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E-Commerce Disruption Due to Bot-Based Overload, Report Finds

06 January 2020 - 13:44 by Mike Price

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Research from IT Pro Portal and Radware has suggested that while the popularity of safe shopping online over the festive season certainly puts a strain on e-commerce sites, a lot of the issues are actually due to nefarious interference from malicious bots.

Analysts claim that up to two-thirds of visitors to the biggest online retailers during this peak period are bots, meaning that outlets are having to cope with an overload of inbound traffic, the majority of which is effectively fake.

This can lead to sluggish site performance for genuine customers, frustrating their efforts to place orders and likely costing companies sales as those who might otherwise be loyal decide to head elsewhere because the experience is not up to scratch.

The bots themselves, while automated, are able to behave with impressive sophistication, copying the kinds of behaviours that genuine customers would enact and basically acting as a means of creating shopping carts loaded with items which they then never actually order.

In some cases this kind of disruption is enacted with the intention of actively diverting shoppers from one site to a rival, although in others the aim is simply to create chaos.

Bots contribute more to the generation of web traffic than flesh and blood internet users at the moment, although this topic is relatively complex because in many cases the bots are actually providing a benefit, such as offering customer support to shoppers via instant messaging services embedded on sites.

Retailers and security firms will need to work hand in hand in order to develop a solution to this conundrum, because it seems likely that the influx of bots to e-commerce sites will only grow in the coming years, and detecting them will be harder as the programming becomes more sophisticated.