With the approach of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ─ the two busiest shopping days of the year ─ e-commerce, travel, and other industries are gearing up to announce attractive deals to lure consumers. On Cyber Monday 2018 in the United States, online retailers rang up $7.9 billion in sales, making it the biggest online shopping day ever recorded. As consumers increasingly take to online shopping and travel bookings, we will almost certainly see a further uptick in sales during the 2019 holiday season.
Positive sales forecasts are always good news, but then again, online sellers can also expect an increase in problems caused by bad bots that intensify in volume every year. One of the most damaging bot attacks is when they engage in what’s known as ‘denial of inventory’, also known as ‘cart abandonment’ or ‘phantom carts’. Essentially, it’s what happens when bots are programmed to add many items to shopping carts, only to abandon them later.
In 2018, the worldwide Cart Abandonment Rate (CAR) was estimated to average 79.17% across industries, though it was particularly acute for airlines (recording nearly 88% CAR), followed by travel sites at 81.3%, financial sites at close to 78%, and retail and fashion sites coming in at 74.5% CAR.
In 2019, analysts estimate that the global e-commerce shopping CAR stands at nearly 70% ─ meaning that just about three in ten shopping carts were actually being filled by real buyers (who also abandon carts in large numbers for various reasons.)
The graph below shows the proportion of Bot Hits to Total Hits on the shopping cart page at one of our e-commerce customers during November 2018, shortly before and after implementing ShieldSquare. The impact of bots on their cart pages was totally eliminated before Black Friday 2018. Along with other types of bot attacks, this large fashion retailer was experiencing a high volume of cart abandonment and denial of inventory attacks by bots, which made up roughly 10% of all traffic on their shopping cart page. While the bot percentage may seem low compared to overall traffic, it’s worth noting that even a small number of bots can put large quantities of products into shopping carts and severely impact overall sales and customers’ access to desired products.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact that cart abandonment has on targeted businesses:
How e-commerce portals can prevent cart abandonment
Start preparations well in advance of the peak shopping season. Closely monitor any unusual spikes in traffic, and ensure you have a dedicated team that analyzes and monitor key metrics in real-time and raises a red flag when suspicious activities are spotted. We have seen that in-house solutions are ineffective, which is why e-commerce sites are growingly adopting dedicated bot management solutions that can provide real-time protection for web and mobile apps against increasingly sophisticated and damaging bot attacks. Leading solutions can look beyond behavioral anomalies and identify the intent behind attacks, and can easily integrate with your existing WAF/ CDN infrastructure to augment your overall web and app security. With all the investments in time, effort, and capital you’ve put into your business, shouldn’t you be celebrating a successful holiday season instead of being bamboozled by bots?