Checkout Bots are Disrupting the Fashion Industry

A thought piece...

The resell industry last year was estimated to be worth $1 billion. Without a doubt, checkout bots can affect different markets in many different ways and the fashion industry is no exception. Over the past few years, there has been a huge disruption due to check-out bots on many retailers. This can have a positive and negative effect on these brands, but the way in which items are being released has changed due to checkout-bots.

Nowadays, depending on the item, things sell out in minutes, or sometimes even seconds. In many cases, with brands such as Nike, Off-white, Supreme, Palace, Yeezy etc. people use checkout-bots which have been coded, mostly with Python, to check out with an item and all their card and shipping details in seconds, quicker than anyone can do manually. Why do they do this? Firstly, some code and use bots to secure these items because they genuinely have an interest in keeping the said item. In most cases, however, it is due to the bot-buyers wanting to sell these items for double/triple the price online after it sells out to make a profit. Due to these checkout bots taking over online sales, queues of people will be waiting outside stores to get their exclusive item.

A queue outside the Supreme store in Soho, London

The power of coding and creating these bots even extends to people who use them making a living from the resale market. People as young as 16 are making a wage and in-turn gaining niche fame as influencers on social media sites such as Instagram. These online checkout bots are also sold to people looking to buy items at a set price as another means of making money.

With the rate at which bots have been advancing and taking over these online releases, some retailers have been forced to tackle this problem head-on by introducing ‘raffles’. In the battle against code, with a lot of releases, you need to enter your details down to be drawn into a raffle which will allow you to then buy the item on the day. This has been a popular choice for big trainer releases in the last few years.

Raffle draw for a pair of exclusive trainers

What does this mean for retailers? Evidently, this means that fashion brands with these exclusive releases are bound to sell out, straight away. This seems like it can be nothing but a positive thing for these brands, however, this is not the case. A lot of the stock being sold is going to people who aren’t genuine consumers, but those who are looking to sell of these items for profit, meaning that the companies genuine consumers are missing out on these pieces. This could lead to loyal consumers giving up and disliking the brand as they are allowing checkout bots to gain everything on release. Checkout bots can potentially jeopardise a brands customer opinion on them.

It is without a doubt that the online fashion industry has had to evolve due to these powerful bots, and for the foreseeable future, bots will continue to disrupt the market greatly.

by Andrew Sargood

Posted on June 14, 2018