Bots are annoying, and they are probably the wrench thrown in the life machine of a real sneaker collector. And how we wish bots would just go away so we can all be happy right? Based on our previous article, we are pretty weary of it.
Here’s some news though! One of the year’s biggest launches actually defeated the bots. It’s a model that brands and retailers could learn from, and it works!
Last Aug. 29, Union Los Angeles released its new collaboration through two colorways of the Air Jordan IV. Knowing the usual chaos and cheating could go down once again as with almost every release, Union owner Chris Gibbs worked closely with e-commerce partner Shopify to make sure the purchasing experience would be fair to customers.
“Dealing with bots in particular is something that we have to deal with on a smaller basis,” Gibbs says. “You know, we’ve only had two launches, really three maybe in the history of store launches, of this magnitude. But on a monthly basis or even weekly, we’ll have smaller launches at the store. Our store is privileged enough to be able to get a lot of products that a lot of people want and there are limited amounts of the goods available. So dealing with bots is something that’s always top of mind for us. Typically what we’ve done for things that we think there’s going to be issues around bots in the past is we’ll launch it in-store only. That alleviates the bot issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow someone in Idaho who might like our product to get it.”
Union and Shopify created a layered method to keep the automated buyers at bay. The first layer is question-and-answer prompt Shopify Plus calls checkpoint, which any prospect buyer had to go through. Questions like ‘What color is an orange?”
Obviously, the answer is right there in the question already. Kind of funny, but it works.
Gibbs says. “We wanted to make that really easy. We knew that there were a lot of people trying to get this product and so obviously we tried to make it as simple as possible.”
The question for the said drop was intentionally kept simple, but Gibbs hints on more difficult questions for future releases.
“I’ve been talking with [Shopify] for over a month and a half leading up to the release, fine-tuning our strategy, and making sure everything was in place,” Gibbs says. “Then we had a big review at the end and what they told me and from what I can tell, it was a huge success. I got a number of people telling me that they got through, and they were human, and they made out what’s called a manual sale, which is funny we have to quantify it like that now. But [Shopify] said that no known bots got through.”
“You can never stand still,” Padelford of Shopify says. “The thing that worked this time, you can pretty much be sure that the bot manufacturers are trying to figure out how to get around that question right now.”
Good news then. We hope to hear more of releases obtained by real humans, real collectors… real sneakerheads. Speaking of Sneakerheads, maybe you’d wanna read about our Netflix binge here.
*News from Complex.