“I would say Riskified changed our lives.”
Eileen Shulock, VP eCommerce at Kirna Zabête
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In this Age of the Customer, delivering a frictionless experience is sine qua non for viability. The balance of power has shifted from seller to buyer: with unlimited access to information, the proliferation of distribution channels, and the abundance of choices right at their fingertips, modern consumers have never been so influential on how business gets done.

The annual spending power of millennials—closely followed by the nascent Gen Z—amounts to a staggering $200 billion. By next year, these digitally adept generations will make up two thirds of the global population, disrupting market fundamentals. Customer-centricity is here to stay, and companies unable to provide frictionless value to their customers aren’t. This blog post examines how online businesses can stay ahead and find the best strategies to win over these new types of consumers.

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If you’re reading this from anywhere within the EU, then you’ve probably heard about the updated Payment Services Directive (aka – PSD2).  PSD2 is going to change how European customers, merchants and banks interact. We’ll have much more to say about it in the future, but, for now, we want to turn the conversation to what isn’t being discussed.

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By now, we’re all familiar with the promise of eCommerce and mCommerce. Today’s busy, multi-tasking, on-the-go consumer can make all kinds of purchases while walking the dog, sitting in a boring meeting, or (gasp!) driving a car. But, despite that promise, global shopping patterns haven’t quite caught up. In fact, the digital retail economy is still very much in its early adoption phase.

According to a recent Javelin study, only 11% of retail purchases in the US were made online last year. Elsewhere, eCommerce sales rates in major economies around the globe range from significantly higher (China, 23%) to much lower (India, 2.2%), with none of them pointing to the overwhelming digital adoption we might expect.

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At Riskified, our work centers on relationships with merchants. Our favorite conversations are the ones about how we can help them approve more orders, operate more efficiently, and fend off the threats of fraud and false declines. In order to gain some new insights for 2019, we recently turned our attention to US consumers. We wanted to understand what makes them shop and what makes them stop in their tracks.

In December of 2018, we completed a survey of 5,000 individuals, 18 years and older, across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. We asked over 30 questions, covering everything from how online purchases are made and on what devices, to consumer experiences with fraud and declines, as well as cart abandonment and merchant loyalty. We then analyzed the results across age, gender, and household income brackets. The results had some real surprises.

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In a world where nearly anything can be bought with a click, the best way for businesses to differentiate themselves is making the shopping experience as smooth and easy as possible. It’s why retailers offer omni-channel fulfillment and try to minimize friction. A fraud solution that instantly approves good orders and reduces false declines can also greatly contribute to a positive customer experience. But even the most accurate fraud-detection systems aren’t correct 100% of the time, and sometimes good shoppers’ purchases are declined.

Which makes it important that retailers pay attention to how they handle those declined orders. For some shoppers, what happens next is an important step in having a truly excellent customer experience. Legitimate customers incorrectly turned away may be brought back into the fold with careful messaging and flexible fraud solutions. Perhaps just as importantly, handling things well may limit word-of-mouth damage to brand reputation and reduce the amount of angry complaints to customer service centers.

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In their attempts to compete with online-only merchants, many brick-and-mortar merchants focus on building their digital operations and offerings. They see it as the key to omnichannel success. While a robust online footprint is critical for competitiveness, it’s not a panacea. By concentrating solely on what they lack, these brick-and-mortar merchants are losing sight of one of the few real advantages they have over online-only competitors: their physical locations.

As a response to these customer demands, many merchants now offer buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) offerings, also known as click-and-collect, or in-store pickup (ISPU). Merchants can catch two birds with BOPIS: improve their staff and inventory efficiencies while simultaneously generating additional in-store revenue, as customers make unplanned purchases during in-store pickup.

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Ecommerce conferences, just like the eCommerce business-scape, have evolved considerably. On the heels of the global ascent of online shopping, new types of hybrid events are appearing: from traditional trade shows to more business-to-business meeting formats, and most of all – retail events that reflect the symbiotic relationship between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar.

For a retailer, or anyone involved in eCommerce, participating in these events is elementary. Whether it is to build a good business network, increase visibility and see what key players are up to. In a fast-evolving digital environment, attending leading events is the best way to anticipate developments and trends: omnichannel strategies, data science, artificial intelligence, new technology, payment systems, and much more.

For 2019, we’ve composed this list of the best conferences for online merchants and industry professionals to attend this year.

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In 2018 eCommerce evolved in some directions we expected… and others we didn’t. The holiday season rewrote the record books again – Black Friday sales in the US were up 23.6%, and, as of writing this, it looks like holiday season volume as a whole rose 20%. 

Regarding our cryptocurrency prediction, while bitcoin captured headlines last year, it had little impact on the payments landscape. As for fraud, we correctly predicted that attacks would become more commonplace in many staple (as opposed to luxury) industries. Our data shows that CNP fraud in food delivery services and consumer appliances crept up in 2018, while in North America the rate of attacks in sales for vapes (and related paraphernalia) fell slightly. In fashion, while the attack rate in Japanese and South Korean apparel orders rose in 2018, they were still much safer than similar US orders. 

So what does 2019 have in store? Here are five trends omni-channel retailers and online merchants should keep an eye on to help strategize and to protect their bottom line.

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Fraudsters are constantly looking to exploit vulnerabilities in eCommerce. They try a number of different approaches (“attack vectors”), and if one is proven effective, they exploit it until it’s discovered and the vulnerability closed. Fraudsters are ever-evolving, and, in order to stay ahead of them, merchants must stay abreast of the latest forms of eCommerce fraud to preempt them as quickly as possible.

At the same time, online shopping behavior is evolving just as quickly. Many merchants struggle to update their fraud-management strategies to account for the changes in customers’ lifestyles and their evolving expectations. That leads to false declines and missed opportunities.

Here we share three interesting order types we have seen over the last 12 months. We’ll show two tactics that we’ve seen fraudsters recently employ along with a suspicious-looking — but legitimate — order. This should help merchants understand how eCommerce fraudsters think and better respond to the threat.

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Ecommerce is a critical cog in the European economy, and growing in importance. In 2017, European online sales grew 11%, and in 2018 they will grow another 13%resulting in an annual volume of $602 billion Euros.

But there’s evidence that this online market has the potential for even more robust growth. According to a 2017 study, fewer than 40% of European merchants sell via a digital channel. Moreover, 74% cater only to their own country, in their own language, meaning there is massive untapped potential in cross-border sales. Another major factor holding back growth in European eCommerce is one many merchants aren’t even aware of: the unusually high rates of false declines in this market.

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