Jay Legaspi


Research and Perspective

Mobile and Web are Transforming the Sneaker Reseller Market

Solving for bots, fraud and authenticity through innovative web and mobile products.

The sneaker resell market, where sellers flip highly coveted pairs of sneakers at a premium, has been estimated to be worth around $1.2 Billion. These are incremental sales to the already monstrous $32 billion brought in from US sneaker sales alone last year. While there is nothing inherently wrong with reselling, the market is particularly interesting to examine from the perspective of the online buyer, who faces significant challenges like access to purchase, authenticity, and fair price. Luckily, web and mobile apps are providing solutions to ensure buyers get the shoes they want.

Clearing the Path to Purchase

Hype around sneaker releases usually fuels price, and the primary driver for hype is usually limited availability. Resellers are often able to make coveted releases more limited to online consumers through the use of bots, or automated scripts, that can breeze through checkout processes faster than a normal user can.

In response, Nike, the prime supplier (and target) for these checkout hacks, launched its SNKRS app last year. Through SNKRS, Nike autofills shipping, payment, and preferred size info from the user’s Nike+ account and reduces the checkout process to a fully populated confirm purchase screen. In total, the only thing standing between the user and their shoes is two taps. Bot usage on the most exclusive releases is also curtailed through a raffle system called “The Draw,” removing the efficiency benefits given through automated scripting. Finally, SNKRS also serves as a marketing tool, allowing users to pick their favorite styles of Nike footwear to create a tailored news feed and receive push notifications for upcoming models, all of which can be catered through a clear in-app preference panel that also allows you see previous orders and track current ones.

Authenticity of Pair

While it is waning in its importance, eBay still remains one of the primary platforms for reselling. A primary issue with eBay however, is the number of knockoffs being sold through the site. While savvy buyers may be able to spot fakes or bad deals, it doesn’t change the risk that shoes are still being sold through entries with potentially false pictures.

GOAT is an app that attempts to mitigate that risk by not only curating their seller list, but also by offering an authentication service that requires sellers to send pairs to their offices for verification before sending to the buyer. All of this is wrapped in a clean and easy to navigate user experience that benefits both buyer and seller. Additional benefits to the app is an offer system that allows users to name a price on a desired pair as well as a social feed that shares user generated content of shoes being worn on foot.

Fair Price

Demand and hype certainly drive a sneaker’s value which can lead to large variations of selling price in the market. Case in point, on April 2nd Nike released the “Wings” version of the Jordan XII. Retailing for $220 but limited to 12,000 pairs worldwide, the current eBay prices range on average from $900 to $1,200, with outliers going as far up as $2,500.

StockX, which has been mentioned in outlets like The New York Times, ESPN, and Forbes, attempts to create clarity in fair price through its website. Through StockX, users can see pertinent selling info including yearly High/Low price ranges, recent asking prices, and even price volatility to provide confidence in purchase. Similar to GOAT, purchases through StockX also are verified before being sent out to customers.

The First of Many Steps

SNKRS, GOAT, and STOCKX are fine first steps for evolving the sneaker marketplace and for providing a good buying experience for customers but there are still steps that can be taken which will utilize mobile to the fullest. For example, bots have now been developed to game SNKRS purchase links through PC. This exploit is due in part to both mobile and web sales pulling from the same inventory through the same web backend. If SNKRS were to pull from an exclusive inventory base accessible only through mobile traffic, Nike may be able to prevent bot usage even more. For apps like GOAT and STOCKX who benefit buyers without reputable consignment shops in their area, scaling their selection may prove to be a challenge in the future where less reputable sellers might find their way into the systems.

Despite these challenges, bringing mobile into the marketplace is undoubtedly a wise move, given the market’s demographic and its proclivity to the second screen.