Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Nov 12, 2013


Holiday Shoppers Prepare to Hit the Web




As consumers gear up for the holidays, it’s clear we’re in for another growth year in eCommerce.  According to new data from the Visa Spending Intentions survey, 87 percent of people plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year, with 40 percent saying they will do half or more gift-buying online.  That’s good news for retailers, knowing that 72 percent of people also plan to spend more or the same amount of money on gifts this year, compared to last year.

In the first 10 months of 2013, eCommerce sales are up 17 percent from the same period last year, and Visa domestic eCommerce transactions exceeded one billion dollars on 211 days, an increase of 19 percent from 2012.

Other key findings from the Visa Spending Intentions survey include:

Electronic Payments are the Norm

  • 25 percent of respondents plan to use their mobile phone or tablet for holiday shopping this year, up from 22 percent last year
  • Credit and debit cards will be the primary form of payments through the holidays, with 56 percent of people planning to use their credit card and 30 percent to use a debit card

The Holidays are Big Business, for Big and Small Businesses

  • Almost 50 percent expect to spend between $301 and $800, while 14 percent plan to spend more than $800
  • More than 85 percent of consumers are as, or more, inclined to shop at a small business this year, compared to last year

Beat the Crowds, with a Tap of the Finger

  • Online holiday shopping has become the preferred way to shop for a number of reasons, including:
    • Fits my schedule better/Can shop anytime (67 percent)
    • Better prices online (61 percent)
    • Dislike battling crowds (54 percent)

Each year, millions of shoppers rely on Visa for holiday-related purchases, providing a near real-time view into consumer behavior. If you wish to receive regular updates throughout the holiday season, send an email to or follow ongoing updates at

* 2013 VisaNet Data

Survey Methodology:

This survey was conducted for Visa by Prosper Insights and Analytics via an online sample of over 4,600 U.S. consumers aged 18 and over.


Posted by: Wayne Best, Chief Economist, Visa on November 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

Oct 15, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Strategic Online Marketing for the Holidays

While some believe that “if you build it (your website), they will come,” most small businesses should face the reality that there is a lot happening online to distract their customers. How do you cut through the clutter and stand out? As part of her holiday series, Donna Fenn shares tips from successful small business owners on how they are differentiating themselves from competitors via online promotions. From working with bloggers to getting in the gift-giving sprit, you’ll have four bases covered this holiday season.


Janet – @jzablock


Strategic Online Marketing for the Holidays

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert

Chances are you’re ramping up your online marketing campaign for the holidays right now – along with everyone else, unfortunately! As you look to reach your current and potential customers, the challenge is to market to your customers in the places where they’re most likely to notice you, and with messages compelling enough to convert prospects into buyers. To help differentiate yourself from your competitors, consider trying these online marketing strategies:

Court the right bloggers. Diana Charabin, founder of Tiny Devotions, taps into bloggers who write about yoga and contemplative practices to help her get the word out about her mala beads, which are frequently used in meditation. Rather than approach very high profile bloggers who are typically inundated with requests to review products, Charabin instead targets “the mid-range bloggers – the ones who may just have a few thousand Twitter followers, but they’re very die hard.” She sends them her products, but makes it clear that there’s no obligation to write about the company. It’s a strategy she can use throughout the holiday season, as bloggers are always hungry for content that can be turned around quickly.



Have a mobile strategy. Dr. Marvin Lee, a Los Angeles-based chiropractor, has been working with a company called Signpost to help him with online marketing and to ensure that his content and offers are mobile friendly. “I’m a doctor and I don’t want to wear a marketing hat,” he says. “But you need an online presence, and if that doesn’t translate to mobile devices, you’re behind the times.” For a quarterly fee of $375, Signpost promotes his business on multiple channels, including Yelp, Foursquare, MapQuest, Amazon, and Google. Over the holidays, he’ll promote a special $39 introductory offer that includes a consultation, a first adjustment, and x-rays if needed. “My job is to convert the lookers to regular patients,” he says.

Offer gift-giving advice.  At Book Bouquet, founder Kim Shanahan is already busy marketing her company’s book-centric gift baskets on Facebook. “Every day, we’ll have a post that’s related to how people within our company are using the special that we’re promoting,” she says.  That may include gift baskets for coffee-lovers, cooks or movie buffs. She also offers customers the option of spreading payments over three months.

Personalize your communication. Sure, your customers want to feel that you know them, but they also want to know you. Ada Polla, CEO of the family-owned skin care company, Alchimie Forever, says that email blasts containing images of and content about her mom and her three sisters “get click rates that are much higher.  We’re a family-focused company and email is much more successful when it’s highly personal.”  This year, Alchimie will offer a 30% friends and family discount on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the email blast will contain images of all four Polla sisters peppered with a bit of family storytelling.

Remember that one of your greatest strategic advantages over your larger competitors is your ability to connect intimately and authentically with your customers. Online marketing enables that, but also make sure that you’re not just “broadcasting.”  Now’s the time of year when you need to make certain that you’re also engaging in dialogue with customers who respond to your online marketing efforts.

Please check out other posts in our “Secrets of Small Business Success” series:

Secrets of Small Business Success: Your Best Strategy for Attracting New Holiday Customers is Hiding in Plain Sight

Secrets of Small Business Success: Holiday Marketing: Be Memorable and Meaningful

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on October 15, 2013 at 8:05 am

Oct 8, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Your Best Strategy for Attracting New Holiday Customers is Hiding in Plain Sight

Sure, the holiday rush is exciting and a great boost for business, but what’s your strategy to drive even more business and keep those customers coming back all year long? Donna Fenn spoke with two successful entrepreneurs on how they tackle the holiday season and keep customers coming back for more.


Janet – @jzablock


Your Best Strategy for Attracting New Holiday Customers is Hiding in Plain Sight

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert

At this time of year, consumers are more willing than ever to pull out their wallets to begin to make progress with their gift lists.  That means all you need to do is sit back and watch your sales multiply, right? Wrong! Yes, your tried and true customers are probably thinking of you already, but what about new customers? They’re out there, but you may need to make a special effort to reach them.  Do it right and you’ll not only increase sales over the holidays, you’ll add a significant number of new loyal customers to your database.  Here’s what two smart entrepreneurs have planned:

Ada Polla, the CEO of Alchimie Forever, a family-run skin care business, has struggled with the dilemma that “skin care is not really a gift product.”  No one really wants to open a wrinkle cream or anti-cellulite gel on Christmas morning! Her solution: create a new product specifically for holiday giving. “We tweaked the formula of our hand and foot cream to make a dry skin balm that’s neutral in terms of skin type,” she says.  She priced the product at $25, packaged two of them in a pretty gift bag and will price the package at $41. “We learned that if we just put two products together in a gift package and sell them at retail, that isn’t enough,” she says. “There has to be value.”  Another lesson learned from previous years is to take the gift package off the website after December. “We used to leave them on for the whole year,” says Polla, “but we found that people were buying them for themselves at the discounted price, and I don’t want that. We want them purchased as gifts for new customers.” Plus, she says, the gift packages appear more special if they’re more scarce.

At Back to the Roots, an Oakland company that makes grow-your-own mushroom kits and aqua farms (you can grow herbs and baby greens on top of a beta fish tank!), co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez also came up with a product-related holiday strategy. Their mushroom kits are currently on sale for $20 at retailers such as Whole Foods, Home Depot, and Safeway, but for the holidays they plan to produce a “mini” mushroom kit that will retail for just $9.99.  “Buyers tell us that when the price tag of an item goes from $12 to $10, it often doubles or triples sales,” says Arora.  “Going from $20 to $10 opens up a whole different world and will be a huge opportunity to drive sales and maximize our exposure and sell-through.” And $10, he says, is “a perfect stocking-stuffer price.” The company will also tweak its packaging to add a holiday theme that will appeal to retailers and encourage them to display the products prominently.

Bottom line: whether you make a product or deliver a service, you don’t need to launch an entirely new offering to attract attention over the holidays. Your best strategy may be hiding in plain sight, in the form of an existing product or service that can be tweaked with a holiday spin.

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on October 8, 2013 at 8:02 am

Oct 1, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Holiday Marketing: Be Memorable and Meaningful

Donna Fenn has shared expertise and insights from entrepreneurs who’ve seen it and been through it all. From innovation heroes to customer service champions, in her last installment of the Small Business Success Summer Series, she explores holiday planning for the fast-approaching season. In this blog, Donna spoke with entrepreneurs who learned the hard way that it’s never too early to prepare your business for the  busy holiday season.


Janet – @jzablock


Holiday Marketing: Be Memorable and Meaningful

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert

For many small business owners, the upcoming holiday season is the most important time of year, as it represents a huge percentage of annual revenue. While consumers are in the mood to buy, they can be overwhelmed with marketing messages and confused by a huge number of choices.  So how do you rise above the noise? At this time of year especially, customers are more likely to do business with companies they like. Don’t wait until the crowded holiday season to start your holiday outreach. Instead, take the opportunity to meaningfully connect with them over the coming weeks and you’ll reap the rewards in the coming months.  Here are a few ways you can show your customers that you’re a cut above your competitors:

Be generous on social is a new, multi-brand online retailer for people who want to be both stylish and socially conscious, says co-founder Soraya Darabi. “We don’t have a big marketing budget, so community is our first priority,” she says. Yes, she wants to drive consumers to Zady, but part of the company’s social media strategy is to be a trusted resource to people, even if it means sending them elsewhere. A woman recently asked Darabi where to find a great pair of boots. Her response: check out the used Ferragamos on eBay. “We want to position ourselves as experts,” says Darabi.

Host a party. At Zane’s Cycles, which has two bicycle shops in Fairfield County, Conn., holiday sales are just between 9- 10% of total revenue. Still, owner Chris Zane leverages the holiday season to thank and connect with a select group of important customers.  He hosts a VIP cocktail party with tenderloin, shrimp, and gift bags filled with Zane swag and a bottle of wine for 200 of “the customers who are most intimately involved in our business,” says Zane. “They’re the people who help us clean up after our big spring sale, or who wave the flags at the charity rides that we support. It’s about building community around our space and sending the message that we’re here for them.” He knows that message will pay off when it’s time to shop for bicycles in the spring.

Leverage cause marketing. At Back to the Roots (BTTR), an Oakland, Cal., company that sells mushroom growing kits and aquafarms, founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez forged a holiday partnership with Revolution Foods, which provides healthy meals to school children.  “For every Aquafarm that we sell at Whole Foods, Petco, and Nordstrom, we’ll donate a healthy school meal through Revolution Foods,” says Arora. The program, which starts this month, is part of BTTR’s philosophy to “partner with cool companies to do good things,” says Arora.

Of course, your holiday marketing should also include more traditional elements, such as email marketing to your most loyal customers and a holiday card. For a spin on that, check out, a new social greeting card company that allows you to custom create e-cards (free) or physical cards ($4), with multiple pages and signatures, all managed online. Remember, it’s all about differentiating your company to customers in a memorable and meaningful way so that they fall in love with your company, not just what you happen to be selling.

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on October 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

Jun 25, 2013

Keep Safe & Travel On: Tips for a Fraud Free Holiday

You could be lying on the pristine beaches of Phuket this weekend, or trekking along the Great Wall of China the next. With budget flights on the rise and an ever abundant array of attractive travel packages on offer, getting away to an exotic locale or a dazzling metropolis has never been easier.

It’s no wonder then that despite an uncertain economic climate, international tourist arrivals crossed the 1 billion mark in 2012, and is expected to grow another three to four percent.  Moving in tandem with the rise in travel is also the growth in tourism receipts. In 2012 alone, global travel spending grew a healthy seven percent to reach €875 billion, or US$1.15 trillion. 

As travel becomes easier and more accessible, so have the methods of payment. Long gone are the days when cash or traveler’s checks were the only accepted forms of currency. Today, Visa cards are accepted at tens of millions of merchants around the world and provide 24-hour cash access at over 2 million ATMs in more than 200 countries.  Not only are payment cards more convenient than cash, they are safer too. Cash can be hard to keep track of and easy to misplace, especially when you’re changing planes or hotels. However, cards can be replaced if they get lost or stolen.

Nevertheless, as you plan your next vacation, keep in mind that no matter where you go, criminals are on the lookout for new methods to commit fraud at the expense of your wallet and peace of mind. So, whether you’re traveling on business or taking a well-deserved vacation, refer to our infographic for some practical suggestions on how you can make travel more secure, hassle free and enjoyable:


Click image to view full size infographic



Posted by: Jag Mistry, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on June 25, 2013 at 11:56 am

Apr 24, 2013

Global Travel Budgets On the Rise: Visa’s Latest Travel Barometer Confirms Industry Growth

This week, Visa announced the results of its latest iteration of its Global Travel Intentions Study series – a look into the behavioral trends of today’s traveler. Responses from the 12,631 travelers from the 25 countries surveyed are split by region and include destination choice, spending habits, budgets, transport preferences and future intentions, all of which reveal a thriving and rapidly evolving travel landscape.

One of the most interesting findings is that budgets are no longer the top concern when choosing a holiday destination. The pull of attractions, scenery and rich cultural experiences are now stronger reasons for travel.

As if that wasn’t good news enough for the Travel and Tourism industry, the Study also showed that global travel budgets are set to increase. While global average budgets for travelers will increase by at least five percent, travelers from Asian markets are expected to increase their budgets by an average of 46 percent.

Amid the global economic uncertainty of the past four years, these findings hint at a welcome change in both the financial landscape and consumer mindset, suggesting either economic recovery or a growing aptitude for budget management. Both herald further good news for the health of international and national economies and will provide exciting opportunities for everyone involved in the Travel and Tourism industry globally.

Visa has long advocated that, as one of the world’s largest, most robust and democratic industries, Travel and Tourism has enormous potential to contribute towards stimulating economic growth, creating opportunity for wealth in both mature and emerging economies. In developing economies particularly, tourism provides a gateway to economic progress and electronic payments have played an important role by allowing countries to capture greater tourist spending and providing travelers with a form of exchange that is secure and convenient.

By identifying changes and developments that allow for a better understanding of the Travel and Tourism environment, the Study is part of Visa’s commitment to increase the collective level of information that the industry can use to make intelligent decisions – to benefit both the traveler and the industry at large. Cross-border understanding and co-ordination have never been more important for the Travel and Tourism industry, and Visa is committed to using the results of the Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 to help private and public partners understand and meet global demand, promoting growth across the industry.

For a summary of the results and for more detailed information on the Global Travel Intentions Study 2013, please visit this link.


Posted by: Jag Mistry, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on April 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Feb 5, 2013

What kind of traveller are you?


The last Global Travel Intentions Survey from Visa reveals that, on average, travellers plan to make four international trips over the next two years. So what kind of traveller are you? Do you plan your holiday right to the smallest detail or are you the kind that uses the free airplane toothbrush because you left yours at home? Do you like to use your holiday as an opportunity to empty your savings or do you like to travel on a shoestring? However you like to travel, keeping tabs on your money can be the difference between forgetting your worries and enjoying every moment or fretting about what’s left in your wallet and coming home with the holiday blues.  

Take the quiz to find out your travel personality type and get some quick money tips to really make the most out of your trip!


Posted by: Jag Mistry, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Dec 20, 2012

Bill Gajda on the Future of Mobile Payments

The widespread adoption of Internet-enabled devices – smart phones, tablets, laptops and PCs – enable consumers to shop online, anywhere, anytime – especially this holiday season. According to IBM, 24% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site over Thanksgiving & Black Friday, up from 14.3% in 2011.

As we shared earlier this week , while Cyber Monday remained the busiest online shopping day of the year – representing an astounding $2.1 billion in online sales from U.S. Visa account holders – Visa’s network has seen seven days that topped more than $1 billion in online sales in the U.S. this holiday season.

In the following video, Bill Gajda, Head of Global Mobile Products for Visa, shares his view on how innovations in mobile and payment technology, including near-field communications, are changing the landscape of commerce this holiday season and into the future. 



Posted by: Jennifer Schulz, Global Head of eCommerce on December 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Dec 18, 2012

2012: The Year of the Cyber Holiday Season

Today, Visa reported that merchants made more than $50 billion in online sales from U.S. Visa accountholders from November 1 to December 16, 2012, up 16% from the same period in 2011. While Cyber Monday remained the busiest online sales day of the year – representing $2.1 billion in online sales from U.S. Visa accountholders – Visa’s network has seen seven days with more than $1 billion in online sales during the 2012 holiday season, making this what Visa is declaring the first official Cyber Holiday Season.

In fact, merchants have been increasingly benefiting from eCommerce throughout the holiday season for several years, spurred in part by offering free shipping and other deals well before Thanksgiving when consumers shop online. According to IHS Global Insight, overall U.S. holiday sales growth is expected to be 3.9%, with online sales growth at 17%, indicating that merchants’ online sales continue to outpace in-store purchases and represent a growing portion of all holiday sales.

In addition to facilitating eCommerce, our partnerships allow merchants of all sizes to better serve their customers and grow their businesses during the busiest time of the year. We’ve been doing it since the advent of online shopping and, today, more merchants accept Visa for online purchases than any other payment method (Source: comScore, December 2012).

Accepting Visa online enables even the smallest merchants to reach consumers regardless of their location or time zone, and can increase merchants’ sales, efficiency and security.  Additional benefits of acceptance include guaranteed payment, simplified accounting and the ability to take advantage of Visa’s innovative products and services – such as and Visa Offers – which enable merchants to deliver a streamlined online checkout process and use SMS text messages to send tailored promotions to Visa account holders who have opted in, respectively.

Watch the video below to see Visa Chief Economist Wayne Best discuss eCommerce trends for the 2012 holiday season:



Posted by: Jennifer Schulz, Global Head of eCommerce on December 18, 2012 at 6:35 am

Dec 3, 2012

#HolidaySuccess Tips for Small Business Owners: Keep Them Coming Back with Email Newsletters and Gift Cards

In the flurry of making sales during the holidays, we sometimes forget how the influx of “today” customers, can be turned into “future” customers.

As part of our #HolidaySuccess tips for small business owners, USA Today small business columnist, Rhonda Abrams shares a few tips on how to take the holiday momentum through the New Year!

For more information on other holiday planning advice, download the full Small Business Holiday Success Guide at

Happy Holidays!

Janet – @JZablock

How do you connect with holiday customers now and keep them coming back after the new year? Two great marketing strategies make it easier for you to make money during this all-important season and build ongoing relationships with customers at the same time:

  1. Email newsletters – the number one way to encourage online customers to return, according to Forrester; and
  2. Gift cards – one of the most popular gifts for the holidays—often redeemed after the new year.

Email newsletters. If you don’t have an email newsletter, start one now. It can be easy, inexpensive, and effective.

Having an email newsletter gives you a reason to collect contact information from the many customers and prospects you interact with this holiday season. Take the opportunity to collect their contact information for your email newsletter campaigns. Just be sure to ask for their permission first and make it easy for them to opt out if they change their preference.

Once you’ve gathered names for your newsletter, you’ll need content. Keep it simple. You don’t have to be a great writer. Check out the Small Business Holiday Success Guide on what to do next!

Gift Cards. You like them. Your customers like them. Most everyone likes getting a gift card.

Offering gift cards is one of the easiest sales you can make this holiday season—and one of the easiest gifts your customers can buy.

Gift cards are one of the best ways to ring up more sales during the holidays. They’re a tremendous last-minute or impulse gift, so they’re particularly popular with those who put off their holiday shopping ‘til the last minute (don’t we all know someone like that?).

There’s a major added benefit as well. Gift cards can bring new customers to your business—often after January, when your sales may have slowed. They can give you a chance to develop an ongoing relationship with the user and turn a one-time holiday sale into a long-time customer.

Rhonda Abrams @RhondaAbrams

Disclaimer:  Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal, financial, tax or other advice.  When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal and financial advisors. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on December 3, 2012 at 11:23 am