Hype sales are high-intensity, time-limited events in which you drive users to your site towards a limited number of high-value products. In these situations, demand often outstrips supply. Typical products sold in hype sales include event tickets, sneakers such as Yeezys, hot clothing items, collectible cards, NFTs and electronics such as PS5s.
1. Any business can hold a hype sale
Any brand in the e-commerce vertical can make the case to hold a hype sale, particularly those with a limited quantity of inventory and high demand. Many retailers hold a special event day — a specifically defined day that will focus on one product or one product category. In advance of the event, these retailers will center their marketing strategy around it to generate demand. Some even involve celebrities to build excitement around their campaigns. Then, when the special day arrives, the customers will be “first come, first served.”
One of the biggest opportunities in this space is recreating Black Friday on any day of the year. Amazon created Prime Day and many other retailers are following suit. This past Cyber 5, PerimeterX partner YOTTAA saw a 41% increase in traffic and a whopping 43.7% increase in conversion rate across their top 100 customers. You can apply this logic to any high-priority shopping day of the year, and the possibilities for engagement are endless. Repeating this strategy multiple times will result in many high-revenue days throughout your year.
2. Optimize your website for speed and scalability
In a hype sale, customers all arrive in the same time window and rapidly buy out products. This means your traffic will see sudden spikes and the scalability of your web app infrastructure will be tested. There are two common scenarios in which this can take form. The first is a product drop such as a sneaker drop. In this scenario, everyone arrives around the same time and product stock is bought out immediately. In a case like this, websites see roughly 11 million requests per minute. The second scenario is a “special day” hype sale in which there’s more of a gradual increase in traffic — massively increased, but more sustained throughout the day.
Figure 1: The difference in traffic influxes between a product drop hype sale and a special day hype sale
To keep your website primed for any variation of these models, ensuring your infrastructure is fast and scalable is a must. A slow site or an unavailable site will not only result in bounces, but it will deter shoppers and damage your brand reputation. After investing so much time and money into marketing campaigns, influencers and celebrity endorsements, it’s paramount that you are able to handle the traffic influx that brings. This way, you’ll preserve your maximum ROI.
Increased traffic can also impact your inventory management systems on the back end. At a certain level of stress, those systems can break. Further brand damage will incur when a customer discovers that a product they thought they bought doesn’t actually exist. It’s also crucial to note that not all traffic is good traffic. When you understand the myriad breaking points that exist throughout your business in the hype sale process, only then can you prepare your business to the fullest with sufficient infrastructure. This leads us to bot management.
3. Get ahead of bad bots
Because of the high resale value on hype sale items, people often use bots to beat the rush and spoil the fun for others — behooving retailers to nip this issue in the bud via bot mitigation. In fact, a PerimeterX survey found that 51% of respondents familiar with bots have used one to purchase a limited-edition item, 21% of whom have done so multiple times. One of the biggest factors that can kill the “hype” around a hype sale is when users are convinced the playing field isn’t level — that they never actually had a chance to successfully make a purchase. Too many times bots have invaded sales to swipe up nearly all inventory at once. Once these bots have succeeded, bot operators often take to social media to gloat and advertise their product for resale. Not only does this net them buyers for products, but it often acts as advertising for the bots themselves.
What are the best practices for beating bad bots? There are three stages:
Figure 2: The three stages of a successful hype sale launch
First comes the planning stage. In this phase, it’s best to tune your website by understanding customer purchase flows and identifying gaps that might be exploited by bots. Prior to your hype sale launch, have your security analysts research the type of bot activity you will likely face so you can meet your launch goals.
Second comes the enforcing stage — this comes on launch day. Have a security analyst provide real-time oversight to ensure that you can adapt and succeed by tuning as the launch progresses.
Third and lastly comes the reporting stage, which occurs post-launch. Reviewing results with your security team will help you bring home takeaways to prepare for the next launch.
4. Keep a holistic list of best practices
Managing a website and all of its working parts is no easy task, so be sure to keep a checklist to ensure your entire infrastructure is up to the challenge.
- Keep a tight partnership between your e-commerce and security teams.
- Be wary of your third-party services and how they affect your website performance.
- Ensure your WAF and CDN solutions are working at the appropriate level to support your inventory system and order management system.
- Use a waiting room when appropriate to level out traffic and build anticipation with shoppers.
Figure 3: Keep these hype sale best practices close as you approach launch
Bonus tip: How to know if you’ve been successful
How will you know if a hype sale has been successful? One sign is angry bot operators. Social media is a breeding ground for resentment against a good bot management solution. Expect some cursing on Twitter from black market resellers if you’re doing your job right.
For more information about how hype sales operate and how to stay protected, watch the full webinar with YOTTAA and PerimeterX here.