Parents recruit bots to get their kids holiday gifts
The Future. Thanks to supply-chain issues and understocked stores, people are turning to bots to help fulfill their holiday wish lists. While bots come with a host of issues (for both consumers and retailers), the cat may already be out of the bag, thanks to how easy they are to use. We may all soon be deploying software to do our holiday shopping.
Santa’s digital helper
The use of bots have come a long way since their sneakerhead roots — they’re now being used by everyday consumers looking to score in-demand holiday gifts.
- Refresher: bots scour the internet for hard-to-find items and automate the checkout process faster than human capabilities.
- Bot developers note that they’ve seen an increase in people using bots to buy only a few items at a time, meaning that the bots are being used for personal purchases instead of bulk buys for reselling.
- They say shoppers are specifically after popular items such as Spin Master’s “Gabby Dollhouse,” Sony’s PlayStation 5, and Playmates Toys Inc.’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Original Party Wagon.
The vibe of these desperate shoppers is perfectly summed up by this moment from the Christmas classic Jingle All the Way.
Imperva Inc. reports that bot usage has increased eightfold over the past two years as more and more bot developers increase access for average consumers.
- They don’t require any additional tech knowledge or close monitoring.
- Many of them are available for a monthly subscription (with a typical one-time upfront fee).
- They are easy to find on social platforms such as Twitter and Discord.
But retailers are fighting back, either changing their e-commerce stores to block bots or putting up prompts that require human input (select all the crosswalks, anyone?). Additionally, using bots always opens up the risk of downloading malware, so if you’re not careful, getting that PS5 early might also force you to get a new laptop.