It’s Not Bots, You’re Just Slow
The past year has brought about some pretty crazy conditions for the firearms industry. Demand is higher than it’s ever been and for a time in 2020, a lot of manufacturing facilities were running at reduced capacity. The effects of which, we’re still feeling today. However, That’s an entirely separate topic which we’ll save for another day. The facts are that demand is insanely high and manufacturers simply can’t keep up.
Products like ammo, rifles, uppers, BCGs, pistols and nearly everything related to things that go bang, sell out within minutes of being posted. A common complaint I’ve seen across the internet is people blaming “bots” for buying all the products before they get a chance to. What most people don’t realize is that it’s not bots, it’s several hundred people camping out on the same page hitting “F5” over and over again. Especially when they know when a drop is going to happen. We’ve had literally tens of thousands of page hits on a single page in less than an hour for some items.
Throughout the past year we’ve tried to handle the “drops” of high demand products in different ways to give everyone the best shot at scoring these high demand items. We’ve tried:
-Surprise drops where nobody even knew we had the product and just put it on the site.
-Drops at random times like 7am, noon, 5pm and 9pm, etc.
-We’ve published release dates/times on our social media to let folks know that we’ll be dropping X product at Y date and time.
-We’ve even left it up to fate and gave people 24 hours to enter into a random drawing and the winners selected get to purchase the product.
A common complaint is “it’s not fair because all the bots will just buy it before we get a chance to.” Or, “I’m not even going to try because the bots will just get it all.” Ever hear those before? It’s not bots, dude. You’re just slow.
I know on our site that bot purchases aren’t something that has happened because we monitor server logs after each drop and check for signs of bots. We’ve yet to see any signs whatsoever. In order to prove what we know to be true, we decided to run a little experiment.
On Tuesday, March 23rd we received (15) SOLGW 13.7” Uppers. (I know that’s not a lot and it’s less than 10% of what we have on order but it’s what we got and we’re excited for it!) What we did was create an entirely new product page for them. There was already an existing page for those uppers that we have used in the past but this new page is entirely different with it’s own unique URL. We created the page 10 minutes before the inventory went live. Up until 2 minutes before, the page was in “draft” mode and not visible to anyone except for the 5 users with admin credentials to our site. We imported the email notification list, published the page and then put the 15 uppers into inventory.
Our system sent out email notifications to the nearly 500 emails on the list and we posted on social media about it. The time that elapsed from when we put the 15 uppers on the site to the time we sold out was 520 seconds. The time from the first order to the last was 489 seconds. The very first order was placed just 31 seconds after we put the uppers in stock and 16 seconds later, another one was sold.
The way bots work is they’re assigned to a specific URL. Once a product comes in stock on that URL, the bot will add it to cart and complete the checkout process. The link for these was created 11 minutes before the products sold out. I think it’s safe to say that there’s no conceivable way that a bot purchased any of these uppers.
I can’t speak for other sites but I can confidently say that it’s not bots buying our products. It’s hundreds of dedicated individuals waiting for these items.
While there’s some things you can do to improve your odds of scoring on one of these “drops” the facts remain that sometimes you just have to get lucky. A few tips are:
-Create an account with your information saved and make sure you’re logged in. This will expedite the process once you add it to your cart because no retailers that I’m aware of will save a product for you in your cart. Items are only reserved once you complete the checkout process.
-Save your credit card information to the site if they allow it.
-Use the Chrome browser from Google and enable autofill. This will populate all the fields at checkout saving you valuable time.
-Quit your job, move into mom’s basement and wear out your F5 key.
Our goal is to try to be as fair as possible to everyone in these unprecedented times. We realize not everyone can be in front of a computer 24/7 so you can expect to see more random drawings from us in the future. We’re not sure how often and to what extent we’ll use them and we’re still experimenting with them. We also don’t give out insider information as to when drops will happen. If you message or email us asking for special treatment, you’ll be disappointed. It’s not fair to everyone else and you’re not special. We’ll either post about it on social media where everyone can see it or not at all.
Lastly, I’ll say if you’re relying on email notifications, you’re already behind the curve. Emailing hundreds (sometimes thousands) of users takes time. When drops sell out in seconds, there’s no way that an email service can keep up. Often times, most folks won’t even get the email because the items sold out before the program could send it. You may have received the email and went to the page 5mins later but more often than not, you’re about 4 and half minutes late.
Email notification systems were designed for items when there’s hundreds or thousands of that item available or for when the inventory received will last for at least an hour. In those situations, they work great but it’s unreasonable to expect them to work on drops that are measured in seconds.
Hopefully this little experiment can shed some light on just how crazy things are out there. Demand is higher than it’s ever been and everyone is fighting over limited supply. Sites are crashing left and right. On a side note, ours has crashed once in 2020 and we’ve yet to crash it in 2021. Companies would do well to pay for good hosting and web development team. Ours is the best in the business! Beyond The Brand Media.
May the odds be ever in your favor.