Your Ecommerce Website Is Getting A Lot of Traffic, But Less Sales?From the immense web traffic data that we have collected at InfiSecure from our ecommerce customers, we have found that over 70% of an ecommerce website's traffic is comprised by bots. This non-human traffic even goes over 80% on a sale season. That's alarmingly high. It takes years to build an ecommerce brand and truly embrace the digital medium. However, the digital ecosystem has changed a lot over the years and ecommerce websites are now forced to fight a losing battle with business destructive bots that have the ability to replicate human behavior on your ecommerce website to engage in fraudulent activities.
Today, we are in a bot age where even all large companies are in the bot game. Facebook launched a bunch of new bots, Google has a home device with a bot built in, and Microsoft is in the bot game, too.
Let's Understand Online BotsThere are two kinds of traffic on any ecommerce website. One is generated by humans - it has a direct and positive impact on the sales of an ecommerce store. The other kind is automated traffic or bot traffic which is good and bad for business. This is automated software programs designed to replicate human actions such as scraping content and pricing information, scraping product catalogue or user data from the ecommerce website. Bots are even used to click on ads, increasing likes on Facebook, following your brand on Twitter, filling up leads on a website, etc.
The Good and Bad BotsWhen you submit your ecommerce website to Google Webmaster or Yahoo Webmaster for SEO, you are inviting crawlers to your store to index your site. This is a good bot. They have a positive impact on the online sales but in an indirect manner.
An example of good bots are Google's web crawling bots known as "Googlebots" and "spiders". Their main focus is SEO, as they look to discover additional websites to add to Google's index. The name "spiders" indicates how they function - they use algorithms to determine which sites and how many pages to crawl over and retrieve. From there, Googlebots reward sites with good SEO practices and penalize sites with bad techniques.
On the other hand, there are malign bots which comes to your ecommerce website as part of bot fraud. They scrape pricing information to gain competitive advantage, product catalogue and user data theft from the website. Bad bots also engage heavily in ad fraud. In 2016, it is estimated that $7.2bn was lost due to ad fraud by advertisers.
There are many ways in which bots can have a negative impact on the online sales of an ecommerce website.
- Price scraping
- Price scraping is done by competitors to extract product prices in real-time for price competitiveness (price war). Competitors run automated scripts to extract the product prices from the website under consideration, and update their pricing strategy in real-time to outbid emerging e-commerce websites from selling at competitive prices.
- Slowing down site speeds
- Brands often face the dilemma of the website not loading properly. This creates a really bad customer experience leading to drop in customer purchase process. This is done by spammers and competitors to overload a site with fraudulent, illegitimate traffic, which can ultimately slow down loading time of website and directly hit one's business.
- Click Fraud
- Rapidly scaling e-commerce businesses spend a significant amount on Google Ads, which drives traffic to their website and results in more conversions. Automated scripts and manual click fraud techniques are used to generate fake clicks that exhaust the click budget. A large amount of advertising money is lost due to this, which in turn impacts the efficiency of the marketing campaigns.
- Product catalogue and user data scraping
- E-commerce websites are at the risk of bots scraping through all the data available on the site and replicating the site. This will have an adverse impact in terms of pricing and inventory strategies.
- Security breaches or information theft
- Websites that have customer information are at risk; bots can skim the data including credit card information, if available. This may also lead to spamming of the brand's own customers.
- Skewed Analytics
- When we look at the KPI of traffic, it always gives a rosy picture. Unfortunately, we aren't able to make sense of this data as analytics doesn't segregate humans versus bots.
The first step to reducing bots is acknowledging the existence of bots and knowing how much traffic is human and how much is generated by bots. Until that happens, brands will not be able to fight this menace.