What Is Cart Abandonment?

Cart abandonment happens when bots are used by competitors and fraudsters to add items to shopping carts on e-commerce sites, but instead of buying them, are left unpurchased. Cart abandonment is also called ‘Denial of Inventory’ (OAT-021 ─ ‘Deplete goods or services stock without ever completing the purchase or committing to the transaction’) by the OWASP Automated Threats to Web Applications Project and ranks among the most serious bot threats to e-commerce websites and applications.

Not just e-commerce sites, online travel agencies are also affected by when bots are used to book flights, hotel rooms, package tours, and so on. Any type of business that sells products and services online can be affected by such attacks in which items are added to carts but never actually bought.

Cart abandonment by bots makes buyers think that products are sold out and unavailable, and often makes buyers go to other e-commerce sites to purchase products they need. This is why most e-commerce websites put a time limit on how long items can be placed into virtual shopping carts, after which they are returned to general inventory for others to buy. However, bad bots are designed to revisit a website many times to repeat their cart abandonment activities, which end up preventing real shoppers from buying those products or services.

Impact of Online Shopping Cart Abandonment By Bots

Analysts have estimated that in 2021, the global e-commerce cart abandonment rate (CAR) was 70%, implying that just about three in ten shopping carts were actually being filled by real buyers. Apart from revenue losses due to genuine buyers not being able to make purchases, cart abandonment also leads to skewed analytics and waste of marketing budgets. The sheer volume of extraneous bot traffic on e-commerce sites results in overall traffic numbers being highly skewed, a factor that prevents marketers and webmasters from being able to accurately track actual human visitors and strategize how to best convert real shoppers.

6 Ways Cart Abandonment Effects E-commerce

  1. Negative user experience: Bots on e-commerce sites strain servers and related infrastructure, making the site slow to load. Frustrated shoppers may bounce from the affected site and shop elsewhere

  2. Product unavailability: During sales and discounts, bots place items in carts before most real consumers can buy them. The artificial reduction in inventory renders those items unavailable for real buyers, who may end up shopping at a competitors’ site.

  3. Reduction in conversion rates: High cart abandonment rates may cause businesses to question their pricing and marketing strategies and may lead them to make greater investments of capital and effort to bolster what appears to be a very low conversion rate.

  4. Loss of revenue: Real buyers are generally unable to buy goods as long as bots continue to load up shopping carts. This causes a skew in the conversion rate versus the cost of acquiring customers through various promotions.

  5. Reduction in Ad CTR: Bots that visit retail sites and load up shopping carts also create cookie trails which mislead advertisers and ad networks into showing targeted ads that real humans will never see. These fake leads are a complete waste of funds

  6. Skewed analytics: Bot traffic heavily skews website metrics, making it a challenge for marketers to figure out the real traffic statistics. Skewed data also distorts KPIs and the performance of campaigns, leading to inaccurate forecasts and suboptimal market strategies.

How to Prevent Cart Abandonment

Webmasters and marketers should keep an eye on any unusual traffic spikes, and frequently monitor key metrics to detect anomalous shopper behavior. E-commerce sites usually discover that in-house bot mitigation solutions are not effective, and then choose to implement specialized bot management solutions to ensure real-time protection against cart abandonment and other bot threats for their websites and mobile apps against sophisticated and harmful bot attacks. Leading solutions monitor the behavior of all visitors to detect behavioral anomalies and identify bots and the intent behind their visit, which can prevent cart abandonment along with several other negative impacts from bot traffic.

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