The 2021 Holiday Shopping Consumer Survey

Black Friday has gotten quite the facelift over the years. It feels like an eternity ago when some family members would forgo pie on Thanksgiving to wait in line at a big box store for the latest TV or the season’s hottest toy. I hardly remember a time when people would just wait until actual Black Friday. Humans love a good steal but unfortunately, so do bots. 

As the move to a more digital holiday shopping season continues—specifically fueled by COVID-19—malicious bots have found more opportunities to check things off their list. Their bread-and-butter strategy is snatching up the year’s hottest gifts and reselling them at a mark-up - like reselling the $500 PlayStation5 for $1100. That’s how today’s grinches steal Christmas—but how do consumers feel about that? We know it’s a problem, but does it impact buyers’ decisions when they are looking to make big purchases? We conducted an online survey of 1000 consumers aged 18+ to see what they’re thinking about going into the 2021 holiday shopping season. 

New Holiday Habits

We recently predicted that holiday shopping will begin well before Black Friday, given big retailers starting discounts earlier, like they did last year. According to our survey, 63% of consumers do their holiday shopping either on or before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With the majority of respondents getting their shopping done before December, November becomes a prime playground for sophisticated bots. Why is that? We say this a lot here at HUMAN, but fraud follows the money. If retailers start the promotion of deals early, they spend a lot in advertising and marketing to push consumers toward their products, making ad fraud a greater threat to advertisers. And if a retailer has a particularly high value and high demand product, fraudsters will want to snatch them up and resell them for a profit. Electronics top consumers’ list this year as gifts for their loved ones. Sounds like humans are hoping for a second chance at that PlayStation 5 they weren’t able to nab last year.

But with big ticket items come big problems. Fraudsters will use inventory hoarding to make a quick buck off consumers. And the majority of our respondents know this: 56% of them are aware of fraudsters cutting the line and reselling the products before humans even have a chance. Consumers are increasingly aware of the sophisticated bot issue, but they do not have the tools to fight back, at least by themselves. Sure they can change their passwords, but that won’t stop fraudsters from creating accounts en masse to swipe gifts. 

Consumers are worried about what this means for this year’s holiday season, and rightfully so. There’s nothing worse than figuring out the perfect present and not being able to get it because fraudsters snatched everything up. Two-thirds of respondents expressed concern regarding sophisticated bots interfering with their holiday shopping. 

The holidays are stressful enough without sophisticated bots getting in the middle. Now, humans are taking their dollars elsewhere because of it. More than half of respondents said they would go to a competitor retailer if sophisticated bots swiped their gifts. By not implementing solutions to mitigate fraudsters this season, e-commerce retailers could actually be losing money, customers, and loyalty—over something that is actually preventable. 

Make the Holidays Bright

Yes, you read that right. Preventable! There is a way to stop sophisticated bots from ruining your holiday retail plans and scaring customers away. HUMAN Bot Defender stops sophisticated bots from account takeover attacks and new account fraud. It uses the intelligence of 2500 signals and 350 algorithms developed over nearly a decade to detect malicious bots before they wreak havoc. BotGuard is powered by the Human Defense Platform, which verifies the humanity of 20 trillion interactions a week across the internet. With all this knowledge, our systems can make the most accurate bot-or-not decisions. 

Recently we worked with a global e-commerce company to see if their current bot management systems were working. They deployed BotDefender, and we made a huge discovery. Sophisticated bots weren’t just getting through existing solutions. There was an entire botnet targeting their customers.  This botnet was taking over customers’ accounts to purchase goods for resale. The company did not want to lose their customers’ trust and damage their reputation, so we now work directly with their Risk and Compliance team to mitigate these attacks and protect their business. 

Doom and gloom has no place over the holidays this year. That’s why HUMAN is committed to working with retailers and e-commerce companies to ensure everyone gets the gift that keeps on giving. Learn more about how to fight back against #BotFriday and bring cheer to your customers.