticals around the world.


Brent: Welcome to this episode of Talk Commerce Today, have Megan Blissick. Megan is the head of Global Agency Partnership with Signifyd. Megan, go ahead, introduce yourself. Maybe tell us what you do on a day to day basis and one of your passions in life.

Megan: Ooh, one of my passions was fun. Yeah. Thanks for having mere.

Megan: I’m Megan. I had global agency partnerships at Signifyd e-commerce, fraud prevention and revenue optimization organization. So I’ve been with signify for I think, God, like two and a half years at this point. A lot of experience in the greater e-commerce. E brand management, digital marketing management, and the e-commerce ecosystem up until running partnerships that Signifyd for the past couple of years.

Megan: It’s been a great time. Love it there. And a passion of mine is rock climbing as a lot of folks I believe know at this point. When I’m not at conferences and events, I’m hanging off the side of a cliff .

Brent: And do they call that bouldering?

Megan: Bouldering is when there’s no ropes, but

Brent: Oh, so you don’t do that part?

Megan: No I get all the way up the top yeah, I get to get some really cool views up there.

Brent: I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie where the guy climbs El Capita, Is it called Free?

Megan: Yes I’ve seen a couple of those

Brent: movies. Any aspirations to do free solo for that one?

Megan: No.

Brent: I got super creeped out just watching that movie.

Megan: I definitely enjoy the rope element of rope climbing. I do that part where you fall and you don’t die. . Yeah.

Brent: That’s always a plus, right? Yeah. Cause in that movie, somebody did one of his friends died, I think.

Megan: It’s it can get really intense in the climbing world, but but me and my buddies we like to play it safe.

Brent: Yeah. Good. Before we get into content and after, now we’ve talked about rock climbing. Yes. I do have a project that’s called The Free Joke Project. Okay. And what I’d like to do is just tell you a joke and you can tell me if you think it should continue to be free. Or if we could charge for the joke.

Brent: Okay, here we go. Here we go.

Brent: I was trying to figure out why the ball kept getting bigger and bigger. Then it hit me,

Megan: Is this how this whole podcast is gonna go ?

Brent: Yes. All right. Since you were so good at that one, I’m gonna tell you one more and then we’ll move on

Megan: since, give me one more. Let’s go for it.

Brent: I entered 10 puns into a contest to see which one would win, no pun in 10 did.

Brent: Oh God.

Megan: How long are we doing this ?

Brent: We got another half an hour.

Brent: Okay, let’s go for it. Let’s go to, let’s go to real things now. Yeah. Commerce protection platform. Tell us about that. Yeah. In our green room, we talked about Signifyd being this fraud thing and we fraud protection, at least in my mind. And that’s what I thought about it, but it’s so much more.

Brent: So tell us, give us a little background.

Megan: Yeah. Okay, Brent, you and I have been working together the whole time I’ve been at Signifyd and you’ve actually been working with us longer than I’ve been around. So when Signifyd started, we were actually a fraud scoring tool. So what that really means is when a customer goes to a website they hit the checkout button and

Megan: we gather a lot of information about that customer based on not only the website they’re checking out on, but any other website within Signifyd network. That way if it’s the first time they’re at, REI buying a climbing rope but they’ve already gone to Moose Jaw and they’ve already bought some Caravaners we already understand a little bit about that customer more than the merchant on hand.

Megan: So that lets us make a better decision about whether or not that’s a legitimate customer. What we started realizing was, as we’re doing this scoring we are getting really strong scores getting better information than our merchants so that we could really provide them that value, but, They weren’t always taking us up on it.

Megan: So we started actually guaranteeing on our orders. So saying, Yes, we think this is a really good purchase. We think this person is correct. There may be, a couple things that look weird. They may be shipping it out of state, or the recipient doesn’t have the same last name. But ultimately we have enough data to stand behind this.

Megan: So we started adding a financial guarantee, and that’s where g. Fraud protection came from. So we said if we’re wrong and if it is fraud signify will pay the merchant back in full cost of product shipping, taxes, fees. And that really took us into another world of e-commerce fraud prevention, because what that did was not only prevent fraud, but we started actually increasing revenue and increasing order approval rate for our customers.

Megan: So we saw that. Getting rid of the fear of fraud, we are actually able to enable more transactions to go through. That really opened a door for our customers to see five to 7% revenue lift just by taking in more orders that they were at first afraid were fraud. So that really changed the conversation for us.

Megan: We are preventing fraud, but we’re really driving most of our value by driving more revenue. So we started looking. Further down in the conversation, what happens once that product gets there? Does the product arrive or does the merchants still have to pay for an item not received claim where they delivered the product got there, but the customer never got it.

Megan: So sometimes, that’s true. We’ve seen porch pirates especially talking to the holiday season. This is something that. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. People steal things off of porches. I’m sure you’ve seen some of those Ring doorbell videos. But sometimes a customer does get their product and they say they didn’t.

Megan: A merchant busy during the holiday season doesn’t really have time to look into all those claims. They don’t want to insult their customers that are legitimate and are good and are missing their products. So they’re taking a hit there. Signify said, continue down the funnel. Let’s cover item not received claims significantly, not subscribed, subscription cancellations like cancellation errors, order shipping fees.

Megan: So we started really enhancing our commerce protection from just that point of sale, continuing down the funnel. Now Signifyd hosts a variety of different products through our three main modules through our agent console, where you can really tailor your different policies and your orders through insights reporting where you can really understand your customers better.

Megan: And through our decision center, which is, our core product of yes or no, are these orders being approved or not? That allows us to hit into a couple different categories past the traditional fraud prevention chargeback recovery, account takeover protection, author off rate optimization pre off acceptance.

Megan: You’re not paying those credit card fees anymore. Along with that that core of products. So at this point, yeah, signify covers our merchants end to.

Brent: And we talked earlier that right now it’s before Black Friday, but this episode’s not gonna come until after Black Friday. . So you do have something new called a, or maybe it’s not super new, but a sales prediction tool or sales tracking tool.

Brent: Tell us a little bit about that and how that’s gonna play into the holidays. .

Megan: Yes. So this is actually a continuous project that I’ve absolutely loved. It’s been part of Signifyd since I started right at the beginning of the pandemic. When we, we sit right in that payment gateway. We get to see real time transaction data across over 6,000 different merchants in hundreds of different products categories.

Megan: So what that really gives us is a chance. Look at real time e-commerce data. So actually just today we launched our 2022 holiday season insights and shopping trends. So as things happen in real time, we’ll be able to track. Our holiday season projections against what’s actually happening this holiday season.

Brent: All right. Then I’ll make sure, I’ll put all that on the show notes that they can get the link to the report and they can look at it. You had mentioned some things that, that we’re looking at in. The holidays. Can you give us any insights that we might see for Black Friday? And I guess we’re gonna know if you’re right or wrong for Black Friday after this, but we still have Christmas, Hanukkah coming up in Yes.

Brent: As we go forward.

Megan: Absolutely. So we have. Three categories right now of holiday season predictions. We have one on total holiday spend. We have one on product volume, how much is actually going to be purchased, and then we have some cyber week predictions. So I think we touched on this in the green room.

Megan: The the holiday season is not Black Friday anymore. Between pandemic, e-commerce penetration and everything in between. Shoppers are buy. Gifts whenever they want, and and merchants are really catering to that. I think Amazon has two prime days now, or a special exclusive event coming up.

Megan: There’s already holiday sales at some of the major big box retailers. The the holiday shipping window and the holiday returns window has already started where there’s usually extended return windows so that people can buy gifts and then return them once they’ve been gifted and and not received kindly.

Megan: So there’s really a huge window of holiday shopping now. It’s not. Like that small peak that happens in that one week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then again in that like Christmas and Hanukkah weeks. It’s really starting now and it’s going to continue until the shipping cutoffs occur in the end of December.

Megan: So we’ve got a long holiday season coming

Brent: up. Yeah, And it’d probably go all the way to July if Amazon takes us there. And then it’ll start again right after July. That’s when the pre-Christmas sales will start. Soon. You had mentioned in the greenroom as well about how you’ve extended, so traditionally Signifyd was that sort of right before the payment happens.

Brent: But now you’re extending it down the funnel even past into the delivery cycle. Tell. Where you see the biggest value for a merchant as you get through that. Let’s just say they, they, that is, it’s a client that, that makes it through or isn’t, It’s a valid client, but , it’s somebody that is trying to gain the system by saying something, I didn’t get something.

Brent: How does Signifyd help there?

Megan: Yeah. Item not received is a really interesting category. As Brent, I live in Brooklyn. I’ve had a couple packages stolen off my doorstep. It happens, there’s a, a couple of my friends happens to it too. But there’s also those merchants or those customers that, they say that they didn’t receive a product when they did.

Megan: So that becomes an item not received claim. There’s a couple ways that merchants, if they’re handling this on their own, they can deal with. You might have seen some of the backlash of some of these come up before. For example, on Amazon, if you claim too many items, so it’s not received in a six month window then you’ll start getting a flag of you must provide proof or, like you can’t return any items for the next like couple months.

Megan: Things like that. You can’t make this claim anymore. So there’s that volume approach, right? If it’s the, if then approach of binary rules, if someone returns X amount of items and y months reject. We all know that any binary system is just right for fraud. It’s very simple. If someone can figure out, Oh, I can return four items but not five, or I can return.

Megan: $200, but not 201. Then they’re going to push right up to the boundaries, create another account, anything like that. So there’s always a way to get around those binary rules. You’re also, if you’re managing things on your own, you’re risking an insult rate. And I will tell you there are. Vengeful customers that will let you know if you’ve wronged them.

Megan: We’ve seen them all online, if it, And it’s a terrible customer experience, right? So if I ordered something I was really excited about I get the notification while I’m out at work that, a package arrived at my door and then I go home and that package isn’t there.

Megan: You, you first have that sinking feeling and then, Text your neighbors. You ask if anyone else picked it up or saw it. You wait another day and see if the the shipping thing was just wrong and they hadn’t gotten there yet. And then you ultimately contact the company and say, Hey, I never received my product.

Megan: If they come back to you and say, Hi, we think you’re lying and you’re not getting your product or your money going to raise hell and high water. All over anywhere you can post a review or rating online. There’s a lot of places to do that. So you risk really insulting those good customers because that might also be a really high value customer.

Megan: It can be someone that’s shopping with you guys once a month that is going to go to your competitor and never go back again and actively discourage people from shopping on that site. So what signify does is, first and foremost, if you have our INR coverage, we reimburse our merchants. We say, We got it.

Megan: Don’t worry about it. That’s ours now. So our customers are taken care of immediately. We now also have an internal chargeback recovery team. So they will go and they will investigate that claim. They’ll investigate all claims that they think that there is a reason to look into and will go all the way through the entire process and order flow to figure out if that product actually did get to the intended recipient.

Megan: We’ve had some very funny ways that we found people and we actually now have made that into another series called Crime and Cocktails where every couple months we sit down in a webinar setting and we talk about some of the some of the fraud that we’ve seen in the industry where we actually catch some people that are claiming that they never receive their.

Megan: $5,000 Rolex, but they’re wearing it in their picture, on their Facebook profile. Or where someone says that they never got their above ground pool, but we find it on Google Maps. So we actually get to cover what really goes into some of these fraud attempts and how our teams are able to, trace back the entire supply chain to really find if these are legitimate customers.

Brent: Yeah. That takes a lot of tpa to claim a lost pool, but then set up the pool in your yard. My, I still love that one. . Yeah. My experience recently has been, I received a package from Amazon that was empty and it was also. Point zero one ounces, . So it clearly got through everything. And then Anne got the weight onto shipping and they shipped it.

Brent: It was just a, it was an envelope, but it was supposed to have some clothes in it, huh? And zero weight as well. I didn’t even have to argue with Amazon. They just sent me the new item. But I suppose as a consumer, if you get an, and it was a, one of those envelopes from Amazon that had the, and it wasn’t even sealed yet, so somehow nobody put the thing in it.

Brent: They just sent it to shipping, ran through their UPS thing, and then off to ship. But it’s not, I suppose too, as a consumer, you, if for whatever reason you get the couple of those in a row, you want to make sure. Back yourself up with your ring and all this other fun stuff. You. So I think you mentioned returns.

Brent: How do you go farther besides just the lost packages? Do you go into returns as well?

Megan: Yeah, and that’s actually, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s probably what I consider the most exciting opportunity space is especially going into the holiday season this year. We all know that e-commerce returns happen, but we all pretend like they don’t

Megan: And the really, the biggest bummer of it all is that it’s a much higher rate than in-store returns. Take fashion as a category in-store returns average around 10% of retail sales. eCommerce averages around 30%. And that’s really hard. Especially right now, we’re not in the best spot in the there’s an economic downturn.

Megan: We’re all aware of it. People are still buying, people are still shopping. When you’re really counting on sales and business and 30% of that is coming back in the door. That’s a big hit because that’s merchandise that was off the floor that couldn’t be sold. That’s also merchandise that gets damaged.

Megan: In return, about 25% of returned merchandise goes straight to a landfill. And, that’s just devastating both for the environment and for a retailer’s bottom line. And then seasonal items get marked down. Okay, return that fake Christmas tree, but you can’t sell that again until next year.

Megan: So now you’re sitting. Dead inventory and there’s a lot of companies that are popping up to really start solving returns. It’s making me really happy. Signifyd is partnering with a couple of those to be displayed soon. But what we’re also doing, and the reason that we’re really showing up in that space is actually in terms of, the consumer experience.

Megan: Returns is a one size fit all approach right now, and it’s probably the last thing in the customer journey that applies that. We have loyalty programs that incentivize good customers. We have tailored experiences so that if you have a certain IP address, then you land on a different website version on a homepage than someone else.

Megan: But why are we all doing the same thing when it comes to returns? It’s this blanket return policy of. 30 days or free shipping or something like that. When in reality our good customers should have the benefits of good returns and our abusive customers shouldn’t be able to return things at all.

Megan: Because you know that’s not a customer that you really want shopping on your site. It doesn’t matter if they spend a thousand dollars. If they return that a thousand dollars and end up costing you $300 along the way, that’s not a good customer. So what signify does now is we have a returns abuse api.

Megan: So what that allows us to do is actually take control. That customer return journey if they go on that. So say you put us in place right now. Holiday season has started. We’re getting all these orders in. Again the benefit of signify that’s. That powers everything is our commerce network. We work with so many brands around the world that we’re able to see 98% of online consumers.

Megan: So if you’ve shopped online you’ve probably shopped at a Signifyd store, which means that we know you. And that can be really good because if you’re a good customer and we’re using a merchant that’s going to say, Okay, we’re gonna prioritize our VIPs. Has a rewards account with us.

Megan: Anyone that’s been a customer for more than three years, you can set all of these rules yourself and say, Megan’s a good customer. She spends over a thousand dollars a year with us. If she initiates a return, immediately refund the money to her account before she even returns the product. Send a prepaid shipping label so that make it really easy on her to send that out.

Megan: Ask if she needs a box or. A mailer or an envelope and send that as well and, make that friction point that’s happening. Cuz no one wants a re I don’t wanna return a product. I didn’t buy it to give it back. But make that friction point something that’s really exciting for your customer.

Megan: Wow, that was incredibly easy. I’m going to buy from here because if something goes wrong, I know they have. So treat your good customers really well. And then, over here, Brent, you’re just returning everything you buy. You’re just, buying it to use it once and then put it back in the box and who cares if it’s broken?

Megan: You’ll just say it arrived that way and then shipping it right back. For customers that are doing, abusive behavior with your products, you can limit them. You can make their order final sale. You can, make it that they have to pay for return shipping. And they don’t get their refund until the item has been inspected back in the warehouse.

Megan: And then everyone else somewhere in between. So what we can really do with actually taking control of returns and looking at different customers, setting these different policies can ultimately create a really strong customer experience for your best customers and can shut out those serial abusers and just get them off of your site.

Brent: Yeah, and to be fair, it’s only because people keep buying me hair care products, but I keep returning them for gifts. It’s not that I’m trying to do it, it’s just that I can’t use it for anything. I guess I could re-gift it. That’s a good idea. You could re-gift it. . We have a couple, we have a little bit of time left and I got thinking that that, let’s put this episode live on Black Friday.

Brent: So let’s just say somebody is sitting there on Black the day after Thanksgiving still sort of stuff, Turkey, and they’re like, Oh, I’m gonna listen to a podcast. Oh, there’s a new episode out. What do you think that, And they’re gonna be shopping as a, as a. It’s too late to do something then. But as a as a shopper, is there ways to figure out, I don’t know how to say with that.

Brent: Is there is there trusted brands that you know that are gonna be a good brand to go to? Or is it is it just the typical trust that you have from a merchant or for the merchant and then as a merchant, this is a better question. As the merchant, before we get to Christmas, is it too late to add Signifyd?

Brent: I.

Megan: Not at all. If you’re a merchant that’s already using Signifyd you can effectively turn on something like our returns of use API or add in any of these additional layers of protection. If you’re not already using Signifyd any major e-commerce platform we’re already pre-built into.

Megan: Adobe Commerce, Shopify Plus Salesforce Big Commerce. Neva, NetSuite, V tags all the good guys. And then, if we don’t have something built, we have we have APIs that connect in to everybody. If you’re working with an amazing agency like Magento they can get you set up and running and really quickly and, just start protecting your orders.

Megan: Start, especially when it comes to these big swings and volume. You don’t have the manpower to be manually reviewing all these fringe cases, especially when it’s 100, 200% the regular daily volume. Having a product like this in place, it’s quick to put in. And it’s quite effective, I would say, especially for the holidays.

Brent: Yeah. I always like to tell the story that we started in Mexico selling e-commerce in 2014 and one of our first clients had a call center that they literally called every client that put an order in cuz they were worried it could be a fraud client. . So they had, 20 or 30 people in a big room that would just make phone calls all day to confirm.

Brent: So that’s a lot of manpower. Yeah. From a volume standpoint, how much that, let’s think how much you can help something like Signifyd and help. And it’s almost at this point, it’s a necessity, isn’t it? Because if you think about the cost to the cost of returns and the cost of fraud and all those things that are around that this is something that is not just an insurance and doing that, but it’s also, I think you had mentioned a couple times just improving the customer journey.

Brent: Yeah. And improving the experience of the customer. And then for, from the merchant side, knowing that the customers are good is always a better way to do

Megan: business. Yeah. There’s a lot more trust in the entire transaction. And you’re right, it is essential because especially right now oh, a lot of companies are having a hard time and have big numbers to hit.

Megan: There’s, you can’t afford to turn down your best customers, so if someone’s hitting the buy button, that’s the highest intent they can really show you. And we can’t afford to turn away four or 5% of those customers because of the fear of fraud. So that’s ultimately how I always see it, is, let those good customers through and, Let them through that first time and they’ll come back, especially if they have a good experience end to end.

Brent: All right. A couple minutes left here. Megan’s prediction on the holidays what do you think we’re gonna be

Megan: doing? All right, so we’ve. Thing. So going back to those three categories, this is what what the amazing team had Signifyd. I had nothing to do with these numbers, but we have an incredible data team.

Megan: So they were really able to pull some of these insights based on what we’ve been seeing over the past, oh gosh, 24 months of eCommerce trends. Our first prediction is that cyber week growth is going to increase by 5% year over year. So we think there’s still gonna be a lot of volume, but we don’t think it’s all going to come from cyber week.

Megan: We’re predicting an 8% increase in November and December is total rise in terms of that product volume. We’ve been seeing people buying more recently, which is, it’s still haven’t figured things out in terms of the economy. I’m not even going to pretend to try, but we’re predicting an 8% change in volume of products sold in cyber week and a 5% overall volume in November and December.

Megan: We think people are still just buying more, but ultimately that cyber week, we think it’s gonna be down from last year. We think there’ll. 19% of holiday sales versus 21% of holiday sales last year. So people are spreading out their purchases, they’re starting earlier, they’re shopping later.

Megan: As more companies adopt better transition, better solutions they’re able to extend their shipping windows because, they’re not doing that manual review in house anymore, they’re able to actually approve and process orders faster. So they’re able to accept orders longer into the holiday season.

Megan: Yeah, we think it’s a wider range. People are buying earlier, they’re planning ahead. But there’s still going to be a lot of consolidation in Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Brent: Yeah. And I think overall I was at the econ forum here in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, and they gave out some numbers that said, E even though it seems like we’re going into a downturn, We’re coming off of such a hot cycle through the pandemic.

Brent: Everybody had to order online. Yeah, that online is still gonna grow even next year. It’s gonna grow 20% over the year before. It won’t grow 50 or whatever that number was. Maybe it was 10%. Anyways, it’s gonna be a good healthy growth in online no matter what over the year. And so people are still shifting from retail to.

Brent: Online, maybe not even, Or even buying more in the future. Yeah. And that as a merchant, you need to always pay attention to where your customers are buying from and where they’re gonna buy more from. Yes. So that cycle and reducing some of that friction in the. And the checkout and making sure that it’s a quality customer is such a important part of things.

Megan: Yeah. It’s really important. And those customers show up everywhere. They’re showing up online and then they’re returning in store, or they’re window shopping online, and then they’re making a final decision. It’s really important to meet that customer where they are, treat them the same.

Megan: Everywhere that you find them and make sure that they have the best experience with your brand.

Brent: Megan, as they close out the podcast, I get everybody a chance to do a shameless plug. , what would you like to plug today?

Megan: Oh gosh. Am I not plugged enough? I feel like it’s been most of us .

Brent: You can plug anything you want.

Brent: You could plug your climbing. Should I plug rock climbing?

Megan: Oh my, yes. Yeah. Anything you want. No, I would absolutely love to plug the incredible marketing team here because all these insights, all these analytics, all this data it’s, all of my partners know this. It’s something I talk about far too much, but, we have a incredible team of really talented and really thoughtful marketing folks that have really enabled Signifyd partnerships continuously.

Megan: We’re able to create really incredible content. It’s actually thought provoking. I hate how many times I even said pandemic in this presentation. They’re really able to bring this information to the table in a way that’s digestible, easy to use and easy to explain. That’s that’s my plug is when you have a great marketing team, let the entire world know

Brent: As, so we’re gonna close out now, but since it is Black Friday today, and we don’t know if I’m actually gonna get it done by it, but it’s gonna, we’re gonna assume that I have it done already and it is Black Friday. What should I go out or What are you gonna go by on Friday? Black Friday and I’m gonna be in the air, so I won’t be able to buy anything.

Brent: What are you gonna buy on Black Friday?

Megan: What am I gonna buy on Black Friday? You’re gonna laugh at me, but I really want a nice two person tent because I only have a one person tent right now and it’s very tiny.

Brent: Is your two person tent, the kind that sits on the side of a rock face?

Megan: No, but I hang, give you a little education that is called a portal ledge.

Megan: Oh, Portal ledge. Like a portable ledge. Yeah. Very cool. So now you’ve got a cool little lingo term for next time you’re out rock climbing or summiting, lcap .

Brent: Absolutely. Okay. If you don’t get your 2% in, then for the holidays, you’ll want one for a gift.

Megan: Yes. Any, anyone that’s listening that wants to send me a tent, I’m sure you can just provide my information in the comments, . All right,

Brent: perfect. Megan Bick is the head of Global Agency Partnerships With Signifyd. Thank you so much for being here today.

Megan: Thanks for your time, Fred. Always great to see you.

Brent: All right.

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