SOTC II: The SNKRS App

*I’ll start this off by saying: I don’t work for Nike. I’m not a designer or app developer on any level, period. Anything resembling a complaint about a technical feature or shortcoming comes from a place of a complete lack of knowledge of how things work from the tech side, especially what is and is not possible for Nike to control. But like any good writer, I’ve had this one in the bag  for a while, and now feels like as good a time as any to offer my unsolicited opinion.*

I, like you, am frustrated with the incredibly low rates of success for the average sneaker buyer on the app. Russ Bengston’s Twitter thread on 7/25/2020 about where the culture has gone is spot on, and with the quote unquote “bad” releases of the Off White x AJ IV and Grateful Dead x SB Dunk over the weekend, it seemed like the right time to launch into this topic.

You’ve heard and seen of the “ways to boost your chances” on a SNKRS release, and even likely read up on the types of drops (LEO,  Draw, etc). And like you, I have tried these weird methods**

-refreshing the cache

-closing all apps

-resetting the device

-preloading something into the purchase interface to prompt the device to auto-recognize your payment option at the attempted time of purchase

-only using paypal

-only using Apple Pay

-my personal fave: sharing the product page into your social media. This apparently gives you e-creds with the FBI Agent-Nike Gnome that lives in your device’s RAM and will give you a better chance at copping your newest darling drop

 **that are indeed logical, but can you say any of these Hail Mary full of graces and kissing your Jesus piece have actually had any impact or helped you? Like holding “DOWN + B” after throwing the Pokèball to increase your chances of catching a Pokémon with a low catch rate, is it really helping or is it a placebo that we keep taking in an attempt to salve the wounds of RARELY EVER hitting??

I get SO so discouraged when I see the bots eat up inventory on every release in the aftermath of each “Sadderday”. I also notice some of the same seemingly bot-less individuals hit at a MUCH higher rate than myself and that brings some salty feelings as well, but alas I can’t control that. They clearly have some kind of juice or access to the sneaker gods hotline. Or just a FIRE discord. More power to them. The bots though, that’s a real bummer, and I think Nike had the right idea in the beginning making it harder with things like captcha and hidden code words within images to sign up for raffles circa 2012-2013. Obviously bots figured that out in short order and here we are today; bot owners go into business for themselves and offer dozens and HUNDREDS of proxy accounts with your payment info attached, in exchange for an exorbitant fee, can spam the winning slots. Meanwhile, the average joe can get maybe 3 total SNKRS entries between the members of their house (LOL we all do it. No shame in the game). It sucks, but I’ve succumbed to that ideology and tried these bot services. In my experience, it was bleak. I’m a pessimist in general about my chances to hit on a drop that I can’t camp for, so I feel like these services use the fee they charge me to run their super bots, hit, claim they weren’t successful, flip the pairs they hit, and refund my money with the profits. 🤷🏾‍♂️ I could go on and on, but you get the gist..

More context:

When I first heard of the idea of SNKRS in maybe 2012 (the ole memory ain’t like it used to be once you’re in your 30’s), I had the distinct honor and privilege of working for Nike and my Head Coach had been on a trip to WHQ in Beaverton and came back and shared scant details about this app that was coming that would be revolutionary in how we buy shoes and it sounded AMAZING. The mind wandered about things like priority access, and check ins at Nike stores, and even PREORDERS *drool + swoon*. Fast forward to today and what that looks like in reality is “Exclusive access” & “SNKRS PASS”. I’ve been gifted via these golden ticket type moments a grand total of two (2) times and granted: THEY WERE BOTH HEATERS. AJ1 SBB 2.0, which I immediately gave to my oldest friend in the sneaker game simply because he asked. (THIS practice, we can touch in a whole ‘nother SOTC. Because most of y’all really really changed man smh) The second was Sean Wotherspoon x AM 97/1 BUT BEFORE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES, it was on that second wave where Nike basically said “Look we see you voted for this shoe religiously, every day for 30 days, and we didn’t do right by the people responsible for the release, so here you go: Check your inbox for exclusive access.” *Do your googles on the Nike VOTE BACK campaigns. Very cool concepts and could serve well in my proposed solution in how Nike can serve the sneaker community better as well as themselves, as an enterprise.* I didn’t f’n believe it until I’d placed the order, got confirmation, and received them in the mail. No drama. No nothing. Probably my greatest sneaker blessing. And that hope is what I carry with me every single SNKRS draw, and eventual L. Because it showed me that Nike DOES see. They DO know who is who. And it lets me know that they, at least on some level, care about sneaker-heads. So for reference, here is a look at everything I’ve ever hit on SNKRS:   

*I also hit on WINGS AJXII, but that was on my first SNKRS account that I lost access to. It was my first and only win on that account.*

-I will now apply some 7th grade level problem solving skills by deploying the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, with some tweaks in nomenclature.

THE PROBLEM: Dismal success rates, Bots, and as Russ put it, in his perfect fkn twitter thread: INFLUENCERS AND SEEDING. Cheap marketing, making the impossible to obtain seem like its somehow realistic. Let’s make it realistic Nike. 🌚

THE PROPOSAL:

It’s gonna get downright IMAGINARY from here, but just ride with it, and hear me out:

Think part digital fashion show, part auction, using the framework of the app, as is. SNKRS is a great looking app that doesn’t perform well when I want it to. See Example:

^^I see that exact screen for a full 60 seconds, every launch, without fail and the first thing I think to myself is: “Why tf is this happening, and why won’t Nike adjust?”

What would help this perception from it’s loyal customers is rewards points. (The possibility of ‘more’.) Accruing them can be a whole discourse, but the process for cashing in would be the real draw here. Look books are already a part of the app, but in addition to the retro throwbacks, make it FUTURE content. I’ll elaborate. QUARTERLY waiting rooms on the app, with updated look books TWO seasons from launch. (That’s 6 months prior to launch. I will address the likely questions of pipeline and manufacturing later.) And just like a draw entry, set a specific time frame for which eligible members can CASH IN rewards points to preorder product that would arrive to their door, say, a (1) day before the public release date, a second benefit. Yes, A few steps, but Nike has ways of making complex processes seem reasonable, if the product is cool enough. Now “why would people buy something they don’t even know is in demand?” Well hello there, hypebeast. Good question. Two things are the case: If given the chance, and a proper story telling element, consumers will tell you what they like and don’t like. But more key to the marketing element is WHO Nike features as models in these look books. If your fave is seen wearing an upcoming drop, you’re a lot more likely to see that product’s application to you. Cue: influencers. Nike already seeds product out anyway, and asks the recipients not to show or wear publicly the merch until a certain date. Photograph said influencers with/in certain product, for the look books, and allow them to share personal pics as well on their social media, as normal. In conjuncture with the preorder days, IMAGINE the kind of hype, attention, and traffic Nike would see. Imagine that 4 or more times a year. 

THE BENEFITS FOR YOU AND ME:

Access. Being part of something bigger. Stories to tell. Knowing Nike cares about the dollar we spend, rather than churning out the next billion. Or should I say: Changing their stance to not only embrace their billions, but their most loyal consumer base in stride. Those that cashed in their rewards points get true benefits other than money for goods and services rendered. The guarantee of authentic product is a huge draw for me. This also levels the playing field in manual vs bot on release days aka no more “Sadderday”. This wouldn’t exterminate bot usage, as there will always be a secondary market for commodities. But maybe it would drive bots some other direction. 🌚

THE BENEFITS FOR NIKE:

Profits, and more of it. Why Nike knowingly accepts that resellers can run whole preorders on their inventory and make profit sight unseen, rather than claiming those profits for themselves is something I often ponder. This capitalizes on that profit left on the table, and also deals a pretty big “reverse back to you” on the perception of hubris attributed to the Beaverton Brand.

WHY ITS FREAKIN PERFECT:

Market share/ mental grasp on the youths! Mass publicity, on an even more tidal scale, on a scale you can count on. Doing what they do best, while embracing the voice of the consumer. If some bone head wanted to bulk buy on SNKRS to bolster their rewards points total, I’m sure Nike could throttle that kind of effort to keep it fair. A simple “x rewards points per style/color” threshold. (T’s & C’s baby!)

WHY NIKE WOULD NEVER DO IT:

It’s too much to design, process wise. Although they could def bring me on as a contracted consultant to mitigate any pitfalls, from a consumer standpoint. 👨🏾‍🔬

A.) Pipeline. Nike designs its product years in advance, manufactures it dozens of months before its eventual launch, and is on to the next thing by the time we’ve put paws on whatever drops this Saturday. So adjusting part of, or full amounts of inventory for a consumer input process that directly says to the company “THIS IS WHAT WE WANT. THIS IS WHAT WE DON’T” can be as much of a blessing as it is a curse. But the very existence of Nike Factory Stores, and its contracts with 3rd party retailers means that Nike can release things as many times as the demand demands. A prime example is the Air Max Torch 3. That shoe has been on shelves for a decade, in its exact same iteration, with little to no change in its materials and appearance. That’s because Nike knows there will always be a customer to go to their local NFS and buy it over and over. Having said this, Nike could actually up the production numbers of super-in-demand products, armed with the data from the quarterly SNKRS event and send more of that item to its 3rd party retailers or its own stores in house for launch day.

B.) This entire undertaking would be, I think in Nike’s eyes, giving up on that mystique of their draw they’ve spend 4 decades cultivating. It would be putting a lot of the success of the brand directly in the hands of consumers like me: highly opinionated, and easily forgetting that who I am and what I spend of their product matters very little on their profit sheets. I would see it as adapting to the change in how people consume and purchase product. I am not suggesting this be a whole shift in how they go about business at large, however. Just an augmentation to how they currently succeed, with a greater focus on the voice of the people. 

I’ve submitted this idea to Nike on a few occasions, to no avail thus far. But I’m stubborn, and I don’t take their silence as complacency, but rather having not actually heard me yet.

Let’s get into it and have fun debating this concept! Find me on twitter @DoubleA_DoesKix (adult language), and check out my YouTube channel DoubleADoesKix where I touch on this concept in video format as well. (no adult language used, for the most part)

A special shoutout to @JonDHampton and @ABoyGarrett on Twitter who have been my sounding board for this particular conversation for years and years and helping me fine tune my thinking on business concepts and overall possibility of a change in Nike’s approach. 

Firm business handshakes for both of ya’s. 🤝🤝🤝

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