Six Ways to Increase Transaction Approvals (and Revenue)

Merchants can often increase approvals and reduce false declines by simply tweaking a few things in their payment acceptance processes.

The current economy has significantly altered consumer buying behaviors and business operations. The pandemic accelerated the digital shift in payments and increased online and mobile commerce, contactless payments, curbside servicing, and third-party delivery platforms. Additionally, businesses everywhere operate in an environment of record-high inflation, low labor participation rates, and continued global supply chain issues. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 8.2 percent over the last 12 months, adding significant strain to small business cash flow.

With prices rising across the board, business owners are looking for solutions to relieve costs and boost their bottom line while still allowing them to build customer loyalty. Let’s explore ways that you can help merchants mitigate the ongoing pain points by offering solutions that help them increase authorization rates, which results in more sales and revenue.

The digital impact on authorization rates

The shift to online payments is here to stay. While essential to meet increasing consumer demand, these methods carry higher fulfillment costs for businesses, eating into profits. They also have a higher risk of fraud versus in-store, or card-present, payments. In fact, online purchase decline rates hover around 30 percent.[1]

Declining purchases from legitimate customers—referred to as “false positives”—creates a bad user experience. Shoppers who can’t complete their purchase are more likely to switch to a competitor to find similar goods and services. It isn’t easy for merchants to win consumers back for future business once they’ve had success elsewhere. Worse, these customers may tell others, which results in a negative brand reputation for the merchant.

Six simple solutions to increase transaction approvals

The good news is that small businesses can often increase approvals and reduce false declines by simply tweaking a few things in their payment acceptance processes. Many of these steps are especially effective for merchants that keep customer credit cards on file or offer recurring/subscription payment services.

  1. Submit transactions on the optimal day and time – Many consumers are on tight budgets. Timing payments with paycheck deposits helps reduce declines due to insufficient funds. Merchants charging recurring bills should let customers specify the preferred billing date that fits their financial cycles.
  2. Tokenize card data for future transactions – Checkout abandonment can happen when consumers use their phones to shop and don’t have their credit or debit card on hand. Merchants can use tokenization to securely store card details and make future payments friction-free and secure.
  3. Use automated account updater solutions – Expired cards increase declined transactions and impact cash flow. Make sure your merchants enroll in account updater services to provide uninterrupted service to customers. Account updater automatically checks the expiration dates of customers’ cards on file and updates card account details before processing.
  4. Include accurate MCC and transaction network tags – Improperly classified transactions–like e-commerce vs. recurring–result in higher decline rates. Help increase authorization rates by correctly coding a merchant’s business type and sending the correct network tag with each transaction.
  5. Prompt for ZIP/postal code and CVV – Address Verification System (AVS) and Card Verification Value (CVV) help confirm the transaction’s authenticity. AVS checks to see if the customer’s address and zip match the card’s associated billing address. CVV verifies that the customer has the physical card on hand by prompting them to key in a code stamped on the card. These simple proof points help improve authorization rates dramatically.
  6. Accept alternative payments – Digital wallets encrypt data, providing additional protection against fraudulent transactions and declines. Make sure that your merchants support alternative payment types like Apple Pay® and Google Pay® so their customers have a seamless payment experience.

Help your customers stop spending so much to get paid

Build trust and deepen relationships by providing your merchants with practical information and tools to increase authorization rates and save money. Tap into the knowledge of an experienced team of payment optimization consultants. Ready to learn more? Contact us today for additional information.



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Elavon has the people, process and technology to reduce your merchants’ total cost of accepting payments. Put our knowledge and resources to work for you.