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Nike goes into robot-fighting mode

nike-snkrs-bots-thefutureparty
Nike SNKRS // Illustration by Kate Walker

Nike goes into robot-fighting mode

 

The Future. Nike is finally going to war against the quick-checkout bots that are scoring most of the product on the brand’s hypebeast-focused SNKRS app and angering the community of actual flesh-and-blood sneakerheads. While Nike tries to get ahead of the problem now to make sure the community doesn’t ditch the platform… coming crypto-backed tokens could ensure that only people who complete certain tasks or have a verified identity can purchase shoes.

Swoosh defense squad

Real humans are tired of losing out on hot shoes to legions of bots (who don’t even have feet). And Nike knows that it’s “at risk” of losing its best customers.

So here’s what the brand is doing about it:

  • It’s hiring engineers to build out the app’s new anti-bot protections.
  • It rolled out “elevated exclusive access,” which sends out personalized purchasing opportunities.
  • CEO John Donahoe said the exclusive access invites pinpoint people” based on criteria like their engagement with SNKRS and past purchase attempts. 
  • Nike is also debuting a “dedication score,” which will (vaguely) “reward member groups with high product affinity.”

Nike said in a statement that it is “fully committed to making sure that our real, loyal consumers are the ones who get fair access to our products.”

The real customer is always right

Nike has known for a while that bots have become a huge issue on the platform… but now it can no longer afford for the issue to go unchecked.

  • Digital sales now account for 25% of Nike’s revenue.
  • SNKRS users increased by 56% in the past year, and demand was up 70%.
  • Yet, Nike only met 7% of that demand.
  • So, as a result, only 20% of users thought the app was fair, which Nike said was making the community become “disenfranchised.”

A leaked internal Nike presentation stated that “High heat, hype is ‘killing the culture’ and consumers are migrating towards New Balance and smaller, independent brands.” That level of disappointment just isn’t sustainable for Nike’s growing digital ambitions.