Many people are surprised to learn just how competitive the world of sneakerheads is. Much like tickets to live music gigs, limited-edition sneakers can sell out in a matter of seconds after a sale goes live. This is partly a testament to just how dedicated sneakerheads are when it comes to their favorite footwear. However, it is also a testament to the ingenuity of software engineers who have, over the years, developed sophisticated retail bots whose sole purpose is to buy in-demand items as soon as they go on sale.
The people who use these boots to purchase sneakers are sometimes sneakerheads themselves, but increasingly they are resellers looking to flip the sneakers for a profit. Naturally, the more limited a pair of sneakers is, the more value it has. Some pairs can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars and then sold on for several thousand.
While these sneaker flippers are undoubtedly operating in something of a legal grey area, they are by no means hardened criminals. In fact, they more closely resemble the anti-hero hackers that have always fascinated the tech industry.
Although anyone can buy the software that sneaker flippers use to grab shoes as soon as they go on sale, this is just one tool of the many tools involved. On their own, these bots are of limited use. As soon as the website detects suspicious activity, it will flag up the IP address of the user in question. If you are connected to the website using your own internet connection, this will result in you being blocked from the service before you can make any purchases.
As you would probably expect, the retailers who sell limited-edition sneakers have taken a number of measures to prevent people from using bots to give themselves an unfair buying advantage. For example, many of these retailers will automatically prevent any user who is navigating the website at an impossible speed, which indicates that they are not human, from making any purchases.
And again, while anyone can purchase one of these bots, setting them up correctly takes knowledge. If you don’t have any prior experience in using or coding bots, you will struggle to set up any of the available tools.
When configured properly, the bot will be able to automatically navigate through a website to the checkout. Obviously, the bot will have the owners’ payment information ready. However, it will also know all of the user’s shoe preferences and measurements. This enables users to go through the entire process from adding an item to the cart to filling out the necessary payment and shipping information, and finally paying for the product in a matter of seconds, perhaps even less!
These bots range in sophistication: from the cheapest ones that are simple browser add-ons costing around $10, up to standalone software packages that can cost hundreds of dollars. People are willing to pay these high prices because of the potentially huge returns if they are able to nab the right pair of sneakers.
Any retailer that detects a non-human user is likely to ban the account and the associated IP address. As a result, any sneaker flippers who want to be able to access the platform in the future to make more purchases will need to disguise their real IP address. The most popular ways of doing this are using either a VPN or a proxy. In this case, a proxy is a preferred choice. You can read more about which is better: proxy or VPN – Proxyway.com.
While a virtual private network is a great way of obscuring your IP address and your physical location, VPN servers are inevitably located in data centers. This means that anyone who traces the IP address of a user who is using a VPN will see that it leads back to a data center, not a residential address. This will immediately set off red flags and mark the connection as suspicious.
On the other hand, a residential proxy will provide you with an IP address that matches those of residential properties. Moreover, by opting for a rotating residential proxy, the user can choose to switch their IP address automatically every so often.
By using multiple proxies, buyers are able to connect to a website from multiple different servers simultaneously. This means that they can make a number of purchases that will look to the retailer as if they are being made by different people. In doing so, buyers can potentially circumvent any per-customer limits that the retailer has imposed.
You Got Served
In addition to connecting through a proxy server, really serious sneaker flippers will also have a server of their own. This can sometimes be a dedicated server, although it is more commonly a VPS. The server can be used to run the bot 24/7, rather than the user having to leave their computer on all the time. Servers are also prized for their extremely low latency compared to residential internet connections.
If there are multiple people, or bots, competing for the same pair of sneakers, a few milliseconds can make all of the difference. As a result, low latency servers are a valuable tool to have.
Buying rare and limited-edition items solely for the purpose of selling them on at a huge profit is the kind of behavior that we have traditionally associated with thugs and criminals. However, in the modern age, it is more likely that the person buying up limited-edition sneakers more closely resembles a geek from the computer lab than a jock from the basketball court.
To succeed in the sneaker flipping game, the flippers need to be well versed in both the world of sneakers and the world of technology. Just because anybody can buy a sneaker bot does not necessarily mean that anybody can use one properly. Unless your setup and configuration are rock solid, you will soon run into problems and may never make your initial investment back.