The days of waiting in line for the next big sneaker drop may soon be over.
Nike is joining Adidas as the latest retailer to drive consumers to a mobile app in order to take control of its exclusive product launches. Nike announced earlier this week that its forthcoming HyperAdapt 1.0, a self-lacing, rechargeable sneaker, will be available on December 1, but there’s a catch. In order to score a pair of the $720 sneakers—which will initially only be available at the Nike Soho store and the NIKE+ ClubHouse, both in New York City—consumers will have to make an in-store appointment using the Nike+ app.
David Fischer, CEO and founder of Highsnobiety, said the transition to app-enabled in-store appointments is designed to cut down on campouts in front of stores, which have propagated acts of violence in recent years. Fischer cited a 2014 incident in which a 15-year-old was shot when he cut a line waiting for the release of the latest Yeezy shoe at a Foot Locker in New York.
The challenge, Fischer said, is ensuring that the apps prevent against bots that allow resellers to sneak products into shopping baskets ahead of their actual release. These bots allow resellers, who acquire exclusive products and sell them at high markups, to beat the system.
“Demand surpasses supply by such a high margin that the stores simply cannot satisfy their consumer base,” he said. “Online, on the other hand, since the sneaker resale game has become such a big business, bots have increasingly become an issue. Nike and Adidas want to better service their actual customers with these apps, which cannot be tricked as easily by bots, and at the same time [lessen] violence around their releases in stores.”
This isn’t Nike’s first product drop that has required shoppers to consult its app first. When it launched its limited-edition Nike Mag sneaker in October, only 89 pairs of the “Back to the Future”–inspired shoes were available. Interested buyers were asked to sign in to the Nike+ app to make a donation to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in order to be eligible.
In the same vein, Adidas announced last week that its new UltraBoost Triple Black shoe would be the first product released using the adidas Confirmed app. Users can reserve their shoes from their phones and then complete their purchases by going to their local brick-and-mortar retail shop. By downloading the app, they can opt into push notifications to be reminded when reservations begin, which will then prompt them to select a size, pick-up date and location.
So far, reviews of these apps by Nike and Adidas fans on social media have been mixed: Some have expressed frustration about their functionality while others have said that they promote a level of exclusivity that makes it even more difficult to acquire products. (Neither Nike and Adidas responded to requests for comment.)
I think more people signed up for adidas confirmed than to vote
— Made by Erick (@madebyerick) November 9, 2016
Adidas Confirmed is the most trash app ever created.
— Tejas (@Tayhawz) November 6, 2016
I’m convinced all these sneaker apps aren’t supposed to work for the common folk. SNKRS, Adidas Confirmed, etc.
— Pres (@petey_lyte) October 29, 2016
Though the apps can be beneficial in streamlining the sales process and allowing for more controlled releases, Fischer said that they also detract from streetwear culture and may hinder buzz over new products moving forward.
“[The apps], to some degree, take away some of the appeal and excitement of a real sneaker release, in the traditional sense,” Fischer said. “Lining up and peacefully meeting as a community to purchase some of the most coveted sneakers on the market is, in part, what built up this market in the first place. It has just gotten too extreme, and the brands had to take measures.”