Here’s Why Those Awesome Nikes Are Immediately Sold Out

Bots are ruining online buying – and sellers wont do anything about it.

By Brenda SalinasJune 15, 2015 10:42 am

Your favorite band is coming to town and they’re selling tickets online in just a few minutes. You’re ready, you’re focused. You’re going to get your tickets.

The link is live in 3..2..1.. You click.

And they’re sold out! What just happened?!

Felix Salmon, a writer at Fusion, says your front row tickets probably got snapped up by bots – programs written by scalpers. He reports that the same tactic is used to beat sneakerheads to the punch when buying new limited edition shoes

“They’re deliberately having low supply along with low price, which is a recipe for bots to come in [then] resellers to come in and try to flip these things,” he says. That’s why you’ll often find that pair of sneakers you were looking for on eBay for three-times the price.

The interesting thing is, companies could prevent this if they chose to. “If they moved either the supply or price, the problem would go away overnight,” Salmon says.

Nike could raise the price of its shoes to fix the overwhelming demand, but it chooses not to.

So why not? One reason: keeping bots and sneakerheads competing is good for marketing.

“Nike knows better than anybody that use of bots is a sign of fandom,” Salmon reports.

That fandom, Salmon says, not only feeds Nike’s billion-dollar market, but it’s also created a secondary billion-dollar Nike shoe market on eBay.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.