Scalping thrives based on the economics of demand and supply. The scalper bots aim to get and hoard as much supply as possible to control the market for specific products. Through hoarding specific items, they ensure limited supply and per laws of demand and supply. They later sell the item on a limited supply at a high and exploitative cost. In 2020, various people could not purchase the newly released Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 over the Black Friday shopping extravaganza. Scalpers had bought a majority of the consoles, leaving the gamers unable to get their hands on the unit. Scalping does not affect the gamers alone. It traces its roots in the ticketing concepts. The scalpers wait in the queue, buy the tickets in bulk and resell them later in the parking lot, or if automated, they sell them using reseller websites. Online retail ticket markets have become more competitive with scalper bots. To protect your customers and the business’s reputation, it is essential to understand what scalping bots are and how you can stop them.
How to stop scalping
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) were effective in stopping scalping in the past. With the sophistication of technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, WAFs are no longer a match for the current bot versions. It is additionally complicated because nowadays, bots mimic and imitate human behaviors convincingly. This way, the scalping bots can remain stealthy and can purchase items while exhibiting human characteristics. Below are various ways to stop scalping on your website.
Disable automated purchasing
Scalper bots are automated scripts that create artificial shortages in products by buying them in bulk during launch and reselling the items in limited supply at a profit. They accomplish this by creating multiple accounts and execute the payments automatically using various credit cards to avoid being detected. Through disabling the automation in buying, you effectively stop scalping from your website. It is because the scalpers cannot make the checkout.
Being smart during launch
Retailers and manufacturers need to be smart when launching new products to the market. By not informing their customers in advance is one way of stopping the scalpers. It denies them time for setting up their bots. To achieve this, businesses can enlist the services of security firms to manually check the pre orders or place the security filters in front of their sites. Alternatively, a business can come up with a workaround. To confuse the scalper bots, you can put a price that varies from the one on a gift voucher on the product.
Another effective way to stop scalping is by enacting laws that prohibit it both online and offline. Unfair ticketing and hoarding of various items to create artificial shortages have dire consequences for the greater public. They will sell the item at a price higher than the producer’s price. Therefore, various users cannot purchase them. As a result, they turn to buy from competitors, making a business lose valuable clients and income. By instituting a regulation, you protect the business and the customers from this unfair practice.
Since the bots that carry out scalping attacks need to operate at a big scale, it is impossible to change the device. By looking for similar signatures, you can identify a scalping bot and block or stop it from scalping your site. This technique helps you identify a set of device parameters and browsers that stay the same in between sessions. It probably means that your website is repeatedly connected to the same entity.
Machine learning and behavioral analysis
Human users have a predictable pattern of behavior. Conversely, bots’ patterns are programmed and run step by step depending on how their developer created them. Using machine learning, you can identify the scalpers in real-time and take up measures to shield yourself from them. Pattern recognition can effectively filter out the scalpers and block them from accessing your site thus, protecting it from scalping.
Any bot activity, be it scalping, or scrapping has a significant number of requests to the Web server that follow. By setting limits on the rates and the number of incoming connections, you inhibit the scalper bot activity. You can set this on APIs, websites, and mobile applications. By disabling all the avenues for abuse, you leave no chance that the scalper bot can gain access to buy items from your site.
Blocking hosting providers
Scalpers use proxies and hosting providers like Digital ocean. When you host your website using them, it exposes you to a scalping attempt. Therefore, block their services and incoming requests that have IP addresses originating from them. Other service providers that harbor scalpers include Choopa, OVH hosting, and OVS SAS. Blocking them helps you stop the scalping.
Using a bot protection solution
Since we have established that bots are the principal agents of online scalping, installing or subscribing to bot protection can help stop scalping. Bot protection solutions like DataDome use advanced technologies for real-time analysis and tracking to identify and stop the bots. If a scalper is browsing through your website, DataDome can identify and stop or block it. They use machine learning to recognize the behaviors of various users differentiates the legit from malicious agents.
Inhibiting multiple orders
There is a need to institute measures that prevent multiple orders to stop the scalping of items on your website. You can do this by ensuring one delivery per customer who has to register using a social security number. Introducing measures like “1-per-customer” helps stop scalping because the scalper cannot get the bulk of the products.
Scalping is a menace in the marketing industry. Stopping it is a multi-agency activity that should involve the government, the business (both large-scale and retail), and the customers. With bots and the development of AI techniques, scalping has become more sophisticated. It is, therefore, necessary to devise ways to detect, prevent and stop scalping and scalper bots. To protect your customers from exploitation by scalpers, the above techniques can help you. A customer is the most invaluable asset of a business, and keeping them should be a goal of any serious organization.