If you’ve ever sat at a computer pressing the same buttons repeatedly trying to get tickets for some concert then you’ll understand why people sometimes use software to automate the process. Several years ago I literally spent 10 hours clicking two buttons on a web site trying to get certain tickets for Glastonbury. I did actually succeed eventually, but it was hugely expensive and frustrating experience and one I would never repeat.
There are lots of these situations where demand massively exceeds supply and e-commerce servers simply aren’t able to deal with the amount of requests they receive. It’s actually fairly easy to overwhelm most web servers if the traffic is concurrent and persistent. Classic examples are when Nike release a new set of sneakers or a famous bands announces their tour dates. Unless you pay over the odds, prepare yourself for some frustrating clicking in order to succeed.
When you think about it, it’s not surprising that these tasks get automated after all it’s a fairly simple process. Indeed many of the specialised software available are little more than glorified macros which just repeatedly try to buy the specified item. The process focuses usually on just adding to the cart whereby the human can take over and pay for the item. You can often complete the process completely within the software but not surprisingly many people prefer not to put all their credit card details into a $99 software they bought on a website.
The software like this is often quite expensive too, however this is normally in order to facilitate mass purchases. Lots of individuals for example make substantial incomes buying these in-demand items and I do mean substantial quite frequently well over six figures a year. However the software alone isn’t enough to facilitate the multiple connections that are required to be successful and it’s why you need proxies.
Most of the e-commerce sites operate on the principle that each user comes from a distinct IP address. This is entirely reasonable because most people aren’t able to switch addresses easily and will usually be stuck using the same one for many months. However in order to block the internet entrepreneurs trying to purchase multiple items they will look to block addresses if too many connections are made from them,
A proxy server offers the facility to hide your true IP address and use a false one instead. Indeed by using many of these proxies you can make repeated, automated requests for purchases without arousing suspicion. Unfortunately though the simple free, proxies you see online won’t work at all for a variety of reasons and why people pay for these ‘Add to Cart’ proxies. Remember these are scaled proxies and not the individual VPN services that people generally use to bypass geoblocks and watch UK TV online for example.
In order for these automated software bots to work then they need a way to switch their identities quickly. The main component is of course the IP address, the unique network number assigned to every device connected to the internet. There are factors though which relate to other identifiers like the User Agent header, the meta data sent from your computer and the native referrer source.
These can all be controlled from the proxy if it is configured correctly however it’s extremely difficult to and requires a substantial network infrastructure. It’s very difficult to automate the process from the client side, however there are providers who run networks called backconnect proxies which effectively rotate the proxies available. Most commercial users look at buying the best rotating proxies in order to maximize the effectiveness of the software.