On January 29, the NikeLab in New York City invited sneaker enthusiasts to come on down between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. for raffle tickets to have a chance to buy its new “Just Don x Air Jordan 2” limited release shoe. The crowd that showed up flooded Mercer St. in Soho enough by 1 p.m. that the event was shut down by police, leaving many potential buyers and avid collectors out in the cold.
The phenomenon of lost sales and disappointed fans isn’t exclusive to Nike. The current process for people to register and get these “hype” sneakers often involves confusing Twitter or lottery-based systems, leads to long chaotic lines, and is prone to fraud. Now Adidas, no doubt in preparation for the anticipated launch of the brand’s new collaboration with Kanye West, has created a new app that aims to be a secure, intuitive way for you to get access to its coveted limited edition sneakers.
The “Confirmed” app, built by Adidas’s in-house digital innovation team, gives give fans more control and a fair shot of getting access to shoes, by serving up instant confirmation of product availability to reduce crowds and long waits. Users register with their name, email, and ZIP code, then enable push notifications and location services on their device to find out when reservations for certain shoes open up in their area. From there you can reserve a pair, find out where and when to pick them up, show up at the right time and use the app’s reservation confirmation to finally buy your sweet, sweet new kicks.
Adidas vice-president of brand activation Simon Atkins says the biggest challenge was finding a way to provide consumers more control over limited releases in a way that worked for them, but also the brand and retail partners. “We needed to ensure the technical back-end solution matched an easy-to-use experience in the palm of your hand,” says Atkins. “Then we had to match inventory with store locations to ensure the system was simple, fool proof and offered a clean in-store transaction.”
Given the sheer size and scope of Adidas’s business, it may seem a bit strange for the brand to be catering so carefully to such a niche audience. But Atkins says limited edition sneakers and collectors are much bigger than footwear. “They represent the confluence of many aspects of pop culture–music, sports, design–all coming together in a shoe. Through collaborations and limited-edition releases we explore trends and tap into the desire of the people who are most passionate about footwear. These are the trendsetters, the ones paying attention to what’s new, what’s hot and what’s next. They care more than anyone else about being first, and it was with them in mind that we created the first ever mobile reservation system.”