Webinar Recap: How Forever 21 is Prepping for the Holidays

As the holiday eCommerce season approaches, Ekata is talking with retailers about how they’re handling their fraud prevention strategy. Last week, we spoke with Manuel Hurtado, Manager of Fraud Prevention and Chargebacks at Forever 21, to learn how his team is prepping for the holiday season. Watch the webinar replay here!

In his 12 years with Forever 21, Manuel Hurtado has seen the company grow from five call center employees to an international organization with offices throughout North America and Europe. Now, in his second year as the company’s Manager of Fraud Prevention and Chargebacks, Manuel is busy implementing lessons he learned from last year’s holiday season.

Manuel’s philosophy is that it’s never too early to get started on holiday prep. As soon as last year’s rush was over, Manuel was already crunching the data and taking steps to shore up Forever 21’s strategy for the next season.

He shared his insights into understanding your organization’s specific fraud trends, the tools and insight he uses to streamline his team’s manual review process, and his best holiday advice to retailers.

Getting insight into fraud trends

Before he can build and optimize rules to streamline the review process, Manuel first forecasts his manual review needs by taking into account the company’s eCommerce forecast and industry fraud trends.

He uses historical company data to help him identify fraud trends that are specific to Forever 21—including digital goods (such as electronic gift cards) and physical goods that fraudsters tend to go after. One way he organizes is to classify different trends based on transaction type, which allows him to build highly targeted rules. For example, Manuel’s team has noticed that fraud committed using a Forever 21 branded credit card tends to have different patterns than other credit card fraud.

Manuel also collaborates with other departments within Forever 21, such as the contact center and distribution center. These year-round partnerships let the different teams share insights about the types of fraud they’re seeing. For example, the packers in the distribution center may notice trends in customer name and address formulas, while employees in the call center might notice over-the-phone fraud trends. This insight helps them create new, more robust rules to manage fraud.

Tools to identify and automate review

Manuel’s key to a manageable manual review queue is using tools to automate and streamline the process.

The Forever 21 team relies on their CRM to get insight into individual order history and to identify high-risk traits, such as purchase velocity, high-risk regions, dollar values of orders. Each of these signals are using data specific to Forever 21—and, in some cases, specific to individual brands the company sells. For example, an order from their makeup brand may have a lower average order value than one from their clothing line.

Manuel is also adding a new tool to his fraud team’s arsenal this year: identity data.

During the 2017 holiday season the fraud team spent a lot of time on Google searches and social media in order to verify identities. It wasn’t as efficient as they wanted to be, which is why this year they’re adding Ekata into the process. Now, with all the information is available on one screen, their manual review times have gone down substantially in preparation for 2018’s holiday season.

Maintaining a dynamic fraud strategy

Above all, Manuel recommends that other retailers not treat their fraud strategy as a “set it and forget it” strategy. He keeps Forever 21’s strategy updated by regularly monitoring data and partnering with other internal business teams to understand the full scope of what fraud the company is seeing.

For Manuel, a big part of Forever 21’s competitive edge against fraud is its staff. He is always transparent with his team, helping them understand what he’s seeing across the industry, and meeting with them regularly to bounce ideas off of them and solicit their own ideas. They’re the people who are fighting fraud day in and day out, he says, which means they can bring key insight to the table.

Part of creating a fantastic fraud team is understanding how to measure individual success and hold team members accountable. He uses key metrics like chargeback ratios and approval rates to help measure success.

Preparing your organization for the holiday season

Manuel digs deeper into all these topics, as well as providing plenty more food for thought to help you in your 2018 holiday prep. Plus, at the end of the webinar, we also had a great number of questions from our audience—including getting into the specifics of how Manuel deals with account takeovers, shipping address changes, gift card fraud, and other forms of fraud.

Watch the webinar here, and get a head start on your holiday fraud preparations today.

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