eBay launches sneaker authentication service to combat counterfeit sales

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eBay is launching a new sneaker authentication service to verify that shoes sold on the platform match what their listings claim. According to CNN, the service will start the week of October 25th and cover the most popular sneaker styles and brands. But by early 2021 it will expand to cover all sneakers sold for over $100 on eBay in the US.

Collectible sneakers are big business. TechCrunch notes that some shoes are limited to just a few thousand or even dozens of pairs, meaning popular editions can sell for up to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, this means the market is also ripe for counterfeiting. In one incident from last year, US Customs and Border Protection officers seized over 14,000 fake Nikes shipped from China to LA.

Although some companies have explored tech solutions to the problem, a physical inspection is the most reliable way to guarantee sneaker authenticity. TechCrunch says these inspections can come down to small details like counting the number of stitches on a pair of shoes. More sneaker-focused marketplaces like StockX and GOAT already offer authentication services, which has previously given them an advantage over eBay.

As with its previously-announced watch authentication service, eBay has partnered with a third-party company, Sneaker Con, to authenticate items. When a sale is made, the buyer ships the sneakers to an “authentication facility” where they’re inspected to make sure they match the listing’s title, description, and images. If they pass the inspection, an eBay tag is attached to them, and they’re sent on to the buyer. The same process covers returns, to stop unscrupulous buyers from trying to return fake sneakers to legitimate sellers.

The fact that eBay hasn’t offered a sneaker authentication service until now hasn’t stopped these sorts of shoes from becoming a popular item to sell on the platform, and eBay says it sold nearly 6 million pairs of sneakers last year. With its new authenticity guarantee, though, combined with no seller fees for sneakers sold for over $100, the company clearly hopes to attract more sneakerheads to the platform.

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