There are a few of reasons people will regularly miss out on hyped sneakers drops. But odds are, it's because of a bot.
In the sneaker resale world, a "bot" refers to a software application that expedites the online checkout process and helps resellers nab hyped pairs in seconds – including limited-edition drops and collabs.
When sneakers are released in limited quantities, it's often a race to see which sneakerheads can input their credit card information on a website or app the fastest in order to checkout before the product sells out. Bots are specifically designed to make this process instantaneous, offering users a leg-up over other buyers looking to complete transactions manually.
Though bots are notoriously difficult to set up and run, to many resellers they are a necessary evil for buying sneakers at retail price. The software also gets around "one pair per customer" quantity limits placed on each buyer on release day.
As the sneaker resale market continues to thrive, Business Insider is covering all aspects of how to scale a business in the booming industry. And bots are a major part of that. From how to acquire and use the technology to the people behind the most popular bots in the market today, here's everything you need to know about the controversial software.
Acquiring a bot
Bots, like sneakers, can be difficult to purchase. Most bot makers release their products online via a Twitter announcement. There are only a limited number of copies available for purchase at retail. And once sold out, bots often resell for thousands of dollars.
Some private groups specialize in helping its paying members nab bots when they drop. These bot-nabbing groups use software extensions – basically other bots – to get their hands on the coveted technology that typically costs a few hundred dollars at release.
Once the software is purchased, members decide if they want to keep or "flip" the bots to make a profit on the resale market. Here's how one bot nabbing and reselling group, Restock Flippers, keeps its 600 paying members on top of the bot market.
While bots are relatively widespread among the sneaker reselling community, they are not simple to use by any means. Insider spoke to teen reseller Leon Chen who has purchased four bots. He outlined the basics of using bots to grow a reselling business.
Most bots require a proxy, or an intermediate server that disguises itself as a different browser on the internet. This allows resellers to purchase multiple pairs from one website at a time and subvert cart limits. Each of those proxies are designed to make it seem as though the user is coming from different sources.
For example, "data center"proxies make it appear as though the user is accessing the website from a large company or corporation while a "residential proxy" is traced back to an alternate home address. Whichever type you use, proxies are an important part of setting up a bot. In some cases, like when a website has very strong anti-botting software, it is better not to even use a bot at all.
While most resellers see bots as a necessary evil in the sneaker world, some sneakerheads are openly working to curb the threat. SoleSavy is an exclusive group that uses bots to beat resellers at their own game, while also preventing members from exploiting the system themselves. The platform, which recently raised $2 million in seed funding, aims to foster a community of sneaker enthusiasts who are not interested in reselling.
We spoke to one of the group's founders to hear about how members are taking on the botting community.
In many cases, bots are built by former sneakerheads and self-taught developers who make a killing from their products. Insider has spoken to three different developers who have created popular sneaker bots in the market, all without formal coding experience.
Splashforce, a bot that services nearly 4,000 customers, was created by an 18-year-old who had previously described himself as "dirt poor." The teen founder and co-owner of Adept, another major sneaker bot, initially earned money via a paper route. Meanwhile, the maker of Hayha Bot, also a teen, notably describes the bot making industry as "a gold rush."
Each of these self-taught bot makers have sold over $380,000 worth of bots since their businesses launched, according to screenshots of payment dashboards viewed by Insider.