Not-so-happy holidays: New problem projected to steal cheer from retailers
By Chemi Katz, co-founder/CEO, Namogoo
With holiday shopping in full-swing, tis the season for online retailers to capitalize on increased web traffic this time of year — online orders are flying in, packaged orders are flying out, and revenue is there to be made. Last year was surely impressive, but projected sales for 2017 are even more noteworthy, with e-commerce expected to grow 18 to 21 percent — up to a potential $114 billion.
With e-commerce skyrocketing each year, it's no wonder top brands spend so much time on ensuring an optimal customer experience for shoppers. Online retailers recognize competitors are just a click away, so the online customer journey must be smooth and seamless, delight shoppers and build brand loyalty. This realization has led to thoughtfully-deployed, dynamic features that consistently raise the bar and keep customers coming back.
Journey hijacking interrupts CX
But a new threat, known as Online Journey Hijacking, has emerged that could impact all the hard work that brands put into the customer experience. Online Journey Hijacking distracts shoppers by littering a retail site with off-brand content, such as competitive product ads and unauthorized banners that have been specifically placed to disrupt the online shopping experience and lure traffic to competitor sites.
To put this in perspective, let's say you run an online retail store that sells high-end women's boots. You're happy with the customer experience you've carefully constructed for your customers and are sure they're consistently pleased every time they browse your site. Now, imagine that every so often, a customer has an item in their cart but doesn't end up purchasing it because they're hit with an unauthorized pop-up during checkout that encourages them to buy a similar pair of boots (at a discounted price) from a different retailer. How would that impact your profitability?
Such interactions occur daily and are driven by ad injections infecting the user's browser – hijacking the customer journey. Instead of experiencing the seamless online journey the retailer spent great time and effort designing, the infected web session bombards the consumer with unwanted distractions. And while this is annoying to customers, research shows that it's an even bigger pest to deal with for brands.
In fact, a recent analysis of 500 million website sessions on e-commerce sites during a six-month period (January to June 2017) found that between 15 and 25 percent of e-commerce customers don't experience the customer journey as it was intended. Of those, between 40 and 70 percent of impacted users receive competitive product ads attempting to lure them to other sites – directly cutting into online retailers' revenues by interrupting the seamless experience customers have come to expect.
What does this mean for the holiday season?
The holiday shopping season is the busiest time of year for most retailers, meaning increased web traffic and, consequently, increased prevalence of journey hijacking. During the holidays, research shows that journey hijacking increases to impact 25 to 30 percent of all customer shopping sessions. During these infected experiences, 80 percent of displayed ads are from competing retailers looking to steal customers — and revenue.
Brands could lose a collective $2.1 billion this holiday season to journey hijacking because, quite simply, more shoppers browsing online equates to more potentially infected sessions. The holidays are typically a time to rejoice, but knowing that up to one-third of shopping sessions on a retail site are interrupted surely doesn't scream happy holidays for retailers.
Regaining total control of the customer journey
The first step to preserving the customer journey is understanding that journey hijacking exists and how it occurs so brands can take the steps necessary toward prevention. Because journey hijacking takes place off of a retailer's server, it is largely invisible to e-commerce brands. Digital malware is injected into a consumer's browser, where it runs in a layer on top of the we bpage, bypassing servers and website security.
The last thing an e-commerce retailer wants to hear is that its shoppers are being lured away during the online customer journey because, after all, the customer experience is a key differentiator in today's competitive e-commerce market. To ensure that every customer browses a site as intended by the retailer, it's important that executives recognize the impact of journey hijacking and work to regain control of the customer journey. Shoppers will thank these decision makers, but the real holiday gift is received by retailers in recovering otherwise lost revenue.