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Nike mobile raffle takes a run at illicit sneaker trade

Nike has launched a mobile raffle system aimed at making it easier for fans to obtain limited editions of its sneakers despite problems with automated computer bot programs that attack an online store’s inventory.

The athletic-shoe brand will inform signed-in consumers via Twitter when launch products will be available via the lottery, which is connected to in-store sneaker launches. The move, aimed at providing a more secure launch event for sneaker enthusiasts, points to mobile’s value not only in enhancing the shopper journey but helping businesses to administer their operations more smoothly.

“Nike has found a way to control more of their inventory and possibly improve customer relations to a degree,” said Ken Wisnefski, CEO and founder of WebiMax. “At the same time this strategy appears to provide a new channel to collect leads and even market to some of their most loyal customers.”

Canceling launches
Nike’s announcement of the raffle system comes on the heels of online product-launch cancellations the company absorbed due to interference from Internet bots — software applications that perform automated tasks over the Web, reported.

Adidas’ Confirmed mobile app.

Nike blamed bots for the cancellation in May of the online launch of the Air Jordan I Pinnacle and the Air Jordan I High OG Varsity Red sneakers in North America and the Air Jordan I High OG Varsity Red sneaker in China.

In Nike’s lottery system, participants first sign in with their Nike+ account. The sign-in is then authenticated through a text message received through a mobile device.

Using the official Nike store Twitter account, Nike will announce when and if launch products will be available via an online drawing. When the drawing is under way, participants can select desired shoe, size and Nike store purchase location before the allocated time runs out.

Once the drawing is closed and all entries are received, Nike will conduct a random selection and notify participants of their eligibility to purchase the launch product via email within 24 hours.

Speed of entry is not a factor as long as an entry is made before the drawing closes. All entries in the drawing have an equal chance of being selected, Nike said.

Nike Chicago was the first Nike store to participate in the online lottery, announcing via Twitter that it would hold a drawing starting June 18 for three styles being released on June 20, according to

Nike and rival adidas both are doubling down to combat automated computer bot programs that can wipe out an online store’s inventory. The brands’ bottom lines are at stake given bots operators’ ability to sell shoes on the secondary market for high sums. The sneaker resale market is valued at $1 billion.

In February, Nike released SNKRS, an app for its releases. The app sent a push notification when a new release was 15 minutes from hitting the digital shelves. Users could customize the list of future releases they wanted.

Adidas this spring released adidas Confirmed for iOS devices. The app allowed users in a specified area to receive push notifications on their mobile device for sneaker releases.

Big issue
Security due to bots cleaning out an online store is a big issue for the Nike brand. People excited about Nike’s products are no doubt frustrated at the prospect of having to pay above the list price to some secondary market.

Protecting the bottom line via mobile.

“The text messaging aspect of this is smart because of just how universal text messaging is,” Mr. Wisnefski said. “A user might not think to check to see if a raffle is available for a pair of sneakers via an app or a Web site, but a notification a user receives as a simple text is likely to be read and keep the Nike brand top of mind.

“The raffle system should be a great lead generation tool for Nike,” he said. “It will provide them the ability to know who is most interested in their products and continually market new products and promotions to those folks.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York