Here you are staring at the computer screen and refreshing the page, waiting for the release of Nvidia’s flagship RTX 3080 graphics card. And as the clock ticks down and you see the in-stock update, you race to fill up and get your pre-order in before anyone else steals the chance. The page loads up, and you see your pre-order fail — they all went out of stock that instant.
Sadly, this became a reality for many consumers across the world who were patiently waiting to get their hands on Nvidia’s brand-new graphics card. But instead of getting their order, Nvidia’s online store became a playground for bots and scalpers.
Bots Bought Up Most of the Stock
As you can tell, Nvidia’s launch became a classic tale of bots overtaking and ruining the online store experience. Legitimate customers couldn’t get their pre-orders, and now these unethical people get to run off with multiple graphics cards, which they have zero intention of using.
Consequently, this leads us to the next problem, which is scalping.
Scalpers Are Reselling the RTX 3080 Cards
As with any high-demand and limited items, they are always at the risk of scalpers. Their goal is stockpile as much of these limited availability goods, the RTX 3080 cards, and resell them to make a quick profit. However, this is unfair for the legitimate consumer and backs them into a corner with no other choices.
Absurdly Inflated Prices. Firstly, scalpers drive the prices up high that it becomes unreasonable. In the case of Nvidia’s RTX 3080, instead of getting them for $700, eBay listings started popping up, reaching upwards of $2000. More than double the MSRP.
Downright Unethical. Second, the act of scalping is inherently unethical, unfair, and offers nothing to the market. It tricks unknowing people into spending more of their money on products that should be cheaper. Money that could have been better spent on paying down the mortgage loan or more important matters.
Where Did Nvidia Go Wrong?
The key takeaway from all this is where Nvidia went wrong. They were well aware of the hype that surrounded their release, but when they were finally available on their site, they failed to set up and install bot protection.
As a general rule of thumb for all businesses operating online retail stores and especially when dealing with high-ticket items, necessary security measures should always be put in place. A lot of these issues could have been easily avoided if they had only taken some precautionary measures.
Nvidia Plans to Manually Review Orders
As a result, Nvidia announced that they would be manually reviewing orders to identify which came from legitimate buyers and those entered by bots and scripts. Furthermore, they are also promising that more stock is coming very soon.
However, one thing’s for sure; this release has to be one of the messiest we have ever witnessed and something all business should learn from.
How Do You Fight against It?
Bots and scalpers will always try their best to squeeze into any limited-edition items from concert tickets to the latest tech and even essential goods to drive prices high and profit. However, fighting against these unethical practices is not impossible, and there are two methods your online retail store can implement:
#1 Get Bot Protection
First on your list is getting bot protection. Do you recall all those captcha prompts and image selections you had to go through? If so, you’re already well aware of one of the simplest methods of keeping bots away from your products. While they appear trivial, they are effective against low-caliber scripts.
In cases when you are dealing with higher-end bots, though, you can also look into getting bot protection software that you can install directly on to your websites.
#2 Detailed Monitoring
Second, you can also implement detailed monitoring of all the website visitors coming in and out of your online store. While very resource-intensive, monitoring will act as an extra layer of protection against bots if you can afford it. Furthermore, you might even detect more dangerous bots aimed at stealing information or filtering your website with spam.
To note, here are some factors you need to monitor:
- Abnormal spikes of web traffic
- An unusual slowdown of your servers
- Suspicious activities from unidentifiable IPs
Unethical practices will always be present, but as responsible business owners, we must implement safety measures to guarantee our customers’ safety and protect the company’s credibility. So let Nvidia’s slip-up be a lesson and take the necessary course of action to make your online store experience more secure.