📖 Free eBook: The Digital Services Act Explained. Get it here → ×

How to Not Be the Brand That Ruins Christmas


    It is no surprise that record numbers of people use the internet during the festive season. Customers turn to e-commerce for all their Christmas shopping needs, dating apps see spikes in users as people swipe right to find new people to talk to and online gaming proves a popular option for those with extra time off during the holidays, looking to relax and take part in some online recreational fun.

    Illustration of people around a christmas tree and gifts, with a burglar coming in through the left.

    It is a huge opportunity for online retailers, especially for online marketplaces, where people will be looking for the best deals available – but this also presents an opportunity for scammers and fraudsters, which is too good to miss, looking to take advantage of what can only be described as a chaotic season online.

    Safety of the user, not profit for the platform

    For brands, this is the time of year when the hard work put into creating good experiences to strengthen reputation comes home. No one wants to be the brand to ruin Christmas or fall short at a critical moment. In online business, it should be the safety of the user, and not the profit for the platform, that comes first, putting user experience at the heart of their priorities to increase customer trust, acquisition, and retention.

    Christmas is a high-pressure moment on the calendar. However, it’s also a time when good experiences will be more impactful, and negative ones will have greater consequences. Whilst individuals should naturally take more additional care online and remain vigilant. We should also expect platforms – whether shopping, dating, or gaming, to protect users from potential harm, even more so at peak traffic.

    It’s the most fraudulent time of the year

    All marketplaces must take precautions to prevent fraud on their platforms in the lead-up to Christmas and onwards, keeping user experience front of mind. Larger marketplaces may see a smaller percentage of fraudulent posts. Still, considering that they have a much larger user base, even small percentages can lead to thousands of users becoming victims and associating a negative experience with the site.

    These sorts of harmful experiences could risk long-term reputational damage and the potential for fraud on their platform to spiral out of control.

    As passions run, it’s not surprising that bad actors take the opportunity to engage in scams and fraud during the festive period. Last year, we decided to prove it. Our moderators investigated nearly three thousand listings of popular items on six popular UK online marketplaces to understand whether marketplaces have content moderation pinned down or whether the fraudulent activity was still slipping through the net. The findings revealed that 15% of the items reviewed showed signs of being fraudulent or dangerous.

    This year, the risk is higher than ever: a survey from an independent UK parcel carrier Yodel suggests that almost a third of people plan to do the entirety of their festive shopping online this year, more than a fourfold increase from last Christmas.

    Good user experience, not just for Christmas

    While this spike in usage means that brands have to be more vigilant than ever, it’s also the case that these trends are unlikely to reverse. This makes this Christmas an important learning opportunity, which will stress-test businesses’ moderation systems at activity levels, which might soon become the norm.

    A positive and seamless customer experience at Christmas will not only drive sales in the short term. Still, it will also help to engage customers, building an emotional bond with the brand and, in turn, increasing customer loyalty. But it should be remembered that a positive customer experience this Christmas is essential for the festive season and throughout the year.