Scalper bots are posing a serious threat to online retail experts have warned after Dr Martens became the latest victim of reseller groups.
Dr Martens launched its latest limited-edition collaboration with Rick Owens over the weekend, seeing almost all of the stock fall into the hands of scalper groups almost immediately.
Soon afterwards the stock appeared on resale sites like Grailed for staggering markups, some topping three times the RRP.
Head of ecommerce at Netacea Thomas Platt has warned that the increasing prominence of scalper bots and unscrupulous reseller groups could have a lasting impact on brands and consumer trust.
“Limited edition items like the Dr Martens x Rick Owens collaboration are getting harder to buy,” Platt said,
“You might think it’s because of diehard fans but there’s another reason these hot ticket items display a sad ‘sold out’ sign. Scalper bots. Using this automated method, resellers can scan retail websites and swipe the goods at a speed that no human can match.
READ MORE: How retailers can fight back against bots
“It’s a real shame because the fans are the ones that lose out. The online store sells out at record speeds and the bot user sells their product for a mark-up. Now the consumer has to pay for an unnecessary middleman that didn’t use to exist.”
Scalpers first hit headlines last year amid the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, seeing the limited stock disappear instantly.
Due to pandemic-driven manufacturing issues, stock has remained limited allowing scalper groups to continue to make considerable markups on thousands of units.
Speaking the Charged, ForgeRock’s vice president of UK and Ireland Nick Caley said that retailers are largely being left to tackle the issue themselves.
“Barring a change in the law (another instance of innovation outpacing regulation), retailers are being left to fend for themselves,” he said.
“They need to be as nimble as the scalpers and stay ahead of them to ensure real customers are having a safe and positive retail experience.”