As COVID-19 lockdowns complicate technology products’ ongoing supply-chain issues and consumers compete to find scarce products, Amazon is trying something new.
The behemoth hopes its new invitation-based ordering option will help keep robot traffic from causing inventory shortages, as well as price gouging, for in-demand items.
The new system launches for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X orders. Then it will expand to other products. If it works well, it could end up helping consumers lay hands on hard-to-get Apple hardware, too.
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Amazon launches invitation-based ordering starting with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
Amazon’s new invite-based ordering option is for high-demand, low-supply products. The company told TechCrunch the new experience should help prevent inventory shortages and price gouging for high-demand, low-inventory products caused by robot traffic.
The hope is only real customers can buy such sought-after products. The option launches first in the U.S. It starts with ever-popular PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X game consoles sold and fulfilled by Amazon.
“We work hard every day to provide customers with low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery,” said Llew Mason, Amazon vice president of consumer engagement. “This includes developing a shopping experience where customers can purchase the items they’re interested in without having to worry about bad actors buying and reselling them at a much higher price.”
How it works
With the new ordering option, you can request a free invitation to buy a high-demand items from the product detail page. You must have an Amazon account but you need not be a Prime member.
Products in the new program have a notice saying they’re “available by invitation.” The product page notes that it’s a “high-demand item with limited quantities” and that Amazon “won’t be able to grant all requests.”
Amazon plans to remove bot-like submissions and send invitations to remaining customers. To verify genuine customers, the company will scrutinize factors like the account’s prior purchase history and creation date.
Accepted invitation requests will receive an email with purchase instructions. It will provide a deadline by which the purchase must be made by following a link to place the order.
As Amazon’s stock of a given product grows, it will grant more invitations to purchase it.
Stopping ‘bad actors’
The company said “bad actors” who buy and resell popular products at higher prices — like gaming consoles — make up a small percentage of activity on its marketplace. But it’s committed to preventing them from negatively impacting other users’ shopping experiences.
You can try the new ordering option starting Thursday in the U.S. So far it applies to the PlayStation 5 Console with a Blu-Ray digital disc drive ($499.99). And by the way, Sony also has a similar invitation system you can try for direct purchases, too.
The option becomes available for the Xbox Series X in the next few days, the company said.
Amazon plans to expand invitation-bases purchasing to more products and to other countries in the future. Perhaps Apple products will be on the list soon.