Buying sneakers is already quite an expensive business, but automated “sneaker bots” arrive in no time at the launch of a new pair of sneakers and buy shares – in order to resell them with a huge profit later , when the entire inventory runs out at retailers – is an increasingly aggravating problem for genuine shoppers.
Not just shoppers either, but retailers also suffer greatly from the brunt of bots, which can suck up all of their bandwidth – perhaps even take down the site – forcing them to take preventative countermeasures, while trying not to harm (or annoy) genuine buyers with these defenses (like CAPTCHA tools, for example obvious). Not to mention making sneaker brands even more expensive.
Security firm PerimeterX wrote a lengthy blog post about how these sneaker bots work and how easy they are to use.
Looking at two popular new pairs of shoes that hit shelves on Nov. 2 and breaking down the sales of a number of leading shoe retailer websites, PerimeterX found that at launch, between 55 % and 68% of all traffic was due to sneaker bots.
These were the soft Adidas version of the Yeezy 500s and the Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Fearless’, so in other words when these shoes came out and the mad rush to buy them started, more half – rising to more than two-thirds – of all shoppers were automated bots.
So people who actually want to buy sneakers to wear are apparently in the minority, overwhelmed by people looking to snatch as many pairs as they can, in order to resell them on third-party marketplaces or auction sites – inevitably at massively inflated prices. .
It’s a situation concertgoers will be very familiar with: tickets are released and you click-click-click the buy button the second they go on sale, only to be notified that you’ve had luck. Then you immediately check out the third-party sites to see an absolute ton of tickets that the profit makers are already trying to whip up in droves.
So what to do? Well, that’s a tricky problem to solve in the world of sneakers. While in the United States the Bots Act of 2016 combats the use of bots when it comes to concert tickets, there is no such protection for shoes. There is nothing illegal about using robots to buy sneakers.
So there is no legal barrier, nor jurisdictional barrier either, as the all-in-one (AIO) bot software does everything for you, including evading detection.
As PerimeterX observes: “The Tesla of sneaker bots is a tool called CyberAIO from Cybersole. Designed with a beautiful user interface, CyberAIO is also a technically sophisticated product.
The company adds, “CyberAIO users simply pick the sneakers they want to buy from a menu of upcoming drops, set a budget, and then sit down. CyberAIO covers over 170 sites, including not only sneaker retailers, but also brand sites and streetwear companies like Supreme – another company that uses limited release items to increase brand awareness and perception. .
Also note that CyberAIO has just been released as Android and iOS apps.
The low-risk, high-reward world of sneaker resale then becomes increasingly popular, and so even apps like CyberAIO are very expensive.
Although retailers have taken all sorts of ingenious moves in the past to try and beat sneaker bots – including tricking one into spending $10,000 (around £7,600) of its user’s money on a fictional product – according to PerimeterX’s latest analysis, this is still a big deal. , thorny problem.
The security firm suggests that its bot mitigation service can help, naturally enough – or indeed any specialized bot mitigation solution, and no doubt some retailers may already be investigating this type of technology.
For now, though, PerimeterX suggests we can prepare for “winter sneaker drops [which] could cause a botpocalypse for unprepared retailers and brands.”