Final Countdown to Cyber Monday and Black Friday

Happy Anniversary Cyber Monday! Ten years sure has flown by and how times have changed. The term Cyber Monday was coined back in 2005 in a press release by the National Retail Federations online branch press release, with the intent of encouraging shoppers to try shopping online as an alternative to or extension of Black Friday. Ten years later, Cyber Monday has earned the title of biggest online shopping day of the year, though as shoppers continue to hunt deals there is significant rise in online shopping across the US holiday weekend, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing straight on until Tuesday.

Mobile in particular is helping to push this growth, with predictions that this year, mobile purchases will be 25% of the total online sales. Mobile traffic to all websites was 41% in 2014, up from 30% in 2013. And mobile is expected to grow again, due in part to better websites for more e-commerce and retail companies but also more tablets and phones with larger screens making the shopping experience easier and more accessible than ever.

This year will be no exception, as analysts predict growth for the holiday shopping bonanza, but e-commerce will grow faster, expected to rise up to 13.9%, while retail shopping is expected to grow a still respectable 5.6% over last year. While Black Friday and its sister Cyber Monday are stems from a US holiday, the global nature of the web has seen a rising demand for similar sales across the globe. The UK has embraced both days, and last year took in over £1.5 billion combined and 330 million visits to retail sites (and in some cases, bringing them offline).

Instead of a granular shopping experience, where shoppers hit brick and mortar stores on Black Friday and save their e-shopping until Cyber Monday, they are increasingly doing their online shopping across a range of days, including Thanksgiving. Some retailers take a direct hand in this, extending sale dates like Amazon and its strongly promoted Black Friday Week sales, while Bounceback Tuesday is showing stronger than average sales for other retailers like sporting goods stores. More than extended sales are luring customers out of traditional shopping days. PayPal noted increases of mobile payments across all three days – not just on Cyber Monday but shopping on Thanksgiving while off of work and price checking while in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday.

It’s not just the shopping holiday everyone’s been waiting for – it’s also a cybercriminal Christmas, with fraudsters having laid their plans months in advance seeding sleeper accounts to bypass age-checks on new accounts, have their stolen credit cards ready to cycle through on websites as they attempt large purchases, and have personally identifiable information culled from the web and ready to use in either account takeovers or fraudulent account creation. Fraudsters make up a tiny fraction of the overall number of users on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they can and still will do a lot of damage.

Legitimate cardholders are sometimes turned away by tough, rule-based security measures, reducing customer satisfaction and sometimes driving the customer away. But during spike shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers will lower their threshold for declines. Fraud costs retailers $9 billion every year but false positives cause over $180 billion in losses. With greater competition in the retail sector than ever before, retailers are understandably loathe to turn away customers when the holiday stakes are so high.

There shouldn’t have to be a tradeoff between security and sales, and it doesn’t have to be any longer. Higher accuracy and fewer false positives are possible with existing technologies: passive biometrics and behavioral analytics. Mobile shopping in particular needs new methods of authentication, one that’s fast and secure and doesn’t interrupt the shopping experience with insulting two factor authentication or easily-stolen knowledge based authentications. In fact, instead of looking at fraud as a cost center, by implementing passive biometrics and behavioral analytics as your fraud solution, especially for the mobile experience, you can focus on the good customers, removing friction and eliminating false positives – turning it into a revenue center.

If you can know your customer is in fact good customer, if it’s no longer a guess but a sure thing, you’ve eliminated the risk in making a judgment call. Especially as Cyber Monday transitions from being the day to one of several days of shopping and sales – lowering your threshold for only one day does nothing to help you when shoppers come on Black Friday or even Thanksgiving. Make the customer’s job as easy as possible by relying on passive biometrics and behavioral analytics while making the fraudster’s job tougher than ever.