When extremely limited products or concert tickets to see top artists are being sold, those interested often need to buy within minutes of these products/tickets going on sale on the internet to ensure that they are not left empty-handed. It is particularly annoying when products are sold out almost immediately and then offered soon afterward at exorbitant prices on other websites or auction portals. Such cases indicate the professional use of bots, which automatically acquire large quantities of the scarce product in a few seconds.
A definition of hype sales bots
Companies use hype sales as a targeted marketing instrument. This involves throwing tickets for coveted events onto the market to only a limited extent to increase the incentive to buy. This works the same way with any number of product launches, new editions, special editions, and the like. However, it is not unusual for the sought-after items to be sold again a short time later on online platforms at exorbitant prices.
The background: Bot operators know how to exploit the principle behind hype sales. A bot operator sends out a whole host of automated computer processes in parallel with different identities and payment methods, thus skillfully circumventing maximum purchase quantities: While a real customer is able to secure a maximum of one or two items, the bot operator successfully buys large quantities – and does so quite legally. This use of bots is not criminal since 100 percent valid credit card numbers are used for checkout. Furthermore, since the items ordered are sent to different addresses, these bot activities are not immediately apparent to online retailers. The bot operator then sells the cheaply acquired products on the internet at a multiple of the initial price. Profit margins of 1,000 percent are not unusual.
How do hype sales bots work?
Widely distributed botnets usually form the basis for the hype sales bots business. The automated programs can initiate and complete a large number of purchase processes concurrently. Since different IP addresses and manipulated header data are used, the automated requests are difficult to tell apart from regular customers.
What are the consequences of hype sales bots?
For the seller’s marketing, hype sales bots are like a major disaster. The advertising effect of the sought-after products is reversed, leaving behind disappointed customers. The online retailer’s image and reputation can suffer long-term damage from hype sales bots. Affected e-commerce companies must expect these losses:
If the desired product is not available, customers will switch over to the competition. A considerable loss of revenue threatens the affected online shops.
Disappointed customers give negative reviews for the retailer, which in turn causes long-lasting loss of image.
Elaborately planned and costly marketing campaigns come to nothing.
Which industries are affected by hype sales bots?
Hype sales bots primarily affect e-commerce companies, regardless of size and popularity. Bot operators are interested in sought-after products. Who is selling them plays a secondary role. In addition to classic online shops, event shops and the travel industry are often victims of hype sales bots.
How can companies protect themselves from hype sales bots?
In order to prevent hype sales bots from competing with their own customers for the highly sought-after merchandise, online retailers need absolute control over the traffic in their shop. The aim is to reliably identify automated requests and block harmful bot traffic. A bot management solution that enables systematic control of automatic requests is a good solution for this. Conventional firewalls are unable to filter traffic as finely. On the other hand, bot management gives e-commerce providers the option of tolerating desired bots (such as Google Crawler) on the site and directing them to strategically important information while fending off malicious traffic.
Myra protects your webshop from hype sales bots
With Web Application Security and its integrated Bot Management, Myra Security offers an upstream protection instance that protects online shops from hype sales bots and other manipulative intrusions. High-performance Myra technology monitors, analyzes, and filters malicious internet traffic before virtual attacks cause any real damage.