eCommerce Fraud Protection & Battling Bad Bots
To say that 2020 was an interesting year for e-commerce is an understatement. COVID-19 drove consumers indoors, meaning that the vast majority of purchases in 2020 were made online. eCommerce businesses can usually expect this kind of traffic during annual holiday seasons, but contending with it for an entire year has forced businesses across industries to change the way they interact with their consumers, especially through online mediums.
Impressive site numbers and sales aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, though. Bots have been making the rounds online for years now. As of 2017, it was believed that bots accounted for 40% of online traffic. These bots do more than just artificially wrack up your business’s quarterly numbers. If put to use by hackers or similar parties, bots can compromise your inventory, endanger your sales, and put your credit line at risk.
But battling bad bots during a year-round digital holiday season isn’t as difficult as it seems. If you have the right tools on hand, it’s simpler than you might think to mitigate the damage bots can do to your platform. All you need to do is figure out where to start – and that’s where a platform like Direct Payment Group comes in.
Year-Round Holiday Shopping: The Impact on Your Platform
Once upon a time, it was easier to predict when consumers would rush an eCommerce business. The winter holidays always saw an increase in shopping, with jumps in traffic starting on Black Friday. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day tend to have similar impacts on business’s digital traffic.
The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t trigger the year-round holiday rush for eCommerce goods. However, it did force that already-rising trend to grow exponentially. With people unable to leave their homes and browse brick-and-mortar shops, they had no choice but to make gift-based purchases online. This need combined with the sudden influx of free time that many consumers abruptly faced saw eCommerce businesses’ traffic jump in ways no one could have anticipated.
Now, eCommerce businesses are faced with a decision. Even as the pandemic winds down in some parts of the world, shoppers have come to rely on the digital services that let them bring unique items home. Not only are these consumers out in force, but bots acting like them are, too. If you want your business to thrive in this changing environment, you need to prepare for the threat that infringing bots can have not only on consumer purchases but on your reputation and site functionality, as well.
Did you know?
eCommerce sales are projected to increase from $4.9 trillion in 2021 to $6.4 trillion by 2024, with sales on mobile devices accounting for $3.79 trillion.
The Impact Bots Have on Your Platform
Bots disrupt the functionality of your eCommerce platform through a variety of means. You’ll need to be prepared to face these attacks head-on if you want to keep your sales flowing. With that in mind, you’ll want protective tools that help you get ahead of:
Credit Card Fraud
Your payment processor is the bread and butter of your eCommerce platform. Without it, it’s impossible to make a profit on the goods and services you want to sell. Unfortunately, using a payment processor online can be a dangerous endeavor, especially if you don’t have the right protective measures in place. Bots will eagerly take advantage of an exposed payment processor, using it to steal consumers’ credit card information. Even if a bot doesn’t get all of a consumer’s information, it can still supplement those blanks for random dates and CVVs until it gets the result its creator wants – unfettered access to a consumer’s credit line.
The good news, of course, is that your consumers may have checks and balances in place with their banks to ensure bots don’t make any fraudulent purchases with their information. If you get a reputation, though, for putting your consumers’ information at risk, then you’re going to lose a hefty portion of your audience – and subsequently, your sales.
Denial of Service
If bots can’t get to your consumers’ credit line, they can opt for the core of your website instead. It’s impossible, after all, for your business to make any sales if your site is inaccessible. A hacker can direct bots to make thousands of requests on your site per second. The more requests these bots make, the harder your servers are going to have to work to ensure that actual consumers can make it onto your site. Before long, your platform can crash.
Even if your platform stays up and running, slow download times can drive off sales. What’s worse, you’ll be helpless in the face of what seems like a sudden influx of consumers unless you have the tools to determine which are bots and which are real people.
Denial of Inventory
Cart abandonment is a big problem for most e-commerce businesses. What’s worse, it’s becoming especially common. Many consumers are using their carts to store items they want to purchase in the future. Many online carts also allow consumers to compare potential purchases. While all of these means are convenient, they’re a plague on your platform, as you can never be entirely sure how much inventory you’re going to be able to offer to other potential consumers.
Bots complicate matters even further. If you’ve got goods that are going fast, the last thing you want is for bots to clog up your site by holding your inventory in their carts.
Promotional Credit Exploitation
Bots don’t need your platform’s promotional credits. That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t take advantage of them. If you opt to run a sale that’s constricted by time or web traffic, then bots can run your platform promotion to the bone before actual consumers get the chance. As a result, you lose sales, not to mention the opportunity to boost your platform’s reputation. Your conversion ratio between visitors and sales may also start to tank, which spells bad things for your standing on SERPs.
Consumer Account Violations
Website traffic is usually a good thing. If you’ve got folks logging into their accounts on a regular basis, that means you have a steady stream of eyes on the products that you want to sell. Unfortunately, bots inflate these numbers significantly. What’s more, if they’re getting into consumer accounts, then they’re putting the reputation of your business at risk.
Bots that get into consumers’ accounts can steal their gift card balances, compromise their payment information, and make your platform seem less safe for future transactions. The one-two punch of angry consumers and lost sales leaves your e-commerce business in a bad way.
What’s more irritating than losing consumer sales? Facing eCommerce account freezes. Bots have the potential to lock consumers out of the accounts they’ve made on your platform. This limits the sales a consumer can take advantage of while also putting their personal information at risk.
That’s not all, though. The good news is that it’s a little more difficult for bots to get administrator access to a platform than it is for them to hack consumer accounts. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you don’t have the right security measures in place, bots can freeze you out of your eCommerce platform and commit fraud using your credit line. By the time you get your platform back, you’ll have to build both your line and consumers’ trust back from the ground up, putting you way behind your business’s preferred growth schedule.
The Forces Behind Bad Bots
Bots don’t mindlessly attack eCommerce platforms. Someone has to code them. The person behind bad bots varies, but some of the folks most commonly to blame include:
- Hackers – Black hat hackers can do a lot with the information bad bots bring home to them. These parties can use your consumers’ information to bolster their own funds or even hold your platform for ransom.
- Competitors – If you have particularly nasty competitors, you’ll want to keep a wary eye out for site-crashing bot attacks. Not only can your competitors drive consumers away from your platform, but they can also scrape your content to raise their standing on SERPs. Combine this with some minor, bot-based fiddling with your conversation ratio, and you can see your standing in the eyes of SEO bots drop like a rock.
- Resellers – If you’re selling a limited stock of goods, then resellers may be a plague on your house. These bots sweep out your inventory before real consumers get a chance to. While you may still get paid for your sold inventory, your reputation among real consumers is likely to take a hit. Similarly, you’ll see some of your profits lost when the items you sold re-emerge on the market at a lower – or inflated – value.
Determining who’s behind a bot attack against your platform is helpful for a few reasons. If you wish to pursue legal action, it’s a good idea to know who it is you’re fighting against. More importantly, though, knowing who’s moved against your platform lets you determine how best to protect your business in the future. Your competitors, for example, may not all be willing to stoop to the use of bots to get ahead of your business. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t make a point to beef up your server protection after you’ve brought your site back online.
Protecting Your eCommerce Business from Fraud
Knowing what kind of bots might come for your platform is one thing. Stopping them is another. Platforms like Direct Payment Group can equip you with the tools you need to limit bot interactions with your platform. There are additional steps you can take to ensure that traffic on and consumer interaction with your site is as genuine as possible. These include:
Encouraging In-Person Pickups
If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, encourage your consumers to come and retrieve their purchases themselves. While this may not always be the most convenient course of action, especially considering the tail ends of the COVID-19 pandemic, it helps you ensure that your consumers are people instead of bots.
Customer Verification & Registration
One of the simplest ways to prevent bots from taking advantage of your platform is to protect the checkout page by encouraging platform registration amongst consumers. Craft a pop-up that requires consumers to input their email address into your register before they complete a purchase, and you can not only limit cart-stuffing but also better draw consumers in further down the marketing funnel.
Online CAPTCHA integration has vastly improved over the past decade. While some of the more sophisticated bots can keep up with the CAPTCHAs of old, newer versions have proven to serve as perfect barriers against bot invasions. Pair an effective CAPTCHA with customer verification services – account requests, Google sign-ins, and more – and you should see a higher traffic-to-purchase conversion rate than you would if bots had more access to your platform.
Blocking Bad Bots in Advance
One of the best things about the Internet is the sheer accessibility of information. Your fellow eCommerce businesses have experience contending with bad bots. As such, they know what platforms and proxy servers to watch out for. You can get ahead of a bad bot attack, as such, by blocking the parties that your peers already know may hurt your business.
In a similar vein, you can get ahead of data-mining browsers. Integrate browser-specific CAPTCHA puzzles to trigger on your platform when consumers use browsers like Chrome and Firefox. This way, you can control what kind of data the bots affiliated with each platform can take away from your site. What’s more, you can get ahead of the bots that try and claim affiliation with different browsers.
What DPG Can Do For You
Bots are more than just inconveniences online. Let them go unchecked on your eCommerce platform, and you may find yourself dealing with quantifiable credit losses. To help protect your platform, take advantage of the tools available through Direct Payment Group.
Direct Payment Group lets you block bad bots before they cause problems for your platform. It will also be easier to encourage clients to create accounts on your site or to verify their purchases before you complete a sale. All of these tools ensure that your business stays in the black and that your transactions are as secure as possible. Click on the button below to get in touch a DPG security expert today.