By Bill West, Ellipsis Technologies

ECommerce flash sales are an increasingly popular way for merchants to promote and quickly sell limited edition and limited inventory merchandise.  Creating a flash sale “event” with a pre-set period of time where you sell a single items or a small selection of items is a tool for merchants to sell out of specific items instantly, produce extraordinary short term revenue and bring new customers to your site that can be marketed to for future sales.

One issue that plagues flash sellers in the eCommerce world today are bots which can inundate the checkout with complete transactions and basically deplete the already limited inventory in a matter of seconds.  The bots deployed are simply an automated software process that can search the world for specific products and purchase inventory in large quantities by auto-completing the checkout process.  

These bots have been in the market for over twenty years and were originally confined to bulk purchases of limited edition sneaker models and subsequently all fall under the umbrella of “sneaker bots”  but have since broadened to be able to search for and purchase any product during a flash sale or limited inventory event. 

These sneaker bot attacks raise a whole host of issues for flash sale merchants not least of which is that inventory is sold out in minutes only to be available at inflated prices on a third party site, leaving potential human buyers out in the cold.  A constant shortage of inventory obviously cuts into repeat site visitors who, unlike bots, typically purchase more than one product. Additionally, merchant employees must sort through these purchases to cancel orders, restock inventory and a number of other painstaking tasks in the hours immediately after each flash sale.

Shopify merchants have been plagued by these bots for years but an app recently introduced by Ellipsis Technologies named Shop Protector Plus is now successfully identifying and blocking bot purchases daily with incredible success.

The Shop Protector Plus solution which is now available in the Shopify app store

 (Shop Protector – Ecommerce Plugins for Online Stores) totally protects merchant checkout while providing total control of the process to the merchant.  

For example, the merchant can control the level of protection they need to invisibly detect and block bot entry to the checkout system.  There are configurable options for auto mitigation, bulk cancellation of bot orders, initiate bulk cancels, make refund/inventory restocking decisions, automatically sending cancellation emails while providing merchants with  protection from form spam and fake account creation and providing access to a full analytics dashboard.

Different from traditional bot detection techniques such as CAPTCHA which requires a user to physically decipher difficult to read words (which causes buyer defection after each unsuccessful attempt), the Shop Protector Plus is completely invisible to human shoppers, requiring no interaction at all.

Shop Protector Plus (Shop Protector – Ecommerce Plugins for Online Stores) is available on the Shopify app store and comes with a 14 day free trial.  Ellipsis technical support is there to assist if needed.

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