A successful hype sale mustn’t harm the user experience
The aptly named “hype sale” is all the rage in today’s online landscape. The successor to the brick-and-mortar doorbuster, hype sales drive massive traffic and sell out exclusive physical and digital goods in record time.
NFTs. Concert tickets. Collectible cards. Companies can hype up practically anything. Sneakers—yes, that includes Crocs—move the needle like no other.
However, what’s moving that needle is where the problem lies. Footwear hype sales attract millions of bots, mostly scalper bots, that easily beat out the sneakerheads waiting torturously in the online queue.
Ostensibly, e-commerce companies should be pleased. After all, isn’t the point to sell inventory? But, lost in the drummed-up excitement and revenue spike, is bots’ impact on the user experience (UX). In a bot-eat-bot world, can hype sales drive maximum profits without disappointing sneaker fans?
Bots are here to stay (and wreak havoc)
Between March 3, 2020 and January 2, 2021, scalper bots were responsible for almost 50% of shopping cart requests. The ubiquity of these bots can be tied to their accessibility: finding them is a cinch, and deployment doesn’t require black-hatter expertise.
Scalpers have a smorgasbord of bots at their disposal. Scalpers looking to flip sneakers for profit use “All In One” bots (AIO), such as Stellara or Dragon AIO. After procuring an AIO bot on either the dark web or Discord, sometimes for as much as $50K, scalpers can then buy sneakers from more than one website—faster and more intelligently than any single human could.
Scalpers covet bots, including the AIO variety, as much as the exclusive items themselves. Demand is so high, in fact, that sometimes they use a bot to buy a bot, and bots are flipped for thousands of dollars just like the products they help purchase. With the multibillion-dollar reseller market continuing to thrive—thanks in part to the pandemic’s influx of remote entrepreneurialism—the message is clear: bots are here to stay (and infuriate legitimate sneaker buyers).
Hype sale mayhem
If a glamorous new sneaker is up for grabs, bots are guaranteed to show up and wipe out the inventory. This can be brutal on an e-tailer’s server and web resources. Sophisticated bots can even grab sneakers from inventory management systems before they’re available for purchase.
It goes without saying that bot detection and mitigation is crucial. Aside from protecting the hopes and dreams of legitimate sneaker collectors, too many bots could crash a website or app altogether. But an all-out assault on bots isn’t the move: some bots are actually genuine customers trying to outmaneuver the bad bots.
Installing a bot mitigation solution, to separate the good bots from the bad, is a start. Yet, it still doesn’t do much to assuage those real customers who don’t have the luxury of a bot—those bot-less sneaker aficionados who lose out and then watch bot-assisted purchasers gloat on social media afterwards.
These customers are likely to churn, and they could drag a brand’s reputation through the dirt on their way out. If a company’s plan is to alleviate its bot problem—without damaging its brand image and UX—it might be time to focus on the humans.
Banking on trust
Maximizing hype sale profits while appeasing bot-less customers is, admittedly, a tough nut to crack. A blanket approach to neutralizing bots will also affect the good bots, and nets a less spectacular financial outcome. Meanwhile, a lax strategy that lets too many bots in might severely compromise UX and cause reputational harm.
We don’t have a silver-bullet solution to this problem (no one does), but we have an idea: focus on trust, not risk.
Assuming an e-tailer has a bot mitigation platform in place, it behooves the merchant to then verify the users in the waiting room and ensure the legitimate human customers are granted preferential treatment. This means moving them up the queue, ahead of bots, and drastically improving their chances of achieving sneakerhead nirvana.
This, of course, requires a stockpile of real-time identity intelligence that uses trust signals—geography, device ID, etc.—to seamlessly authenticate customers. Big shoes to fill. But Deduce is up for it.
Our Identity Network, the largest real-time identity graph for fraud in the US, spans more than 500 million unique user profiles and over 1.4 billion daily activities from 150,000+ websites and apps. If trust is indeed the key to balancing hype sale success with a seamless UX, there’s no better compliment to a bot mitigation solution.
Want to learn more about how Deduce prioritizes trust to facilitate the user experience? Contact us today.