eBay adds sneakers to its authentication service offering

Online retailer eBay has launched a new verification service for sneakers, shortly after rolling out a similar system for high-value watches on its platform.

The verification service – called an Authenticity Guarantee – will apply to shoes valued at $100 or more, what eBay refers to as “one of its highest-profile categories.” It’s due to launch next week for the most popular styles and brands and will apply to all collectible sneakers sales early next, according to the e-commerce giant.

eBay started offering the service for luxury watches costing $2,000 or more last month in a bid to stop purchasers being duped by counterfeits. As with watches, the sneaker verification is currently available in the US only.

Through the latest programme,  all new and pre-owned collectible sneakers above the threshold value will be “fully vetted and verified by an independent team of industry experts,” says the company.

It works as follows. When a purchase is made, the seller ships it directly to eBay's independent third-party authentication facility for a physical inspection. If confirmed as genuine, the shoes are then sent to the buyer with a tag guaranteeing their authenticity.

Returns where offered are also shipped back to the authentication centre before being sent back to the seller.

The authentication facility is being set up and run in association with Sneaker Con, which runs a top event for collectible sneakers in the US, and has started recruiting for authenticators with “a solid knowledge of not only sneakers, but of the footwear consignment industry”.

Collectible sneakers have become a boom market, driven by resellers like StockX and GOAT, that already offer authentication services – making eBay’s latest move something of a catch-up play.

The resellers are serving a secondary market that is estimated to be worth somewhere between $300m and $1bn a year, with some sought-after shoes selling for thousands of dollars.

eBay’s size makes it a massive player in the market of course, and the company reckons it lists half a million pairs of sneakers every day and sold almost 6m pairs in 2019 in North America alone.

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