Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Optimizing Your Payment Gateway for Traffic Surges

As the dust settled on the holiday sales of 2022, the numbers spoke volumes.

In 2022, Black Friday was record-breaking, with shoppers spending over $9 billion online —more than they did on Thanksgiving and Veterans Day combined. And when Cyber Monday rolled around, online sales were even higher at $11.3 billion. 

These two days are the heavyweights of holiday shopping.

If you’re running an online store, these numbers are a wake-up call. Your website's checkout process has to work perfectly. Your payment gateway has got to be ready for a flood of shoppers all trying to check out at once.

Imagine a shopper's frustration when their payment doesn't go through after they've spent time hunting for deals. Many won't wait. They'll go elsewhere. Every failed transaction is a missed opportunity.

In this guide, we'll look at how you can get your payment gateway into shape for these shopping days.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Trends

Every year, more people are skipping the lines at stores and turning to their screens to catch holiday deals. Last year, during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday—or Cyber Week—people globally spent $281 billion online. That's a little more than the year before. 

In the United States alone, the jump was even bigger, with shoppers spending $68 billion, 9% more than the previous year.

On Black Friday itself, online sales went up by 3.5% globally, reaching $65.3 billion.

And throughout the holiday season, shoppers worldwide spent $1.14 trillion online. In the U.S., that number was $270 billion.

These figures signal a clear and sustained shift in consumer habits. The number of people shopping online is growing, and they're spending more money.


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The Role a Good Payment Gateway Plays During Peak Traffic

During peak shopping days, when the volume of e-commerce transactions hits the roof, the last thing you want is your payment process to be the bottleneck that slows everything down.

The role of a good payment gateway during these periods is to be an enabler that keeps the checkout process moving swiftly and securely.

A well-functioning payment gateway ensures:

  • Speed: Customers expect quick transactions. A slow gateway will lead to abandoned carts and lost sales.
  • Reliability: It must operate consistently under heavy loads, avoiding crashes or timeouts.
  • Security: With increased transactions, there’s a higher risk of fraud. A secure gateway protects sensitive financial data.
  • Scalability: It should grow with your traffic, handling more transactions as your business expands.
  • Integration: The gateway must work seamlessly with other systems like shopping carts and accounting software.

In addition, the role of a payment gateway extends to after-sales as well. It should provide:

  • Analytics: To track sales performance and customer behavior.
  • Support: To help resolve any issues that customers might face during payment.
  • Updates: Regular updates to keep up with the latest payment technologies and compliance requirements.

Now, considering these critical roles, let's talk about (iCG Pay) as an example. As a payment processing platform, iCG Pay is a solution that ticks all these boxes.

Our platform is engineered to handle secure payments and spikes in e-commerce transactions, ensuring that you capitalize on every sale opportunity without a glitch.

Challenges Faced by Payment Gateways During Sales Surges

During peak sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, payment gateways are put to the test. 

They face a series of challenges that, if not handled properly, disrupt the payment processing flow and lead to bad customer experience. 

Let’s explore some of these challenges in detail.

  • Gateway Downtime: Downtime is perhaps the most critical issue. It’s when the gateway becomes completely unavailable. This can be caused by overwhelmed servers, cyber-attacks, or even routine maintenance gone wrong. When downtime occurs, sales halt, and the business’s reputation is hit.
  • High Transaction Volume: With millions of shoppers looking for deals, the transaction volume skyrockets. The infrastructure of a payment gateway must be robust enough to handle this surge. If not, payment processing slows down, leading to longer wait times for confirmations. Customers may wonder if their payment went through and attempt to place the order again, potentially leading to duplicate transactions or overloads.
  • Processing Delays: Each payment must go through various checks and balances before being fully processed. During sales surges, the number of these checks causes bottlenecks. Delays frustrate customers accustomed to the near-instantaneous processing they experience during non-peak times.
  • Security Threats: With the increase in transaction volume comes an increased risk of security breaches. Payment gateways must process payments efficiently and maintain and bolster security measures to protect sensitive data.
  • Scaling Issues: Many gateways are not automatically scaled to handle unexpected spikes in traffic. This lack of scalability results in failed transactions and a negative shopping experience. Planning for scale is often a balancing act between predicted traffic and cost considerations.
  • Customer Service Strain: When issues arise, customer service teams can be overwhelmed with inquiries and complaints. A gateway experiencing delays or downtime causes a ripple effect, straining resources and potentially tarnishing the business's image.

You should always prepare for these issues by checking that your payment gateway can handle lots of customers at once, that it's secure, and by having a good plan for when things get too busy.

Why You Should Integrate Mobile Payments on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

One way to ensure that your business thrives during the holiday rush is to focus on optimizing mobile payments.

During Cyber Week in 2022, 76% of ecommerce traffic came through mobile devices. Also, smartphone purchases accounted for over half of all e-commerce sales during the 2022 holiday season.

This surge in mobile shopping is further fueled by social media, which has become a powerful shopping ally. Social platforms referred nearly 10% of traffic to online stores—a 22% increase year over year—marking the highest referral rate ever recorded during the holidays.

With most shoppers using their phones to shop, the ease of mobile transactions can make or break a sale. Shoppers expect a seamless experience from browsing to buying, and any hiccup in the mobile payment process will send them straight to the competition.

For example, integrating a mobile payment solution like iCG Pay can be a game-changer for businesses looking to improve their mobile sales. 

iCG Pay is designed to deliver a smooth and secure checkout experience tailored for the mobile user. By simplifying the payment process, it minimizes the chances of shopping cart abandonment and maximizes the potential for completed transactions.

With iCG Pay, you can offer various mobile-friendly payment options, from credit cards to ACH, ensuring that customers can pay how they want without leaving the page.

Also, iCG Pay's robust security features mean that your customers can confidently shop, knowing their payment information is safe.


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Checklist: Preparing Your Payment Gateway for the Holiday Rush

As the holiday season approaches, it’s crucial to ensure your payment gateway is ready to handle the influx of shoppers.

Here’s a straightforward optimization checklist to help you prepare for the holiday sales and manage the increased traffic:

Checklist Item

Action Steps for Business Owners


Verify Payment Processor Capabilities

  • Confirm with your payment processor that they handle high transaction volumes.
  • Ask about their uptime guarantees during peak traffic.

Choose a processor like iCG Pay, which is known for reliability during high traffic.

Ensure Compliance and Security

  • Check that your payment processor is PCI DSS compliant.
  • Inquire about encryption and fraud protection measures.

Security is non-negotiable. Ensure your processor has strong measures in place.

Simplify the Checkout Experience

  • Review your checkout process for simplicity.
  • Ask for customer feedback on the checkout experience and make improvements.

A smooth checkout process reduces cart abandonment rates.

Confirm Mobile Optimization

  • Navigate your mobile site as a customer.
  • Request mobile optimization features from your payment processor.

Many users shop on their phones.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

  • Discuss offering various payment methods with your payment processor.
  • Ensure popular methods like mobile payments, ACH processing, credit card processing, and SMS payments are included.

Providing customers with options leads to higher conversion rates.

Monitor Transactions and Performance

  • Review performance reports regularly during the sale period.

For example, with iCG Pay, you can view settled check batches in real time, so there’s no delay when monitoring your cash flow.

Partner with iCG Pay

As we have seen from the numbers, a robust and reliable payment gateway is the heart that keeps the sales blood pumping — from handling a surge in transactions to securing sensitive customer data and ensuring that every shopper's experience is smooth and hassle-free.

Now that we've outlined the key strategies and considerations for getting your payment processing up to speed for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's time to take action. 

At iCG Pay, we offer tailored e-commerce solutions to optimize for traffic surges.

  • High Transaction Volume Management: With iCG Pay, you can handle the wave of transactions. We have a scalable infrastructure designed for peak performance.
  • Advanced Security Protocols: iCG Pay ensures your customer's data is protected with industry-leading security measures. We are a Nacha preferred partner for ACH solutions.
  • Seamless Mobile Payment Integration: As most shoppers transition to mobile, iCG Pay provides a smooth mobile payment experience that keeps pace with consumer behavior.
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention: Our sophisticated fraud detection tools work tirelessly to protect each transaction, reducing your PCI scope and giving you and your customers peace of mind.
  • Omnichannel Payment Solutions: Cater to all your customers no matter where they shop from with our unified payment solutions across all platforms.
  • 24/7 Customer Support: We stand by you throughout the holiday rush with round-the-clock customer support to swiftly tackle any issues.

With iCG Pay, lift the spirits of your holiday sales and let every click lead to a successful transaction. Don't let payment gateway woes dim another Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Schedule a 30-minute discovery call to learn more about iCG Pay.


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We help businesses accept and process payments with our suite of next-gen customizable fintech solutions. Our automated technologies help you carry out ACH and credit card transactions on a single easy-to-use platform.