Auction site eBay is ramping up the competition in the sneaker resale space by announcing a new authentication program in partnership with Sneaker Con. Beginning this month, the most popular sneakers sold on eBay will be verified by an "independent team of industry experts." By early 2021, the process of vetting is planned to expand to all sneakers selling for more than $100 on the platform.
The eBay authentication process essentially mirrors that of StockX, Stadium Goods, and GOAT by requiring sellers to ship out the sneaker for authentication once a purchase is made. For eBay, this will take place at a brand new and dedicated facility made with its partners, a sneaker convention that has also pivoted to the sneaker resale game. If an item is identified as authentic, it'll then be given an eBay tag as a signifier and shipped out to the seller. And if a seller chooses to offer refunds, the returned sneakers will again be vetted by eBay to make sure they receive the same item they sold.
An old player comes to life — Along with real-life events and forums, eBay was originally one of the only places to go to buy coveted sneakers that had already sold out. As the most legitimate and user-friendly market for such sales, eBay still wasn't without its shortcomings. There would be no guarantee the sneaker you purchased was indeed authentic, and filing a complaint with a company that didn't have an expertise in this (then) niche market could often be fruitless.
That void was eventually filled by third-party platforms including StockX, Stadium Goods, and GOAT in what has become a multi-billion-dollar market. In the past year, eBay has been making attempts to win back a larger portion of the market by removing sellers' fees for all sneakers selling for more than $100. Still, those other platforms offered what eBay could not: assurance that the sneaker was authentic.
Authentication isn't perfect, though — Customers have complained about StockX's authentication failing at times, in addition to a host of other customer service issues. But because of the inevitability of human error, there isn't a platform offering authentication that has a 100 percent success rate. It's possible artificial intelligence will be the next step in more quality assurances — a startup called Entrupy is developing that sort of technology — but until it becomes commonplace, we'll just have to accept that an item being deemed "authentic" is ultimately a judgment call, no matter how informed the authenticator is.
“Authentication has become an expectation for today’s consumers in categories of high passion and high value, and this program makes eBay the most attractive platform for enthusiasts in these categories," Jordan Sweetnam, SVP and general manager of eBay North America, said in a release. "eBay operates one of the world's most diverse sneaker marketplaces — with the widest selection and best prices — and by removing any uncertainty with the buying process, our community can buy and sell with total confidence."
Total confidence is still a myth, but at least now eBay can offer as good of a service as its newer competitors.