As holiday sales approach, you’re eagerly anticipating the surge in shoppers, ensuring you have the best customer experience, both online and in-store. But none of the things you did to optimize your site or inventory matter if malicious bots get in the way. 

Based on data from previous years and the current threat landscape, 2023 is expected to bring new challenges for retailers and eCommerce providers. Here are our five predictions, based on recent years’ data, of what retailers need to watch out for ahead of the 2023 holiday season:

1. 3x Increase in Fake Accounts 

Last holiday season, we saw a 3x increase in the creation of fake accounts. Large numbers of fake accounts are created ahead of sales in order to establish accounts, giving adversaries an exponentially greater chance of getting the most in-demand products in lottery-style hype sales. While most of these mischievous actors made their move before Black Friday, they couldn’t resist striking again on Cyber Monday. 

Fake accounts can also wreak havoc by manipulating product reviews, using stolen payment information, and engaging in other forms of online trickery. Most retailers should bolster their security measures, using identity verification, fraud detection, and bot mitigation tools to ensure that their customers are genuine and their data remains safe.

Graph showing a spike in fake account creation attempts by bots around the holidays in 2022

2. Bots Take Advantage of Double-Digit Discounts 

Imagine snagging that coveted holiday gift at 70-100% off the list price. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s precisely what  “freebie bots” allow bot operators to do by using a combination of web scraping techniques and automated checkout functions. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on specific days leading up to the holidays, Freebie bots swoop in and snatch up millions of dollars worth of products at a fraction of the price. Last year, Freebie bots were used to purchase close to a million dollars of products for only $134.

Retailers need to employ sophisticated anti-bot technology to identify and thwart these bots in their tracks. Doing so can ensure that their products reach genuine customers at the intended prices.

3. 43% Spike in Scraping Attacks

Last holiday season, scraping attacks increased by 43% leading up to Black Friday. These automated scripts steal valuable data from websites, such as pricing information, customer reviews, and product availability. 

This information is valuable to Grinch bots who try to gather intel on when products will go on sale, how much inventory there is, and at what price. Pricing and inventory information is also extremely valuable to competing businesses to undercut pricing or steal pricing strategies. Retailers must invest in web scraping protection to prevent these attacks and preserve the integrity of their data and pricing strategies.

Graph of 2023 eCommerce Scraping Attacks

4. 4x Increase in Gift Card Fraud

Gift cards are a popular choice during the holiday season, making them a prime target for fraudsters. In 2021, there was a 4x increase in online gift card fraud attempts, and the trend is expected to continue. Retailers should enhance their gift card security by implementing multi-factor authentication and monitoring for suspicious activity on their gift card sales platforms.

5. Grinch Bots Beat Out Legitimate Customers, Profiting Over $30M

Last but not least, the infamous Grinch bots. These digital grinches profit by reselling popular items on auction sites at exorbitant prices. In the 2020 holiday season, they made an estimated $30 million in profits. Retailers can combat this by enforcing strict purchasing limits and implementing frictionless bot defense to deter these Grinches from profiting at their expense.

While the holiday season is a time for spreading cheer and goodwill, it’s also a season when retailers need to be extra vigilant. By addressing the threats posed by fake accounts, freebie bots, scraping, gift card fraud, and scalping, retailers can protect their profits and ensure a joyful shopping experience for their customers.

So, as we gear up for the 2023 holiday sales season, remember that the Grinches may be lurking, but with the right measures in place, they won’t steal the spirit of the season or your hard-earned profits. 

See how Kasada can protect your profits. 

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