Auto Buy Bots In The Fitted Hat Community
Auto buy bots in the New Era fitted hat community is a common problem hat enthusiasts and collectors face. According to the community these bots are purchasing up all of the latest drops from Hat Club & My Fitteds as well as from other brands that drop exclusive fitted hats. This is also a common problem in the sneaker community as well and has been for a long time. This article digs into what "auto buy bots" are, especially pertaining to the hat community, some suggestions to fight the bots so users actually have an opportunity to purchase a new drop and some of the ways that companies have fought these bots in the past.
What Are Auto Buy Bots & How Do They Cheat?
Auto buy bots are small pieces of software that automates a series of steps to purchase a product with incredible speed. So on the user end all they really have to do is log in or click a simple button and the auto buy bot automates the steps it was designed to take. Auto buy bots are used in a variety of industries that offer limited quantities of a product aka "exclusive" products. There were rumors of auto buy bots being used to purchase PS5 (Play Station 5 consoles) in bulk quantities. Many of the individuals using auto buy bots in the fitted hat community are not actually buying the hats to keep and wear for themselves but rather resell them on places like eBay, Grailed and other third party marketplaces.
Advantage: The advantage of using an auto buy bot is that the consumer sets themselves up in a better position to purchase a product (or in this case a fitted hat) than consumers who are not using an auto buy bot. The worst thing that can happen is they are detected and their purchase is declined.
Disadvantage: The disadvantage of auto buy bots are obviously consumers, who have no intentions on reselling the fitted hats, lose out because the hats are sold out nine times out of ten. Their only option is to buy the hat from a marketplace at 3x the price the hat was bought for. The other disadvantage is consumers will eventually stop trying to purchase the exclusives from the company, and that can ultimately hurt the company as well.
Popularity In Fitted Hats Increased (5x) Since Covid-19
We often hear collectors from the New Era hat community make a statement like "It use to be easier to catch a drop." meaning it was easier to purchase these exclusive fitted caps when they release. That is likely true because fitted hats were actually on the lower end of the spectrum when it came to baseball caps interest. Snapback caps had more interest than fitteds not too long ago. FittedHats.com has tracked the popularity of fitted hats for a while now but more specifically before the Covid-19 pandemic, during the pandemic and there after. In 2019 the term "fitted hats" was typed into search engines around 12,000 - 18,000 times per month on average (based on a reliable source of data). Currently in 2021, "fitted hats" are searched for 90,500+ times per month on average and became more popular than snapbacks. That is approximately a 5x increase of interest in fitted hats from consumers than just a few years ago. This means buying an exclusive fitted is going to become 5x harder to purchase because its becoming more competitive now. We bring this fact up because it may not always be bots that are buying up the hats you want, but rather another buyer. However, there is evidence that bots are being used because you can always find resellers on eBay listing the latest Hat club release for sale almost immediately (15 - 30 minutes after it sells out on Hat Club website) at 2-3x the original price. Not only that but some eBay sellers have multiple Hat Club exclusives listed for sale, so they are always catching the latest drops.
Auto Buy Bots Prevention
Due to consumers voicing out their aggravation of not being able to buy exclusive baseball caps when they are released, companies are attempting to detect and deter auto buy bots purchases on their websites. Companies are using a variety of methods to prevent bots such as providing a different link to the exclusive product and adjusting their merchant fraud filter settings to detect usual or suspicious behaviors, announcing a new fitted hat release the last possible minute and having their users "wait in line". However, there hasn't really been a 100% effective method to preventing auto buy bots in the fitted hat or sneaker community. There are three methods that provided decent results but they are not 100% effective. The methods below had some encouraging results.
Three Methods That Are Somewhat Effective
- Shock Drops - This is where a company releases a new product by surprise without anyone knowing ahead of time. This is definitely effective because the individual using an auto buy bot does not have prior knowledge of the drop so they cannot set up their bot to make the purchase (unless they are purchasing every new release regardless of prior knowledge of what it looks like, which is pretty foolish). My Fitteds regularly uses this method in the past. Learn more about shock drops.
- Preorders - Definitely the top most effective method to prevent auto buy bots is to release the exclusive fitted caps as preorders instead of exclusive drops that sells out within minutes. Preorders are also a deterrent for resellers because everyone has enough time and a fair chance to purchase the hat before it reaches the aftermarket. However, the downfall of preorders are the length of time it takes to get your actual hat which usually takes between 4 - 6 months to arrive. Companies also depend on their manufacturers for functionality and issues can pop up. In fact some companies won't re-enable preorders until 2022 (due to Covid-19 pandemic).
- Password System - We saw a baseball cap company implement a password system to prevent auto buy bots from buying up all of their exclusive inventory and this is actually an interesting one. The company basically required users to sign up to their email newsletter where they will be announcing when the new fitteds will be dropping. The signed up users would be given a password to enter the section of the website where they can purchase the exclusive fitted hats. However, resellers were still able to get their hands on the exclusive hats (maybe by the use of bots or not, we don't know). A better system would be to email each individual users that signed up for the newsletter a unique password exclusive to them only, instead of a general password that everyone shares. A general password emailed to users makes it a little more difficult for bots, but also makes it more difficult for users as well on top of the fact that resellers can just sign up to0 and receive the email with the password.
What Consumers Can Do To Fight Back
Consumers do not have many options to fight auto buy bots, it's mainly up to the companies to add preventative measures, but there are some things you can do to help fight the bots. The list below can help you faster check out to buy your fitted cap.
- Auto Fill - If you are using a desktop or laptop to buy your fitteds, be sure to use auto fill option in your web browser. Google Chrome, Edge & Firefox allow users to save repetitive information such as your name, address, street, city, state and zip code to the browser. So anytime you fill out a form on a website the information can be added with a click of a button. This of course only applies if you do not have an account with the company and your information isn't saved in your account.
- Add Payment To Browser - Similarly to auto fill, web browsers allow you to add and save a credit/debit card to the web browser. Anytime a website ask you to enter your payment information you can automatically add your payment details info into the fields with the saved data. You will still have to add the CVC information but its a hell of a lot easier than inputting your entire card numbers into the field.
- Digital Wallets - Depending on what website you are buying your fitteds from, they may allow you to check out with a digital wallet such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo or Samsung Pay. This option is best for users who are using their mobile smart phones to checkout. All of your information is saved. All that is required is to click a few buttons. Many individuals in the hat community state that Apple Pay is the best option.
We hope this article have been helpful in answering some question you've had about auto buy bots, what they are, the pros and cons of them and how to prevent and fight them so that you have a fair chance at purchasing a limited edition fitted hats. Good Luck!