The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is changing the way consumers make online purchases. According to an analysis by ACI Worldwide, there is a relationship between the growth of online sales and social distancing practices.
It was found that the most retail sectors saw a 74% increase in March 2020 compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, garden essentials saw a 163% increase in transaction volumes when compared to the same period last year. DIY products skyrocketed to 136%, while home products and furnishings had a 97% volume increase.
“During these unprecedented and uncertain times with millions now at home, many consumers are going online to purchase products or services,” Debbie Guerra, the executive vice president at ACI Worldwide, said.
Guerra added how the practice of quarantine led consumers into buying electronics and furniture. Some of the key reasons for these purchase behaviours included the need to support work, communication, education, and entertainment.
The study also found an increase in fraudulent activity. In March, the average value of attempted fraudulent purchases saw an increase of $36. The findings indicated a surge in online activity that targeted consumers and merchants alike. It was advised that merchants should be more aware of phishing activities that may involve stolen credentials.
“Fraudulent attempts are on the rise, and consumers must be vigilant as fraudsters are using the current situation to obtain and use their financial data and information,” Guerra said.
However, merchants were able find ways to combat these activities, contributing to a decrease in 8% on the volume of attempted fraudulent transactions. Guerra explained how the payments industry was ahead of the curve when it came to adapting methods to fight against fraud.
There are various ways that consumers can keep their personal information safe amid the surge in fraudulent activity. For instance, emails that ask for personal information should be regarded carefully, as legitimate agencies would not make such requests in the first place.
The study also advised consumers to inspect links within emails before taking any action. This is to ensure that they would not be led to an illegitimate website. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and generic greetings are other elements that could indicate phishing material.
As for merchants, they can maintain the security of their websites and ensure that customers are satisfied with faster shipping and delivery options. Merchants should also expect a rise in friendly fraud chargebacks. These involve consumers who make purchases without the approval of the credit card owner. To mitigate these chargebacks, merchants should deploy the use of intelligence tools.
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