The ClearSale team is home to Christopher Vanning, who heads up sales operations. Having experienced the ecommerce industry from the inside and the client side, he has a unique perspective on what ClearSale brings to merchants, large and small, when it comes to fraud prevention and protection.
Q: How did you get to your position at ClearSale? Can you share a brief background on your experience?
Christopher: One of the things I've always been very skilled at is creativity. My left and right brain work together as opposed to one being dominant. After going to school for medical illustration, I had the opportunity to spend quite a few years with a digital agency. It allowed me to really understand and appreciate the value of digital marketing, lead acquisition and lead generation, and to get a taste for ecommerce. I’ve been following and working with ecommerce for many years. Joining ClearSale just seemed like a natural evolution.
I had a chance to connect with Rafael Lourenco before I was aware there was even an opportunity to join the ClearSale team. We started a conversation that led to me meeting David Fletcher, and I was invited to the team soon after. It’s been an incredible experience. I get to make it easier and simpler for our sales team to help more merchants realize more of their revenue.
Q: What do you appreciate about ClearSale’s company culture?
Christopher: I feel like I found my home. ClearSale’s culture is positive, collaborative, diverse, and global. Having all those elements and being able to have an impact on how our salespeople help more merchants is my focus, and I love doing it.
Q: Why do you think merchants should prioritize fraud protection for their businesses?
Christopher: I know merchants are trying to figure out how to grow in a time when many people are talking about contraction, job loss, and businesses going under. It’s important for them to know that taking risks is still possible – they just need more information to help them know which risks to take.
Done right, fraud prevention can be a revenue driver, as opposed to simply another line item in the expense column. What we do is equip them with the recommendations they need to approve more orders and generate more revenue – while improving the customer experience.
One of my big projects is to harvest our approval rates by industry, so we can clearly show merchants in black-and-white numbers, “These are the approval rates for our customers in your industry. What would that look like for your business?” That way, they know what’s possible and become much more interested in reducing their false declines.
Q: What’s the most important thing a merchant should know about fraud?
Christopher: Clients often talk about their low chargeback rates as a reason why they don’t need a fraud protection partner. But they often change their minds when we demonstrate our ability to help them approve transactions equaling – or often exceeding – their revenue KPIs. It helps for them to see how much impact we have had on other industries as well.
What I think merchants need to know about fraud is that it can silently siphon away their bottom line if they don’t have a strategy in place. Fraud prevention is really more of an augmentation to their marketing efforts than ongoing operating expenses.
Q: How have you adjusted your internal sales operations to help ClearSale serve enterprise ecommerce?
Christopher: We've always had the capabilities to help large, enterprise clients. In fact, we have numerous success stories from the last three or four years where we’ve helped larger businesses. As companies consolidate and grow, we are able to scale our services while still working one-on-one with our merchant contacts. The service levels stay the same. We’re just talking about more transactions and more channels.
Q: What trends are you seeing emerge across industries and even markets?
From an industry perspective, we’ve seen auto parts take a dive and come back strong. The fashion industry has changed in that people aren’t purchasing formal wear now that they work from home, but they are definitely taking advantage of sales opportunities online. And CBD is a big industry with tremendous growth potential for 2021.
When we look at cross-border commerce, the exponential growth of online purchasing has made it possible to buy from anywhere. This creates opportunity for businesses in bordering countries like the U.S. and Mexico or Canada, as well as countries all over the world. We know that consumers in Europe do a lot of shopping across borders, and we expect that to continue.
Our advantage at ClearSale is the fact that we work with businesses all over the world, so we have information about trends, fraud schemes, and preventative tactics that can benefit a merchant anywhere.
Q: When you aren’t protecting merchants from fraud attempts, what are your favorite hobbies?
Christopher: I spend a lot of time at the beach with my daughter, who also happens to be a very talented artist. In fact, her interest in art has reignited mine, so that’s something we share. And, because Miami has summertime all year, we take advantage of the outdoors by riding horses and bikes and just being outside.
One of the beautiful photos Chris took on vacation with his daughter
Q: What’s one thing we might not know about you?
Christopher: Apparently, I am a gif master or the “king of gifs,” according to my coworkers. I love memes and gifs but I don’t use a lot of social media other than LinkedIn. So, my colleagues receive gifs from me quite regularly. I generally have a gif ready for any response.
Chris talks about industry trends, which are significantly impacted by consumer behavior. ClearSale recently published a Consumer Behavior Analysis Study that you can download now. Learn how consumer views on fraud, false declines, and mobile shopping can help you create an even more successful ecommerce strategy.