A sneaker bot is a software application that automatically buys items on an auction website. The bots are capable of buying many items at the same time, which allows them to obtain all the desired products before anyone else can.
The term “sneaker bot” is used by sneaker collectors to refer to bots used to buy Nikes shoes to later resell them for higher prices. This practice results in fewer pairs being available for local buyers who desperately need these shoes due to their health condition or just want to look better than others.
How sneaker bots work
The bot gets into the website and looks for items that are about to be put on sale. It is programmed in such a way that it knows when an item will be available, what the price of the item is, how many units are for sale, etc.
As soon as an item appears on the website’s list, it starts buying them. The bot buys all items in front of other buyers very quickly (it can buy hundreds within minutes).
What sneaker bots are used for
Sneakers bots exist due to the high demand for limited products like Nike shoes. When only a small amount of pairs become available, they can be resold at prices much higher than their market value because people would do anything to get them even if it means paying a lot of money.
The bots can also be used to obtain products that are sold on auctions websites such as eBay, Amazon, etc. However, the price of these items is usually set by the seller and not by an automatic bidding process so it might take days for a bot to correctly figure out what that price is and then buy them accordingly.
Signs of a sneaker bot on your site
The first thing you’ll notice is that your site statistics are growing much faster than usual. If you have reasons to believe that people are having problems accessing your website, this might also alert you because bots cannot go where humans can’t.
One of the most common signs is an abnormal number of sales for a single item in a short time frame. A bot will make many purchases at once and it will be very noticeable if there’s only one user selling his whole stock within days (hours or even minutes).
How to get rid of sneaker bots on your auction website
There are different ways to get rid of them:
- Use CAPTCHAs. Every time someone makes an account and logs in, they will need to solve a CAPTCHA. This is the most effective method of catching bots, but it is also annoying for people who want to buy things via your website.
- Limit the number of items a single person can buy. This means that if someone is buying 10 pairs at once, only 2-3 pairs will be allowed to enter their shopping cart / win the bidding process. Once they have won those 2-3 pairs, they can no longer buy more until one of the previous orders is processed.
- Introduce a time delay between purchases. For example, if someone buys 1 item from your store within 20 seconds, this person shouldn’t be able to bid on another product before 8 minutes have passed.
- Use algorithms that are designed specifically for fighting bots. These are very advanced pieces of software that constantly keep track of what’s happening on your website. Bots are not allowed to buy anything because they’re constantly blocked by the software, so humans can safely use your website without being afraid of losing any items to bots.
The legality of using sneaker bots
Sneakers bots in most cases do not violate any rules or laws because they help people obtain desired items at a competitive price instead of resorting to illegal sources like street sellers.
However, some web auctions contain terms and conditions which state that automated bids or bidding under certain circumstances (high speed) are prohibited. So if you use sneaker bots frequently, you might get suspended from the website.
Why sneaker bots are dangerous for sites, businesses, and customers alike
Sites that sell high-demand popular products are at risk of being blacklisted by the manufacturers. This can be avoided if you work with them closely so they understand what’s happening on your site and that it’s not due to any negligence or breach of terms.
Customers lose money because they never manage to take advantage of real market prices, which further leads to boycott efforts against the website where bots were found out.
Frequently asked questions about sneaker bots
Can I hold sneaker bot operators accountable for their actions?
Yes, you can sue them for any money lost due to their use of bots on your site. However, this is very difficult because they usually hide behind multiple aliases / fake accounts so it’s almost impossible to get in touch with them or get their location/address information.
Where do people buy sneaker bots?
They are typically sold through online forums. People are usually hesitant to use them because of the risk they carry, which is why they usually try to find reputable sellers that can sell them some kind of guarantee. Some bots have a remote server feature so you don’t even need your computer on while the bot operates on your behalf.
How is a sneaker bot built?
It’s usually done in a very sophisticated manner. They employ multiple servers in different geographical locations so they can use one when the other fails. Their code is usually updated several times per day because anti-bot software development companies are always upping their game and releasing new protection tools, so sneaker bot makers have to be quick to come up with new solutions.