It was a familiar story last night. Walmart has announced that they will have a new set of PS5s at some point, and it is completely out of stock in minutes, rather seconds. Many couldn’t even get the site to load, get in their cart, or reach the checkout without anything going wrong, or the PS5s sold out by the time they thought they were over.
While some people have managed to get their hands on a PS5, the vast majority still have much more demand for the system than supply, and given that it is almost all retail sales take place online due to the pandemic, this problem is exacerbated because shopping sticks are regularly sniffed by consumers or scalers as soon as they connect online.
As a result, the BBC takes a rather stunning look at shopping robots, which are said to be the largest market in the footwear industry, where sales and immediate sales of valuable shoes are common. Some “sniffing” bots can only warn you the moment your inventory rises on a site, but more advanced bots will automatically lead you through to payment.
The BBC spoke to a former GameStop director who spoke about the prevalence of this issue:
“Sometimes more than 60% of our traffic – with hundreds of millions of visitors a day – was a stick or scraper. Especially before big throws.”
Although the problem for retailers? There is not much motivation to solve the problem as the consoles are sold in both directions, so who cares? And people can’t proves robots have been given a console, and not necessarily, and since this happens at almost all retailers, humans are equally angry at all of them. That’s why you may not see retailers leaning back to try to stop this practice as much as they can.
Bots are a real problem, and with the introduction of the console and the big drops in new stocks, it’s easy to spot a jump in the search volume for bot terms:
So if you’re having trouble shipping a PS5 or Xbox Series X, blaming the bots isn’t as conspiratorial as you might think. They are real, legionnaires and get consoles in front of you. Sometimes for real, desperate customers who put out fires with fire to get a unit for themselves, often for profit-seeking resellers, so 3,500 PS5s can land in the lap of a single scalper group.
The shortage of PS5 and Xbox will continue well into next year until supply increases enough to meet demand. But the threat of bots persists throughout, and if retailers take no further action, it will remain frustrating for a significant portion of potential buyers.
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