New research finds e-commerce merchants are hinging hope on the upcoming 2020 holiday season and say it is critical to their business for recovery or survival.

The conclusion is drawn from two surveys by Kount. The firm found that, of businesses engaged in digital commerce, 84 percent say compared to last year, the upcoming holiday season will determine their ability to recover losses incurred when many were shut down when stay-at-home restrictions were implemented last spring due to Covid-19. Nearly half of respondents say they will need to catch up on sales to recover from the economic downturn.

Of the two surveys, a consumer survey of 1,008 adults in the U.S. looked at the factors that motivate or disincentivize online shoppers. A business survey focused on mid-to-large online retail and e-commerce entities and surveyed 501 employees who were at the manager level and above.

More than half of business respondents said their company does not anticipate in-store sales volumes to return to pre-Covid levels in the foreseeable future, even after the pandemic subsides. And brick-and-mortar business may fare worse as 30 percent of shoppers say they will avoid shopping in stores as much as possible this holiday season.

Nearly three out of four retailers expect higher digital sales than in 2019 and, while 64 percent of merchants think in-store sales will be key for this season, only 43 percent of shoppers agree.

Chargebacks are on the upswing

Many businesses—around 40 percent—said they have noticed an increase in chargebacks since January of 2020. The research also found if a consumer doesn’t recognize a charge on their credit card statement, 89 percent would not first contact the company associated with the purchase. Instead, 54 percent would first call their credit card company or bank.

“An increase in e-commerce transaction volumes can correspond to an increase in payment fraud, friendly fraud and chargebacks. Bad actors know that overwhelming volumes and new channels will be key this season, and they’re looking to take advantage,” said Kount in a release on the research.

Kount also advised businesses to be on guard for data breaches and digital account protection.

“As shoppers turn to online experiences, many will expect to have loyalty accounts, stored value and saved information readily available. All of these are targets of fraud, and consumers and businesses are thinking about data breaches,” said Kount officials.

Over one in five business respondents say they expect more frequent data breaches to be a significant challenge to their employer’s business this holiday season.

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